How do I get to Brooklyn?

OK, so you want to visit Brooklyn, but how do you get to Brooklyn by transit? Can you walk to Brooklyn? Can you take a ferry there? And where do you go after crossing the Brooklyn Bridge?

Courtesy: Etsy/Hancock Photography
Courtesy: Etsy/Hancock Photography

Brooklyn is an iconic New York City borough, with a history being the home of countless famous artists, actors, style icons and sports stars, but it also has a history of rough neighborhoods and American gangsters, such as Al Capone. Today, Brooklyn is a very safe destination with more than 60 neighborhoods, all celebrating their own feel and flare. Whether you are looking for a maritime feel in Red Hook, a hipster vibe in Williamsburg, a beach scene in Coney Island or a Caribbean taste in Flatbush, you will discover something new when you explore Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Rainbow Map by I Lost My Dog
Brooklyn Rainbow Map by I Lost My Dog

How Do I Get to Brooklyn?

While many have heard of the borough on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge, it is key to know how to get there and what to do in Brooklyn after you arrive for the first time. With transit options ranging from walking and biking, to subway and ferry riding, you can choose whether you wish to travel over a bridge, by water or underground.

 

The Iconic Way

There are also three bridges connecting the Brooklyn and Manhattan: The 5,989-foot-long Brooklyn Bridge (1,825m), 6,855-foot-long Manhattan Bridge (2,089m), and the Williamsburg Bridge stretching 7,308 feet (2,227m).

Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge

Being the most iconic, yet the shortest of the three bridges, the Brooklyn Bridge connects the Financial District in Manhattan with Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO in Brooklyn. The bridge stretches between City Hall Park in Manhattan and Cadman Plaza Park in Brooklyn, with both stairs and slanted entrance points on both ends, suitable for walking as well as biking. The walk across the bridge takes approximately 25 minutes and the bike ride takes 10 minutes.

Pro Tip: If you wish to take photographs on the bridge without crowds of walkers and bikers obstructing your photographs, we recommend crossing the bridge early in the morning or late in the evening.

Manhattan Bridge
Manhattan Bridge seen from DUMBO, Brooklyn

The Manhattan Bridge crosses the East River, stretching from Chinatown in Manhattan to Trinity Park in Brooklyn. In contrast to the Brooklyn Bridge, this bridge keeps bikers and pedestrians separated on pathways on each side of the bridge. In middle of the bridge, there are both subways and cars, so keep in mind this walk can be a little loud. The pedestrian route faces downtown toward the Freedom Tower and Statue of Liberty, and it is a great way to see the Brooklyn Bridge. The bike path faces uptown, with good views of the Empire State Building and Manhattan skyline. The crossing of this bridge takes 30 mintues by foot and 12 minutes by bike.

Williamsburg Bridge seen from Williamsburg
Williamsburg Bridge seen from a pier in Williamsburg

Lastly, there is the Williamsburg Bridge. With cars on a separate plane below the pedestrian and bike paths, this is the quietest of the three bridges. While subway cars travel between the pedestrian and bike paths, it is not on the same level, offering peace and quiet to those crossing without headphones. Much like the Manhattan Bridge, this bridge has a bike path on the uptown facing side, and a pedestrian path on the downtown facing path. However, in the middle of the bridge, there is an opportunity to cross from side to side, for a better view. The Williamsburg Bridge connects the Lower East Side (Essex/Delancey Streets) and Williamsburg (Driggs/S 5th Streets), and takes approximately 30 minutes by foot and 10 minutes by bike.

 

The River Route

The East River separates Brooklyn from Manhattan and is 600-4,000 feet wide (200-1,220 meters). Thus, ferries are a great way to travel from one borough to the other, and was the original way for New Yorkers to commute in the days of steam ferries. Since then, there has been the East River Ferry service, and the ferry service was expanded into a citywide NYC Ferry service in May 2017.

NYC Ferry on its South Brooklyn Route
NYC Ferry on its South Brooklyn Route

NYC Ferry’s East River Route connects Wall Street and East 34th Street in Manhattan with Greenpoint, Williamsburg, DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Red Hook, Sunset Park and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. The first stops on the route, simply crossing the river, take 3-5minutes, while the longest ride from East 34th Street to Bay Ridge lasts closer to 30minutes. Tickets ($2.75/ride) for the ferries can be purchased on the NYC Ferry app, or at ticket vending machines at the piers.

Courtesy NYC Ferry
Courtesy NYC Ferry

 

The Hipster Way

Brooklyn is also the home of hipsters, so why not embrace the lifestyle and getting some fresh air as you bike over one of the three bridges? The Brooklyn Bridge has a bike lane right next to the pedestrian walkway, which makes it a little difficult for biking, while the separated bike paths suitable for a faster ride will be found on the Williamsburg and Manhattan Bridges. You may rent a bike from Landmark Bicycles (Williamsburg) or get a Citibike day pass ($12)!

 

The Underground Route

All New Yorkers and Brooklynites know the New York subway system (aka the MTA) like the back of their hand, as this is the best way to get around. Whether you opt in for a pay-per-ride card ($2.75/ride) or get a weekly pass ($31), the subway is a quick way to get to Brooklyn from various areas in Manhattan.

  • Take the L train (gray line) from 14th Street to go to North Williamsburg
  • Take the J, M or Z trains (orange line) from the Lower East Side to South Williamsburg
  • Take the N or Q trains (yellow line) from Chinatown to Downtown Brooklyn and Barclay’s Center
  • Take the 2 and 3 trains (red line) from Wall Street to Brooklyn Heights
  • Take the 5 (green line) or R (yellow line) trains from Battery Park to Downtown Brooklyn
One of the many old school subway signs still visible in many stations!
One of the many old school subway signs still visible in many stations!

Pro Tip:

Do not take a taxi or bus over the bridges, as traffic is heavily congested. This results in high taxi bills and a lot of precious time wasted sitting on a bus, when there are quicker, more pleasant ways to get to Brooklyn!

 

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