One of the most popular things to do when you visit New York City is walking over the Brooklyn Bridge.  Personally, I did it countless times when I lived in the city and again on my last trip.  It’s one of the best ways to see the Manhattan skyline.

If you’re thinking about walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, this guide has all the information you need to know.

Be sure to also grab my free NYC hotel cheat sheet here to help plan your New York vacation.

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look up at one of the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge

Looking up at one of the iconic towers of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Fun Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge is one of NYC’s most iconic landmarks.  Here are some interesting facts to help you appreciate  the bridge.

  • It was the first roadway to connect Manhattan and Brooklyn
  • When it was finished in 1883 it was the world’s long suspension bridge with the central span measuring 1,595 feet.  The full length being 6,016 feet.
  • The bridge cost $15.5 million in 1883 dollars which would be about $417 million in 2020 dollars.
  • It was originally called the New York and Brooklyn Bridge or the East River Bridge until it was officially named the Brooklyn Bridge in 1915.
  • It was the first suspension bridge to use steel instead of iron for its cables.
  • When it first opened, pedestrians had to pay a penny to cross the Brooklyn Bridge.  Now there are no tolls in either direction for pedestrians, vehicles, or bicycles.
  • The two suspension towers are 278 feet tall with Gothic Revival pointed arches.
  • It was designed by John A. Roebling, but he died before it was finished.  His son Washington Roebling took over but became ill, so his wife Emily Warren Roebling had to step up.  There is a plaque honoring the three Roeblings on the tower on the Brooklyn side of the bridge.
  • Officially Emily Warren Roebling was the first person to cross the bridge. On opening day over 150,000 pedestrians walked across the bridge including American President Chester A. Arthur and New York Mayor Franklin Edson 
  • Splash, I am Legend, Mr. & Mrs. Smith,Vanilla Sky, The Adjustment Bureau, and On the Town are just a few of the movies that have used the Brooklyn Bridge as a filming location.
  • In 2021 a separate bike lane was added.

    view of the walkway that goes across the Brooklyn Bridge

    It’s a special experience to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

How to Walk Over the Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge Walk is one of those quintessential NYC experiences.  It’s popular with tourists and locals alike.

Since most visitors to NYC will be coming from Manhattan, I will write about walking from the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn.  Of course, if you are already in Brooklyn, just follow this guide in reverse.

On the Manhattan side, the entrance to the pedestrian walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge is just across Centre Street from the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall subway station for the 4, 5 and 6 trains.  Other nearby subway stations include Chamber Street for the J and Z trains and City Hall for the R and W trains.

The pedestrian walkway is elevated above the main traffic of the bridge.  It used to be for both pedestrians and cyclists, but a new bike lane was added in 2021.  Now it is just divided down the middle with one side for walkers headed to Brooklyn and the other side for those walking towards Manhattan.

The first section of the Brooklyn Bridge walk is a steady incline.  Don’t worry, you can take it slow and stop as often as you like to look back and admire the view.  Just make sure that you are aware of other walkers when you do stop.

benches on the brooklyn bridge

Feel free to stop and rest during your walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

During this part of the walk, you will often come across vendors selling their goods.  This can include bottled water, NYC souvenirs, artwork, and even food.  I have been surprised that you can actually get some deals, and we did buy a few things on our last walk.

You will want to take some pictures too, so bring your camera or smartphone.  From the bridge, you should be able to get a photo of the Statue of Liberty, Lower Manhattan (including the Freedom Tower), and the Manhattan Bridge.   If it’s not too crowded, try posing in front of one of the Brooklyn Bridge towers.

IMPORTANT: Please be responsible when taking photos and do NOT sit or stand on ledges.  There are no rails to protect pedestrians from falling down onto the roadway below.  It puts not only your life but also others in danger.

selfie of Anisa and Russell on the Brooklyn Bridge

Once you get to the first tower the path levels out.  Then, after the second tower, the path starts to decline.  Keep an eye out for a staircase leading down off the bridge, that will be the fastest way to get to attractions along the East River.  Alternatively, you could keep walking to the end which is by the intersection of Tillary Street and Boerum Place.

While you can do this walk in about 30 minutes, it is best to allow at least an hour so that you are not rushed.  It’s also worth planning a bit of time on the Brooklyn side before heading back.

Are There Guided Tours of the Brooklyn Bridge?

Yes. Some people may prefer to do this walk with a tour guide rather than independently.  If you purchase a New York Pass, a walking tour of the Brooklyn Bridge is included.  Alternatively, you can book a walking tour of the Brooklyn Bridge separately here.

view of the brooklyn bridge from below

After you have walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s nice to spend a little time in Brooklyn.

Things to Do After You Cross the Brooklyn Bridge

Since you’ve taken the time to walk over the bridge, you should take advantage of some of the gems on the Brooklyn side before you head back.  I have a few suggestions for things to do on the Brooklyn side of the East River.

Grab some pizza

Brooklyn is known for its pizza.  Julianna’s is one of the best spots to get it and it is right by the Brooklyn Bridge.  

They are open daily from 11:30 to 9:00, but close from 3:15 to 4:00 to “stoke” their coal fire oven.  You should be prepared for a wait (especially during peak hours) as they don’t take reservations, but I promise it will be worth it.

Alternatively, you could go to Grimaldi’s, which is another popular pizza spot.  Just keep in mind it is cash only.

Enjoy some ice cream

Since you have burned a few calories walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, why not treat yourself to some ice cream.  Last time we went to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.  They have some pretty crazy (in a good way) sundaes.  We probably should have shared one, but Russell insisted we order two.  It was relaxing to enjoy our ice cream outside on their patio.

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is not the only ice cream shop in the area.  There is also Ample Hills Creamery Fireboat House, Oddfellows Ice Cream in Dumbo, and Sugar Hill Creamery.  I have been to Ample Hills in Manhattan and can highly recommend their Ooey Gooey Butter Cake flavor.

Dine on a Rooftop

You can grab a bite to eat after your Brooklyn Bridge walk from your choice of 21 stands run by some of the best restaurants in the city at the Time Out Market. 

It is one of the best dining halls in NYC, plus it has a fifth-floor rooftop with views of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge!  In addition to the amazing food, they also serve seasonal craft cocktails, beer, and wine as well as some special non-alcoholic beverages. 

You can use the app to place your order and pre-orders completely contactlessly.  If you don’t want to eat at the market, you can always do takeaway and have a picnic in Brooklyn Bridge Park, always a great option too.

There are also Time Out Markets in Lisbon and Miami.

Have a picnic

If you rather bring your own food and drink, Brooklyn Bridge Park is an excellent spot to picnic.  You will have clear views of downtown Manhattan and can watch the boats on the East River while you dine.  There are some wooden tables in the Picnic Grove by Jane’s Carousel or you can bring your own blanket and find a quiet spot. 

Take photos

Some of NYC’s most instagrammable places are located near where you exit the Brooklyn Bridge, so bring your Instagram husband.  It’s a short walk to these photo spots.

Jane’s Carousel

view of Jane's Carousel near the Brooklyn Bridge

Jane’s Carousel is inside a specially designed building near the Brooklyn Bridge.

There is a beautiful, antique carousel right by the East River between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge. It was built in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company for Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio.  The carousel was the first one to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, when it received the designation on February 6, 1975.

When Idora Park closed to the public in 1984, the carousel was restored and donated to Brooklyn Bridge Park by Jane and David Walentas.  Jane’s Carousel is housed in a protective glass pavilion, designed by Pritzker-prize winning architect Jean Nouvel, that opened to the public in 2011.

While you can ride on the carousel for only $2, it also makes for an iconic photo.  If you want to do a photo shoot without other people around you can book it when Jane’s Carousel is closed to the public.

Manhattan Bridge

selfie of Anisa and Russell at the famous photo spot of the Manhattan Bridge

We had to take a selfie with the Manhattan Bridge.

You have probably seen the photo of the Manhattan Bridge perfectly framed by two red-brick warehouses on Instagram or on my list of the best NYC puzzles.  The spot you need to stand on to capture this view is only a short walk from the Brooklyn Bridge, on Washington Street where it intersects with Water Street.

Expect to find other budding photographers trying to get their Instagram shots.  Be patient and set up your photo so that the Empire State Building is framed between the legs of the bridge.

shot of manhattan bridge with empire state building between pillars

You can see the Empire State Building in the distance through the Manahattan Bridge.

*If you want someone to take photos of you in NYC, use the code TTTNYC,  to get $10 off any tour with NYC Photo Journeys.  You get a skilled photographer that knows the best photo spots in NYC, and since it’s a private tour, you can tailor the itinerary to your interests.  

How to Get Back to Manhattan After Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

Of course, you can just walk back the way that you came, but in case your feet are tired or you want a bit of a change in scenery, there are some other options.

Subway Back to Manhattan

You can take the subway back to Manhattan. It will be the fastest option especially if you are headed to somewhere on Manhattan’s west side.

The closest stop is High Street for the A and C trains, but York Street for the F train is not much further.  Think about where you want to end up in Manhattan, then decide which train will be easiest.

Ferry Back to Manhattan

One of my favorite ways to travel between Brooklyn and Manhattan is the East River Ferry.  It’s fun to be out on the water and the views are breathtaking.

There is a stop close to the Brooklyn Bridge at Furman and Old Fulton Streets.  From there, it’s a short ferry ride to Wall Street.  Then, you could catch a subway going uptown if needed.

Take a Bike Back

With the new bike lane, you won’t have to worry about dodging the pedestrians if you want to bike back across the Brooklyn Bridge.  You also don’t even need to own a bike (or even bring a bike with you).

If you have a New York Pass, a Brooklyn Bridge bike rental is included.  If not, you can use Citi Bike, NYC’s bike sharing system.  There are two stations right by the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge: Old Fulton Street (close to Juliana’s) and Dock Street & Front Street.

To use Citi Bike you need to download the app.  You can purchase a day pass which includes unlimited 30-minute rides on a Classic Citi Bike for 24 hours.   It will probably take about 20 minutes to bike across the Brooklyn Bridge so you should not have to worry about fees for additional minutes, but you could consider upgrading to an e-bike.  Get more details about Citi Bike here.

Walk over the Manhattan Bridge to Manhattan

view of the manhattan bridge from brooklyn

You can walk back to Manhattan over the Manhattan Bridge.

The Manhattan Bridge is the next bridge north of the Brooklyn Bridge.  It was designed by Leon Moisseiff and opened in 1909.  It was the first suspension bridge to use Josef Melan’s deflection theory, so it is considered the forerunner of modern suspension bridges.

You enter the Manhattan Bridge Pedestrian Walkway from the corner of Jay Street and Sands Street.  The walking path is on the south side of the bridge so you will have views of the Brooklyn Bridge and both waterfronts of Manhattan and Brooklyn as you cross.

When you walk across the Manhattan Bridge, the footpath is below all of the motor traffic.  There are high chain link fences on both sides of the bridge, which aren’t very attractive and interfere with views of the skyline. You should be prepared for the noise from the subway trains passing by.

It may not be as iconic or picture-perfect as the Brooklyn Bridge, but its still a nice walk with good views and a lot less people.  Like the Brooklyn Bridge, this walk can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on your speed and how often you stop.

The Manhattan Bridge walkway takes you to Chinatown in Lower  Manhattan.  The exit is at Bowery and Canal Street which is closest to Grand Street Station for B and D subway lines, Bowery Street Station for the J and Z lines, and East Broadway Station for the F line.

tower of the brooklyn bridge with manhattan in the background

If you can, try to do your walk across the Brooklyn Bridge when the weather is pleasant.

When is the best time to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge?

While you can walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at any time, it’s best early in the morning or in the evening when the crowds will be less.  During the middle of the day, especially when the weather is nice, it can get quite crowded.  I wouldn’t let that stop you from doing it though, it will still be a special experience.

It won’t be as nice to do the Brooklyn Bridge walk when the weather is bad.  It will be even more windy on the bridge than in Manhattan or Brooklyn, so I would avoid doing this walk on a cold NYC winter day.

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How long does it take to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge?

The walk is just less than two miles.  The time it will take depends on how fast you will be walking and how many times you stop.  You could probably finish the Brooklyn Bridge walk in 30 minutes but it will be more enjoyable if you slow down and take it all in. 

It’s probably best to allow about an hour to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

view of brooklyn bridge with a boat on the east river

The Brooklyn Bridge offers some spectacular views, so there is no need to rush your walk across it.

Is walking over the Brooklyn Bridge a good date idea?

The Brooklyn Bridge walk does not quite make my list of the most romantic things to do in NYC because of the crowds.  Still, it could be a fun active date that you won’t soon forget. 

Is walking across the Brooklyn Bridge good for kids?

Most kids will enjoy walking across the bridge as long as they are comfortable walking about two miles.  If you want to bring a stroller you can avoid the stairs on the Brooklyn side by using the exit (entrance if going to Manhattan) at the intersection of Tillary Street and Boerum Place.

Also, keep in mind that the Brooklyn Bridge will probably be crowded so you will need to keep a close eye on the little ones.

walkway of brooklyn bridge with manhattan in the distance

I can’t count how many times I have walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Is it Worth Walking Over the Brooklyn Bridge?

Yes.  It’s more than just the amazing views of the skyline and standing on a New York icon.  There is definitely something special about walking over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Whether it’s your first time in NYC or your 200th, if the weather cooperates, it’s one of the best free things to do in New York.  

Have you walked across the Brooklyn Bridge?

-Anisa

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brooklyn bridge with man walking across and text overlay that says "guide to walking across the Brooklyn Bridge"

Expert Tips for Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge

  • Wear comfortable and practical shoes – it’s not a short walk.
  • Bring along some water (ideally in a reusable water bottle like this).  There may be street vendors but it’s not guaranteed.
  • Don’t rush this walk, take your time enjoy the views and also experience a bit of Brooklyn.

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Last Updated on March 5, 2022