From Philadelphia to New York City: 4 Best Ways to Get There

Written by Lavanya Sunkara
Feb 26, 2020

Located 95 miles northeast of Philadelphia, the bustling metropolis of New York City beckons with its skyscrapers, cultural institutions, and endless entertainment. Visitors hoping to make their way from Philadelphia to New York have many transportation options, thanks to planes, trains, and buses.

Anyone wanting to explore NYC from Philadelphia can do so in a day; however, a weekend getaway or longer stay is advisable for seeing all the sights and experiencing the energy of the city that never sleeps. From the famous Central Park to top-notch museums, Broadway shows to concerts, five-star hotels to sports venues, there's no shortage of attractions you can enjoy in the Big Apple.

The easiest way to travel between these two historic Eastern cities is by train, but those wanting a more leisurely and cheaper option can opt for the bus or drive on their own. There are pros and cons to each mode of transportation. To help you get started on planning your New York City outing, we've put together four best ways to travel from Philadelphia to New York, with considerations to keep in mind with each option.

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1. From Philadelphia to New York by Train

Aerial view of Penn Station in Manhattan
Aerial view of Penn Station in Manhattan

Train is by far the best option if you are looking for a relaxing way to reach New York. Amtrak's Acela Express train gets into the city in just over an hour, departing from the beautiful 30th Street Station in Philadelphia to Midtown Manhattan's Penn Station.

The Northeast Regional train takes 90 minutes and also leaves you in the center of the Big Apple at Penn Station, allowing you to get on with your day or start sightseeing early. Penn Station is a major transportation hub with connections to many subway lines, and it is located within walking distance of attractions like Madison Square Garden and Times Square.

The Acela Express train only has Business and First classes, whereas the regional train has Coach class with cheaper fares, but still features comfortable seating with extra legroom. Both trains have a café car and Wi-Fi onboard. There are multiple departures daily, with the earliest train leaving at 5:15am to the last one at 11:44pm, making rail travel between the cities convenient.

For a more affordable option, consider taking the Philadelphia SEPTA regional line to New Jersey Transit in Trenton, New Jersey to New York's Penn Station. The trip takes at least two hours, with stops and a waiting period between connections, but the fare is significantly less compared to Amtrak.

In the winter months, taking the train will give you peace of mind and get you to your destination without delays experienced by buses and cars stuck on the highways due to ice and snowy conditions.

2. From Philadelphia to New York by Bus

Columbus Circle in Manhattan
Columbus Circle in Manhattan

Bus travel may not be as glamorous or convenient as traveling by rail, but it's the cheapest way to get between the two cities. Buses run regularly from two stations in Philadelphia to New York City. Greyhound and PeterPan buses leave from the Philadelphia Bus Station at 1001 Filbert Street, while BoltBus and Megabus leave from JFK & N. 30th Street Bus Stop. A bus ride will take anywhere from two to three hours, depending on traffic and weather conditions and there are regular departures daily.

Bus companies offer online reservations, Wi-Fi, and comfortable seating; some even offer onboard entertainment on your personal devices. When traveling during weekends and holidays, you may be sitting next to college students making their way to educational institutions.

Purchase tickets ahead of time online for the best fares and seating choices. Greyhound buses leave passengers at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, while the other buses drop off curbside in various points in Midtown Manhattan.

3. From Philadelphia to New York by Car

Sunrise in Princeton, New Jersey
Sunrise in Princeton, New Jersey

Driving from Philadelphia to New York City takes under two hours without any traffic. Half of the 95-mile drive will be on the I-95, also known as New Jersey Turnpike in the Garden State, and you will enter Manhattan through the Holland Tunnel. Keep in mind that there are tolls on this road, and it is best to have your E-ZPass handy to avoid slowdowns. If you are renting a car, bring your E-ZPass with you, otherwise, the rental companies will charge a daily fee for using their transponders, or bill you for the tolls later with an administrative fee.

Driving allows you the convenience of traveling at your own pace, stopping for meals and adding sightseeing along the way, if you wish. Take in some history with a stop at New Jersey's Washington Crossing State Park, the site where George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River on December 25, 1776, before launching a surprise attack in Trenton that eventually helped America win the war.

Other New Jersey highlights to consider visiting are Princeton University Campus and a Bruce Springsteen inspired tour of Asbury Park along the popular Jersey shore.

Driving also proves to be prudent when you are traveling with family or friends, or bringing pets (Amtrak will only allow small pets in carriers on their trains, and buses do not allow any pets). If you have your own car, exploring New York City's boroughs and neighboring places like Long Island and Westchester becomes easier.

4. From Philadelphia to New York by Plane

Aerial view of Manhattan and Central Park
Aerial view of Manhattan and Central Park

Flying from Philadelphia International Airport is one of the fastest ways to reach New York City, but given the time it would take to get to the airport, clear security, check bags, and fly, you are looking at the same amount of time or more when compared to the train.

Keeping that in mind, if you prefer to fly, American Airlines provides the most number of non-stop flights between Philadelphia International Airport and LaGuardia Airport. Oftentimes, the airfares are cheaper than train tickets.

Located a 17-minute drive from the city center, the Philadelphia International Airport can be reached by SEPTA local train. Once you land in Queens, NY, you have a few options to get to the city. While the M60 Bus takes passengers from terminals at LaGuardia to 125th Street in Manhattan with connections to the subway, a quicker way to get to where you need to be is by catching an Uber or Lyft, as the airport is only eight miles from the city center.

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