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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.

Staten Island Ferry.

Staten Island Ferry. Photo CC

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.

There will be a pretty huge crowd

There will be a pretty huge crowd gathered waiting to board!

Oh, and try not to use the bathrooms onboard. They’re pretty terrible!

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About Meg Jerrard

Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.


  1. I can’t wait to go to New York, will be adding Staten Island Ferry to my bucket list pronto, looks like a great way to see the city.

    • Definitely do – it’s such a great introduction to the city’s main sites! Have a great time!

  2. Great tip Megan. I didn’t even know there was a free ferry, if I had then I would have taken it. After all it is at my favourite price.

    It looks like you got some great views from it too. Perfect for any tourist to capture the moment on a clear day.

    • Free is my favorite price too :D! It really is a great way to see the city; I had such a fun time!

  3. Is it true that the Statue of Liberty is actually pretty small, unlike how they like to portray it in the movies?

    • I didn’t think it was that small actually – while I wasn’t at the base it was pretty impressive from the ferry. I thought it lived up to my expectations :)

  4. Hi Megan,

    Having grown up in New Jersey, and having lived in Staten Island for a bit I’ve rode the Ferry many times. Awesome views of The City and you’ll almost always find a great spot to sit or stand unless you’re doing the rush hour thing.

    Get to the terminal a bit early and you’ll be fine.

    Awesome pictures and I must say, you did a fine job capturing the experience.

    Happy to tweet this.

    Signing off from Savusavu, Fiji.


    • Thanks Ryan! So glad you enjoyed the post, and I’m so glad I did it justice!

      Perhaps I did the rush hour thing because MAN was it crowded while I was there! Though was super impressed that the crowds of people didn’t take away from or impact the awesome view.

      Hope you’re having a great time in Fiji!!! Travel safe!

  5. I will definitely use the Staten ferry island next time I go to New York, I didn’t know it was free! I love things that are free.

    • Free is the best price!!

  6. There are great views of the City from the ferry! Gives people a reason to head to Staten Island :D

    • I should probably get off the next time I do the ferry and take the time to explore Staten Island – I just did the loop this time!

  7. You got some great views from the ferry! It’s also great that it’s free! Thanks for sharing some tips on boarding it!

    • Thanks Mary! So glad you enjoyed the post – definitely hit up the ferry terminal if you ever find yourself with some free time in NYC!

  8. This ferry is one of the few things I did in my 2 days in New York. It is definitely a cheap and easy way to see the Statue of Liberty. I must admit that I was disappointed though – I always imagined the statue would be massive! I was a bit disappointed to find it was so small.

    • I didn’t think it was too small – maybe because I had no expectations, or perhaps because I figured I was still seeing it from a distance.

      I have heard a lot of people thought the same though – rocked up with expectations that it would be huge and were then disappointed it was so small.

      Next time I’ll have to go onto the island to the base to make an assessment!

  9. Memories of a great time in New York. I am surprised you don’t have a foam Statue of Liberty Crown on your head LOL. Nice pics BTW :)

    • Lol nope I try to avoid foam hands at all costs :D Lol

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