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How to Use the East River Ferry

Updated: November 28, 2023

This post is about the East River Ferry service including information about tickets, schedules, routes, and what there is to see along each route. 

And, at just $4.00 per ticket, this is the cheapest boat ride in NYC - except for the free Staten Island Ferry.

As you can see on the map, the ferry has several routes (and they are adding more every year!) 

East River Ferry Route Map

Most routes have incredible views of Lower Manhattan, the Freedom Tower, the Brooklyn Bridge, New York Harbor, and more. 

Some routes offer a gorgeous view of Midtown Manhattan, including the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. 

The ferry is not just an inexpensive sightseeing ride.

It is a practical way to get around and visit different parts of NYC as the ferry service connects all five boroughs of New York City.

As local tour guides, we use the East River Ferry both as commuters as well as with our tour guests, particularly between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

We know from our experiences that this is an overlooked mode of transport.

That's a shame because it could be one of the most exciting for visitors to the city, offering great cityscape views.

And, in this post, we also share ideas for what you can do at each of the stops along the different routes. 

Keep in mind that this is not a hop-on, hop-off ferry. Once you get off the ferry, your ride is done. You will need a new ticket to board another ferry.

If you are curious about hop-on, hop-off ferries, read our post about which New York boat tour or cruise is best.


EAST RIVER ROUTE

We recommend this route to visitors as you will see fantastic views in a short amount of time.

From start to finish the ride is 43 minutes with great views all around. All for just $4!

East River Ferry route

SCHEDULE

Monday-Friday

  • From Wall St./Pier 11- first departure at 6:20 a.m. Last departure 9:46 pm.
  • From Hunters Point South - first departure at 6:32 a.m. Last departure 9:41 p.m.
  • See the ferry schedule for exact times.

Weekends

  • From Wall St. - first departure at 7:22 am then every 50 minutes. Last departure 9:32 pm.
  • From Hunters Point South - first departure 6:32 am then approximately every 30 minutes. The last departure is 9:27 pm.
  • See the ferry schedule for exact times.

NOTE: While plenty of tourists ride this ferry for the experience, it is primarily a commuter ferry. We recommend that you avoid "rush hours" (8 am-10 am) and (4 pm-6 pm) - or be prepared for crowds. 

See the full schedule here.


THINGS TO DO AT EACH STOP

Wall Street/Pier 11

DUMBO

South Williamsburg 

  • Hang out in Domino Park with great views of the city. 
  • Walk along Broadway (Brooklyn has one too!) and stop at a cafe.
  • Spend a special night out dining at Peter Luger's Steak House.

North Williamsburg 

  • Visit Marsha P. Johnson Park and North 5th Street Pier both with amazing views of the Manhattan skyline. 
  • Hang out on Bedford Avenue for great restaurants and bars.
  • Love Street Art? We have a pay-what-you-like Williamsburg Street Art Tour that begins just 10 minutes away from the ferry.
  • You can also take the L train to Bushwick and check out our pay-what-you-like Bushwick Street Art tour.

Greenpoint 

East 34th Street 

At the East 34th Street ferry terminal, there is a free shuttle bus that stops near Midtown sights that are likely on your NYC bucket list. 

Hunters Point South 


HOW TO BUY TICKETS

There are two ticket types available: a one-way ticket and a 30-day pass typically meant for commuter use. 

You cannot use your subway MetroCard. You must buy a ferry ticket. 

Also, there are no free transfers to subways or buses from the ferries.

There are two ways to buy tickets.

You can either purchase your tickets at the ferry landing ticket machines using a credit card, debit card, or cash.

The other option is to purchase your tickets through their website or the NYC ferry app and then redeem your ticket by showing your phone when you board the ferry.

Ticket Prices as of 2023

  • Adult One-way Pass $4.00
  • Children: up to two children under the height of 44 inches ride free when accompanied by an adult.
  • Bicycle ticket $1.00 one-way
  • 30-Day Adult Pass $121.00
  • 30-Day Adult Pass with Bike $141.00

One-way tickets include free transfers within the NYC Ferry system for up to 90 minutes once you start your one-way trip.

For additional information about tickets, click here.

TIP: Some NYC subway apps have begun including the ferry in suggested routes. For more information, see our post listing the best NYC subway apps.


OTHER ROUTES

South Brooklyn Route

For this route, check out our guide to things to do in Brooklyn.


THINGS TO DO AT EACH STOP

Corlears Hook Park

Wall Street/Pier 11 (see above) and DUMBO (see above

Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6

Red Hook

  • This waterfront enclave was a historically industrial neighborhood that underwent a transformation in the past ten years.
  • It is now an art and culture destination with a fun restaurant and bar scene.
  • You can get an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan from Valentino Pier.

Governors Island

Brooklyn Army Terminal/Sunset Park

  • Sunset Park is NYC's second-largest Chinatown. Try any number of the great Chinese restaurants and the ferry ride will have been worth it.
    • TIP: If you haven't visited the oldest Chinatown in New York City, join us for our pay-what-you-like Chinatown Food Tour.
  • You can also hike over to Green-wood Cemetery, one of the most beautiful green spaces in the city located on a hill from which you can see all the way to the Statue of Liberty.

Bay Ridge

  • Definitely for commuters only. You may want to hop off the ferry at one of the earlier stops as Bay Ridge is very residential and a far subway ride back to the city.

Staten Island/St. George Route

Midtown West/W. 39th Street

At the ferry landing, there is a free shuttle bus that stops near popular Midtown Manhattan sights (see above).


Battery Park City


Staten Island/St. George Landing

Before buying a ferry ticket to this stop, read our post on taking the amazing free Staten Island Ferry!

We also list some things you can do on Staten Island when you are there!


Astoria Route

Map of East River Ferry Astoria route

THINGS TO DO AT EACH STOP

Wall Street/Pier 11 (see above)

Brooklyn Navy Yard

  • The Brooklyn Navy Yard was an active navy yard from 1801 to 1966 building well-known US battleships. It is now the site of an industrial complex with offices and a few restaurants.
  • Visit the Bldg 92 Museum with the three exhibition floors showcasing the past, present, and future of the Navy Yard.
  • Beat the lines for one of NYC's best bagels at the outpost of the Russ & Daughters. 
  • Walk to DUMBO (see above) in ten minutes.

East 34th Street (see above)

Long Island City

Roosevelt Island

  • This small island is located on the East River accessed by an aerial tram that is a thrilling 3-minute ride with spectacular views.
  • We highly recommend you take this tram ride if you have the time. Then use our self-guided tour to explore the island. 

Astoria

East 90th Street

  • This ferry dock is in the Upper East Side, a mainly residential area. There are a few things to do nearby and destinations you can get to via crosstown bus.
  • Take a tour of Gracie Mansion, the historic house of New York City's mayors since 1942.
  • Visit the lovely Carl Schurz Park and walk along the East River.
  • Head to Central Park and The Metropolitan Museum of Art on 5th Avenue via the crosstown bus on E. 86th Street.

Rockaway Route

THINGS TO DO AT EACH STOP

Rockaway Walk 5 minutes to Rockaway Beach, one of the nicest and most popular beaches in New York City

Wall Street/Pier 11 (see above)

Sunset Park (see above)


Tips from the Tourists

Ferry Route Choices

When you go to Staten Island, think about this tip. Our Facebook Group travelers say there are two ways. The Staten Island Ferry is free and pretty. But there's another way too. It costs money but gets you close to the Statue of Liberty. Each way is different. Choose based on what you like. Do you want to save money or see the Statue up close?

Brooklyn Bridge Walk

A member of our Facebook Group has a fun idea. Start with a subway ride from WTC. Then walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. You'll see Chinatown and Little Italy. They're colorful and full of life. Try to walk when the sun sets. Others in the group love this idea too. It adds something special. From the bridge, the city lights up as the sun goes down. It's beautiful and great for pictures. This walk is really worth it!

Museum Insights

Enthusiastic explorers in our Facebook Group recommend the Museum of the City of New York and the New York Historical Society as must-visit destinations. Not only are they treasure troves of the city's past, but you might also find special deals for them on discount platforms. For a deep dive into the museum's exhibits, consider a specialized tour that promises to maximize your experience even during a short visit. It's a smart way to gain unique insights and discover fascinating stories behind the artefacts on display.

Family Ferry Ride

Families with young ones, take note! A ferry ride to Brooklyn might be the perfect family-friendly excursion. One of our Facebook Group members shared their experience of taking their teenager on a ferry ride from Manhattan to Brooklyn for an unforgettable evening. They planned their journey to coincide with the sunset, adding an extra layer of enchantment to their adventure. It’s these simple moments — like enjoying a beautiful sunset on the water — that often become the most cherished memories of a trip.

Hudson Eats Highlight

If you find yourself exploring Battery Park City, a gem awaits near the World Financial Center. A local expert from our Facebook community recommends stopping by a food hall known as Hudson Eats. Located at the far western end of Vesey Street, this spot is a culinary haven with a variety of offerings that cater to every taste. It's a perfect place to refuel with delicious options after a day of sightseeing or before continuing your adventure in NYC.

Ferry Path Wonders

Travellers in our Facebook Group sharing their experiences remind us of the wonders close to the ferry's path. The Staten Island Ferry and the Statue of Liberty Ferry provide distinct but equally valuable experiences. A short walk leads to the poignant 9/11 Memorial from the Staten Island Ferry entrance in Manhattan. Another visitor nostalgically recalls when the ferry fare was just a nickel, highlighting the city's rich history. Don’t miss the chance to spend time on Staten Island itself, where the 9/11 Memorial offers a space for reflection just a stone's throw from the terminal.


Coney Island Route

​There is a route between Coney Island and Pier 11 at Wall Street in progress. Follow our post on Coney Island for the latest news on this route.

About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: November 28th, 2023
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