Getting from JFK to Times Square (or anywhere near Midtown such as the Port Authority Bus Terminal) can seem like an overwhelming first task in the city that never sleeps. To ease the stress, we are here to tell you that the voyage is actually quite easy. To make it even easier, I compiled a step by step visual guide to get you from JFK to Times Square. As a local, I answer this exact question literally multiple times per day so I finally spent a weekend visiting each terminal collecting good visual cues to make it easy.

JFK to Times Square

First things first, let’s get our bearings. Distance-wise, JFK is technically further away from midtown than LGA as the bird flies, but it is a much easier commute thanks to better public transit options. Both Laguardia and JFK are located in Queens. Another popular option is Newark airport, which is located in New Jersey. We will have separate posts on how to get to Manhattan from the other airports, but this one is dedicated to JFK.

Map of JFK, LGA, and LGA.  Helpful for navigating JFK to Times Square.
Know your airports.

JFK to Times Square Options

There are many options into the city from JFK. Below is an overview with links to more detail.

Taxi

  • local_taxi Taxi from JFK to Manhattan is probably the most iconic and popular option and a good first choice.
  • attach_money Total cost will be around $65. Taxis charge a fixed flat fare of $52.50 per trip between the airport and Manhattan, but impose a $4.50 surcharge during peak hours (4-8 p.m. weekdays, excluding holidays). This does not include a tip, which is typically 15-20%
  • access_time Taxi commute time from JFK is variable. 30 minutes on a good day. Over 1.5 hours on a bad day.
  • check_circle No reservation required.
  • check_circle Fixed rate – no surge pricing
  • check_circle Will drop you off in front of your hotel
  • check_circle Super easy to find the taxi stand
  • cancel Expensive
  • cancel Subject to traffic
  • credit_card all taxis accept credit cards
  • child_care taxis will not have car seats
  • accessible there are accessible taxis
  • warning Warning: If you are approached by anyone offering a taxi anywhere other than the line to the taxi stand, refuse. We cover how to identify the taxi stand below.
  • View step by step taxi directions

Shuttle or Car Service

  • directions_car Shuttle service is somewhere in between express bus or car service. GoAirLink is the official partner with JFK and gives you a shared ride similar to the bus, but it will drop you at your hotel. If you want a nice, private ride, you can opt for a private car service.
  • attach_money Prices vary depending on drop off location, but start around $25.00 per person for shared shuttle service. Children 3 and under are free. Note that the private car service is more expensive than Uber or Lyft, but gratuity is included.
  • access_time Shared shuttle commute time from JFK is variable. 30 minutes on a good day. Over 1.5 hours on a bad day. Note it leaves on a schedule every 30 minutes and depending on which order you are dropped off, you may have to wait for other passengers to get off first.
  • check_circle Cheaper than a taxi
  • check_circle Plenty of room for luggage
  • check_circle Drop off at your hotel
  • credit_card Purchase online in advance with a credit card
  • child_care Strollers easily stowed under the bus. Unclear on private car service.
  • accessible unclear
  • Book Shuttle Service Now

Airtrain -> Subway

  • subway Taking the subway from JFK to Manhattan is my overall method of choice. This is the cheapest option and the most reliable.
  • attach_money The total cost will be $10.50 ($7.75 for Air Train + $2.75 for subway) per person, noting that small kids are free.
  • access_time 1 hour + walking
  • check_circle Cheapest option!
  • cancel Navigating to the subway from the terminal is not difficult, but is not as easy as finding the taxi.
  • cancel Usually involves more walking and not all stations have elevators or escalators. Not a great option with heavy bags or for individuals with difficulty walking up or down stairs.
  • credit_card Metro card machines accept all major credit cards and methods of payment.
  • child_care Strollers easily fit on public transit options, but you may have to carry them up stairs in Manhattan depending on the stop
  • accessible Routes may be technically accessible, but elevators may be down and distance “on foot” may be significant for individuals with disabilities
  • View step by step subway instructions

Uber/Lyft

  • directions_car Uber or Lyft from JFK to Manhattan is just as easy as Uber or Lyft anywhere else, plus there are always drivers either circling around or returning to the airport from another fare so the wait will never be long. The pick up zone is right across from the taxi stand at most terminals as well, making it an easy option for those who want a nicer ride than a taxi.
  • attach_money Uber cost is variable, but will be around $65.
  • access_time Uber commute time from JFK to Manhattan is variable. 30 minutes on a good day. Over 1.5 hours on a bad day.
  • check_circle Reserve using app
  • check_circle Uber pool or Lyft shared offers cheap ride share options.
  • check_circle Will drop you off in front of your hotel
  • check_circle Pick up is typically right across from the Taxi stand
  • cancel Expensive
  • cancel Subject to traffic
  • credit_card Pay on the app. No need to get your wallet out
  • child_care Uber and Lyft family will have car seats, but they are typically not suitable for infants.
  • accessible there are accessible Ubers and Lyfts
  • View step by step Uber/Lyft directions

Airtrain -> LIRR

  • train The LIRR is a nicer train than the subway and there won’t be extra stops, but this will be more expensive by a few bucks. I’m not sure what the appeal is because the LIRR station is literally at the exact location as the subway on both ends, but if you want cushy seats and more legroom, go for it.
  • attach_money The total cost using the LIRR is variable. On the low end, it will be $7.75 for AirTrain + $7.75 for an off peak LIRR if you buy a ticket at the kiosk. On the high end, it will be $7.75 for Air Train + $17.00 if you buy on board during peak hours. Children under 5 ride free. There are also a few crazy rules about children during peak and off peak hours depending on how many kids you have. It’s bananas so don’t try to understand it, just take the subway.
  • access_time 45 minutes + walking
  • check_circle Cheaper than a taxi for small groups
  • cancel Navigating to the subway from the terminal is not difficult, but is not as easy as finding the taxi.
  • cancel Usually involves more walking and not all stations have elevators or escalators. Not a great option with heavy bags or for individuals with difficulty walking up or down stairs.
  • credit_card Metro card machines accept all major credit cards and methods of payment.
  • child_care Strollers easily fit on public transit options, although there is not as much room on the LIRR as the subway
  • accessible Routes may be technically accessible, but elevators may be down and distance “on foot” may be significant for individuals with disabilities

Express Bus

  • directions_bus The express bus is a solid option that will drop you off in Times Square or a few other locations in Manhattan. It’s best for families who don’t want to pay for private transfer, but also aren’t quite feeling bold enough to navigate the subway quite yet.
  • attach_money $19.00 per person. Children under 5 are free. Buy 3 get 4th free.
  • access_time Express bus commute time from JFK is variable. 30 minutes on a good day. Over 1.5 hours on a bad day. Note it leaves on a schedule every 30 minutes.
  • check_circle Cheaper than a taxi
  • check_circle Plenty of room for luggage
  • cancel Will still require the same walk to your hotel from Times Square, Grand Central, or Port Authority, but will not require walking up flights of stairs.
  • credit_card Purchase online in advance or in person using a credit card.
  • child_care Strollers easily stowed under the bus. No child seat required.
  • accessible Vehicles are not ADA accessible

Helicopter

  • stars Yep. There are several service providers for this.
  • attach_money $200
  • access_time 8 minutes + transfer to your hotel
  • check_circle FAST
  • check_circle Baller status
  • check_circle If you fly with Blade, you get Berne rosé from a helicopter-proof sippy cup
  • cancel Expensive
  • cancel Will require additional transfer to your hotel
  • credit_card If you are paying in cash, I’m curious what’s in your briefcase?
  • child_care Unclear
  • accessible Unclear

JFK to Times Square Frequently Asked Questions

Can you take the subway from JFK to Manhattan?

Yes! From your terminal, hop on the AirTrain to the subway station. It is best to check Google maps ahead of time to see which AirTrain station is best to link to the subway for your final destination.

What is the cheapest way to get from JFK to Times Square?

No matter how you slice it, the subway is almost always the cheapest option for getting from JFK to Times Square

How much is a taxi from JFK to Times Square?

Assume a taxi will cost about $65.00 from JFK to Times Square. The fare from JFK is fixed at $52.00, plus any fees for bridges or tunnels, plus a $4.50 surcharge during peak hours (4pm – 8pm weekdays). Note this does not include a tip of about 15%.

Can you take an uber from JFK?

The quick answer is yes, you can take an Uber from JFK to anywhere in New York City. The pick-up locations are typically right across the street from the taxi stands at most terminals.

How far is JFK from NYC?

JFK is approximately 14 miles from Manhattan as the bird flies. Actual distance varies, but from Times Square, JFK is exactly 16.5 miles.

Is it safe to ride the subway from JFK at night?

Public transportation is generally safe in New York City, even at night. Obviously travelers should be extra vigilant after hours, especially tourists with bags who may look like attractive targets. Public safety officers are present at all hours and there will also be a number of other travelers as well. Always feel free to talk to a police officer or an MTA employee if you feel unsafe or need assistance, even with directions.

Is Times Square safe at night?

Almost all areas of New York City are safe day and night. Times Square has changed dramatically over the past 30 years and is now quite safe at night. It is heavily populated, well patrolled by safety officers, and under surveillance.

How do I not look like a tourist in NYC?

hehe. Wear black. Don’t stop in the middle of the sidewalk. Don’t wear uggs, fanny packs, or I heart NY gear. Avoid Times Square. Don’t say “hello” to everyone you pass like Crocodile Dundee.

You made it!

Hopefully this guide will get you to where you need to go near Times Square.

I hope it helps and I hope NYC isn’t overwhelming. I can tell you as a native Midwesterner living in the Big Apple, to this day Times Square is still overwhelming to me.

Mike in Times Square - Oh boy!

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