Think of New York City and chances are you'll picture the Manhattan skyline stretching out along the waterfront, but look to the right and you'll see Brooklyn sitting just across the East River. Connected to Manhattan via some of NYC's iconic bridges, it covers a huge area and is definitely worth a visit while you're in the Big Apple.
Regular ferries sail between Manhattan and Brooklyn, taking just a few minutes to cross the East River before continuing to other destinations around Brooklyn. It's a cheap and fun way to travel and you'll get a great view of New York City along the way.
The East River is a busy waterway so you might wonder where and how to take the ferry between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Keep on reading to find out where to board, where you'll disembark, and other important information if you decide to take the ferry across the East River to Brooklyn.
Can you take the ferry to Brooklyn?
If you look out across the East River, chances are you'll see small boats crossing the waterway at speed, including ferries between Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The NYC Ferry is a prominent service that connects several stops on its South Brooklyn Route, but there are a few other alternatives which you'll find out about further down the page.
Taking the NYC ferry to Brooklyn
The NYC Ferry's South Brooklyn Route departs from Manhattan at either Corlears Hook or Pier 11 Wall Street and connects with a number of places in Brooklyn.
Depending on your final destination, you have the choice to disembark at Dumbo, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Red Hook, Sunset Park or Bay Ridge. The route also makes a stop at Governors Island if you're planning on visiting this historic destination just across the Buttermilk Channel.
There are 24 crossings on the South Brooklyn Route on a weekday, beginning at around 6:30am and continuing until just after 8pm. There are fewer journeys on weekends, with the ferry service starting later and ending earlier.
You also have a choice of other ferry options operated by NYC Ferry, which travel between Wall Street Pier 11 and Brooklyn Navy Yard, Sunset Park and Williamsburg.
The Astoria Route also departs from Wall Street Pier 11, arriving at Brooklyn Navy Yard after an 11-minute journey which takes you right under Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge.
Alternatively, the Rockaway Route starts at Wall Street Pier 11 then heads south towards Sunset Park, while the East River Route stops first at the Dumbo/Fulton Ferry pier but carries on towards Williamsburg then on to Greenpoint.If you're looking for more flexibility about where you start and end your journey, you might like to check out the New York Water Taxi Service.
This service is available for private hire so doesn't have a regular schedule.
That means it can pick you up at many different stops in Manhattan, and take you on to your choice of destination on the Brooklyn shoreline.
Whichever route you take, these ferries are for foot passengers only, so you won't be able to bring your car with you if you've driven into Manhattan.
Driving from Manhattan to Brooklyn
As you've just read, it's not possible to bring a vehicle on board the NYC Ferry. That means that if you've driven to Manhattan you'll either have to park up on the island or get back behind the wheel if you want to take your car across to Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge connect Lower Manhattan with Brooklyn, whereas the Williamsburg Bridge starts in the Lower East Side. You can also pick up the interstate which runs right underneath Battery Park via the Hugh L Carey Tunnel, before emerging in Brooklyn's Carroll Gardens.
There are also several Subway routes running between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Some routes cross the Williamsburg Bridge and Manhattan Bridge when making their way across the East River.
However, you'll have to navigate the sometimes confusing subway map to make this journey, and you miss out on the thrill of arriving by boat!
How long does it take to reach Brooklyn from Manhattan?
It's just a short hop from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and if you take the most direct crossing, then it's a very quick journey. The South Brooklyn Route and the East River Route connect Wall Street Pier 11 with Dumbo/Fulton Ferry pier in around 4 minutes.
The other crossings are a little longer. It takes 16 minutes to reach Sunset Park on the Rockaway Route, and Brooklyn Navy Yard is 11 minutes from Manhattan.
For journeys that continue further along the Brooklyn shoreline, you'll have to add 8 to 10 minutes per stop. If you're going all the way from Corlears Hook to Bay Ridge, you'll spend about an hour on the ferry.
If you're taking the ferry from Manhattan to Brooklyn, your crossing time will depend on where you board and disembark the boat. Ferries make several stops along the way, so you might be able to reduce your journey time a little by boarding at a different ferry stop.
You should normally arrive 10 minutes before the departure time, when passengers with reserved tickets will be able to board first.
How much does it cost to take the ferry to Brooklyn?
As river cruises go, the ferry to Brooklyn is very short and very affordable! It costs just $4 and you'll have views of the Manhattan skyline thrown in for free.
As you'll see in our summary below, it costs a little more to use the water taxi, but this allows you to make several crossings in a day, which might be handy if your itinerary is taking you to different parts of New York City.
|10 trip pass
|New York Water Taxi Service
|All day pass
*Calculated at the time of writing for 1 adult
Which ferry port should you choose as your destination in Brooklyn?
One of the great things about taking the ferry is that you can choose the most direct journey from a number of ferry stops.
The NYC Ferry departs from Manhattan at Corlears Hook and Pier 11 Wall Street. Corlears Hook is to the south end of the East River Park, between the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges. It's just a 2-minute walk to East River Park Amphitheater, or half a mile to the Balloon Museum.
If you're starting out in Lower Manhattan, then Pier 11 Wall Street is likely to be a more convenient choice. It's a 10-minute walk from the Statue of Liberty Vista Point in the Battery, or around half a mile from the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
Once you're on the water, you'll also have to choose where to disembark the ferry.
The shortest route for most travelers is at the Dumbo/Fulton Ferry stop. Located right beside Brooklyn Bridge, this is an impressive arrival point for tourists and lets you see the iconic bridge from a different perspective.
If you follow this route, you'll arrive at Brooklyn Bridge Park - a great way to enjoy some open space before diving back in to more city sights.
If you're visiting Prospect Park then Red Hook is one of the closest ferry stops, but keep in mind that it's still a 1-hour walk (or a 10-minute taxi ride) to reach the park. You can also hop across to Governors Island from here.
Carry on to Bay Ridge if you're visiting Narrows Botanical Gardens, which are just a minute away from the pier.
If you're opting for the New York Water Taxi, you'll have more of a choice of where you travel to in Brooklyn.
Starting out at East 90th Street, Pier 83, East 34th Street, Stuyvesant Cove, Corlears Hook, Battery Park, South Street Seaport or Wall Street, you can take a more private trip across the East River.
You can choose from a wealth of arrival points depending on what suits your plans for the day. From north to south, these are Green Point, North Williamsburg, South Williamsburg, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Duggal Greenhouse, Atlantic Avenue, Red Hook and Sunset Park.
All of these destinations can also be reached on the different NYC Ferry routes, but you'll have to run on the ferry's schedule, rather than the Water Taxi running on yours.
Things you need to know about taking a ferry to Brooklyn
Taking a ferry to Brooklyn from Manhattan is pretty straightforward, but here are a few things that it's worth keeping in mind before you set out:
- The ferry service runs 7 days a week, but departures are more frequent on weekdays.
- Remember that you can't take a vehicle on the ferry.
- Crossing the East River is a very quick journey, but if you're carrying on to other parts of Brooklyn, you'll need to allow up to an hour.
- The only way to guarantee a space is by pre-booking tickets, so arriving 10 minutes before allows passengers with reserved tickets to board first.
- Schedules change, and as there's usually a gap between ferries, we'd recommend allowing plenty of time to reach the ferry pier.
- Always check before you travel in case the pre-departure boarding time has been extended.
Best time to visit Brooklyn
Brooklyn, as a popular borough of NYC, is busy year-round, and whatever time of year you visit you'll find something to keep you entertained.
While bright spring weather means parks become popular from April onwards, warm summer temperatures means you'll also find plenty of outdoor events between June and August, including outdoor concerts and street festivals.
BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival runs from June to August and is a Performing Arts and Music Festival, whilst Coney Island Mermaid Parade is known as the US's largest art parade and takes place in June.
Fall brings milder temperatures in the run up to Halloween, but it's still a great time to visit. You can also catch the Brooklyn Book Festival, an annual fayre from late September to October.
Holiday celebrations ramp up from late November, with holiday markets, decorations and New Year's Eve celebrations all attracting visitors. Temperatures can plummet in the winter months, so remember to wrap up warm if you're visiting at this time of year.
Ferries run year-round, so you can arrive in Brooklyn across the water whatever time of year you're in town. However, since the service is partly used by commuters, you'll find the number of crossings is reduced on weekends.
While ferry fares stay consistent, accommodation costs vary, so that might influence your decision on when to travel. The cheapest months are January and February.
Things to see once you reach Brooklyn
As you've seen, it's only a short hop from Manhattan to Brooklyn, and once you've crossed the East River there's plenty to keep you busy.
- Brooklyn Bridge - Another way to get to Brooklyn is to take a stroll across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. Pause and take the time to marvel at the towering views of the Manhattan skyline as you go.
- Prospect Park - It's a little known fact, but Brooklyn's Prospect Park is the brainchild of the same architects behind Central Park. The green oasis is ideal for picnics and walks.
- Brooklyn Museum - You'll find a diverse collection of art at the Brooklyn Museum. Enjoy work from across the globe ranging from ancient to contemporary.
- Williamsburg - This trendy neighborhood of Williamsburg has a strong hipster culture. Discover the street art, and boutique shops, and delve into the vibrant nightlife.
- Coney Island - Famous for its amusement park and iconic boardwalk, the amusement park at Coney Island has entertained visitors since 1985.
Whether you take a quick and affordable NYC Ferry between Manhattan and Brooklyn, or opt for the greater flexibility of the water taxi service, a boat trip across the East River is a fabulous way to arrive in Brooklyn. Then why not walk back across the iconic Brooklyn Bridge if you're heading back to Manhattan later in the day?