The distinctive orange Staten Island Ferry passing through New York Harbor has been a familiar sight to New Yorkers since 1905, when the fleet first began carrying commuters between Staten Island and Manhattan. In recent years the free ferry has gained traction with tourists, who crowd the decks to admire front-row views of New York City’s dazzling skyline, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty.
The Staten Island Ferry is first and foremost a commuter vessel, and there is no on-board commentary. For extra insight, context, and information about the surrounding sights, join a guided tour of NYC or Lower Manhattan that includes a round-trip on the ferry. To maximize your experience, take the trip out to Staten Island during the day and return after dark to see the NYC skyline all lit up. The voyage to Staten Island takes around 25 minutes each way. Boats depart at least every 30 minutes, with more frequent departures during commuter rush hours. No ticket is required.
Things to Know Before You Go
- For the best views of Lady Liberty, sit on the right side of a Staten Island–bound ferry.
- Some, though not all, ferries in the fleet have large outdoor side decks, which afford the best views.
- The ferry is accessible to wheelchair users.
- Refreshments, including beer and hot dogs, are available on board.
- All passengers must disembark at St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island.
How to Get There
The Staten Island Ferry runs between Whitehall, near Battery Park in Manhattan, and St. George on Staten Island. To get to the Whitehall Terminal, take the subway (1 train) to South Ferry. Other nearby subway stations include Bowling Green (4 and 5), Broad Street (J and Z), and Whitehall Street (1, R, and W).
When to Get There
The best time of year to ride the ferry is during summer, or on warm spring or fall days when you can comfortably soak up the view from the open-air decks. If you don’t like crowds, avoid rush hours (6–9am for boats departing from Staten Island, and 4–7pm for boats departing from Manhattan).
Exploring One of New York’s Lesser-Known Boroughs
Most visitors to NYC never venture outside Manhattan and Brooklyn, though Staten Island—New York’s least-populated borough—has several fascinating sites. Within easy reach of St. George Terminal is the Lighthouse Museum, St George’s Historical District, and the waterfront Richmond County Bank Ballpark, where the minor league Staten Island Yankees (not to be confused with the major league New York Yankees) play. Also of note is the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, home to the Noble Maritime Collection and Staten Island Children's Museum.