If you're flying into New York's JFK airport, there are a few options on how you can get to Manhattan Island, both Downtown and Midtown. But there's one way that's super cheap and really doesn't take any longer than a cab ride or airport shuttle.

If you’re flying into New York’s JFK airport, there are a few options on how you can get to Manhattan Island, both Downtown and Midtown. But there’s one way that’s super cheap and really doesn’t take any longer than a cab ride or airport shuttle.

What train do I need to get from JFK to New York
JMZ Train, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

If your hotel offers a shuttle from JFK, then you should get on board that baby, but if you’re looking at getting into Manhattan on a budget the best way is by the AirTrain which runs directly out of JFK and then catch the subway to your destination. It takes just under an hour – which if you’re caught in traffic to or from the airport, which is more than likely, it could end up being a quicker option. Obviously, it won’t be as picturesque, but you’ll definitely get to people watch and save a lot of dollars.

A cab ride into midtown currently costs over $60 and once you ad tip you’re heading towards $70 – it’s not the cheap way to start off your trip. Or, you can hop on the airport shuttle bus, you’ll find them in the arrivals hall, which is $18 each – so if there’s two of you that’s $38 – plus tip if you’re feeling generous. Or you can spend under $8 and get the AirTrain, which takes around 50-60 minutes.

How to access the AirTrain at JFK.

What's the best way to get from JFK to Manhattan
Subway, New York City

Look for the signs for the AirTrain, you’ll need to get the one that’s heading towards Federal Circle (which is where you’ll find Airport Hotel shuttles and car rental companies and onto Howard Beach Station. This section of your travel is free, so you don’t need a ticket if you’re getting off at Federal Circle.

If you’re going downtown and Lower Manhattan you’ll need the train heading to Howard Beach. If you’re going to Midtown or Upper Manhattan you’ll the Jamaica Station.

Once you arrive at Howard Beach or Jamaica Station, you’ll need to buy your ticket to leave the station and to get your onward travel to Lower Manhatten. Go to the ticket machine and buy a travelcard.

How much does the AirTrain cost from JFK to Manhattan?

It will cost $5 for the AirTrain (which you’ve just travelled on) and $2.75 for the connecting subway. You’ll also be charged $1 for a Metrocard, which you can refill and reuse each time you use the subway, so don’t throw it away.

Once you’ve cleared the gates at Howard Beach or Jamaica, head to the platform which has trains heading towards Lower Manhattan or Midtown.

At Howard Beach, you need to get onboard the A Train – on the Subway map it’s a dark blue colour. At Jamaica, you need to get the E train, it’s also dark blue in colour.

If you’re heading to Upper Manhattan you’ll need to make a change when you’re in Manhattan. Use the MTA’s TripPlanner to find the best route. Trips up to the Upper island will take another 15 minutes or so.

Where to stay in New York?

If you’re looking for hotels in Midtown we can highly recommend The Moxy, read our full review here. Otherwise, why not check all the deals on Hotels.com or Bookings.com


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About the author: Jake Hook
The editor and chief of THEGAYUK. All in a previous life wrote and produced songs on multi-platinum records.