While the Staten Island Ferry is a commuter boat which transfers millions of workers a year into Manhattan, it’s also a popular NYC attraction! Below we share everything you need to know about riding the FREE Staten Island Ferry. Including the Staten Island Ferry schedule, how to get to the terminal, and the best times to go!
Quick History of the Staten Island Ferry
Before we dive into riding the Staten Island Ferry there’s an interesting backstory you should know! The ship first set sail as a steamboat service in 1817 from Staten Island as a way to connect it with the bustling borough of Manhattan. It also would support the small villages springing up on the developing Staten Island.
Can you believe that over 200 years later the Staten Island Ferry is still in operation?? Over the years, its undergone many changes, yet the route is more popular than ever. In fact, in 2021 alone the Staten Island ferry carried almost 10 million passengers. This makes it the world’s busiest passenger-only ferry system!
Is The Staten Island Ferry Free?
Yes, it really is! In a city where literally everything cost money, the Staten Island Ferry is FREE of charge. You don’t even need to get a ticket before boarding the boat. Just check the Staten Island Ferry schedule, head to the terminal, and jump right on!
Assuming you’re riding the ferry as a tourist, there is still a few more tips to know for the best experience. Follow along with our step by step guide to riding the Staten Island Ferry in New York City.
Getting to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal
To get on the boat you’ll first need to find your way to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. The official name is the Whitehall Terminal and it is located in the financial district of Lower Manhattan.
The closest metro station is the Whitehall St stops right next to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. Before or after your trip on the ferry, make sure to plan for some time to explore the Battery. This is a beautiful park that looks out over the harbor and is a fun place to relax on a sunny afternoon.
Staten Island Ferry Schedule & Ideal Times
When planning your trip you should know there are actually three different Staten Island Ferry schedules. The times can change based on if it is weekday, weekend, or holiday. If you’re riding the ferry as a tourist and want the best views of the city then you’ll want to pick your time wisely.
First off, avoid traveling at or around the commuter rush hours of 7:00 to 8:45 am and 5:00 to 6:45 pm! Even the boats right before and after these times are often very busy. Traveling in the late morning and early afternoon is your best chance to get a boat that isn’t overly packed. This way you can hopefully get a spot with a view!
Another popular option is to ride the boat for sunset. There’s nothing like floating by the famous Statue of Liberty as the colors change in the sky! Needless to say, picking the right Staten Island Ferry times is key to having the best trip.
Boarding the Staten Island Ferry
In the middle of the afternoon, the ferry changes from pure commuter boat to full on tourist attraction! You can tell the difference because the viewing deck is completely packed around the outside.
We recommend lining up at the terminal when it gets close to departure time so you can be one of the first people on. That way you will you can make your way to the top of the boat for the best views.
The one way journey takes about 25 minutes from Manhattan to Staten Island. If you don’t stay to explore Staten Island and jump immediately on the next ferry back, you can make the round trip journey in a little over one hour.
Best Views From the Staten Island Ferry
So where exactly should you go after you board the boat? Like we mentioned above, you’ll want to make your way to the top of the boat as quickly as possible.
Not all the ferries have the same interior set up. However, you can follow the other travelers making their way up the steps towards the top. You’ll want to get a spot on right side of the boat for a view of the world famous Statue of Liberty.
Be warned that the spots along the railing fill up very quickly. Once you get a spot you’ll want to stick to it and not move around. You might not be able to find another!
Taking the Staten Island Ferry Round Trip
It is extremely popular to do a round trip ride on the Staten Island Ferry. Still, one thing to note is you do have to physically get off the boat and board another one upon your arrival.
Just like the way there, try and be the first passengers off the boat so you can be the first back on the next one! After exiting into the Staten Island Ferry terminal it’s extremely easy to follow the signs back onto the ship. Once you get back on the ferry head to the left side for amazing city views. This will give you a slightly different perspective as you head back towards Manhattan!
When you get closer to the city we recommend going to the front of the boat. Make sure to get your camera out as the Staten Island Ferry cruises its way into the terminal. You’ll have epic views of downtown Manhattan and the incredible bridges crossing the water.
Have any questions about the Staten Island Ferry schedule or best times to go? How about some of your own fun tips for this popular boat ride in NYC? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Where to Stay in New York City
NoMad – Hotel Giraffe by Library Hotel Collection – Boutique hotel with a rooftop garden and quick walk to Union Square Park and Chelsea. The hotel is decorated with classic photos from the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Tribeca – Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown – Historic high-end hotel in the heart of New York. Close to the Brooklyn Bridge and Seaport District.
Little Italy – NobleDEN Hotel – Great location in the Italian district and steps from Ferrara Bakery and Chinatown. Some of the rooms have a terrace or balcony which is not common in the city!
Times Square – LUMA Hotel – Modern design with bright bold patterns which reflect the energy of the area. Great place to stay near all the action of Times Square.
Chelsea – The Hotel Chelsea – Built in in the 1800’s with history reflected in its unique style. Known as one of the best historic hotels in the city.
East Village – The Bowery Hotel – Beautiful boutique hotel with floor to ceiling windows and an industrial loft design. Ideal location in one of the most popular neighborhoods in NYC.
Hudson Yards – Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards New York City – Plush accommodation with a sleek design. Rooms range from deluxe to scenic skyline suites.
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New York Travel Planning
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars whenever traveling in New York. Consider renting a car in one city and dropping it off in another for an epic road trip!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years and they are there when we need them.
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