Note: This information applies to NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai students considering a semester in New York. Students from other colleges and universities who are interested in enrolling as a visiting student at NYU's campus in New York should consider programs hosted by NYU's Office of University Programs.

nyu students standing in the subway

New York City becomes an extension of the University’s Manhattan and Brooklyn campuses. The city is made up of 5 boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. It is best to know where you are going ahead of time, Google Maps is a great way to get a quick glance at a specific neighborhood as well as transit, driving, and walking directions.  

Getting Around NYC


The best way to familiarize yourself with a new city is to get out and walk! In Manhattan the streets run in a grid above 4th Street, so it is easy to navigate this area of the city on foot. You will see many people out on the streets and often this can be faster than public transportation if you are going a short distance. Be safe: abide traffic laws and avoid jay walking. Jay walking - walking or crossing the street outside of the designated crosswalk - is illegal, though you may see many people doing it. Be aware that bikers in NY do not necessarily obey the road or pedestrian laws. Remember to look twice before crossing the street as bikers may be approaching from an opposite direction and they often do not stop. 


The official NYC taxis are yellow and marked with a medallion number on the outside of the car as well as inside. These mark the metered cabs that are regulated by the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission. Available taxis have the number on top of their cars lit up. Those that are not lit are either off duty or already have a fare.

Metered fares can get expensive very quickly, therefore taxis are not the recommended mode of transportation within the city for your regular transportation needs. 

Public Transportation

New York City’s subway and bus system serves all five boroughs of New York. This is the easiest and most economical way of getting around the city. The subway runs 24 hours, though trains and buses run less frequently late at night and during the day in non-rush hours.

The subway system is run by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). On their website you can find useful information about the status of each subway line, as well as subway and bus maps.

When entering the subway stations, you need to be aware of what direction you would like to travel. Trains in Manhattan run Uptown/Queens, Uptown/Bronx and Downtown/ Brooklyn. In the outer boroughs the trains run toward the last stop or towards Manhattan. Some subway entrances only allow entrance to one direction so be sure to check before you swipe your MetroCard. The correct entrance might be across the street or in some cases around the corner.

Paying your Fare

You must purchase a MetroCard for both the subway and bus lines. MetroCards can be purchased at any subway station from vending machines or a teller. Most machines take cash, credit, or debit cards and will notify you before your purchase if a payment option is not available. Those with foreign bank cards should use them as credit and can use 00000 or 99999 as the zip code when prompted to complete the transaction.

There are many options of MetroCards: single ride, pay per ride, unlimited 7 day and unlimited 30 day passes. All MetroCards, except for single ride, can be refilled at any MTA vending machine. A new metro card costs $1.00 and this does not go toward the cost of the fare.  Most students can start with a $20.00 pay per ride card for about 2 weeks of use. There is no student discount for MetroCards.

Helpful resources

City Mapper - website for trip planning on public transportation

Google Maps - good for transit and walking directions 

There are also other phone applications available for free or a small price, including subway maps. 

NYU Campus Transportation

There are buses that operate during the fall and spring semesters to and from areas surrounding the Washington Square Campus. University Transportation is free with a valid NYU ID. Bus routes and schedules can be found on the Safe NYU app.

NYU trolley