Everything You Need to know About Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

Let me let you in on a little secret. Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is no secret!

But it IS a classic NYC experience.

Whether you’ve done it a hundred times or once, there is something special about making your way across this iconic piece of architecture.

Over the years, I’ve seen the masses descend on the bridge, as it has become the coolest thing to do. Though the crowds sometimes agitate me, I would never deter someone from walking across this bridge. In fact, if you are visiting New York City, I highly encourage you to add walking the Brooklyn Bridge to your plan.

Here is everything you need to know about walking the Brooklyn Bridge.

1.Why Should You Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge?

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

It’s historic. It’s beautiful. It’s an important piece of NYC architecture. And it’s fun – Why not?!

In 1883, after 14 years of construction, the Brooklyn Bridge became an important piece of the NYC landscape. Spanning the width of the East River, the bridge connected the cities of Manhattan and Brooklyn (they used to be separate cities) with steel and granite.

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For a while it was considered the 8th Wonder of the World for it’s impressive strength and length – it was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1903! 4,000 people, 3,000 bicycles, and 120,000 vehicles pass over the bridge daily. It has inspired art in more ways than you would think – paintings, photographs, plays, and music. Not to mention the number of TV shows and movies that have been filmed on or near it.

2. How to Get to the Brooklyn Bridge

First things first, getting there. The design of the bridge has walkers and bikers on the top level and cars below. As a walker, you want to make sure you are getting on the pedestrian part of the bridge and not the car part!

From Manhattan:

If you are starting on the Manhattan side the entrance to the bridge is directly across from City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan.

Getting to the Bridge via Subway

Chances are if you are a tourist in NYC, you will be getting to the bridge via subway. The two closest subways are the 4,5,6 to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall and the J,Z to Chambers St. You can also take:

  • 2,3 to Park Place OR Fulton Street
  • N,R to City Hall
  • A,C to Fulton Street

Unless you are walking the bridge super early in the morning or super late at night, you will not be the only one walking. The area around the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge entrance will be crowded with people. City Hall Park is typically lively with performances and people, and the Hop on Hop off Bus Tours stop here.

From Brooklyn:

If you are starting on the Brooklyn side, the entrance to the bridge is at the intersection of Tillary and Adams Streets. There is a sidewalk in the middle of two busy roads with a big sign that says ‘Brooklyn Bridge’!

Getting to the Bridge via Subway

The closest subway to the Brooklyn Bridge entrance from the Brooklyn side is the 2,3 Clark Street Stop. You can also take:

  • A,C to High Street or Jay Street/Metro Tech
  • N,R to Court Street
  • 2,3 to Borough Hall
  • 4,5 to Borough Hall

3. When to Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge

Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge at Sunrise

Sunrise from the Brooklyn Bridge

Whatever time of day you make it to the Brooklyn Bridge, the walk across is excellent. Of course, the crowds will be much larger during peak times of the day, but don’t let that deter you from visiting. From my own experiences walking, running and biking across the bridge, I can tell you my favorite time is super early in the morning. If you get there a bit before sunrise, the bridge will be empty! It is amazing to have it all to yourself! Definitely worth getting up in the early hours of the morning. However, the second the sun rises, busloads of people suddenly appear!

Best time of day

My choice for the best time of day is sunrise or sunset. The bridge is empty at sunrise, but you have to get there at an unfriendly hour. The bridge is crowded at sunset, but it’s gorgeous and at a pleasant hour.

Best time of year

You can walk across the bridge anytime of the year if you are prepared for the elements. I planned a trip for someone and had them walking over the bridge at the end of December – super cold and windy, but it was one of their favorite things!

Summer is obviously hotter, especially when you go mid day. My choice for the best time of year would be in the Spring and Fall.

What to Expect at Sunset

  • Crowds
  • Gorgeous views of the sun setting over the Statue of Liberty
  • The Manhattan skyline coming to life with light

What to Expect at Sunrise

  • No crowds
  • Sunrise over the Manhattan Bridge
  • The city waking up – cars, people, bikers all getting started for their mornings

4. How Long Does it Take to Walk the Brooklyn Bridge

Everything You Need to Know About Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge

If you go before sunrise, you’ll have the place to yourself!

Well, this totally depends on your walking style/amount of tourist-ing you want to do! I’ve gotten across the bridge in 2 minutes (on a bike), 10 minutes (running) and 45 minutes (walking).

It also may take you some time to figure out where you are once you get out of the subway and find the entrance.

Here are my suggestions on time for various situations:

  1. If you are walking across the bridge for exercise, or just to get from one side to the other → 25 minutes.
  2. You know how to get to the bridge, have probably walked it before, but want to stop and take some pictures and really enjoy yourself → 40 minutes
  3. You have never walked across the bridge, want to really stop and soak in the views + take lots of pictures → 60 minutes

It’s also important to remember that in the middle of the day on a beautiful Saturday spring afternoon the bridge will be crowded! It will take you longer to maneuver your way through all the foot and bike traffic and this will take longer to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (even if you are trying to move quickly).

If you are biking across the bridge, in the early morning it will take you two minutes to pedal across. In the middle of the day, much longer – lots of stopping and starting and pedestrians getting in your way.

The pedestrian part of the bridge is 1.1 miles across.

5. Which Side Should You Start From?

Everything You Need to Know About Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge

View of the bridge from Brooklyn Bridge Park

This totally depends on what your itinerary is for the day, where you are staying, and what you are most interested in. Most of my friends live in Brooklyn so I tend to stay with them or stay in a hotel in Brooklyn, which makes walking from the Brooklyn side my go to option.

Starting in Brooklyn and walking toward Manhattan the entire time means you will get to be walking toward the famous skyline.

Starting in Manhattan and walking toward Brooklyn means you will have to turn around to look at the skyline (no big deal), but there are more options for things to do in DUMBO (in my opinion).

What is There to See When Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge?

Everything You Need to Know About Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge

The view as you walk over the Brooklyn Bridge is legendary. The Manhattan Skyline, Statue of Liberty, and famous bridges are all things you will see on this walk. I love going with a friend who has never been to New York and pointing out all the landmarks that make NYC famous.

NYC Skyline

This one is a no brainer – you can’t miss it. If you’re walking from Brooklyn, you will stare at it the whole time. If you’re walking from Manhattan, don’t forget to turn around!

Statue of Liberty

She is standing tall in the middle of New York Harbor. You can get a good look at her from the middle of the bridge. If you want a close up look, bring some binoculars!

* If you are walking toward Manhattan, she is on the left hand side.

The Manhattan Bridge

This runs next to the Brooklyn Bridge on the right hand side if you are walking to Manhattan. It is also a fun bridge to walk across and gives you full views of the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s cool to see the train rumble across the lower level of the Manhattan Bridge.

*You can also see the very top of the Williamsburg Bridge from the Brooklyn Bridge. It is beyond the Manhattan Bridge.

The Freedom Tower

This is a tower you simply can’t miss. Iconic for it’s symbolism, as well as its height – The Freedom Tower represents a lot of emotion and strength for New Yorkers..it’s worth heading over to the World Trade Center Site after your walk.

Empire State Building

You can’t miss the famous Empire State Building as you walk across the bridge. At night it will be lit in various colors for whatever holiday or special day it is.

Chrysler Building

This building is shorter than the Empire State Building and further to the right. You’ll know it’s the Chrysler building because the top is decorated with circles.

*If you are walking toward Manhattan, it is toward the right. It is a bit smaller than the Empire State Building.

Brooklyn Bridge Park & Jane’s Carousel

Brooklyn Bridge park gives you great views of the Brooklyn Bridge, which means from the bridge — you can see the park! It’s cool to see everyone lining up at the carousel from above.

*If you are walking toward Brooklyn it is on the left hand side – the big open space with grass!

7. Stay Safe When Walking Across the Bridge

  • When walking, stay on the walking side of the bridge. It may be tempting to pose for a picture or relax in the bike lane, but you never know how quickly a biker may come zooming by. It’s dangerous for you AND them.
  • Wear solid walking shoes. I know you probably want to look cute on your day exploring NYC, but heels and a wood-slatted bridge do not mix.
  • Go to the bathroom before you walk across the bridge, especially if you have kids! It is 1.2 miles across, and when taking in all the sights, you don’t want to be stuck in a bad situation!

8. What is there to do After You Walk Over the Brooklyn Bridge?

Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge

Classic view from Washington Street

Adding a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge to your NYC itinerary is a fantastic idea. It is a great way to kick off a day in Brooklyn, or a morning in lower Manhattan. Depending on what kind of things you like, there is plenty of eating, playing and sightseeing on both sides of the bridge. Here are my top things to do after you walk over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Brooklyn Side – Eating, Playing, Sleeping & Sightseeing

Once you cross over the river, take the stairs down. You will be smack dab in the middle of Brooklyn Heights. DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is a pretty sweet neighborhood right next to Brookyln Heights with cobblestone streets with old train tracks embedded into them. Refurbished warehouses, once places for industry, now spruced up and transformed into inviting stores and restaurants. It’s a nice mix of history, gritty-ness and modern architecture. It’s quite worth it to go with no plan and meander through the streets.

What to see?

Around every corner there is Brooklyn Bridge view…plus many other things!

  • Check out Brooklyn Bridge Park for Great Views of the Manhattan Skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Washington Street is where you will see this Iconic view of the Manhattan Bridge.

What to Do?

There are lots of activities near the Brooklyn Bridge:

  • Ride the Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • Rent a Citi Bike and pedal around the streets
  • Go kayaking in the East River from the Brooklyn Bridge Boathouse

What to Eat?

Check out these restaurants near the Brooklyn Bridge:

  • Classic New York pizza from Grimaldi’s or Juliana’s
  • Ice cream from Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
  • Coffee and donuts from Brooklyn Roasting Company
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies from One Girl Cookies

Where to Stay?

Maybe you want to make your base in Brooklyn for easy exploring of this NYC borough. I can highly recommend The Hampton Inn Brooklyn Downtown. The views, the ambiance, and the staff make this my favorite place to stay in Brooklyn. I just stayed there for a long weekend for a friend’s wedding…holy cow the staff took amazing care of us!

Here are some other hotels in Brooklyn to check out:

New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge

Sheraton Brooklyn New York Hotel

Holiday Inn Brooklyn Downtown

Hotel Indigo Brooklyn

Dazzler Brooklyn

Manhattan Side – Eating, Playing, & Sightseeing

If you cross over the East River toward Manhattan, you will find yourself in the midst of lower Manhattan and the financial district. This neighborhood is one of the oldest in the city, with tons of historic sites and important landmarks.

What to See?

Lots of history to see near the Brooklyn Bridge:

  • Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange to see where billions of dollars are traded each day
  • Trinity Church for a historic Anglican Church
  • The Charging Bull Statue is one of the most photographed structures in the city

What to Do?

Lower Manhattan has many things to keep you busy:

  • Visit the 9/11 Memorial
  • Grab a hotdog and relax in City Hall Park
  • Take a walk through Battery Park
  • Go shopping in South Street Seaport

What to Eat?

If you’re looking for a restaurant near the Brooklyn Bridge…

  • Street food – I always grab a pretzel or a hot dog from the stands around City Hall Park
  • Walk up to Chinatown for authentic Chinese Food
  • Tribeca is a short walk away with many restaurants

Where to Stay?

I have only stayed at a hotel in Lower Manhattan one time, so I can’t personally recommend a great one. However, I fully trust the reviews and ratings on Booking.com to lead me to a good hotel choice.

Check out some of the best hotels in Lower Manhattan:

Best Western Plus Seaport Inn Downtown

Hampton Inn Manhattan Seaport

Aloft Manhattan Downtown – Financial District

Four Points by Sheraton New York Downtown

 

9. What About a Brooklyn Bridge Walking Tour?

Everything You Need to Know About Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge

We took a DIY walking tour!

Taking a guided tour across the bridge will give you a locals insight to the bridge. You will learn the history and get a much deeper understanding of the neighborhoods and the bridge than if you did it on your own. I have never taken a Brooklyn Bridge walking tour, so I am unable to give any personal experience, however I did do some research for you!

Free Tours By Foot → Daily Tours at 10am start from the fountain in City Hall Park. The tour takes you across the bridge, tours through Brooklyn Heights and ends in DUMBO. The tour is technically free, though they emphasize to pay what you think it was worth. 

City Rover Walks → Tours on Tuesdays and Fridays at 2:30 start in City Hall Park. Tours are 3-3.5 hours long and cost $39.

Inside Out Tours → Tours are Monday-Saturday at 11am and meet at 52 Chambers Street in Lower Manhattan. Tours are 2.5 hours and cost $35.

Levy’s Unique NY → Join a 2 hour tour with a local as you cross the bridge and explore Brooklyn. Prices vary based on how many people are in your group.

10. Need More of a Challenge?How About a Run Over the Brooklyn Bridge?

If you want to run the Brooklyn Bridge, head out early in the morning so you don’t have to worry about dodging people.

My favorite way to run over the bridge is to simply lace up my shoes and start running from wherever I’m staying. I like to meander my way around the streets and then eventually head over the bridge.

You could also follow an already planned route:

Preppy Runner highlights her favorite run across the bridge. 

Roots Rated has a long run that includes hoofing it over the bridge.

Strava has many running routes through NYC, including one that takes you over the bridge.

Another way to do it is by joining a running tour like City Running Tours. Have them customize a run for you over the bridge with one of their runners.

11. Forget Walking – I Want to Bike Across the Brooklyn Bridge!

If you have never made your way across the bridge, I would suggest walking it first. Biking can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you are traveling during a peak time.

Bike rentals in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Bridge Bike Rentals

Where is it? 145 Nassau Street

How Much? $10/hour, $14/two hours, $18/three hours, $28/full day

Get Up and Ride

Where is it? 33 S. 3rd Street

How Much? $25 for the day (only on weekends)

Bike and Roll

Where is it? East River Park (on the Greenway between Houston & East 6th)

How Much? $28/two hours, $44/full day

Bike Rentals in Manhattan

Frank’s Bike Shop

Where is it? 553 Grand Street

How Much? $30 for the day

Blazing Saddles

Where is it? Pier 17 South Street Seaport

How Much? $44 for the day

I do think that walking across the Brooklyn Bridge is worth it at least once in your life. I am proof that it is enjoyable many, many times over. However, I totally get that walking across the bridge is not a must-do experience for everyone. Here are some alternatives:

If you want views without the crowds→ Take the water taxi across the river.

If you want a more peaceful stroll through the city → Check out Central Park.

If you want to be near the water → Take a stroll through Riverside Park

There you have it! I think I’ve covered just about everything you need to know about walking the Brooklyn Bridge. Hopefully this will help you plan your next NYC vacation!
So, what about you? Have you walked/ran/biked across the Brooklyn Bridge? Share your experience with us!

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Everything You Need to know About Walking the Brooklyn Bridge