From JFK to Manhattan – Full Guide

This guide will help you to find the best, cheapest and fastest ways to go from JFK to Manhattan. We will cover subway, train, shared van and taxi.

From JFK to Manhattan – How to Choose?
Air Train + Subway
Air Train + Train
Shared Van
Discover NYC Final Considerations

It is also very important to choose a good area for your hotel. Also read our article on the 3 areas where we recommend reserving a Hotel in NYC.

Street sign to get to the JFK airport by taxi or car

From JFK to Manhattan – How to choose?

We know it’s not easy to make a choice.

The Subway may be scary for first timers but it is cheap and fast.

The train is faster than the subway but less handy than a cab.

Taxis are user-friendly, but pricey. Keep in mind traffic: it can turn a short ride into 2 hours or more.

Shared vans are cheaper than a cab but traffic is still a problem.

Don’t wait until you arrive in JFK to decide. You will be tired from the trip and maybe also Jet-lagged.

The table below can help you choose the best way for you:

Time (minutes) Cost ($) Best For
Subway 60 to 90 7.75 Budget
Train 35 > 15.5 Rush
Shared Van 90 > 20 Balance cost & time
Taxi 45 > 52 (plus toll and tip) = > 66 Stress-free

Option 1: Air train + Subway

This is the fastest and cheapest way to go from JFK to the City: 10.5$ / person.

“Not using the Subway” is one of the top 5 mistakes most tourists make in NYC. Find out the others and make sure you don’t make them too!

How it works

There is no direct subway. You have to take the Air Train to the subway station first and then the subway to Manhattan.

After customs, firstly follow the signs to catch the Air Train. The AirTrain connects the airport terminals. It runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Keep in mind there are Two AirTrain lines.

The first one brings you to Jamaica Station. Here you can take the the E, J, and Z subway lines, as well as the Long Island Railroad (see section “Train“).
The second one instead brings you to Howard Beach Station. From here you can get the A Line to the City.


The total cost is 7.75$. The Air Train costs 5$ e the Subway 2.75$.
The Air Train is free between terminals, but it costs 5$ to go to the subway station. Use the MetroCard to pay the Air Train. If you don’t have a MetroCard, get one at the end of the Air Train ride, right before the exit to get the Subway.
Please read our articles about the Subway and MetroCard in NYC: Key things to know before using the Subway in NYC and MetroCard Key Info.

Travel Time

Travel time varies depending on destination. Allow 60-90 minutes to get to Midtown Manhattan.

Pros and Cons

Pros: By far the cheapest option. Taking the metro during rush hour is faster than a taxi.

Cons: Not all metro stations have elevators. Not the best if you carry a heavy luggage.

Important Info

In the highlighted Stories “Travel Tips” of our Instagram account My Christmas in New York you will find a full summary of the journey from Manhattan to JFK by Subway + Air Train. Have a look here:

We hope that the videos in these stories will help you navigating the Subway + Air Train from Manhattan to JFK

LIRR train from Manhattan to JFK. Signal with blue MTA

Option 2: Air Train + Train

Are you in a rush? Then using the train is a great choice! In fact, it will take you less than 40 minutes to go from JFK to Manhattan.

How it works

Take firstly the Air Train to Jamaica Station. See “Subway” section for info on the Air Train.

Once you are in Jamaica Station, take the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) to Manhattan.

The LIRR station is right next the Subway in Jamaica.


The total cost is 15.75$. The Air Train costs 5$ e the LIRR Train 10.75$.

Travel Time

Roughly 40 minutes

Pros and Cons

Pros: faster than the metro and still much cheaper than a taxi.

Cons: same problems as the Metro if you have a heavy luggage

Option 3: Shared Van

Great solution if you want to save money on a taxi ride but still get directly to your hotel.

How it works

The most famous ride-sharing vans from JFK to the City are GoAirLink and SuperShuttle

The door-to-door service is comparable to cabs but much cheaper.

We suggest you to purchase tickets online to save time.


The costs (20$ to 40$ / person) depends by your destination in Manhattan.

Travel Time

It depends on two factors: traffic and the number of people in the van.

If you are the last dropped, you will tour first the other people’s hotels.

Pros and Cons

Pros: door-to-door cheaper than a cab

Cons: often required to wait until a van is mostly full, so be prepared to wait.

Taxis waiting just outside JFK terminal in New York

Option 4: Taxi

The most convenient but also expensive mode to travel from JFK to Manhattan.

The number of passengers allowed in yellow taxis is limited to four (or five in a minivan). If you have a larger group, you may need to divide up into multiple taxis or use a shared bus service


JFK Airport taxis charge a flat rate of $52 to get to Manhattan. During peak hours (4-8 p.m. weekdays, excluding holidays), there is a $4.50 surcharge.

Add to this a tip of 18% for a total of 67$.

Taxis will accept cash or credit cards as payment.

Travel Time

From 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on traffic

Pros and Cons

Pros: the best choice for tourists with lots of baggage and tired after the flight.

Cons: the most expensive way

Planes at JFK airport in NYC

Discover NYC Final Considarations

Our recommendation is to take the subway, which is cheap, reliable, and easy to use. The second is the comfortable and safe cab. The train is an option, but we prefer the subway. We recommend the shared van for groups (more than 4 people) as you will take a large portion of the vehicle and be the first to be dropped off in the city.