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The World’s Best Ferry Rides For Great Sightseeing

Joanna Hall

You wouldn’t normally think of taking a ferry to go sightseeing, but there are a number of services dotted around the world which offer not only a way to get from A to B but also some great vistas along the way. In the USA there are two of note on both sides of the country. On the east coast, triple-decker Staten Island Ferries shuttle communters to and from lower Manhattan over 100 times a day, but savvy travellers can also enjoy the eight-kilometre run past some quintessential NYC sights; skyscrapers and bridges, Ellis Island and the graceful Statue of Liberty. It’s also free. Out west in San Francisco, the half-hour trip to Sausalito with the Blue and Gold Fleet presents some of the city’s most famous icons, including the huge spans of the Oakland and Golden Gate bridges, and spooky Alcatraz mid-harbour. The trip is enjoyable in sunshine or in fog, and being a bicycle-friendly vessel you can take a rental over to explore Sausalito for something different. Over in Hong Kong, the Star Ferry is also a top pick, especially the quick hop between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. With jaw dropping cityscapes both sides, it is especially beautiful at sunset, or during the Symphony of Lights display which takes place every night at 8pm. And it is super cheap. Still in Asia, another ferry service worth trying is the Chao Phraya Express, commuter ferries which charge up and down the Chao Phraya River all day long. The fare is negligible, and you can hop on or off at any pier along the way as you choose. An alternative to this, and costing only a few dollars more, is the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat, which has the benefit of English commentary, and offers unlimited-stops to 13 different piers with a a one-day ticket.

Over in Europe, the ferries which ply the waters of Istanbul’s Bosphorus are also well worth taking at least once. With Golden Horn you can enjoy a short hop of just 10 minutes, or a longer cruise up the river or out to Prince’s Islands, taking in old mansions, mosques, the Bosphorus Bridge and much more. It’s also another service which is cheap. There are three other notable ferry rides in Europe to consider on your next trip, including the Calabria-Sicily ferry in Italy, the Dalmatia ferry in Dubrovnik, and the Stockholm-Helsinki ferry. The Calabria-Sicily ferry ride takes 35-minutes, cruising across the Strait of Messina from Villa San Giovanni on the Italian mainland to Messina in Sicily. The vessel is nothing special but the views, and the fare, are worth it. In Croatia, the local Dalmatia Ferry run by Jadroinija offers lovely views of one of Dubrovnik and one of the best preserved walled cities in the Mediterranean, or you can venture further north to Split, or Hvar up the Dalmatian Coast. And finally, a long haul service like the Silja Serenade overnight cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki is worth considering if you have the time. It takes 20 hours, but ensuite cabins can be booked ahead, with fine dining and duty free shopping available for all passengers. Just make sure you are on deck departing Stockholm, especially at sunset, as you will pass the city’s stunning archipelago of 24,000 islands which is a sight to behold. 



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  1. Posted by on 28th Oct 2019 Verified Customer

    Dubrovnik 4 Star Review

    Great timing we're going to Dubrovnik next year so I will put this on my list. The only thing missing is approximate fares but I guess they won't be super expensive LOL

  2. Posted by on 28th Oct 2019 Verified Customer

    You Forgot One 4 Star Review

    You left out the Manly ferry in of the best sightseeing-ferry rides in the world!

  3. Posted by on 28th Oct 2019 Verified Customer

    Great Idea 5 Star Review

    Loved this article, what a great idea to combine a ferry ride with sightseeing!

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