I’m ready to take you on a magical journey. Imagine yourself cruising through the water on a ferry boat. You can smell the salt from the ocean and feel the breeze on your face as you watch dolphins play in front of you. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and listen to the sound of seagulls circling overhead. This is what it feels like when you’re riding one of these best ferry boats!
Star Ferry, Hong Kong, China
The Star Ferry is a cheap, efficient way to travel between Hong Kong and Kowloon. The eco-friendly ferry has been transporting passengers across Victoria Harbour for more than a century. It now also offers great views of the city skyline from its two new vessels – the world’s largest solar ferries which emit zero pollution. The trip takes 8 minutes.
Rated first in this year’s list of the “Top 10” most exciting ferry rides by the Society of American Travel Writers, it is indeed a unique way to enjoy great views of city skylines and catch a glimpse of Hong Kong’s lively buzz.
Venice Vaporetto, Italy
This is one of the most popular ways to explore Venice, famous for its canals and tourist gondolas. Up to 16 passengers sit indoors or on top in this brightly colored water bus which chugs along the Grand Canal and other waterways at a leisurely pace.
Perhaps not as romantic as a gondola, these waterbuses are much faster and still offer an overview of the city’s famous allure. Zigzag between several stations on your way from Piazzale Roma to Lido, touring the Grand Canal from one end to the other.
San Francisco to Sausalito Ferry, US
Once in San Francisco, don’t miss the opportunity to take the ferry trip voted second best in the world by the Society of American Travel Writers.
Traveling from San Francisco to Sausalito on a ferry is a great way to get a different perspective of the Golden Gate Bridge. The ferry travels up and down the Bay between San Francisco’s Ferry Building, Alcatraz Prison, and Pier 43 through Sausalito to Tiburon.
The ferry ride from San Francisco to Sausalito runs 7 miles each way and takes approximately 30 minutes. The view of the bridge is fantastic, but once under it, you are treated to a beautiful vista of Marin County hills on your right side as well.
Staten Island Ferry, New York, US
Also in New York, the Staten Island Ferry runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the St. George Terminal on Staten Island to Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. Some of the best views of the Statue of Liberty and NYC can be seen from this boat ride.
Travelers say one of its most interesting facets is wandering around Staten Island itself. Its waterfront community is far different than any other place in New York City and gives a visitor the opportunity to explore Staten Island’s fascinating side.
On this iconic 25-minute ride past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, in lower Manhattan, enjoy superb views of the city’s spectacular skyline. When you reach Staten Island, you can either disembark for a stroll through New York’s most authentic borough or stay onboard and return to Manhattan.
Mersey Ferry, Liverpool, UK
Liverpool’s Mersey Ferries are an attractive way to explore this historic city. A boat ride from Liverpool to Birkenhead or Seacombe offers a great view of the river, port, and famous waterfront buildings such as the Albert Dock and Titanic Hotel.
The ferry terminal is right in the heart of Liverpool city center and close to its waterfront attractions such as the Albert Dock – home to many great restaurants and tourist shops. A Mersey Ferry ride offers a great way to spend a pleasant hour or two, and the price is quite reasonable.
It offers an unparalleled experience in Liverpool and Merseyside from the deck of the red and black ferries. You may combine the ferry trip with a visit to Spaceport, a space-themed attraction at the Seacombe Ferry terminal.
Sydney to Manly Ferry, Australia
In Manly Harbor, this is the place to get on and off a ferry that takes you across the harbor to Sydney’s colorful North Shore. The ferries are large and have ample room in indoor seating areas or outside decks offering views of attractive mansions, beaches, and local shops/restaurants as you travel. A nice break from the city.
Travelers like to get off at Manly, a lively seaside resort developed in the late 19th century and known for its safe swimming beaches. It has a quaint atmosphere with an attractive waterfront esplanade lined with Victorian shops and boutiques. A colorful backdrop is provided by historic homes along The Corso.
It is also the departure point for ferries to other popular areas of Sydney such as Newport, a beautiful and historic harbourside suburb. Or sail through the famous careening arch that remains from the 19th century when ships were brought in to be dry-docked for maintenance.
Vancouver BC Ferries, Canada
Thousands of commuters and tourists ride the ferries in this area each day. It is a beautiful trip surrounded by forested hillsides and island views on both sides of Burrard Inlet.
Located on a sunny, tree-lined waterfront near picturesque Stanley Park and Coal Harbor is the easy access terminus for BC Ferries. A scenic 35 minute trip across Georgia Strait to Vancouver Island lies ahead as you catch glimpses of the downtown skyline of Vancouver.
Travelers can get off at Nanaimo, Victoria, or other intermediate stops on Vancouver Island to visit some of BC’s great attractions such as the Butchart Gardens.
Bateaux Parisiens, Paris, France
This boat ride may be the most romantic in all of Paris. The sightseeing cruise is a round-trip along the Seine, from Quai de la Rapée to Pont Alexandre III and back up again. Passengers enjoy music (performed live) on an open deck area with seating under a series of white tents that line the deck. A champagne toast and an outstanding view of such sights as Notre Dame Cathedral (one of Paris’s most famous landmarks) are included.
Paris’s Seine River is one of the city’s main tourist attractions in the summertime, so book tickets well in advance for this popular excursion. There is a dress code for dinner cruises, but casual attire is acceptable on day trips by boat.
The setting is lovely and the idea behind it is even lovelier – to transport passengers back to 19th century Paris via elegant recreation of French historical scenes on board with live music from the Belle Epoque era in Paris. The trip proceeds along the Seine River and its famous landmarks such as Notre Dame, Pont Neuf, Musée d’Orsay, Grand Palais, Place de la Concorde to name a few.
Bosphorus Ferry, Istanbul, Turkey
The Bosphorus is a narrow channel that divides Istanbul and provides a route between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea. Cruise ships regularly ply these waters, but it is also possible to hop on board one of “The Flower Boats” which are actually used for other purposes during the rest of the year!
These vessels feature open-air seating under a tent. Passengers can get off at stops to visit sights such as the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, Beylerbeyi Palace, and Kasimpaşa with its old mansions. The boat returns to Eminönü on the European side of Istanbul.
The harbor is located along the famous Sultanahmet pedestrian area, with many shops and restaurants in the immediate vicinity.
Naples to Capri Ferry, Italy
Travelers who visit this delightfully romantic destination have a fabulous ferry ride across the Bay of Naples and over to Capri Island. The first stop is Procida, an island just off Naples that was once under siege by the Spanish. People can grab a bite at one of its charming cafes or browse shops for souvenirs before boarding another ferry to Capri.
Capri is renowned for its spectacular views from the Blue Grotto and Faraglioni (tall, pointed limestone rocks that jut out of the sea), as well as Villa Jovis, a remarkable villa owned by Emperor Tiberius. Also enjoy visits to other parts of the island such as Anacapri, a charming island lined with quiet streets and flower-filled gardens.
A spectacular trip across the Bay of Naples offers travelers a breathtaking view of this famous region with two popular stops that are well worth visiting. The ferry ride from Naples to Capri Island lasts about an hour, but the entire journey (including stops at Procida and Anacapri) takes four hours.