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Walking the Brooklyn Bridge was one of the best things we did in New York City! Along with the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge is easily one of the most famous symbols of New York.
While you’ve seen it in movies and TV shows, if you’re anything like us, you can’t pass up the opportunity to see it in person. Better yet, walking the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the things you can do for free in the city! New York is notoriously expensive, so it’s definitely worth taking advantage of.
Plus, you get amazing views of Manhattan’s skyline and the chance to work off all of those delicious New York slices that you’ll no doubt be eating! Even if you only have a couple of days in NYC, it’s worth visiting the Brooklyn Bridge. Of course, there are a few things you need to know before walking the Brooklyn Bridge and we’ve got tons of info below to help!
Don’t have time to read the full article? Plan to take 45-60 minutes to leisurely walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and fully enjoy the experience. If you want to explore the Brooklyn Bridge and the surrounding area in a short amount of time, we recommend this 2-hour cycling tour.
1. About the Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is a 1.1 mile (1.7 km) long suspension bridge that connects Manhattan and – yep, you guessed it – Brooklyn. It was officially opened in May 1883 and instantly became a popular tourist attraction, although, of course, it serves a practical purpose as well.
The Brooklyn Bridge is actually one of the oldest suspension bridges in the USA, and it has been featured in a ton of movies including Saturday Night Fever, John Wick, and Sophie’s Choice. In fact, it’s probably one of the most recognizable bridges in the world!
It originally cost $15 million USD to build the Brooklyn Bridge, which is equal to more than $300 million USD today! And as was the case with several of New York’s most iconic landmarks, constructing the Brooklyn Bridge certainly wasn’t all smooth sailing.
The bridge was designed by John Augustus Roebling but he died during the construction process and his son, Washington Roebling, had to take over. However, he (along with many other workers) developed “decompression disease.” This was caused by working below the surface of the East River and then reentering normal air pressure too quickly.
Washington Roebling was unable to continue to directly oversee the construction because of the long-lasting effects of this sickness. His wife, Emily Warren Roebling, took over the head of the project. She was also the first ever person to cross the Brooklyn Bridge in a carriage shortly before it opened to the public.
An estimated 150,000 people followed in Emily Warren Roebling’s footsteps that day, including President Chester A. Arthur.
However, not everyone was so keen to enjoy the Brooklyn Bridge walk. There were rumors floating around that the bridge had been poorly constructed and was likely to collapse. In response to these rumors, legendary ringmaster P.T. Barnum (aka the Greatest Showman) led 21 elephants across the Brooklyn Bridge to prove that it was safe for humans to cross.
While elephants are not a daily sight on the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s estimated that 116,000 vehicles and 30,000 pedestrians cross it every single day which is certainly a lot of weight!
2. How long does it take to walk the Brooklyn Bridge?
It took us about 45 minutes to cross the Brooklyn Bridge one-way at a leisurely pace. However, it could easily take you 60 minutes if you want to take a ton of photos and maybe stop at one of the food vendors to buy a hot dog or a pretzel. Don’t rush – take your time and enjoy the views!
It’s also worth noting that the pedestrian lane of the Brooklyn Bridge is actually above the vehicle and cycle lanes, so you look down on the traffic as you walk across.
Riding a bike across the Brooklyn Bridge only takes around 15 minutes. There’s a designated bike lane, which is below the pedestrian lane, next to the vehicle lanes. You can rent a bike for as little as $9 USD for one hour if you only want to cycle across the bridge and back. However, we’d recommend choosing the day pass for $34 USD so you can take the time to explore Brooklyn more.
3. When is the best time to walk the Brooklyn Bridge?
You can enjoy walking the Brooklyn Bridge all year round, but the best time of day does vary according to the time of year.
During the summer in New York City, it’s best to get to the Brooklyn Bridge first thing in the morning. The weather will be cooler so the walk will be more comfortable, and you’ll avoid the midday crowds, which is always a good thing.
Going at sunset is also really nice, but there will be crowds. Still, if you don’t mind that, then this is an epic location to watch the sunset over New York City!
During the winter, around Christmas, or out of season, we still think it’s best to go in the morning but you might want to wait until mid to late morning for the weather to warm up a little.
It’s also always best to go during the week if you can, regardless of the time of year. Some people say you should go on an overcast day to avoid the crowds but to be honest, we think it’s best to go on a sunny day because the views are so much more magnificent and worth dealing with the crowds for!
So all in all, going on a clear weekday morning is the best way to do it.
4. Where is the entrance to walk the Brooklyn Bridge?
If you’re walking the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan, there are two entrances.
The official start point of the pedestrian walkway is on Center Street at Living Memorial Grove. This is at the northeast corner of City Hall, near the Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall subway station. Chambers Street, City Hall, and Park Place subway stations are also close by.
There’s another entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge on Park Row. This entrance is actually underneath the bridge and there are stairs to walk up onto it.
There are also two entrances to the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side. One is on Prospect Street, and this entrance is accessed underneath the bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge – High Street station is a very short walk away.
There’s also a walkway that starts at Tillary Street and Brooklyn Bridge Boulevard and takes you onto the Brooklyn Bridge. This is actually the official starting point of the Brooklyn Bridge walk on this side of the river, but it’s also further from the station and involves a lot more walking. Both paths meet on the bridge, so we’d say you’re probably better off using the Prospect Street entrance.
5. What are the highlights on the Brooklyn Bridge?
Views of the East River
One of our favorite things about walking the Brooklyn Bridge was the impressive views of the East River. This river separates Manhattan from Brooklyn, and the bridge is probably the best place in the whole city to see it from! Plus, since the river is so wide, it looks pretty impressive.
Brooklyn Bridge Towers
The Brooklyn Bridge Towers are the bridge’s iconic arches. They’re made out of limestone, granite, and cement, and they look very imposing. You’ll want to snap some photos underneath these arches. If you really want a perfect Instagram photo, make sure to get there early, as naturally everyone wants to capture their moment underneath the arches!
The Manhattan Bridge is another famous suspension bridge. It might not be quite as famous as the Brooklyn Bridge but it’s still very well known and you get awesome views of it while walking the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s a blue bridge and like the Brooklyn Bridge, it connects Brooklyn and Manhattan and has been featured in a ton of movies.
One of the very best things about walking the Brooklyn Bridge is that you get insane views of downtown Manhattan. This skyline is so famous and you get an awesome panoramic view of it as you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, which is special. I don’t think anyone could ever get tired of seeing it!
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is one of – if not the – most famous landmarks in the whole of the United States. It’s right up there with the Empire State Building and the Hollywood sign! So we think that the fact that you get a view of it from the Brooklyn Bridge is pretty cool.
Related Read: Another good way to see some of the most iconic landmarks in the US is on one of these Washington, DC river cruises!
6. What are the best tours that visit the Brooklyn Bridge?
Brooklyn Bridge & DUMBO Neighborhood Tour
We think that this guided Brooklyn Bridge walk is a fantastic way to get to know the neighborhood and explore Brooklyn.
You’ll meet in front of Tweed Courthouse and your guide will take you across the bridge, regaling you with tales about the bridge and New York City more generally as you go. You’ll have amazing views of the skyline, and your guide will point out famous landmarks and tell you more about them. Then once you get to Brooklyn, you’ll head to the trendy DUMBO neighborhood to explore.
The name DUMBO is actually an acronym that stands for “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass,” and it’s so cool to learn more about the history of the area. It was originally an industrial area, but as rent in Manhattan became more expensive, it became increasingly residential. Now it’s a very cool area to live in thanks to all of its art galleries, cafes, and bars. You can also find a lot of great pizza here!
This tour costs $49 USD per person and lasts for 2.5 hours. It begins at 11 am and ends in Brooklyn Bridge Park. It’s a great way to venture across the East River and see a different side of New York.
Tours are typically only available on Mondays and Saturdays, so check the availability and book your spot in advance here.
NYC Brooklyn Bridge and DUMBO Food Tour
Brooklyn is known for its awesome food scene, and this tour takes you on a journey through Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO to show you all of the best spots.
The diverse mix of cultures in Brooklyn means that there really is something for everyone here. You’ll visit markets, artisanal stores, and a ton of eateries to try food from all over the world. From a classic NY slice (which is obviously a must) to fried pickles, you’ll get to try a bunch of popular Brooklyn eats.
Plus, your guide will tell you all about Brooklyn and its history as you stroll around, which makes the tour super engaging. And of course, there’s also time to venture up onto the Brooklyn Bridge to enjoy amazing city views and snap some incredible photos from there.
The tour costs $89 USD per person including your tour guide and all tastings. It’s such a cool way to get out of Manhattan and explore Brooklyn like a local. The 3-hour begins at 10 am at Cadman Plaza West and ends in the Fulton Ferry District.
To experience this delicious way of learning about Brooklyn and seeing the Brooklyn Bridge, reserve your spot on the food tour here!
Brooklyn Bridge & Waterfront Bike Tour
We love cycling tours because you can cover so much ground in a relatively short space of time, but you still get to enjoy the city in the open air. So this bike tour is the perfect way to explore the Brooklyn Bridge and its surroundings!
You start by meeting up on Chambers Street and cycling around Battery Park and Wall Street, where you can learn all about New York’s famous financial scene and enjoy views of skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty. Then, you’ll cycle along the Hudson River path before pedaling over the famous Brooklyn Bridge.
Then, once you get to the other side of the bridge you’ll explore DUMBO and Hudson River Park. And of course, your guide will be on hand to give you some local insight into everything that you’re seeing.
The tour costs $60 USD per person and lasts for 2 hours. You get to see an impressive amount during that time and it starts in the morning so you’ll avoid the heat of the day if you’re cycling in the summer like we did. We think this tour is perfect for anyone who wants to explore Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn but doesn’t have a ton of time. Make sure to reserve your spot on this tour here!
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
7. Is it safe to walk the Brooklyn Bridge?
Yes, walking the Brooklyn Bridge is very safe. In fact, the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian area is completely separate from the road. You walk above the cars, rather than next to them, so there’s really no need to worry about the traffic.
And in terms of safety with other people, the bridge gets extremely busy during the day. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your stuff and watch out for pickpockets, even though pickpocketing on the bridge is pretty rare.
8. What facilities will you find along the Brooklyn Bridge?
The only facilities you’ll find along the Brooklyn Bridge are street vendors who sell drinks, snacks, and hats. That’s it! In recent times, these vendors have been getting kicked off the bridge, too, so there is no guarantee they will be there. There are no washrooms, benches, or anything like that.
9. Tips for walking the Brooklyn Bridge
Start on the Brooklyn side
The best views from the Brooklyn Bridge are looking over at Manhattan, so the classic way to experience the bridge is by starting in Brooklyn. You can catch the A or C subway line to High Street Station and then walk onto the Brooklyn Bridge from there, finishing back in Manhattan. This way, you’ll be facing Manhattan the whole way and get the best views!
Bring a hat
If you’re walking the Brooklyn Bridge during the summer, you’ll definitely want a hat to protect you from the sun. It gets really hot in NYC during the summer, and there is almost no shade on the walk across the bridge, so be prepared!
Wear comfortable shoes
The Brooklyn Bridge is just over a mile (or about 1.7 km) long, so it’s a decent walk. You should wear a good pair of shoes that you’re happy to walk for at least an hour in! You don’t need your best hiking boots or anything like that, but you want to be comfortable.
Bring some cash
You can buy drinks and snacks over the Brooklyn Bridge, but you’ll need to pay in cash. Make sure to bring some with you, ideally in small bills. It gets hot during the summer, and so you’ll probably get thirsty. We ran out of water along the way and were desperate to buy one, so we were so lucky that we had some cash. Otherwise, we would have struggled to enjoy the rest of the walk.
Check out Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park is an awesome urban park on the Brooklyn side of the bridge. Brooklyn Bridge Park isn’t as well known as Central Park, but it’s worth visiting! It’s right on the waterfront so you get epic views of Manhattan’s skyline from here, and we recommend taking a stroll around. There’s always something fun going on here, too, as there are lots of sports courts around and you can check out the different piers.
Related Read: Don’t let bad weather ruin your trip! We’ve written an entire guide on things to do in NYC on a rainy day.
Money Saving Tip – Some of NYC’s best attractions unfortunately aren’t free. But that doesn’t mean you have to blow your budget to see them! We purchased a New York City attraction pass during our visit and it helped us save 30-40% on admission fees to top attractions like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. There are a few different options, but the top three are the New York CityPASS®, the New York Pass, and the New York Explorer Pass by Go City.
10. Is walking the Brooklyn Bridge worth it?
Yes, 100%! This bridge is world-famous and the views you get are epic. Plus, it’s free, so you’ve got nothing to lose. It’s one of the best things to do in New York City by far!
Other Things to do While You’re in New York City
As the biggest city in the USA, there is no shortage of things to do in New York! I mean you could spend a week or more here and still not see a fraction of what the Big Apple has to offer. But if you only have a few days and want to see the highlights, these are other top attractions and activities we highly recommend checking out.
- Fly above NYC – Exploring on the ground is fun, but to truly appreciate the New York skyline, take to the air! Joining a helicopter flight in NYC gives you a front-row seat (or hopefully a window seat!) to all the iconic sights. We chose this 15-minute helicopter flight that flew over Manhattan and it was a highlight, if not THE highlight of our whole trip!
- Eat pizza! – New York was home to the first pizzeria in the US way back in the early 1900s and it’s still something this city is known for. I dare say the pizza here is legendary! Top pizza joints include John’s of Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village, Prince Street Pizza in Nolita, and we also loved 2 Bros Pizza.
- Visit Central Park – Likely you’ve seen this famous park in movies, so it’s a must while you’re here. Central Park is huge with great spots like a historic carousel, Belvedere Castle, and even a skating rink in the winter. Feel like you’re starring in a rom-com with this horse and carriage ride. It’s 45 minutes around Central Park and a fantastic way to cover more ground in style.
- Empire State Building – As one of the most iconic buildings in the entire world, the Empire State Building is an attraction like none other! Of course, you’ll see the building from afar, but the views are next-level from the Empire State Building observation deck. Make sure to reserve tickets for the main observation deck in advance as only a limited number of people are allowed up at a time.
- Take a day trip – Not only is NYC full of fun, but it’s close to other amazing destinations you can visit for a day! Head to Washington, DC to check out the White House, try some of the best Philly cheesesteaks and see the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, or take a tour from New York to Niagara Falls.
Where to Stay in New York City
New York City is huge – there is just no other way to put it! Even Manhattan (the area you’ll want to base yourself in) is a lot bigger than you think. That’s why choosing the right hotel in the right location is so important during your stay in New York.
Below, we’ve simplified it all for you by choosing a couple of the very best hotels available in the city. All three of these options have ideal locations close to attractions and the subway system. They all have amazing reviews, too, so just choose the one in your budget category and you’ll be ready to pack your bags!
Motto by Hilton – $$$
Motto by Hilton is a gorgeous hotel located in the Chelsea neighborhood close to the Flatiron Building. The hotel features modern decor that has “speakeasy vibes”. In fact, they have a beautiful bar onsite that looks like the perfect place to sip an Old Fashioned. There are a variety of rooms on offer including some that are a little more budget-friendly, and some that are pure luxury with city views!
Prices start from about $400 USD per night plus tax. You can check prices and availability for Motto by Hilton online here!
Delta Hotels by Marriott New York Times Square – $$
Delta Hotels by Marriott New York Times Square is where we stayed the last time we visited New York, and honestly, we loved it! This hotel is the perfect combination of comfort and value for money. It was clean, modern, and our room had all of the amenities we needed for an enjoyable stay (air conditioning, k-cup coffee maker, steamer, large shower, big windows, etc). Plus, the location is ideal – it’s only a couple blocks from Times Square!
Prices do range, but they do go as low as $200 USD per night plus tax depending on the time of year and day of the week. You can check prices and book online here!
Nap York Central Park Sleep Station – $
For those traveling on a tight budget, Nap York is a budget hostel that’s an ideal choice. Although affordable, this property is immaculate and offers a ton of amenities for a great stay including air conditioning and a shared kitchen. The rooms are modern and the location is about as central as it gets! This property only offers dorm rooms, but they are affordable at as little as $150 USD per night.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is absolutely one of the must-do activities in New York City. You get to enjoy some of the most iconic views of the skyline – all for free! Hopefully, this blog has given you everything you need to know to plan your visit to the Brooklyn Bridge.
If you found this guide useful, check out our other blogs on the USA including lots about New York! We’ll help you navigate the top sights and some hidden gems this epic city has to offer. Here are a few to get you started: