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London vs. New York: What’s Better?

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London vs. New York, what is better? That’s a tough choice and probably why you are here. We highlight everything you should know about these two iconic cities.

London and New York are top destinations for tourists and immigrants alike. Each city boasts amazing food, theater, and lifestyles, but which one is the right destination for you?

This guide will tell you the difference between London and New York so you can choose the best destination for your taste.

Differences between New York and London

St. Paul's Cathedral dome amidst London's skyline
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

There are a lot of distinctions and similarities between New York and London. The biggest difference between these two cities is the culture. New York is a grind – long hours, expensive rent, and always-full restaurants.

London also has expensive rent, but the restaurants are more likely to have a spot, and the corner pub always has room. New York is a place for motivated, power-hungry youngsters looking for the next big break.

Finance and legal moguls will succeed in New York, but you must work for it. New York never, ever stops. This means there is always something new to experience and someone weird to watch on the subway.

See all the sites in New York with the New York CityPass. The unique part of New York is that it creates very different neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has its cultural norms and styles.

You’ll find niche restaurants, iced coffee, and vintage shops in Williamsburg. Meanwhile, the Upper East Side boasts Michelin star fare and expensive cocktail bars.

Each neighborhood has its vibe, culture, and personality. The different neighborhoods of New York are where the residents find their community.

On the other hand, London is a place for everyone looking to integrate history and good conversation into their everyday lives. Finance and law are also large industries here, but the work-life balance is much better.

There is no better place in London than standing outside the corner pub at 5 pm. People from all walks come together over a pint and a laugh. And they stay for three more.

In London, the pubs are where you find the community.

Top sites to visit in New York versus London

Aerial view of NYC skyline from Freedom Tower
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

New York has a lot to offer to visitors. One of the oldest U.S. cities, New York, has historic churches, pubs, and excellent museums (for a price).

New York has the fantastic 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Freedom Tower, Wall Street, Empire State Building, and Central Park. However, it is best to buy tickets in advance. Otherwise, you will get stuck in a long line. Use our link for tickets here for a great price.

In London, the museums are free, and there are a ton of walking tours. You can also see a lot of sights in a short amount of time. Check out our itinerary for two days in London – it’s an efficient way to see all the sites and enjoy the best food!

London is also a great place for Harry Potter fans to visit. Check out our post on the top places for Harry Potter fans to visit. Watch our full guide to London from the ViaTravelers YouTube channel.

See Related: New York Pass Review

Londoners vs New Yorkers: The people in London versus the people in New York

Let’s get controversial and talk about the type of people who live in each city.

The people in New York

Times Square NYC at night with bright billboards and lively crowd
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Erratic, forward, and confident – in the best way. You must be partially crazy to live in such a non-stop city. New Yorkers will call you out for anything. That’s what makes New York, New York. It is not for the weak of the heart.

But New Yorkers want what is best for everyone: good food, new experiences, and dark humor. New Yorkers know the best food and the best route in every neighborhood. They call BS on anything slow or not worth your money.

The people in London

Iconic Double Decker Buses in the City of London, England
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Polite, giggly, and judgmental. Londoners are apt for structure and polite dressing but will unbutton at the pub. They also love to stare at the oddballs.

It only lasts a few seconds, but how they look at you almost feels French. Londoners preserve tradition. Tea is still served in the afternoon with a wonderful spread, lawyers wear white wigs, and proper English gets you far.

See related: Fun Nicknames for London

The difference in food in London and New York

Cheerful visitor in front of Joe's Pizza in snowy Brooklyn
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

You’ve probably already heard of the infamous New York Slice – a giant piece of pizza with the perfect cheese-to-sauce ratio for just a few bucks. Grab-and-go food is a ritual of living in New York. From bagels to slices, there is something for everyone.

Dinner in New York is a sight to see. Top restaurants book out in advance, and wherever you’re going, you will likely see someone famous (in their way). There is a restaurant for every taste, and the vibe will be like any other restaurant you have been to.

From a restaurant that exclusively makes bao to one that thrives on Italian fusion, there is nothing that you can’t find. London, on the other hand, is not a big grab-and-go culture. Sure, you might take away a coffee and pastry in the morning, but lunch and dinner sit down.

Popular London meals are Indian food (the curry is to die for), pub fare, and locally raised and farmed foods. Many tourists knock on London for the food scene but don’t know where to go.

Outside of the touristy “fish and chips pub fare” is London’s entirely new food scene. Michelin-star restaurants are in every neighborhood, and the English are fantastic at sourcing locally.

See Related: 2 days in London Itinerary

Getting around in London vs. New York

Snowfall at New York City subway station with commuters
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

One of the benefits of a big city is public transportation. Taking a taxi in London? Forget it. It will cost you a nice dinner. Taxi in NYC? Takes longer than walking.

Public transportation in NYC is great for getting around town in Manhattan. The NYC subway is faster than most methods of transportation.

Faster than taxis and great for people-watching! The hard part of public transport in New York is getting to the outer boroughs. A few transfers or a long train can take a long time.

The London Underground (London Tube) and bus transportation are fantastic. You can get anywhere in under a half-hour, although if you are far east or west, expect a few transfers. The downside to public transportation in London is that it ends early.

Embankment Station entrance with London Underground logo and greenery
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Unlike New York, a 24/7 city, London shuts down at midnight. After that, you’ll take a taxicab.

See Related: Where to Stay Outside of Manhatten

London vs New York Living

Drone shot of London, UK
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Short story: both cities are expensive to live in. Rent is high, and buying is near impossible. Each city has its way of being affordable, though.

New York rents are insane. NYC is a very expensive city to live in (but not necessarily to visit). You have to have a roommate, or you’ll be in a 200-square-foot studio apartment. Smaller spots are alright, though, because you’re never really home. New York always has something to do and somewhere to go.

London is also insanely expensive to rent. The good part, though, is if you live outside the city, it is pretty easy to get into the city on the tube.

See Related: London vs Paris

Should you visit London or New York?

Tower of London architecture with Union Jack flag and weathervanes
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Both cities are awesome to visit. There are a few considerations before you choose which one to visit first.

For the morning bird: London. London is perfect for early risers. There are many unique coffee shops with handmade breakfasts and many museums to explore.

Also, walking along the Thames in the early morning is spectacular. Spot the Tower Bridge, walk past Westminster and Big Ben, the London Eye, and gaze at all London has to offer without all the hustle and bustle.

Like this? Read this itinerary on cruising the Grand Union Canal.

For the night owl: New York is the city that never sleeps. With the Empire State Building overlooking midtown Manhattan, nothing is off-limits once it strikes midnight or later.

Do you like Chinese food after a night out at a trendy club? This is your city. New York has some of the best bars and nightclubs in the world.

The city doesn’t wake up until 9 a.m., so you don’t need to worry about sleeping in till noon the next day.

For the foodie: New York. Don’t get us wrong, London has fantastic restaurants (including one of our favorites worldwide, St. John Bread and Wine).

But New York is unmatched. No matter your taste, New York will have a restaurant in that tiny niche that will be the best you’ve ever had.

For the shopper: London. New York has fantastic shopping, but it is nothing like London. London is so close to Paris, Amsterdam, and other world shopping centers that many top boutique brands have popped up in London. Also, Harrods.

The store will get you anything you want, including dinosaur fossils. There is also a wider range of shops in London. You can get an entire outfit for 20 pounds at a fantastic vintage shop or splurge at one of the top brands in the world in SoHo.

See Related: Interesting Nicknames for London

London airport versus New York airport

Heathrow Airport at Night

London and New York are easy to get to because they are big cities and hubs for international travel. You can easily get anywhere in the world from either city.

New York has two large airports and one in New Jersey that is considered part of the airport scene there.

The airports in New York have a variety of lounges and restaurant options. You will not be bored if you have a layover.

The downside to New York airports is getting into the city. It is difficult to get into the city from any of the airports. Public transport takes forever, and a taxi is expensive.

The best route? Grab a seat on this shuttle. If you use our link, you’ll automatically save.

London Heathrow is the largest airport in London and has the most international destinations.

The airport is clean, friendly, and cheap to travel around Europe from. The best part is the train to the city. It is quick and clean and so easy.

The city has two train options: the traditional tube or the Heathrow Express. The traditional tube, the London Underground, is the better option – it is less expensive and takes about 45 minutes.

The Heathrow Express is around 50 pounds and only shaves off about 15 minutes of travel time.

See Related: Ultimate Packing Checklist for London

Parks in London vs New York

Autumn in Central Park with NYC skyscrapers background
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

London has more green space than New York. Although Manhattan is densely populated, it has few parks besides Central Park.

London has a lot of open spaces and parks, such as Hyde Park and St James’s Park, which makes it a more attractive place to live and visit for people who need green spaces.

St. James's Park with London skyline and serene lake
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Londoners often enjoy spending time in their local park, whether for a picnic, a game of football, or relaxing.

What to consider before visiting London or New York

Bustling Grand Central Terminal, NYC - Beaux-Arts architecture, iconic clock, and vibrant atmosphere.
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Making your money last. New York is on the US dollar, which is less expensive than traveling to London on the British Pound (one of the strongest currencies in the world).

Visiting New York might be more affordable if you like to shop and go out to dinner. Traveling to nearby cities. London is your best bet for exploring more than one city.

Visiting Great Britain from London is easy and affordable – most trains or flights to Scotland, Wales, or outer England run regularly.

New York is more difficult. The rail system is not as advanced, and flights are more difficult, although many options exist.

See Related: 25+ Fun Facts About London

What is Better: London or New York?

The Shard behind Tower of London walls with Thames River
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

London is beautiful, with some of the world’s most famous landmarks. The people in London think that the high rent prices are due to wealthy people who have come to live there.

New York is an exciting city with more activities and nightlife for the night owl. Like London, NYC has a ton of great attractions, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center.

Plus, there is much more diversity, which has led to many different types of restaurants and cultural experiences.

The primary distinction between London and New York City is personal preference. Where you want to reside or visit will determine your decision. London may be perfect for you if you like museums, shopping, nightlife, and foodie scenes.

What do you think? London or New York? Leave a comment below on what you think about these two beautiful cities.

FAQ

Is London Bigger than New York?

London is smaller than New York. London’s population is slightly less than 8 million, while New York City has a population of more than 8 million. London covers roughly 372 square miles, while New York spans approximately 315 square miles, including Manhattan and Staten Island). So London is bigger in terms of surface area but not in terms of population.

Is London or NYC better?

It depends on what you’re looking for. London is a beautiful, historic city with some of the world’s most famous landmarks. London has more green spaces than New York, and it is often rated higher for quality of life. London is also easier to navigate for tourists but is considered to be extremely expensive for the ordinary traveler.

New York, conversely, boasts of its walkability (hence the term “Big Apple”), cultural attractions like Broadway productions and rock concerts, and myriad ethnic neighborhoods.

Is London cleaner than New York?

London wins in this regard and is considered cleaner than New York City. The difference can be related to London’s population density (measured at 13,194 people per square kilometer), which makes it relatively easy to maintain standards like cleanliness without having large bodies of water around the city.

How Big is New York Compared to London?

London is 839 square miles, about 50% bigger than New York City. London is larger, but the population of London itself is only about 10 million people. New York has a population of more than 9 million, and its area is around twice that of London. London’s population density is 11,407 people per square mile, while New Yorkers are crammed into an average density of 27,000 people per square mile.

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