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Going from the Newark Airport to Manhattan is simple.
Yeah, I know, I know. The Newark Airport is all the way in New Jersey, an entirely different state, oh the humanity, that’s so far. Trust me. New York City is worth the journey. After all, we know I rave about traveling solo to New York on this blog. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world.
However, reaching this awesome city – glistening incredible Manhattan – still requires navigating public transit and international airports. And depending on delays, the journey might take longer than you initially think. It is what it is.
Haha, but to tell you all the truth, the distance between the notorious Newark Airport to Manhattan honestly isn’t much of a problem for travelers. It’s a 38 minute drive without traffic. Booking a taxi isn’t a big deal and easy. Yet, to save money, some travelers intend to use public transportation from Newark Airport to Manhattan instead.
So, in this guide, I will break down how to reach New York from the Newark Airport without too much hassle (and how to address common problems you might encounter on your journey).
Let’s begin our awesome New York City Adventure! Buckle in.
Disclaimer: This post will strictly talk about Newark or EWR. New York is also home to two other major travel hubs: JFK and LaGuardia airports. Those are entirely different beasts and are actually located in New York City itself. So, before reading this post, double check that your flight takes you to EWR, not JFK or LGA. If you are coming from JFK, then you should check out this helpful guide on how to get from JFK to Manhattan.
Arriving at Newark Airport
You’ve made it to Newark Liberty International airport. Yay! Now you’ll land at the international arrivals hall if you’re coming to New York City from abroad. My first piece of advice is to have your passport and landing card all ready to go. Don’t waste time filling out the landing card in the hall if you have time to complete it on the plane. American Customs are efficient and straightforward, and generally will not give you any problems. Your milage may vary, of course.
For those flying domestically, you will simply get off the plane at one of the terminals and feel free to go along on your way.
Now let’s breakdown this huge travel hub.
Newark Liberty has three terminals: A, B, and C. Know your terminal in advance. It will save you a tremendous headache. Keep in mind Newark has a lot of air traffic and you might land at a different terminal than the one that’s printed on your ticket. Pay attention to the pilot’s announcements.
Fortunately, all three of these terminals are connected to the Sky Train, which loops around the entire airport. The Sky Train is also linked to the airport’s many parking lots and NJ Transit’s main platform. NJ Transit runs trains in and out of Penn Station in Manhattan.
Signage is clearly marked throughout the airport for access to the Sky Train.
Take the Train from Newark Airport to Manhattan
1. Follow Signs to the Sky Train
Follow the signs to the Sky Train upon exiting the arrivals hall. Ask for directions if you need them. The Sky Train entrance is located after you move pass the security line into the arrivals area, located on the first floor. Baggage claim is in the basement level, and you’ll have to return to the first floor if you plan on taking the Sky Train.
2. Purchase Train Tickets In the Airport or At the Sky Train
You’ll need to buy tickets ahead of time to reach the New Jersey transit platforms. Buy them right in the airport to prevent delays. Tickets cost $13 for one way (as of 2018). The price isn’t bad considering tolls and parking costs in New York City. Scan the NJ Transit ticket’s bar code at the machines after you disembark the Sky Train at the NJ Transit stop.
Read More: When is the Best Time to Travel to New York?
3. Ask for Help If You Need It
Okay, Newark Liberty’s staff has a reputation for being rather … curt with travelers. Hey, I’m attempting to be nice here. They have a rough job and probably deal with a lot of stupid people on a daily basis. Still, despite their icy exteriors, there are staff members at the Sky Train who will help you if you’re confused or lost. They still tell me the quickest ways to reach NJ Transit depending on what terminal I’m at. Don’t be shy about asking for assistance.
4. Northeast Corridor or North Jersey Coast Lines to NYC
Now that you’ve made it to the NJ Transit platform you need to know what trains to take. Go for the New York bound trains. On the schedule’s board, you’ll see trains for the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast lines. Both routes head to Penn Station New York – which is also where you want to go! It doesn’t matter which line or platform (usually 4 or 5) you pick. Both end up at the same place and your ticket is valid regardless of the route’s name. Upon boarding the train, keep your ticket out so the conductor can check it without too much difficulty.
Arriving in Manhattan: What to Do Next?
In total, the train to New York from Newark Airport takes between 30 and 40 minutes. Sometimes trains are crowded especially during rush hour. Exercise basis courtesy on the train. If there’s standing room only, try not to block the corridor down the train’s car. It needs to stay clear for safety purpose.
Now that you’ve pulling into Manhattan what comes next? Welp. Your final destination is Penn Station in Manhattan. This is the end of the rail line, my friends, so it’s time for you to disembark.
Just, whatever you do, do NOT GET OFF at Penn Station Newark. It’s the wrong stop. You’ll pull into Penn Station Newark – Secaucus – Penn Station New York. You’ll know when you’re in New York City. Trust me. The tunnel is long and makes your ears pop.
If you somehow screw up, then I’d just take the PATH from Newark Penn into downtown Manhattan. Hey, if your hotel is located in the financial district, it might be a better route for you anyway.
Moving onto Penn Station New York.
Honestly, Penn Station in New York is a crazy maddening place for newcomers. Walk like you know where you’re going and DO NOT CRASH INTO PEOPLE. Argh, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been crashed into by distracted tourists. Politely step to the side, closer to the walls, if you need to reassess your sense of direction.
Furthermore, getting off the train can be a bit … jam packed. There are limited stairs from the platform up to the station. Take your time. Don’t rush. Don’t push people. Breathe deep and take. your. time.
Take the Subway to Your Accommodation
After your trip from Newark Airport to Manhattan, if you’re not too burnt out and want to save some additional money, then purchase a metro card and ride the subway to your accommodation. You’ll need a metro card for your trip, anyway, and might as well buy one now. Know your hotel or hostel’s address ahead of time. For example, the A, C, and E trains run on a regular basis in and out of Penn Station. It’s definitely worth taking the subway for hotels located near these lines. If you know where the closest subway stop is, it will be easier for you to navigate the metro without too much trouble.
Take a Taxi to Your Accommodation
Now let’s say your accommodation is located in another Borough or far away from the subway stations. Luggage loads down your arms and legs. Do you really wanna navigate the subway and walk a few miles after hopping on planes and trains? I didn’t think so. In this case, take the hit to your budget and flag down a taxi. Exit near Madison Square Garden and a row of taxis await you. Getting a taxi at Penn Station won’t take too long considering it’s a major transportation hub.
Hassles from Newark Airport to New York City
1. NJ Transit is Terrible
I don’t like blasting public transportation and advocate using it on your travels, but I have to be honest with you guys. NJ Transit truly is the worst train system I’ve ever taken in my life. Now NJ Transit is a practical option when going from the Newark Airport to Manhattan. However, prepare for overcrowded trains and delays especially near the tunnel to Penn Station – which will be your final destination. NJ Transit shares tracks with Amtrak and that causes a lot of problems which I won’t bore you with in this post. And, please, for the love of God, pack your patience at rush hour. I talk a lot about patience in my post discussing tips for visiting New York for the first time. It’s not an optional suggestion. Trust me.
How to Avoid This Hassle
Read the schedule ahead of time. Try to time your arrival to the New York bound platform. In this case, knowledge is very much power for your sanity levels. Meaning, if you’re expecting your experience to stink, you’ll feel pleasantly surprised when you go from EWR to Manhattan and make it alive in one piece. Victory.
Okay, I’m probably scaring you and don’t mean to. Just remember that NJ Transit is nowhere near the caliber of Europe’s rail system. Not even close. Manage your expectations. Take delays in stride. You’ll eventually get where you need to go. The train is still much easier and cheaper than renting a car to go from Newark Airport to New York City. You don’t want to drive. Believe me. NJ Transit is nothing compared to New York City driving. Shudders.
Read More: 2 Days in New York City Itinerary
2. Ticket Machine Struggles
You’ll need to purchase a NJ Transit ticket to reach the platform to Manhattan. Again, I don’t want to sound negative, but I’ve seen a lot of incompetence at NJ Transit machines. Travelers inserting credit cards the wrong way. Machines not accepting crumbled bills. People buying one ticket at time for a family of five. I’ve seen it all. Sometimes you’re better off skipping the machines entirely.
How to Avoid This Hassle
Download NJ Transit’s app to your device. Newark Liberty does have wifi so use it to get the app and purchase your ticket for your phone. Boom. Done deal.
Downloading the app will save you from dealing with lines at the NJ Transit machines. Instead you can go on your merry way from Newark Airport to Manhattan without unwanted interruptions. Just make sure you have the ticket downloaded and ready to go to scan the barcode at the machines near the platform.
3. My Flight Landed Between 1:30 and 5:00 AM.
NJ Transit, in all its brilliance, doesn’t run trains in the wee hours of the morning. I know. I think with the exception of the PATH trains, the biggest city in the United States doesn’t have 24 hour connections between New Jersey and New York. Locals hate it too. But it is what it is. So, if your flight’s delayed between 1:30 and 5:00 am, you’re basically stuck at Newark Airport until the first train into Manhattan – which comes at roughly six in the morning.
How to Avoid This Hassle
Again, knowledge is power. Reserve a taxi to Manhattan ahead of your arrival at Newark Airport. Sure, you’ll spend extra money, but I honestly don’t know how safe the bus is that time of night. As for unexpected delays, perhaps speak to the airline staff for taxi recommendations and call around. You’ll find someone to drive you where you need to go.
Do you feel better prepared to go from Newark Airport to Manhattan? What airports did you fly into on your visit to New York? Enjoy New York City and don’t forget to bring your guidebook with you.