New York and London are two of the most famous and iconic cities in the entire world. And if you can only travel to one of them, deciding where to go is not an easy task by any means. That’s where we come in!
This detailed comparison of London and New York covers everything, from the quality of transport to the best food and parks. We’ve even got something for those of you that are thinking of permanently relocating to one of these international destinations!
So, should your next destination be the Big Apple or should you head to Where Royalty Lives? Read on and find out!
Do you enjoy mild or more extreme weather conditions? If it’s the former, then London is definitely the better option for you. The climate is generally more mild – summers aren’t too hot and winters aren’t too cold. And, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t actually rain that much in London! In fact, it’s enough to look at the numbers to see that New York is the city with more rain – its highest average is 4.48 inches of rain in May, compared to London’s 2.42 inches in October.
New York weather is more extreme. The winters are freezing cold with a lot of snow, and those few weeks in December will have you glued to your bed. Then again, summers are extremely hot and they make you wish you could spend all your time under the AC unit. But you can’t because you have so much stuff to do. And you have to spend those hot sweaty days on the subway, surrounded by hot and sweaty homeless people who haven’t showered since last year. Sounds fun!
On the other hand, New York is the city with more sunny days. If it’s sunny in London, everyone is in a good mood and they want to go to the park or relax at a beach. Overcast is the norm there, so even if it’s not raining, the boring clouds will keep the sunlight away.
This one is a matter of personal preference. I’d choose New York city over London here, but I enjoy hot summers and sunny days much more than I enjoy clouds and mild winters.
Which city has better food, New York or London? Well, that depends on what your culinary preferences are.
New York is a fast-paced city and it dominates in terms of fast food and street vendors. Anything you can eat on the go is very popular in NYC, which means lots of competition. Bagels, hot dogs, pizza slices – if you can eat it with one hand on the subway, you bet that it tastes awesome in New York city.
But that’s just one side of the culinary experience in NYC. The Big Apple also boasts 76 Michelin-starred restaurants, compared to London’s 70. If you’re really into fine dining, you will have more options in New York. By the way, those numbers change often!
On top of that, NYC is a place where you can get any type of cuisine at any hour of the day. Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Indian – you name it, NYC has at least a dozen great restaurants for you to choose from, and they’re all just a couple blocks away.
London doesn’t have that diversity, so if you’re really into exploring different cuisines, NYC will be more satisfying. But if you want to have an English Breakfast with your morning tea, then hit the pub later in the day to grab some fish and chips with your beer, it’s London all the way. British cuisine is truly something else and no city represents it better than London.
If we were to judge London vs New York City just by their history, London would win this one in a heartbeat. London was founded in 43AD and New York was founded in 1624. But just because the history of one city is longer, does not necessarily make it richer.
The Empire State Building or the Big Ben? The Statue of Liberty or the London Eye? This is a hard one, really! Both of these cities are beautiful, and both have a very rich history and culture. The museums of London are just as stunning as the museums of NYC and the buildings and landmarks are equally captivating.
Honestly, this one will come down purely to personal preference. Each city has a lot to offer, and they’re both unique in their own ways. London will be the better fit for theater buffs and literature enthusiasts – yes NYC has Broadway, but can it really compete with Shakespeare’s Globe? On the other hand, art enthusiasts might find NYC more up their alley with MoMA, Guggenheim, American Museum of Natural History etc.
One thing to note is that a lot of museums in London are free to enter, which might sway your decision.
Both New York city and London have an underground public transport system that is the most efficient way of getting around. In London it’s the Underground, or the London tube as the locals call it, and in NYC it’s the subway. This is the fastest type of transport in both cities, considering that the traffic above ground is extremely dense.
Is one better than the other? Well, that depends on what your priorities are. NYC subway is cheaper, it features more track length and more stops, although it actually services a smaller area. Also, the subway operates 24/7, so New York has the advantage of offering quick and efficient public transport at any hour.
The tube trains, on the other hand, run until midnight, with only a few lines having the option of night trains. They start running again at 5AM, so that’s about five hours every day when you’re left without a reliable transport option. Also, the operating times are usually different for Sundays, the tube is closed entirely during major holidays and there are frequent delays and maintenance issues that render certain stations unusable. But that last one is an issue for both cities.
The London Underground is cleaner and more comfortable to ride. But it’s also more expensive – NYC subway has a flat rate for tickets, but in London the exact price will depend on the distance your travelling. You might have to do math to calculate just how much the ticket will cost and that’s not great.
Another thing worth considering is that NYC subway features plastic seats, as opposed to the upholstered seats of the tube. While the plastic seats are much less comfortable, at least they’re easy to clean. And if the seat is dirty or wet you will notice it immediately – with upholstered seats, you might not notice until you’ve sat in a puddle of pee.
Plus the subway has the advantage of various lunatics and homeless people, which means that no ride is ever going to be boring or uneventful. But it still gets this point, due to the sheer efficiency.
If you enjoy clubbing, staying out late and meeting people in bars and lounges at the wee hours of the night, it’s New York all the way. It’s the city that never sleeps after all, and it didn’t get the nickname without a good reason.
Most bars and clubs in New York City are open until 4AM, which gives you plenty of time to enjoy yourself. And since the subway operates 24/7, you should have no problems getting home at such a late hour. And New York has some great roof top bars and views as well. After all, it is a city of skyscrapers!
London, on the other hand, might shock you with its closing times – pop into a pub for a beer at 10, and just a half hour later you’ll hear ding ding ding it’s last call. Pubs and bars usually close around 11PM, with few options that stay open later.
London does have the upper hand in terms of the clubbing scene and if you’re really into that, it might just be the better option. But getting into the clubs is a whole different thing – you’re more likely to encounter a bouncer at the door, and unless you know the right people you’re not getting in easily.
Also, a lot of Londoners won’t stay out past the last train. The tube operates until midnight and most of your friends will bail to catch the last train. Yes there’s a night tube, but it only services a few select lines. There’s also the night bus, but it’s not a very pleasant experience.
On top of that, London is a much bigger city with lots of areas that are strictly residential. There are clubs and pubs all over the city, but actually reaching them can be time-consuming. Compare that to New York where you have a bar or a lounge practically around every corner, especially in Manhattan.
So yeah, New York definitely gets the point here.
Barney’s or Harrods? That’s a tough one, even for me!
New York has better deals on American brands like Levi’s, Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch, Tommy Hilfiger etc., with more frequent sales than you get in London. If you’re looking to stock up on everyday items, you’ll have a blast shopping in NYC.
But London has the advantage of being just a few hours away from Paris and Milan, which are the true fashion capitals of the world. If you’re into high fashion, the proximity to other European capitals is something that can’t be ignored, especially during fashion week!
However, when it comes to shopping for tech, NYC is by far the better option out of two. Everything is cheaper in USA and if you need a new phone or a computer, you’re better off heading to New York. Especially if we’re talking about Apple products, which are so much cheaper in the States than everywhere else.
Just remember to throw away the box before you head home if you don’t want to pay import taxes!
If you’re thinking NYC has Central Park, it has to win this one, you’re not entirely wrong. But here’s the catch – New York City has about 1700 parks across the five boroughs, whereas London has over 3000. If we’re talking in percentages, New York has roughly around 14% green space in the greater city area, whereas London has about 47%.
Here’s another thing to consider – when you go to the park or other green space, you’d like to have some peace and quiet, right? Maybe enjoy a picnic lunch, read a book or even play sports with friends? Sure, you can do that in London – with thousands of parks all over the city, it’s not that difficult to find a place that’s practically empty. And if you go to a park that’s on the bank of a lake, you can even go swimming!
Of course, both cities have rivers running through them too. London has the Thames River and New York City the Hudson River. Sure, neither are clear blue waters inviting you to jump in, but walking on the banks of either can be a great experience.
You can’t have a serene day in New York city anywhere, not even in a park. If the idea of spending some time in Central Park pops into your head, you can be sure that at least a thousand other people had the same thought as you and they’re all there waiting for you. You just can’t escape the crowds and noises in New York, so we’re giving this one to London.
If you’re thinking of fully relocating to either of these cities, there’s a few other things you should consider. First, rent is insanely expansive in both London and New York, especially in Manhattan and Westminster.
The cost of life is generally lower in New York – taxis and public transport are cheaper, as is dining out. But when you convert the dollars into pounds, you’ll need roughly the same amount of money to maintain the same lifestyle in either big city.
The most important factor to consider is whether you’re single or have a family. New York is much more suited for single people who like the fast-paced lifestyle. It’s great for career professional who dedicate most of their life to work and are okay with having very little time off throughout the year. London is more like a giant suburb area. It can be deceptively peaceful and quiet, which rarely happens in NYC. The British city is therefore a much better fit for families. Also, you get minimum 4-5 weeks of vacation a year in the UK, so London is the better option if you’re more about family and friends than work.
Another thing to consider is crime. Both cities have generally lower crime levels, but NYC is ultimately safer than London. Surprised? Don’t be – sure, NYC has higher crime rates in generally poorer areas, and its statistics in terms of murders and gun violence are higher, but that it’s it. When it comes to petty crimes like theft, muggings and (sexual) assault, London’s crime rate is nearly double that of NYC.
The final, and perhaps the most important thing to consider here is access to healthcare. We’ve all heard horror stories about the American healthcare system and about trips to the hospital that can easily be more than what you earn in a couple of months. The US healthcare system is tied to the employer, and it’s designed to make insurance companies competitive. If you’re employed it won’t be a big deal, but if you’re unemployed you’re better off dead than in a hospital for more than five minutes.
UK has NHS (National Health Service), which provides healthcare for residents. Treatments are generally free for citizens, but there are some exceptions for those without a permanent residence. Overall, it’s much better and cheaper for you to require emergency surgery or fall ill in London than in New York.
London is just a few hours away from Paris, and from there and Europe is at your fingertips. Flights from one big city to another are super cheap and the trains are fast and a great way to admire the scenery along the way. You can have breakfast in Paris, lunch in Geneva and be in Milan in time for dinner! And if this type of freedom is what you want, London is much better for you.
Also, most of Europe is in the same time zone, with central Europe being only one hour ahead of Great Britain.
If you’re in NYC, traveling is going to be much more restricted. A trip to Europe costs serious cash, and it takes a lot of time. Traveling from one US state to another is certainly an option, but you’ll most likely have to fly. There’s a saying that fits here really well – for Europeans 100 miles is a long way, and for Americans 100 years is a long time. The continental US is massive in terms of pure land, and big cities are very far away from one another. That’s why flying is your only option, unless you’re interested in driving 12 hours straight just to get to Chicago.
The upside of NYC is the proximity to the islands in the Caribbean. You’re just a few hours away from Bahamas, Jamaica and Turks and Caicos, which are all pretty much just heaven on Earth with the tropical climate, azure sea and sandy beaches. But then again so is Porto, and Ryanair will take you there from London for less than 20GBP and in about 2 hours.
Ultimately, I think London is by far the better city for people who can’t stay in one place for too long and want to visit a different city every other weekend.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.