For the best views in Manhattan, you can’t beat the Staten Island Ferry.
Offering spectacular views of the world famous skyline, the Statue of Liberty, New York City Harbor, the Brooklyn Bridge, lower Manhattan, and Wall Street’s famous skyscrapers, the Staten Island Ferry is a real treat. But, in a city which is known for bleeding your wallet dry, it’s also a real treat for those in New York on a budget.
Cruises usually cost a fortune, though this one won’t cost you a cent. True, it only lasts 25 minutes, and there are admittedly no rooftop bars or cocktail lounges (though there is a bar onboard which sells beer), but there is no better way to experience New York than from the free Staten Island Ferry.
Ferries have connected lower Manhattan to Staten Island since the 18th century, and have today become somewhat of a NYC icon. And while I didn’t care necessarily about getting to Staten Island, I was happy to accept a free sightseeing cruise, and boarded the ferry for the views.
Having not yet crossed the Statue of Liberty off my bucket list, and with no particular intention to join the hordes and hordes of tourists who congregate at her base, I enjoyed watching her shrink as we pitched across the bay, and loom large as we returned.
The views of Lady Liberty from the ferry were good enough for me to now claim I have seen her!
Click to enlarge and scroll through the various views from the Staten Island Ferry.
Tips for the Staten Island Ferry
The Ferry sees 60,000 passengers each day, and as such there will be a huge crowd waiting to board. Head straight upstairs to the railings and claim some standing room. If you sit, people will stand in front of you and block your view.
You can’t stay on the ferry for the return trip, and will have to disembark and walk around to the back of the crowd waiting to get on for the ride back.
Consider swapping sides on the ride back. One side boasts the Statue of Liberty, while the other offers spectacular views of the NYC skyline.
The ferry operates 24 hours, every day of the week, and you will generally never be waiting more than half hour for a departure. The nearest subways in Manhattan include 1 to South Ferry or 4/5 to Bowling Green.
Oh, and try not to use the bathrooms onboard. They’re pretty terrible!
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