Let me show you my favorite New York City photo locations, or as some would say: “Instagram Spots New York City”.
Even if you’ve never been to New York, you’d know it is one of the most exciting cities in the world. All the craziness will stimulate your brain! Whether you’re a first-time visitor or not, the hustle and bustle of this lively city is intense as there is always something happening, something to look at and something to be overwhelmed by.
New York City is truly incredible in every sense of the word, a metropolis that combines historic art deco buildings with futuristic skyscrapers all while being surrounded by beautiful parks and a series of incredible bridges. It’s hard not to be inspired – After all, there is something new and interesting around every corner!
Taking photos and capturing memories became kind of a game for me. It’s like collecting stamps…or Pokemons: You gotta catch ’em all! So let’s start!
1. PHOTOS ON THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE
In my opinion it’s the most iconic landmark of New York, and if you get creative and are very patient you can get great photos without hundreds of tourists in your photos. For even better shots, go very early in the morning (before sunrise) let me tell you, it’s worth it!
Understand that this is a functioning bridge that locals use everyday to commute and one of the lanes is designed for bikes. So try to be aware of that and don’t get on the way of cyclists. They will shout at you or run you over 💀
2. PHOTOS AT RADIO CITY CORNER
This is another favorite of mine. Such an iconic corner and also, I treasure the memories of seeing The Rockettes show during Christmas time so I love everything about it! There’s many different angles for perfect amazing photos featuring the iconic neon lights so it’s a spot you won’t want to miss.
3. PHOTOS AT THE EDGE
The Edge is without a doubt New York’s best observatory. It has the best view out of all the others I’ve been to and the vibe is great too! It has a big outdoor space and for that reason you won’t feel like you’re in a cramped situation while you take in and enjoy the beauty of the New York from above. There’s 3 different areas to shoot so look for them and get creative!
4. PHOTOS AT THE VESSEL
A relatively new landmark of the city in the Hudson Yards area is in simple words a very futuristic looking building but in reality an architectural masterpiece. And you can get brilliant photos from the outside as well as the inside. Just find the best perspectives. Doing this was a challenge and we’re happy it worked! Tip: Reserve a space to visit so you don’t have to queue, it’s free. You can just show up but it could be crowded so you’ll have to line up.
~ I have more details (+ video) about this place here: THE VESSEL NEW YORK, HUDSON YARDS
Update: Entrance to The Vessel is no longer free. There’s a $10 fee and you need to have a companion to go in.
This information is constantly changing so I recommend doing research before planning a visit to the Vessel. In recent years they have entirely banned entry to the inside of the building.
5. PHOTOS AT THE SUMMIT ONE VANDERBILT OBSERVATORY
Very famous on social media for its interactive rooms and its mirror aesthetics, the Summit One Vanderbilt is another cool observatory that offers a special perspective of New York.
I created a detailed very guide to experience this amazing observatory in the best way so check it out:
👉🏽 VISITING SUMMIT ONE VANDERBILT OBSERVATORY IN NEW YORK CITY
6. PHOTOS IN TIME SQUARE
This area is what I call “New York’s touristic epicenter”. It’s nuts! There’s something about this buzzing area that although feels extremely touristic, you still can sit down and appreciate it. You can find more detailed tips to explore Times Square here 👈🏽
Depending on your perspective and creativity, you can get brilliant photos there 😉
7. PHOTOS IN CENTRAL PARK
The heart of New York hosts one of the world’s most famous urban parks, known for its beauty and numerous picturesque locations perfect for amazing photos. As you explore, you’ll be surrounded by ever-changing nature, with lush greenery year-round, stunning blossoms in the Spring, and breathtaking foliage in the Autumn.
Central Park is a great place to walk around, enjoy nature, have a coffee… perfect if you just want to relax.
Bonus tip: If you’re looking for a proper place to eat or have drinks, pop to Tavern on the Green.
8. PHOTOS AT CONEY ISLAND
This is quite a long Subway ride so if you don’t have enough time in the city you could skip it. But if you like fun fairs, the beach and are interested in this type of photos, go! The fair itself is NOT great but it’s just a chill activity to do.
9. PHOTOS AT THE TOP OF THE ROCK – ROCKEFELLER CENTER
I’m mentioning this one here just because it’s kind of like a “must” shot. It is 100% touristy but it does offer an amazing panoramic view of New York. It is iconic but the experience is not really what I like so this felt like it was only for the photo. It was insanely crowded and very very tough to get nice photos (unlike other observatories in the city).
Fortunately we got some great shots so it wasn’t a complete waste of money (that’s $50 each!). There were way too many people to make it enjoyable. We didn’t have much choice that time but maybe if you manage to book a reservation to go first time in the morning it might be better. I would think that if you aim to go for sunset, that would be the pick time and you’ll find bigger crowds, unfortunately. So going to the Top of the Rock is basically a gamble and you might or might not get what you want.
10. PHOTOS IN THE NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY
So… This is kind of “secret” or simply not a very known tip. To get amazing photos at New York’s subway you can just go for a ride hoping it’s not too full or you can go to the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn. The entrance is $10 each and you’ll get to get brilliant photos without people in it not only with the “modern” train car but past models, some with a very vintage feel. You also get to learn more about New York’s History! The catch is that you have to be cool about it (photoshoots) as they have some photography/video policies.
11. PHOTOS AT GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL
Since I watched the movie Arthur, I wanted to see this Grand Central Station with my own eyes (and of course do the sound thing). There’s something special about this train terminal where you can watch people come and go day and night. My favorite part is definitely the celestial ceiling and the effects of the sun light on the windows but there’s many other spaces you could photograph like the big chandeliers.
*I took these alone with a little tripod.
12. PHOTOS IN DUMBO, BROOKLYN
DUMBO stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass. It’s a neighborhood of borough of Brooklyn which by the way is a great neighborhood to stay in when visiting New York. There is tons of great photo location in the river area, just be creative, find the best angles and have fun!
13. PHOTOS AT ROOSEVELT ISLAND
Roosevelt Island is a narrow island in New York City’s East River and during the Spring you’ll find tons of gorgeous cherry blossom trees. You need to take the subway to get there but it’s totally worth it, not only because you can take great photos there but because you get to see a different face of the city.
14. PHOTOS IN CHINA TOWN, NYC
Once you step into this asian hub in the lower side of New York you’ll want to photograph the many interesting shops. Unfortunately many things closed down because of the pandemic so -as of 2022- it’s not as cool and lively as it used to but I’m sure with time things will go back to normal. While you’re around, I recommend popping by Taiyaky for Japanese Ice Cream and Pancakes in China Town (look it up and you’ll see why!).
15. PHOTOS FROM THE ONE WORLD OBSERVATORY
The One World Observatory or “Freedom Tower” is another place you can appreciate New York’s beauty from above. It’s not a must in my opinion but the history is obviously important so it’s nice to experience it. It’s also not very crowded but to be honest it’s not easy to get cool photos from there. They put some sort of uncomfortable spikes so you won’t sit and the light is tricky if you’re standing up (you can only see a silhouette). I know most people won’t care about that and a quick snap should suffice but photography wise it’s not the greatest. Go and spend the money just for the experience. But if you have to choose between observatories, go straight to the Edge 👌🏽
16. PHOTOS AT LITTLE ISLAND
Little Island is New York’s newest attraction. It’s basically a park on an island formation made of 100s of tulip shape pillars with beautiful gardens and a couple of stages for performances. Where? 📍West 13th st. & The Hudson River at Pier 55
It’s free but you need to make online reservations. We were lucky and got tickets for the opening weekend but the waiting times now are quite long UNLESS you go before 12 am or after 8 pm 👌🏼
17. PHOTOS FROM THE STATEN ISLAND FERRY
This is another free thing to do in New York! Get down to the Staten Island Ferry station for a pleasant trip to Staten Island and back. It’s a great way to admire New York City’s skyline and you also get to see the Statue of Liberty. That of course makes it a very photogenic spot!
To be fair, there’s endless photo locations in New York City and this blog post can’t cover them all. And although I’ve been to New York 5 times, I know I still have a lot to explore, especially because there’s always something new!
I will continue to explore New York and the world of course so keep an eye for new adventures! I would also love to see your favorite spots in NY so feel free to send a DM on Instagram!
Here are some other random bonus spots: River side at sunset, photo from the Manhattan Bridge with NYC skyline on the reflection of my sun glasses, photo at the Bronx Zoo with beautiful flamingos in the background.
I hope you enjoy this list and find it useful in the future! If you have Pinterest make sure you pin/save them so you don’t forget!
Find more New York posts here