12 of the World’s Most Stunning Ferry Rides (With Great Photo Ops)

Get your camera ready for the world's most picturesque ferry journeys.

Woman standing on ferry looking at sea
Updated May 28, 2024
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When you’re exploring a new place, an easy — and often affordable — way to get around is to check out local ferry routes.

From the free Staten Island Ferry that offers riders a breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline to the hop-on, hop-off boats that cruise through the canals of Venice, there are many ferry rides across the world worth checking out.

Following are 12 of the most scenic and famous ferry rides you can book using one of the best travel credit cards and start earning points and rewards today.

Golden Gate Ferry, San Francisco

MichaelVi/Adobe golden gate ferry sign on a boat.

The Golden Gate Ferry takes travelers from San Francisco to Sausalito, a small and beautiful city just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

For just a few bucks each way, the 30-minute ferry ride offers incredible views of the famed bridge, San Francisco’s skyline, Alcatraz Island, and more.

Once you touch down in Sausalito, enjoy art galleries, shopping, breathtaking views, and photo ops.

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Uber Boat by Thames Clippers, London

russell102/Adobe uber boat ride on the sea

Travel to some of London’s most famous landmarks along the Thames River by hopping aboard Uber Boat by Thames Clippers.

The boat stops at 24 piers along the Thames River and riders can hop on and hop off wherever they want, seven days a week. You can also get stellar views of the famed Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and more.

Staten Island Ferry, New York City

misu/Adobe staten island ferry on new york harbor.

Bright orange and massive, the Staten Island Ferry is certainly not the prettiest ferry you’ll ever see — but it’s free. Plus, the ferry provides some incredible views of the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and more.

Visitors can hop aboard the ferry in lower Manhattan and ride it for about 25 minutes to Staten Island. Grab a beer on board while you’re at it.

Star Ferry, Hong Kong

Only Fabrizio/Adobe star ferry in victoria harbor

Visitors can enjoy sweeping views of Hong Kong’s skyscrapers on this quick, easy, and cheap ride through Victoria Harbour.

Hop on throughout the day and evening and enjoy this double-decker boat. The ride is only about 10 minutes and costs around $5 on weekdays for adults who want to take in the views from the boat’s upper level.

Sydney Ferries, Australia

yongtick/Adobe circular quay in sydney australia with tourists during day time

Visitors to Sydney can take a quick ferry trip to Manly (around 30 minutes) and enjoy great views of many of the city’s most famous landmarks along the way — from the Sydney Opera House to Harbour Bridge and the gorgeous skyline.

During the ride, you might even spy local sea life and spot a dolphin or whale alongside the boat.

Jadrolinija Ferry, Croatia

mato020/Adobe jadrolinija ferries in split croatia harbour during day time

Those looking for a longer and more luxurious ferry ride should check out the roughly two-and-a-half-hour route along the Dalmatian Coast between Split and Vis.

Riders get to enjoy stunning scenery, from the Mosor mountain range to some of Croatia’s most picturesque islands.

When travelers reach Vis, there’s no shortage of natural beauty, olive groves, vineyards, and more to enjoy.

Alaska Marine Highway

mscornelius/Adobe ferry in the middle of water in southeast alaska during day time

The Alaska Marine Highway is one for the more ambitious cruisers, as the route covers around 3,500 miles.

Those looking to enjoy the vast and wild beauty of the Last Frontier may want to check out the Ketchikan to Haines segment, a 22-hour ride that offers guests an opportunity to take in the incredible natural beauty of the state.

Bluebridge Ferry, New Zealand

Bearhunter/Wirestock/Adobe bluebridge ferry at lambton harbor

New Zealand’s Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferries take off from the lively, urban Wellington and sail along the coastline. Riders get spectacular views of the Wellington Heads on the way to picturesque Picton.

During the journey, riders may also get a glimpse of dolphins, whales, and other sea life that often pop up as the ferries head to Picton and back.

Blue Star Ferry, Greece

Chris Allan/Adobe blue star ferry leaving harbor during day time

Santorini is a must-see spot on many travel lists, so why not head to the beautiful Greek island by sea? Visitors can take the Blue Star Ferry from Athens (Piraeus) to Santorini.

The nearly eight-hour journey takes riders through sparkling sea and past beautiful islands and picturesque Greek homes painted bright blue — the type of views that send millions to Greece’s beaches every year.

Seacat Colonia, Buenos Aires to Uruguay

PinkShot/Adobe visitors getting out of ferry at harbor during day time

The Seacat Colonia offers an incredible day trip if you visit Buenos Aires. It takes riders from Argentina’s capital to the relaxing and beautiful Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay.

The trip — which includes views of beautiful, white beaches and small islands — only takes about an hour.

Vaporetti, Venice

Sailorr/Adobe boat cruising in venice's grand canal during the day.

Cost-conscious travelers can skip the gondolas and check out Venice by ferry instead. These “bus boats” are a form of public transportation that take riders around the city, stopping at many famed neighborhoods and landmarks along the way.

Hopping aboard a vaporetto is the cheapest way to get around Venice. And while it may not be as romantic as a gondola, you'll still be able to take in the famed city’s beauty as you cruise along the waterways.

Golden Horn Ferry, Turkey

MehmetOZB/Adobe star ferry in the middle of sea at victoria harbor

An incredible way to take in some of Turkey’s rich history is to cruise along the Golden Horn. This short ferry trip begins at the Haliç (Golden Horn) Dock and makes its way to Eyüp.

Riders pass by incredible centuries-old architecture and beautiful churches. The cruise takes just over a half-hour and offers some beautiful photo ops.

Bottom line

Maridav/Adobe couple cruising on boat while pointing at sea at sunset time

In many cities across the world — particularly those that are near a large body of water — taking a ferry is a great way to see the sites.

You can take some incredible photographs and enjoy a lovely afternoon or evening activity for very little cash. Taking a ferry is a fun, scenic way to eliminate some money stress the next time you travel.

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Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.