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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 which destination is best for your taste.
- Differences between New York and London
- Top sites to visit in New York versus London
- Londoners vs New Yorkers: The people in London versus the people in New York
- The people in New York
- The people in London
- The difference in food in London and New York
- Getting around in London vs. New York
- London vs New York Living
- Should you visit London or New York?
- London airport versus New York airport
- Parks in London vs New York
- What to consider before visiting London or New York
- Final Thoughts
- Is London Bigger than New York?
- Is London or NYC better?
- Is London cleaner than New York?
- How Big is New York Compared to London?
Differences between New York and London
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 find a lot of success in New York, but you have to 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 own cultural norms and styles.
In Williamsburg, you’ll find niche restaurants, iced coffee, and vintage shops. Meanwhile, the Upper East Side boasts Michelin star fare and expensive cocktail bars.
Each neighborhood has its own 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 all people looking to integrate history and good conversation into their everyday life. Finance and law are also large industries here, but the work-life balance is much better.
In London, there is no better place than standing outside the corner pub at 5 pm. People from all walks of life 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
New York has a lot to offer to visitors. One of the oldest U.S. cities, New York has historic churches and 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 to name a few. It is best to buy tickets in advance though, 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 great to visit for Harry Potter fans, check out our post on the top places for Harry Potter fans to visit.
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
Erratic, forward, and confident – in the best way. To be honest, you have to 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
Polite, giggly, and judgmental. Londoners have an apt for structure and polite dressing but will unbutton at the pub. They also love to stare at the oddballs.
Only for a few seconds, but there is something about the way they look at you that 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
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 are likely to see someone famous (in their own way). There is a restaurant for every taste and the vibe will undoubtedly 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 are sitting 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 the truth is they just don’t know where to go.
Outside of the touristy “fish and chips pub fare” is an entirely new food scene in London. 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
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.
Unlike New York, which is a 24/7 city, London shuts down at midnight. After that, you’re taking a taxi cab.
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London vs New York Living
Short story: both cities are expensive to live in. Rent is high and buying is near impossible. Each city has its own 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?
Both cities are awesome to visit. There are a few considerations, though, 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 tons of 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 that 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 truly 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 am 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 in the world St. John Bread and Wine).
But New York is unmatched. No matter what your taste New York will have a restaurant on that tiny niche, and it 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 so many of the top boutique brands pop up in London. Also, Harrods.
The store will get you anything you are looking for, 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
Both London and New York are easy to get to because they are such 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 with the most international destinations.
The airport is clean, friendly, and cheap to travel around Europe from. The best part is the train into the city. It is quick and clean and so easy.
There are two train options in the city: the traditional tube or the Heathrow Express. The traditional tube known as 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
London has more green space than New York. Although Manhattan is densely populated, it does not have many parks besides Central Park.
London has a lot of open spaces and parks such as Hyde Park, and St Jame’s Park, which makes it a more attractive place to live and visit for people that need green spaces.
Londoners often enjoy spending time in their local park, whether it’s for a picnic, a game of football or just to relax.
What to consider before visiting London or New York
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).
If you like to shop and go out to dinner, it might be more affordable to visit New York. Traveling to nearby cities. If you want to explore more than one city, London is your best bet.
New York is more difficult. The rail system is not as advanced, and flights are more difficult although there are many to choose from.
See Related: 25+ Fun Facts About London
London is a beautiful city 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 that has 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 a ton of 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. If you like museums, shopping, nightlife, and foodie scenes, London may be the perfect place for you.
What do you think? London or New York? It depends on personal taste and what you want to get out of a city.
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 – which includes Manhattan and Staten Island). So London is bigger in surface area but not in 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 to be cleaner than New York City. The difference can be related because London’s population density (measured at 13,194 people per square kilometer) 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, or 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 with an area 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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- About the Author
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Alex is a travel writer for ViaTravelers currently living in Amsterdam. She has lived in three countries, 4 states, and visited over 15 countries worldwide. She enjoys top-tier restaurants, old books, and uncovering historic sites around the globe. She specializes in European destinations, particularly her favorites, Paris, Amsterdam, and Vienna and is an expert at family travel after visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks before her daughter turned 2 years old.