JFK to Manhattan

How to Get from JFK to Manhattan

Getting from JFK to Manhattan can seem confusing when you’re not familiar with the New York area. You’re arriving into the southeast corner of Queens which isn’t far distance-wise but might as well feel like a world away.

This detailed guide (written-by-a-local) will help you decide the best way to get from JFK Airport to Manhattan with all the step-by-step info you need to make your New York airport transfer.

How to Get from JFK to Manhattan
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How to Get from JFK to Manhattan

For clarity and to help you get your bearings, JFK airport is about 16 miles from midtown Manhattan. Technically, Laguardia Airport (also located in Queens) is the closest airport to Manhattan mileage-wise but it doesn’t always translate to quicker transfer times into Manhattan.

Depending on the day and time you arrive and the way you choose to travel from JFK to NYC, the trip can take about 30-40 minutes or well over an hour. Choosing the right means of transportation for your travel style and travel budget can make all the difference between arriving at your hotel stressed out or ready to get out and enjoy NYC.

Take a Taxi from JFK to Manhattan

JFK to Manhattan

A cab from JFK to Manhattan is the easiest way to get into New York City.  Up to 4 people, or 5 in a minivan, and their luggage can transfer from JFK to New York City by simply waiting at the taxi stand outside each terminal. Depending on the time you arrive, there could be a line of people waiting for taxis but it typically moves fairly well.

I bet you’re wondering how much is a taxi from JFK to Manhattan, though! With the convenience, of course, comes an expense. The NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission has set rules for flat fees into Manhattan. The taxi fare from JFK to Manhattan is $52.00, not including tolls or tip. There’s also a $4.50 surcharge during peak hours which are from 4 pm -8 pm on weekdays. A taxi from JFK will also include an NY State tax of 50 cents added to trips within New York.

A word of caution, there will also be drivers trying to offer you rides for cheaper than the cost of a taxi from JFK to Manhattan in their unlicensed cars. Ignore them. It’s absolutely safer to go with a regulated yellow cab.

Uber and other taxi-apps are also available for pickups in the arrivals area. A private transfer from JFK to Manhattan will start at around $45-$50.

Similarly, you can also arrange for a pre-arranged car service from JFK to Manhattan. The biggest benefit with this is not having to wait in a line at the taxi stand and having a driver anticipating your arrival even if your flight is delayed.

Take a JFK Airport Shuttle to Manhattan

JFK Airport Shuttle to Manhattan

Update – Shared shuttle service is suspended until further notice. You can pre-arrange a private car service with our trusted partners, Go Airlink & Carmel.

An NYC airport shuttle is a more affordable and more environmentally-friendly way to transfer from JFK to Manhattan.

Go Airlink NYC is an official partner with the New York and New Jersey Port Authorities and has earned a reputation among hotels in NYC as the most trusted New York airport shuttle.

You can book a seat on the shuttle ahead of time and your driver will track your flight and wait in case of any delays. You’ll get door-to-door shuttle service to and from your NYC hotel no matter when you arrive. Transportation from JFK to Manhattan is available 24/7. Round trip tickets are also available for you to arrange a shuttle to JFK at the end of your trip.

If you want to save some money but don’t want the hassle of lugging your bags onto the subway or the train, the best way to get from JFK to Manhattan is with a shuttle like Go Airlink NYC.

Pro Tip: Go Airlink can accommodate bigger families or groups who need an entire shuttle from JFK. Not only can everyone travel together, but the cost can also be split.

How to Get from JFK to Manhattan by AirTrain & Subway

JFK to Manhattan

First and foremost, this is the cheapest way to get from JFK to Manhattan. For a total of $10.50, you can transfer from JFK to NYC.

In addition to your budget, there are a few other things to think about before deciding whether the subway or train is the best option for you.

  • What day and time are you arriving? Things like rush hour traffic and late night travel might be a reason to choose public transportation from JFK to NYC or not. During peak traffic times, plan at least an hour on the roads to get from JFK to New York City.
  • How many bags do you have? Within the airport, there are elevators and escalators to help you manage your luggage. But, once in the subway, expect to have to navigate stairs and bigger crowds.
  • How many people are you traveling with? The taxi cost from JFK to Manhattan is still $52 plus tolls, tip, and other surcharges even with a full taxi of 4-5 people. But, if you need more than 1 taxi to fit everyone, the expense can add up quickly.
  • Is it your first time in New York CityThe subways and trains are easy to figure out, especially with a little research before your trip. But if you’re feeling nervous about visiting NYC, it could be worth a few extra dollars to go by taxi or shuttle service from JFK to Manhattan to start the trip right.
JFK to Manhattan by Subway
Managing heavy bags on stairs like these is a challenge!

You can get to multiple places in New York City by using the AirTrain, the NYC subway system and/or the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).

The JFK AirTrain has 3 separate lines and they’re accessible from all airport terminals. The 3 lines are:

  • the All Terminals Loop,
  • the Jamaica Station Line, and
  • the Howard Beach Line.

JFK Airport Transportation – All Terminals Loop

The AirTrain All Terminals Loop is the airport line is just as it sounds. It circles thru each of the airport terminals and parking areas. This line only loops the airport and will not get you to stations connecting you with the NYC subway or the LIRR.

How to Get from JFK to New York Using AirTrain & the LIRR

JFK Airport to Manhattan

This is the fastest way on public transportation from JFK to your hotel in Manhattan compared to connecting to the subway. At $18.50, it costs about $8 more than the subway, but the total travel time is just 30-35 minutes. This $18.50 includes the AirTrain $7.75 exit fee plus the cost of the LIRR train ticket at peak (rush hour) travel times. During off-peak travel times, this will cost $15.50.  

Follow the airport signs to the AirTrain. Take the AirTrain Jamaica Line to Jamaica Station where you connect to the LIRR. The LIRR will take you into New York Penn Station at 34th Street in midtown Manhattan similar to how NJ Transit trains transport passengers from Newark Airport to Manhattan.

Jamaica station is a major hub for the LIRR and trains into Penn will run just about every few minutes. Look to the scheduling monitors for the next arriving train and track info.

JFK Airport Transfers Using the AirTrain Jamaica Line & the NYC Subway

JFK to Manhattan by train

You can also get from JFK Airport to New York City by taking AirTrain’s Jamaica line to the Sutphin Blvd/ Archer Avenue station.  Here’s where you’ll connect to the expansive NYC subway system.

From this station, take the “E” train towards Manhattan where you’ll have multiple stops in Manhattan depending on where you need to go. Just know, the “E” train will make several stops in Queens before crossing into the city (as we locals like to say). 😉

Most visitors are traveling to a midtown hotel. So, if this is you as well, you’ll probably need to get off the train at either 42nd St./Times Square or the very next stop, 34th St./ Penn Station.

From either of these stops, you’ll also have the option to transfer for free to other subway lines. Penn Station also has a taxi stand if you plan to finish your journey in a cab.

From your terminal JFK Airport to NYC, expect the ride to take about 50 to 60 minutes and cost $7.75.  The cost includes the $5.00 AirTrain entrance/exit fee and $2.75 for the subway ride. There is a $1.00 charge to buy a new MetroCard from an automated machine, but this fee is waived if you buy your Metrocard from an agent at the station.

Transfers from JFK to NYC on the Howard Beach AirTrain & NYC Subway

JFK to Manhattan by Train

Similar to above, take the Howard Beach AirTrain Line to the Howard Beach/JFK Airport stop and connect to the “A” train to Manhattan on the New York City subway. The $7.75 one-way cost applies as above. Buy your MetroCard for the subway at the Howard Beach Station and proceed into Manhattan.

In all honesty, if I had to choose an AirTrain/NYC Subway option, I’d use the Jamaica Line option from above.  The Howard Beach Line option takes longer to get to Manhattan at about 70-75 minutes.

The one difference to consider is the A train will get you into lower Manhattan below 14th street.  If you’re staying at an NYC hotel below 14th St. on Manhattan’s west side, the “A” train might make more sense.

 Pro Tip: If you plan to take the “A” train from NYC to JFK at the end of your trip, only get on the train headed for “Far Rockaway” not “Lefferts Blvd.”

Is there a bus from JFK to Manhattan?

The only express bus service from JFK to Grand Central, Port Authority & Times Square.

There are no direct public city buses that go from JFK to midtown or other parts of Manhattan. There are buses that can help you connect with the subway or Long Island Railroad but they’re unnecessary for travel from JFK to Manhattan as long as the AirTrain is running normally.

Some buses do go to specific neighborhoods in Brooklyn, but it would still be worth it to investigate subway options as it’s usually faster to go by subway to get where you’re going than by bus.

If you’d like, you can take the NYC Express Bus which is the only bus authorized by the NY & NJ Port Authority. The bus stops at Grand Central, Times Square, and Port Authority bus terminal for only $19. 

Getting from Manhattan to JFK

Getting from Manhattan to JFK

You can take all of the above transportation options from Manhattan to JFK Airport at the end of your trip. It’s worth it to compare one-way and round-trip ticket prices to see if there’s a less expensive bundled ticket.

A taxi from Manhattan to JFK still costs the same $52 flat fee (not including tolls and tip) and has the applicable surcharges and taxes depending on the timing of your trip. If you’re taking a taxi to JFK, be mindful of the time of day you need to get there in relation to peak NYC traffic times. It can take well over 90 minutes to get to JFK if the traffic is thick!

So, how should you get from JFK Airport to Manhattan?

The LIRR trains and the NYC subway are the best ways from JFK to Manhattan if you’re looking to save money and time sitting in traffic. On the other hand, if the public transportation choices seem too stressful, JFK shuttle service is a great compromise. You get a hassle-free ride without the high cost of a taxi from JFK to Manhattan.

Update – Shared shuttle service is suspended until further notice. You can pre-arrange a private car service with our trusted partners, Go Airlink & Carmel.

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So, which JFK airport transportation to Manhattan looks like the right choice for you?

50 thoughts on “How to Get from JFK to Manhattan”

  1. Hi Jackie!

    Thank you for posting this. I still a bit confused with all the names and places but at least I won’t be going to Manhattan blind. I am doing a solo trip for a day from Boston. My first problem was deciding to fly in or take the AmTrak. Prices are pretty much the same, but flying is only an hour. I’d like to spend as much time exploring than to sit 4 hrs on the Amtrak. The biggest benefit with Amtrak is that I am right in Penn station.

    My problem with flying is how to get into Manhattan from JFK. So my best bet is the Airtran and the LIRR because I just need to get to Penn Station. So when I to go to back to JFK, where do go from there? Penn station to LIRR to Jamaican station to JFK? Thank you in advance!!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Sokie! More time in NYC is definitely better than a long train ride. When you want to return to JFK, just go to Penn Station. Take an LIRR train that stops at Jamaica Station (nearly all do) and then switch to the Airtran. Hope that helps and you enjoy your time in NYC! 🙂

  2. We just arrived and are riding the lrr right now!!! Thank you so much for your specific details to make this easy!! We’re in town from Georgia and this is great info! We are traveling with our two children, and they’re loving the train! Thanks again for laying out all the options! So helpful!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thank you for reading, Stacey! So glad the guide was helpful for you to transfer. Love that the kids got such a kick out of the train. 🙂 Enjoy NYC.

  3. Hi Jackie~ Thank you so much for your wonderful posting. It will be a great help for our family trip to NYC.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Maria! I’m glad to hear the guide is helpful for you and your family. Enjoy NYC! 🙂

  4. Thank you for posting this information. I will be traveling to New York for the first time and am more than a bit nervous and apprehensive about getting to where I need to go. After reading this, I feel somewhat relieved. Looks as though the taxi or shuttle is what will be best for me 🙂

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Marty. Glad the guide helped. You want to arrive and feel comfortable. It sets the tone for the trip! Enjoy NYC. 🙂

  5. Thanks for the useful article. It misses one little piece of information: where and how can traveler get AirTrai, subway and LIRR tickets. Is it going to be a vending machine at the station entrance? Will it work for both Airtrain and LIRR? Thank you.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Andrey. Great point! There are vending machines just before exiting the AirTrain at Jamaica. There’s typically staff there, too, for anyone who needs help. You can buy a Metrocard to cover your (just taken) Airtrain ride and the subway. You can also purchase LIRR tickets from these machines, as well. Alternatively, there’s an app called MTA e-tix where you can pre-purchase LIRR tickets, as well. Hope that helps! 🙂

  6. Thanks Jackie. That will be my first time in NYC. I am travelling alone and due to land at around 8pm. Is it still safe to use the AirTrain and LIRR at that time at night or am I better off using a JFK shuttle service?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Emmanuel. You can absolutely use the AirTrain and LIRR at night. I’ve taken both myself much later than 8 pm and felt safe. As with any big city at any time, just be aware of your surroundings as you normally would. Also, check the LIRR schedule just to make sure you’re not waiting too long. Trains run all night but get less frequent the later into the night you go. Enjoy NYC!

  7. Looks like I’ll arrive at JFK near midnight on a Saturday. What combo would be the best to get into the East Village? Airtrain to LIRR to taxi?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Guy. Yes, I’d do Airtrain to LIRR to a taxi. Just double check the LIRR schedule online to be sure you don’t have to wait too long. I’ve personally done exactly this except not to the East Village. There are still people on the trains and everything is well-lit and attended.

  8. Eileen Kushner

    Hi Jackie,
    Thank you so much for this useful information! I have a question about the return trip to JFK. I have an 8 pm flight on Sunday> If I arrive to Penn station from Amtrack at 6:30pm, will I have enough time to take LIRR to Jamaica and then AirTrain to JFK and not miss my flight or is that too close? Please advise. I would really appreciate your advice. Thank you in advance.:) Eileen

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Hi Eileen!

      Thanks for reading and your question.

      I think it’s too tight. At best, you’re looking at a 45 minute to 1 hour trip from Penn to JFK.

      That puts you at roughly 730p and you still need to get through security.

      Where are you coming from to get to JFK?

  9. Kimberly Goeman

    This is so helpful! I am taking a redeye next month and have 8 hours solo in the city! Do you think its doable to do Central Park, The High Line, Little Italy, 911 memorial and the Brookyln bridge in that time? It will be a Friday, ;anding around 6am.

    Any advice is appreciated!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading, Kimberly. 8 hours solo in NYC isn’t as much time as it seems. It will take at least 1 hour to get to Manhattan and another hour back to JFK, plus you have to factor in time to go back through security. I would choose 1 maybe 2 of these things always keeping a watchful eye on the time. You might think about the 9/11 Memorial (more time if doing the museum, too) and the Brooklyn Bridge since they aren’t that far from each other. Or spend time in the lower part of Central Park, then take the subway over to Hudson Yards and the Highline. Good luck with your time in NYC!

  10. Kimberly Goeman

    Hi there! Thank you for your response! Luckily, I am not heading back out via airplane. I land at 6am, and the rest of my party arrives between 2pm-3pm so I need to be back in that time frame to catch the car with them (headed out of the city from there). Hoping to squeeze in as much as possible! Fingers crossed.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      At least you don’t have to get back through security! That’s a big help! Have fun in NYC and wherever your travels take you after that! 😉


    We are arriving into JFK at 6.30am on 2nd of. Off 2019 our flight home is 22.25 that night. What’s best way to get into New York city. I read about the train. Does it leave you near times square and what time would we need to leave at to be back to check in at airport. We won’t have luggage as we have connecting flight. There are 2 of us and it will be our 1sr time. Can we buy train tickets at airport

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Roberta. Take the Airtrain from Jamaica Station Airtrain from JFK. Get off at Jamaica Station. Follow signs to the LIRR platforms and take a train from there into Manhattan. The train will leave you at Penn Station in NYC which is at 33/34 Streets in between 7th and 8th Aves. If you walked up 7th Ave from there, you’d just need to go up to 42nd St. to be in Times Square. You could also take the subway right from the station to Times Square. The 1,2,3 trains uptown will help and you’d need to go just 1 stop. To return, I wouldn’t leave any later than 6:30-7pm from Manhattan by train to get back to JFK. And, yes you can buy tickets at the airport. You actually get on the Airtrain and pay for it once you’re off the train before departing at Jamaica Station to go into the LIRR platforms. Good Luck!

  12. My wife and I, active septuagenarians, are scheduled to arrive at JFK from Madrid at 10:30 pm on Tuesday, 27 August, after having been awake for more than 20 hours, so we’ll be tired. Because we’ll have to pass through passport control and customs, our departure time from JFK is uncertain. We need transportation to our Manhattan hotel on 8th Ave. between W. 38th St. and W. 39th St. Speed, comfort, cost, and safety are all important.

    The AirTrain/LIRR combination to Penn Station seems attractive. Apparently, our hotel is a walk of ~8 min from Penn Station which could occur as late as 1 am. Should we be concerned about this transportation choice or this walk at this time of night? Would a taxi driver want to take us on a short trip from Penn Station to our hotel?

    A considerably more expensive but possibly faster alternative would be to take a taxi. However, I’ve read of significant delays queuing for a taxi at JFK. Might that be a problem at that time of night? Advantages would be no transfer, no luggage hassles, and a drop off directly at our hotel. Disadvantages could be a white knuckle ride into the city and a possible fare rip-off attempt (we know there’s a flat fare).

    I would be interested on your thoughts about our transportation alternatives.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Art. You will be ok on the Air Train/LIRR at that time. But I would get a taxi from Penn Station to your hotel. Yes, the walk is short but those blocks you mention can be a little quiet at night. You could also use Uber or pre-book a pickup to avoid the taxi queue. If you do end up in a yellow NYC taxi, I wouldn’t worry too much about a potential fare rip-off. The flat fare is enforced and it would only take you noting the taxi driver’s unique number post inside the vehicle for that driver to face consequences. Good luck! 🙂

  13. We are arriving 7th Oct by Cruise ship from UK, via Iceland and Canada

    Hotel is on 7th and we have a hop on – off bus booked for 2 days

    Will these buses take us close to most tourist things?

    What’s the weather normal like that time of year?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Paul. NYC in October is the best time of year to visit. There could be a slight chill in the air, but most days are comfortable and sunny. Yes, the hop-on-hop-off buses operate different routes but they are strategically taking people to the popular sights along the route. Enjoy your cruise and NYC! 🙂

  14. martin griffiths

    hi jackie,just read your post getting to nyc fromjfk absolutely superb.The wife and i arrive in new york on dec30th for 5 days staying at riu plaza times sq would this be walking distance from penn station.I am thinking of the lirr from jamaica if that makes sense to you.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Martin. The LIRR would leave you at Penn which is at 34th st. and 8th Ave. You could technically walk up 8th avenue for 12 blocks. As a NYer, I would walk this distance without thinking twice and do so on most days. However, if you have heavy luggage or just don’t want to drag it along, you could take the #2 or #3 subway lines up 1 stop to 42nd st or the #1 subway up to 50th. Subway is available right at Penn Station. Taxis will also be outside at the street level. Enjoy NYC!

  15. Hi Jackie,
    Thank you so much for all of the great information you provide.
    Having said this, I feel like my brain may implode slightly still with trying to understand the best way to get into our Upper East accommodation. There will be 5 of us, coming in the late afternoon on Dec 16th, at this stage I’m thinking that the Airtrain will suit us best still. Where I’m confused though, is do we go JFK – Jamaica Stn-? I can’t quite work out the closest subway to the apartment (we’re near E64th and 3rd). Can you please help me with any suggestions?

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Carole. No worries. So I would take the Air Train from JFK to Jamaica Station. Then you want to transfer to the “E” subway train heading towards Manhattan/World Trade Center. Get off the train at Lexington Ave/53rd St. This is will be the first stop in Manhattan. Transfer to the “6” train uptown. It all connects and there’s no added fee. Once you’re in the subway, you can transfer trains. Your area, E64th and 3rd ave is in between 2 stops. I would recommend getting off at 68th St./Hunter College. You will be at E68th and Lexington. So you’ll need to walk down 4 blocks and over 1 block east to 3rd Ave. I hope that helps! 🙂

    2. Hi Jackie,

      Thanks for your post , very helpful! I am traveling over to NYC this Friday and was wondering how do I get the metrocard? Is the same card for subways and airtrain? Can I buy one, top up it and use during my stay in the city?
      Many thanks.


    3. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Lili. Yes, it’s the same MetroCard for the AirTrain and subway. You can also top it up and use it for your stay. Enjoy NYC!

  16. Hi Jackie, we are off to NY tomorrow.
    Originally I planning on using urber since it’s 2 adults and 2 kids and we arrive 9:30pm.
    After reading your article the cost and Taxi is around the same so we’ll take a taxi and make life easy.

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Anil. Sounds like a plan! 🙂 Hope you have a great time in NYC.

  17. Hello! This is so helpful! This is my first trip to NYC and I will be taking my 18 year old as a graduation trip. I had a question about storing luggage on the day we are leaving. Our flight doesn’t leave until 6:30pm. Is there a way to store our luggage after we check out of our hotel? Thank you for your time and expertise!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Michelle. Yes, there are plenty of luggage storage options in NYC. Take a look at Bounce Luggage Storage to see if it meets your needs. Have a great time in NYC!

  18. Hello! Not all A trains go to jfk ? I didnt get the far rockaway part. Will the train Say that on the outside? Thank you!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks for reading, Giselle. Yes, you have to take the “A” train that says Far Rockaway not Lefferts Blvd. Yes, it will say to Far Rockaway on the outside. Apologies for any confusion.

  19. I loved this article!
    My question is one that has been asked a million times probably?
    Saturday night 1st week in December I have a flight that leaves JFK at 6:25pm to DFW.
    Our play ends at 3pm. I will keep my carry-on at the Marquis.
    doing the LIRR or cab to be at JFK by 5:20pm…is that doable?
    my friend wants me to find a later flight, but there are none at this time.
    Thank you!

    1. Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie

      Thanks so much for reading the blog. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news but I agree with your friend. Arriving at JFK by 5:20 pm for a 6:25 pm flight is cutting it too close to check-in, go through security, etc. Consider that the flight will likely start boarding by 5:30 pm. Not to mention, the traffic in NYC on a Saturday night in the holiday season is bound to be heavy. If you can change your flight, this is what I recommend. If you decide to give it a go, stick to the LIRR, avoid the roads, and have a backup plan in case you aren’t able to make it in time. Good luck!

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