You wouldn’t automatically think of taking a ferry ride to go sightseeing but there are a number of services around the globe which offer not only a way to get from A to B, but also some great vistas along the way. Top of our list to try out is the Star Ferry in Hong Kong, especially the short hop between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. With jaw dropping cityscapes both sides it can be enjoyed any time but especially at sunset, or during the Symphony of Lights display which is held at 8pm each night. And it is also super cheap. Meanwhile still in Asia, the Chao Phraya Express is a service of commuter ferries which charge up and down the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok all day long. The fare is negligible, and you can hop on or off at any pier along the way to enjoy views and sights. An alternative for just a few dollars more is the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat, which has English commentary and unlimited-stops at 13 different piers on a one-day ticket.
Across the pond in the USA there are great options on both sides of the country. On the east coast, the triple-decker Staten Island Ferries shuttle to and from lower Manhattan more than 100 times a day, with savvy travellers enjoying the eight-kilometre run past some quintessential NYC sights free of charge including the city’s skyscrapers and bridges, Ellis Island and the graceful Statue of Liberty. Way out west in San Francisco, however, the half-hour trip to Sausalito with the Blue and Gold Fleet takes in some of the city’s most famous icons, including the spans of the Oakland and Golden Gate bridges, and spooky Alcatraz mid-harbour. Enjoy in sunshine or in fog, and being a bicycle-friendly vessel you can take a rental over to explore Sausalito too.
Meanwhile in Europe, the ferries which ply the waters of Istanbul’s Bosphorus are also well worth taking. With Golden Horn you can opt for 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 more. It’s also cheap. Still in Europe there are at least three notable ferry rides worth considering, which include the Calabria-Sicily ferry in Italy, the Dalmatia ferry in Dubrovnik, and the Stockholm-Helsinki ferry. The first is a 35-minute cruise 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 the trip. Over in Croatia, the local Dalmatia Ferry run by Jadroinija offers gorgeous views of one of the best preserved walled cities in the Mediterranean, or you can choose to 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 (it takes 20 hours), with passengers able to stay in ensuite cabins, and enjoy fine dining restaurant and duty free shopping. Be sure to be on deck as you depart Stockholm, especially at sunset, passing the city’s stunning archipelago of 24,000 islands.