Though Manhattan is the smallest of New York City’s five boroughs, it’s undoubtedly the most famous of the quintet. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that when the majority of people across the planet think of New York City, it’s the borough of Manhattan that they’re picturing in their head. That’s because Manhattan is home to an assortment of New York’s most popular neighborhoods, attractions, and landmarks. It’s also where you’ll find some of the city’s trendiest shopping destinations, finest dining experiences, and world-class art institutions. While Manhattan’s extensive grid system and expansive public transportation network make it ripe for individual explorations, many visitors opt to conduct their New York City adventures as part of one of the numerous guided tours that operate here and cater to a wide-range of sightseeing interests.
Manhattan may rank last among the boroughs in overall size, but it’s first in population density, owing in no small part to the fact that most of its roughly 1.7 million residents all live crowded together on the compact island of Manhattan. Depending on who you ask—and you better believe New Yorkers have very strong opinions on the subject—Manhattan has nearly 50 distinct neighborhoods, and while these neighborhoods don’t have official boundaries, they do each tend to possess their own distinctive attributes, traits, and characteristics. Ask ten different locals for their favorite Manhattan neighborhood and you’re liable to get ten different answers, but generally speaking some of Manhattan’s most popular neighborhoods include Chelsea, Greenwich Village, Midtown, SoHo, Times Square, the Upper East Side, and the West Village.
And if all those major attractions weren’t appealing enough, Manhattan has some of New York City’s best shopping and dining. In Manhattan you’ll have your pick of popular shopping destinations like Fifth Avenue, NoLita, Chinatown, East Village, and the Meatpacking District, while no matter what type of cuisine excites you the most, you’ll find plenty of it here.
Below you’ll find a few of Manhattan’s most popular neighborhoods. More Neighborhoods to explore are in the sidebar.
The Upper West Side is an affluent residential area of Manhattan located between Central Park and Riverside Park where you’ll find such popular attractions as the American Museum of Natural History, Lincoln Center, the New York Historical Society, and more.
The Upper East Side is one of New York City’s most famous neighborhoods. It’s home to luxurious residences, high-end stores, some of Manhattan’s finest restaurants, and Museum Mile, the stretch of Fifth Avenue where you’ll find the Met, the Guggenheim, Cooper Hewitt, and more.
Home to more than its fair share of celebrities, Tribeca has become one of Manhattan’s most desirable neighborhoods. For visitors, its fashionable streets are lined with buzz-worthy restaurants and trendy stores, while nearby Hudson River Park offers spectacular views.
Simply put, Times Square is one of the most popular attractions found anywhere in the world today. This glamorous intersection makes for an absolutely essential stop on the itinerary of any first-time visitor to New York City.
The fashionable West Village is home to the Whitney Museum of American Art, the southern terminus of the High Line, and historic attractions like the Stonewall Inn and the Village Vanguard. Its main drag, Bleecker Street, has become a chic commercial hub.
One of New York City’s most popular high-end shopping destinations, SoHo is famous for its luxury brands, trendy boutiques, big-name fashion designers, upscale department stores, and cobblestone streets.
The Financial District is where you’ll find major New York City landmarks like One World Observatory, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, Wall Street, and The Battery. It’s also where you can catch the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
One of New York’s most distinctive neighborhoods, Manhattan’s Chinatown is home to an electric mix of restaurants, street vendors, food markets, tearooms, and popular museums. It’s a great place to enjoy a meal, pick up an affordable souvenir, and go for a stroll.
Famous for its many art galleries, Chelsea is also notable for popular attractions like the High Line, Chelsea Market, and the Edge at Hudson Yards. Add to the mix its proximity to multiple other prominent neighborhoods, and Chelsea makes for a classic New York City experience.
If New York City is the fashion capital of the world, then it might be said the Garment District is the fashion capital of New York City. This small Midtown Manhattan neighborhood is at the center of New York’s vibrant fashion industry.
Ever since the middle of the twentieth century, Greenwich Village has enjoyed a reputation as a mecca for artists, writers, and musicians. That legacy continues today throughout the neighborhood’s many popular bars, restaurants, nightclubs, performance spaces, and unofficial capital, Washington Square Park.
Hell’s Kitchen is the West Side of Manhattan neighborhood where you’ll find the High Line’s northern entrance, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises departure point, and a diverse and very popular nightlife scene.
Though quite small in terms of its size, the Meatpacking District packs a punch. This glitzy Manhattan neighborhood is where you’ll find the southern entrance to the High Line, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and numerous luxury shopping destinations.
For many visitors, Midtown Manhattan is the very heart and soul of their New York City experience. This iconic neighborhood is home to world-class shopping and dining, as well as such landmark attractions like the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, and the Museum of Modern Art.