Timetables & Directions – Ferry from Downtown Manhattan
While you can’t see every sight in one visit to New York City, a free voyage aboard the Staten Island Ferry means you’ll catch plenty of them.
We’re told the best things in life are free, although you’ve probably discovered that’s not entirely true. A trip on the Staten Island Ferry, however, is free and one of the best experiences NYC has to offer the first time visitor. You might put more obvious attractions ahead of it on your itinerary, but you’re guaranteed to see it all when you set sail across New York harbor.
The ferry is the only direct link between the two NYC boroughs of Staten Island and Manhattan, serving commuters at rush hour and tourists throughout the day and night.
The new Station Island Ferry terminal is located on the southern tip of Manhattan. There are two subway stations nearby:
- South Ferry, on the 1 line (red)
- Whitehall Street – South Ferry, on the R and W lines (yellow)
If you’re already in downtown Manhattan, find Broadway and follow it south, continue as it becomes Slate Street and you’ll find yourself across the road from the terminal.
The building has STATEN ISLAND FERRY emblazoned across the roof in brilliant blue lettering, so while you can hardly miss it once you arrive, it’s quite easy to get lost in the maze of downtown’s streets. This is the area of Manhattan that was settled first by the Dutch, so unlike midtown and other areas north of Houston Street where the grid system was established in the 19th century, these streets follow the horse and cart tracks of the early European inhabitants of the 1600s.
There are occasional disruptions to service due to inclement weather and technical faults, otherwise, the ferries are punctual and reliable. While there’s nothing more frustrating than missing your ride by a matter of seconds, at least you can take comfort in knowing there will be another along shortly.
On weekdays, the ferries depart Manhattan every half hour (on the hour and half hour) throughout the day and night, except between 0630 to 0930 and 1600 to 2000, when there are departures every 15 to 20 minutes. On weekends the ferries depart every half hour (on the hour and half hour), 24 hours a day. The trip lasts between 25 and 30 minutes.
Sightseeing at Sea
As soon as the ferry leaves the dock, you are dazzled by the spectacle of New York. The modesty of Brooklyn on the port side, the majesty of downtown Manhattan to the starboard and rear. As the island stretches away down the Hudson River, perspective is skewed by the fingers of skyscrapers nuzzled together at its tip.
New Jersey looms into view, and then Ellis Island and the venerable Statue of Liberty. The best things in life may not always be free – banoffee pie and mojitos remain disappointing exceptions – but against the backdrop of Manhattan, this really is one of the most spectacular vistas of the city you’ll find, and it won’t cost you a cent.