Free Staten Island Ferry: Schedules & Tips

Taking the Staten Island Ferry is one of the best free things to do in New York. It is a public service designed so that the inhabitants of Staten Island can easily reach Manhattan. But the truth is that many tourists take advantage of the trip to enjoy the magnificent views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty. We tell you everything you need to know about the free Staten Island Ferry and give you tips to enjoy the journey to the fullest.

1. How to get to the Staten Island Ferry Port


The Staten Island Ferry departs from Whitehall Terminal. It is adjacent to Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan. It can be reached very easily with various metro lines. We recommend you download the New York subway app to discover the best route from anywhere in the city. It is very useful because it works even without internet connection. It is available for Android and iOS.

The nearest metro stops to the ferry terminal are these:

  • South Ferry Station. Line 1.
  • Whitehall St. R and W lines.
  • Bowling Green. Lines 4 and 5.
  • Wall Street Station. Lines 2, 3, 4 and 5.
  • Broad Street. J and Z lines.

Staten Island Ferry
The famous orange ferry that goes from Manhattan to Staten Island

2. Staten Island Ferry Schedules


The Staten Island Ferry runs 24 hours a day. It normally leaves every half hour, but during peak hours during the week there are frequencies every 15 minutes. So if you want to visit New York in one day and enjoy one of the most beautiful views of the city, you shouldn't worry too much about schedules. You will have a lot of flexibility!

It is a completely free public service. It is intended for Staten Islanders who have to commute to Manhattan for work. But the truth is that a lot of tourists take the opportunity to enjoy the trip. No ticket is needed, you simply show up at the boarding gate and wait for the ship to arrive.

The drive from Manhattan to Staten Island takes 20 minutes.

3. What to See on the Staten Island Ferry Ride


3.1. Manhattan Skyline and Brooklyn Bridge


The views from the Staten Island Ferry are second to the best viewpoints in New York. Once the ship moves away from Manhattan, you will have a clear view of all the skyscrapers of the south of the island, as well as the Brooklyn Bridge.

Staten Island Ferry
The Lower Manhattan skyline at dusk

3.2. Statue of Liberty


The Staten Island Ferry is a great alternative to see the famous Statue of Liberty without spending a dollar. You probably don't want to spend a morning or afternoon getting to the base of the monument. There are long queues and security checks. In short, it takes at least 4 hours to go and return. It may also be that you cannot find tickets to get to Liberty Island on the day you want.

Or just want to see the statue from a different perspective 😉 In any case, don't expect the ferry to get too close to the Statue of Liberty. But enough to see it better than from Manhattan and take a souvenir photo.

Staten Island Ferry
The beautiful Statue of Liberty at sunset

3.3. Empire Outlets


There are plenty of outlets in New York where you can buy clothes at very tempting discounts. Empire Outlets is one of the newer ones. And it's right next to the ferry terminal on Staten Island, it takes less than 5 minutes to walk once you get off the ship. It is an outdoor mall with brands like Levi's, Nike, American Eagle, GAP or Guess. It is not very big, but it has some interesting offers and it is good to spend some time.

4. Tips for taking the Staten Island Ferry


4.1. Climb the top deck of the ferry


As soon as you enter the ferry, locate the stairs to go upstairs. There is an option to go out to the sides of the boat or to the back. From the outside you will have a much clearer view and the possibility of taking incredible photos. We like to stay at the back of the ferry. When it is approaching the Statue of Liberty you can move to the side to see it as close as possible.

Outside area may be closed in bad weather. But, honestly, if it rains or is very windy, it is best to leave the boat trip for another time when you can enjoy it 100%.

4.2. What is the best time to board the Staten Island Ferry?


Any time is a good time to enjoy the good views from the boat. But if we have to choose, we stay with the sunset. Leave Manhattan an hour before sunset, there will already be a very special light. When you arrive in Staten Island it is mandatory to get off the ship, even if you want to return immediately. So you can take the opportunity to take a quick tour of the outlets. When the sun goes down and the skyscrapers of Manhattan begin to light up, it is the best time to return. Ending the day like this always manages to excite us, it is a magical moment.

5. Staying in Staten Island: is it recommended?


Knowing that the ferry is free and operates 24 hours a day, it might cross your mind to stay on Staten Island. Not a bad idea if you want to save. There are hotels for less than €100 a night, quite an achievement in a city as expensive as New York. Here we recommend some accommodations in Staten Island :

  • Fort P.I. B&B
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Staten Island
  • Hampton Inn & Suites Staten Island
  • Holiday Inn Express Staten Island West

Most hotels are far from the port, but they usually offer a free transfer there so you can get to Manahttan. In short, the transfer to Times Square takes more than an hour. If we add round trip, it is more than two hours lost each day. Therefore, we believe that Staten Island is only worth staying if you find an unrepeatable bargain.

We recommend looking for accommodations in Long Island City before deciding. It is a safe neighborhood with many cheap hotels. And the best part is that it's only a 15-minute subway ride from midtown Manhattan. Much better located than Staten Island and similarly priced!

Staten Island Ferry Map