Without a doubt, walking the Brooklyn Bridge should be on every single visitor’s New York City bucket list – especially if you’re visiting NYC for the first time.
After all, not only is it one of the city’s most famous landmarks, but it’s easily one of the best free things to do in NYC too.
However, if you’re not a 30+ year local like me then it can be hard to know exactly how to walk the Brooklyn Bridge since it can be a real challenge to find the Brooklyn Bridge walking entrance or the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian entrance.
But, luckily for you, this super easy to follow local’s guide will give you step by step directions that include everything you need to know about the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
This way, you can quickly and easily start exploring the Brooklyn Bridge like a total pro.
So, what are you waiting for? Ditch the guidebook and swan dive with me into this insider’s guide to the Brooklyn Bridge – complete with expert advice on common mistakes to avoid when using the Brooklyn Bridge walking path.
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After all, this past year has been a wild ride and I don’t want you to lose money because government regulations have changed.
Truth be told though, I’ve never traveled without travel insurance and don’t think you should either – especialy since I think we’ve all had plans drastically change because of the pandemic.
Therefore, find an insurance agency that covers travel changes related to COVID-19, like my two all-time faves World Nomads and Safety Wing. You can also read more about which policy is right for you in my full review here.
Where to Stay When Walking the Brooklyn Bridge
If you want to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge but aren’t exactly sure where to stay, then here are my picks for the best hotels in and around the Brooklyn Bridge.
- Aloft New York Brooklyn (Budget) – This extremely well-priced Brooklyn hotel (think around $130 per night) sits just two minutes from the Hoyt subway station and offers rooms that come with 42″ flat-screen TVs, ergonomic chairs, and walk-in showers. The lobby also has a working fireplace and guests will love using the indoor pool and the snazzy, rooftop bar.
- Hampton Inn Manhattan-Seaport-Financial District (Mid-range) – This well-reviewed hotel has low-key but stylish rooms that start at just over $100 per night. Rooms also include custom-designed beds, WiFi, and flat-screen TVs for a comfortable and convenient stay. Guests will also love a complimentary hot breakfast that is served daily and can make use the fitness room if they feel so inclined.
- Mr. C Seaport (Luxury) – Located on the Manhattan-side of the Bridge, this charming, 4-star hotel is just a 6-minute walk from Wall Street and has modern rooms with smart TVs, rainfall showers, furnished private terraces with stellar views of the East River, and premium Italian linens. Guests will also love their on-site gym and Italian restaurant, and can even make use of the hotel’s in-house babysitting service.
- 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge (Luxury) – Located just inside Brooklyn Bridge Park, this awesome, 5-star hotel overlooks the East River and offers guests sleek, industrial-style rooms with WiFi, flat-screen TVs, Nespresso machines, and yoga mats. There’s also a gym, on-site restaurant, and seasonal rooftop with stellar city views.
History of the Great Brooklyn Bridge
Although proposals of a bridge that would connect Brooklyn to New York City had been floating around since 1800, it wasn’t until 1852 that the project started to become a reality.
However, that being said, construction wouldn’t actually begin for another 18 years. Yup, yikes.
Now, at that time Brooklyn and NYC were actually two different cities, and the bridge would make them more accessible to each other – and pave the way for Brooklyn’s addition as a new borough.
And then, in 1883, construction on the Brooklyn Bridge was finally completed following a ton of complications.
See, the bridge was initially designed by civil engineer John Augustus Roebling, a German immigrant.
Sadly though, John died from an injury in 1869, the year before construction on the bridge was set to begin. That’s why, instead, his son Washington took over.
Unfortunately, Washington, too, would die before the completion of the bridge. In fact, he actually died of decompression sickness – then called caisson disease – which he and many other workers were afflicted with due to the deep underwater caisson that lined the structure to protect it from fire.
So, after Washington died, his wife Emily, herself a skilled mathematician, took over and finally completed her husband and father-in-law’s dream.
And as you are walking the Brooklyn Bridge, you might see the plaque dedicated to the three people who made the bridge possible: John Augustus Roebling, Washington Roebling, and Emily Roebling.
Then when the bridge opened to the public on May 24, 1883, Emily was given the honor of being the first person to walk across the bridge.
She was then followed by over 150,300 that same day – including U.S. president Chester A. Arthur and New York mayor Franklin Edson.
Also, in addition to Washington Roebling’s death, several dozen other men died during the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.
In fact, a total of over 100 people suffered from decompression sickness, but thankfully not all of them died.
How Should I Cross the Brooklyn Bridge?
1. Walking the Brooklyn Bridge
In my humble opinion, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is by far the superior way to cross (thus this entire article!).
Can it get crowded? Of course! In fact, depending on when you visit you may well find yourself at the mercy of over-enthusiastic tourists, angry commuters who plow right through you – and your photos – and loud honking from the passing vehicles below.
I mean, an estimated 10,000 people walk across the bridge every single day, so you’re bound to run into a few people no matter when you visit!
Not to mention 4,000 cyclists and 100,000 vehicles crossing per day. Luckily for you though, the upper deck is now a dedicated pedestrian walkway.
So, you don’t have to worry about getting in the way of traffic while taking the perfect selfie.
But don’t let all that traffic dissuade you from walking the Brooklyn Bridge; I promise it’s worth it. Because the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the city’s most iconic spots for a reason.
Plus, that’s why I’m here to give the best tips on not only how, but WHEN you should be walking the Brooklyn Bridge for optimal enjoyment.
And while it can often be the most crowded option – and it’s certainly the slowest – walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is THE best way to go if you’re after views.
See, walking means you can stop where you like, take your time, and even cross to the other side for a different view or lighting.
Pro Tip: For the best views, walk from Brooklyn to Manhattan. You’ll also want to wear comfy shoes, and time your visit for sunrise to avoid the crowds.
2. Biking the Brooklyn Bridge
Another great option for crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is by bike. Just be aware that sadly as of September 2021, cyclists have now been relegated to their own lane on the lower deck and the views aren’t as good.
I say sadly simply because if you are cycling it is now significantly more difficult – though not impossible – to stop and admire the view, let alone snap a few photos.
On the other hand, it’s definitely a better system for everyone as tourists had a tendency to absentmindedly wander in front of an oncoming cyclist while admiring the bridge.
And if you’re visiting the city and don’t own your own bike, you can easily rent one from CitiBike, or take a bike tour to get the most out of your crossing.
Trust me, CitiBike is easy to use as you can rent a bike for the day and pick up or drop off at one of their hundreds docking stations around the city – including many not far from the Brooklyn Bridge.
It’s also pretty cheap too since CitiBike day passes start at $15.00 per day or $3.99 per ride.
3. Driving the Brooklyn Bridge
Unless you have to cross by bridge due to mobility requirements, or it’s the only chance you’ll get while on your way elsewhere, I honestly wouldn’t suggesting this crossing method.
Although traffic isn’t a guarantee, in my experience it’s more likely than not you’ll get stuck in at least some traffic while crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. After all, over 100,000 vehicles drive over this bridge every single day.
However, due to Brooklyn Bridge being one of only a handful of toll-free options in and out of Manhattan, it’s also a pretty popular route.
After all, NYC is expensive AF, and people are willing to wait to save that sweet, sweet cash.
However, if you have the time and a car – or funds for a taxi – this isn’t the worst option. After all, being stuck in traffic on the bridge means you’ll get to enjoy the view from the comfort of your car.
Just don’t count on being able to get out and take many photos since what you see is what you get!
4. Boating the Brooklyn Bridge
I am a big fan of this unique option for crossing, and consider it to be the second best option after walking the Brooklyn Bridge.
And luckily for you, there are two options when it comes to crossing by water: the NYC Ferry and the New York Water Taxi. Personally though, I recommend the NYC Ferry.
I mean, the ferry costs a mere $2.75 for a one way trip (although an additional cost applies if you are bringing a bike), and takes less than 10 minutes to cross.
And when you consider the cost of a taxi, gas for a car, or renting a bike, this is incredibly cheap.
In fact, the NYC ferry is actually the most affordable option for most visitors after walking the Brooklyn Bridge.
The main downside is that because you’re in a boat and lower to the ground, your views won’t be as good as if you were walking the Brooklyn bridge.
However, if you’re a bit short on time and don’t want all the distractions that come with walking the Brooklyn Bridge, the ferry is a great option. You can also easily catch it form Pier 11 on the Manhattan side or from DUMBO in Brooklyn.
Now, the second water option is the New York Water Taxi, which is similar to a hop-on-hop-off bus, only on the water.
However, this requires a day pass, which is considerably more expensive. So, unless you plan on getting on and off at all the other iconic stops it offers, this is not the way to go.
Just How Long is the Brooklyn Bridge Anyway?
The Brooklyn Bridge spans an impressive 6,016 ft, which is approximately 1.1 miles (1,834 meters).
How Long Does It Take to Cross the Brooklyn Bridge?
Well, technically speaking the average person can walk a mile in 15-20 minutes. But that’s assuming you aren’t stopped by pedestrian traffic, and don’t want to take your time and enjoy the views or take lots of milady self-indulgent selfies!
Realistically, you’re more likely to spend about an hour crossing the bridge. Although, depending on how many times you stop or how many photos you want to take, you could definitely spend up to 90 minutes or even 2 hours! if you’re super into primo photo ops.
What is the Best Time to Walk the Brooklyn bridge?
For the least amount of people: Visit on a weekday.
For the truly dedicated: You can’t beat sunrise (this is also the perfect time for that Insta-shot).
For romantic views: Come at sunset, obvs. The city looks gorgeous all lit up at night, especially the Manhattan side.
For the best views across the river: Anytime in clear weather, the higher and brighter the sun the better.
To capture the majesty and magic of the bridge: Let’s be honest, so long as the sun is shining, you’ll get good views. And if you don’t mind some jostling, it can be fun to experience it with everyone else.
Directions for Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge
The first thing to decide is, which direction do you want to travel? Manhattan to Brooklyn, or Brooklyn to Manhattan? I guess it depends on what you want to do afterwards!
While both will give you great views of the city, it is generally understood that starting in Brooklyn and heading towards the Manhattan skyline will give you a better overall view.
But, either way, the best way to get to Brooklyn Bridge is to take the subway.
If you’re coming from the Brooklyn side, your nearest subway station is High St Station, where the A and C trains stop.
Make sure to take the High St exit in order to end up in the right place! From there, head into Cadman Plaza Park in front of you, follow the path around to the left towards the underpass on Washington St and take the stairs up onto the bridge.
On the Manhattan side, take the 4, 5 or 6 train to the Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall stop, or the J or Z train to the Chambers St stop.
Once there, the entrance to Brooklyn Bridge is very easy to find: it’s directly opposite City Hall Park, and the bridge itself is visible in the distance.
For a longer walk, you can also take the Brooklyn Bridge Walkway, which starts either in Brooklyn at the junction of Tillary St and Brooklyn Bridge Blvd or at the Living Memorial Grove on Park Way in Manhattan.
Bear in mind that this is a significantly longer route, especially if you start in Brooklyn because you’ll be walking for almost a half mile before you get to the actual bridge!
So, moral of the story? When walking the Brooklyn Bridge where comfy shoes! And if you need a break, stop at one of the many unusual restaurants in NYC along the way!
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge: Views to Make your Insta Smile
Along with the history and the vibe that comes with walking the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s also one of the most photogenic places in New York City.
As a result, no one is unhappy with pictures they take on the Brooklyn Bridge – especially after finding the Brooklyn Bridge walking entrance.
IMO, there are five views that stand out as the best views from Brooklyn Bridge. But feel free to explore and find your own as well!
The Brooklyn Bridge itself – Looking straight down the middle, this shot is ICONIC. Especially at sunrise or sunset, looking northwest towards Manhattan. Extra kudos if you can get a shot with no one else in it it!
The skyline of Lower Manhattan – The New York City skyline is one of the most recognizable skylines in the world. These buildings were designed to be eye-catching, and whether you capture them during the day or at night when they’re all lit up, you’ll be happy!
The Brooklyn Bridge towers – They’re a New York City landmark for a reason! These towers are part of the city’s history, and getting a picture of them with the Stars and Stripes flying high above is just chef’s kiss perfect.
Manhattan Bridge – Don’t get me wrong, the Brooklyn Bridge is great, but Manhattan Bridge is worth looking at too! My favorite place for getting this shot is from the Brooklyn end of Brooklyn Bridge, looking across the Hudson River towards downtown Manhattan.
The Statue of Liberty – Even at a distance, Lady Liberty stands out! Looking just to the left of the Manhattan skyscrapers you’ll have a straight line view direct to America’s most famous landmark.
Tips for Walking the Brooklyn Bridge from a Local
Kelly, it’s a bridge – are you sure I really need tips? Well, this is no ordinary bridge, so here are a few tidbits to help improve your walking the Brooklyn Bridge experience!
- Take your time – With native New Yorkers speed walking and cycling past, it can be easy to forget why you’re walking the Brooklyn Bridge in the first place: to enjoy it! Seriously, it might seem obvious, but remember that you don’t need to rush, and the views are there to be savored!
- Wear comfortable shoes – When you add the time it takes to get to the Brooklyn Bridge to the time you’ll spend crossing it, you’ll realize that you’re going to be on your feet for a while. So I recommend wearing super comfortable shoes or walking/hiking boots that you’ve had time to break in.
- Wear warm clothes – Even in the summer months it can get very chilly while you’re out above the water. New York City is renowned for its cold weather, so make sure you wear plenty of layers just in case!
- Watch out for cyclists – When you’re taking pictures, make sure to stay out of the bike lane. Many a tourist has suffered the colorful language of NYC natives if they accidentally get in the way of commuting cyclists, and no one wants a collision. So, always remember to watch where you’re standing!
- Don’t put a padlock on the bridge – It’s become a romantic tradition for a couple to put a padlock on a bridge, but it’s happening so much now that you could get fined. After all, if each of the 1 million annual visitors to the Brooklyn Bridge put a padlock on it, it’d collapse under the weight of all those locks!
Pro Tip: If you need a little space to stop and take a breather, there’s an area around the Manhattan-end tower that has some plaques showing details of the Brooklyn Bridge history, making it an ideal place for a pit stop.
There are also more plaques at the Brooklyn-end tower if you need a break at the other end of the bridge too.
Best Things to do Near the Brooklyn Bridge
As you can imagine, there are a huge amount of things to do near Brooklyn Bridge. I mean, you’re in New York City – it’s not exactly a place where people are bored!
Wanna learn some more? We got museums and monuments. Feel like shopping? Some of the hippest neighborhoods are right around the corner.
Time for a bite to eat? It’s dealer’s choice for cafes and restaurants, baby!
Whichever way you want to spend the rest of your day, New York City is the gift that keeps on giving. The only really difficult decision is which side to explore first!
On the Manhattan side:
Arrive at this end after walking the Brooklyn Bridge, and you’ll be on the doorstep of Chinatown and Little Italy, which each offer amazing food options guaranteed to have your mouth watering!
If you walk just to the north of these neighborhoods you’ll enter Soho and will have access to some of the most fashionable stores and boutiques in the world!
For more education and history, head to the western waterfront and you’ll be in the Tribeca and Financial District, where you can visit the One World Trade Center and the National September 11 Memorial Museum.
Head south on Broadway and you can find the Charging Bull – one of New York City’s most iconic statues. Keep going and you’ll enter The Battery, a park with a sensational view of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty!
On the Brooklyn side:
You’ll be walking among NYC’s famous brownstone buildings here, in neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Clinton Hill.
Grab a latte and enjoy some of the local cafes and eateries and really soak up the vibe (FYI, Juliana’s has amazing pizza and is way better than Grimaldi’s IMHO)!
You can continue your learning spree at the New York Transit Museum on the corner of Schmermerhorn St and Boerum Pl, or stroll along the waterfront in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
If you want to be a part of one of the most famous picture locations in New York City, make sure to take a picture of yourself in front of the Manhattan Bridge (aka the famous photo of the Manhattan Bridge shown above)!
Head to Washington Street in Brooklyn’s Dumbo district and you’ll see the iconic Manhattan Bridge tower framed by the buildings on either side of the street.
Snap away, and your Insta will blow up for sure – just watch out for traffic since you don’t want to get mowed over by a rogue cab.
Try Out A Brooklyn Bridge Walking Tour
Many people that visit NYC are on a mission to get the most out of their vacation experience. And I agree! I like to know that when I do something, I’ve done it the best I can.
And one of the best ways to do that when walking the Brooklyn Bridge is to by go on a walking tour. Because when you take a guide with you, you’ll be able to discover things about the Brooklyn Bridge that you might otherwise have missed out on. And I’m all about those insider secrets, y’all!
And you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of organized walking tours that cross the Brooklyn Bridge every day, all throughout the year.
Plus, this informative tours come in lots of different levels, from smaller, more personalized tours that explore the local neighborhoods on either side of the bridge, to large scale hikes that introduce you to some of the most famous monuments in NYC.
Heck, some tours even offer a totally unique take on the Brooklyn Bridge walking tour, like the Ultimate Insiders Brooklyn Bridge Walking Tour, which is led by the great-great-grandson of one of the original creators of the Brooklyn Bridge itself!
Not only will you get insider knowledge from someone with a direct connection to the bridge, but you’ll also get to see and touch unique artifacts from the period of its creation!
But if you want to add some speed and energy into your tour, another of the more unique ways to experience Brooklyn Bridge is by signing up for a bike tour. That’s right – you can cycle while you learn!
It’s a great way to learn about this historic landmark while getting in some of that essential daily cardio.
These tours also vary in length, with routes that can take you through the streets of Lower Manhattan, into the historic Chinatown district and along the Brooklyn waterfront, as well as taking you across some of the other historic bridges New York City has to offer.