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Walking The Williamsburg Bridge From Manhattan To Brooklyn (Stops Included!)

By Jessie Festa. This guide to walking the Williamsburg Bridge contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Interested in walking the Williamsburg Bridge? Then you’re in the right place!

Now, one question many people have is: Can you walk the Williamsburg Bridge?

The answer is yes — and you should! It’s truly one of the best NYC walks, taking you from Manhattan to Brooklyn in record time, with lots of fun stops along the way.

Strolling the Williamsburg Bridge Walk is one of my favorite NYC experiences, especially with so much to do along the way — which you’ll see in my included itinerary.

You’ll also learn about some of my favorite Lower East Side experiences.

A quick overview:

This NYC walk goes from the Lower East Side (Manhattan) to Williamsburg (Brooklyn) via the Williamsburg Bridge Pedestrian Path.

No subway or car is required, allowing you to really feel the beat of the city.

Pro tip:

This walk is incredible in any season, though if visiting in chillier months make sure you know what to wear in NYC in winter to stay warm while looking stylish.

Psst, don’t forget to pin this post for later:

walking the williamsburg bridge in brooklyn

Now, while I do take plenty of guests across the Brooklyn Bridge — one of the top Brooklyn attractions — on my private NYC photo tours, I’m partial to the Williamsburg Bridge as it’s less crowded and edgier with lots of graffiti and steel.

Honestly, it’s one of the best walks in NYC and a great way to spend a day, especially if you’re looking for non-touristy things to do in New York City.

Hey, New York locals and visitors! Don’t miss taking my Private Photo Journey, including a custom itinerary and professional photos of your group to keep. Plus, you get to hang out with me, so pretty much a win-win 🙂 It’s truly one of the best Brooklyn walking tours!

Walking The Williamsburg Bridge [Video]

Before you read any further…

Check out my walk over the Williamsburg Bridge in the video above!

You’ll learn how to do this scenic stroll over the East River, and will also snag additional suggestions beyond this blog post for your Brooklyn itinerary, as well. Note that many of these suggestions are great whether you’re traveling in a group or are looking for fun things to do in NYC by yourself, and almost all include non-touristy things to do in New York City.

Bonus:

The video ends with a look at my favorite NYC rooftop bar. You’ll immediately see why I love it so much.

How Long Is The Williamsburg Bridge?

The Williamsburg Bridge Pedestrian Path is 1.38 miles, much of which offers scenic views over the East River and out toward the Brooklyn and Manhattan skylines.

Make sure to wear comfortable shoes, as this doesn’t include the wandering you’ll do exploring the Lower East Side and Williamsburg neighborhoods before and after your Williamsburg Bridge walk!

Start Your Williamsburg Bridge Walk On The Lower East Side

The Lower East Side — where the Williamsburg Bridge walk begins — is known for many things, particularly its rich immigrant history.

During the 19th century and into the 20th, the neighborhood was full of tenement buildings crammed with immigrant families in poor conditions.

The Tenement Museum, a living museum with costumed interpreters, allows you to explore this. Visiting is truly a uniquely New York experience.

room in a historic tenement house in the Lower East Side
Photo via the Tenement Museum

One population that was prominent in the neighborhood during this time was Jewish immigrants, many of whom came to America to experience the American dream of freedom and gold to escape persecution and anti-semitism in places like Russia and Germany.

For this reason, I highly recommend taking in some Jewish culture at places like;

Katz’s Delicatessen: Open since 1888, this place is NOT overrated. It has an old-school cafeteria feel and you’ll be given samples as you wait for your massive pastrami sandwich, hands down the best in the city. That’s not an opinion; that’s fact.

woman eating pastrami sandwiches at Katz's Deli before walking the Williamsburg Bridge Pedestrian Path
Photo via Katz’s Delicatessen

Yonah Schimmel’s Knish Bakery: Not far from Katz’s is this historic 1910 knish spot, a small and simple venue offering delicious knishes made from scratch (not the frozen variety!). Along with the traditional potato stuffed dough, they showcase other varieties like spinach and cherry. Yum!

Kossar’s Bialys: Looking for different things to do in NYC? Visit Kossar’s, the USA’s oldest bialy factory, open since 1936. A bialy is like a bagel with no hole — instead, it had a depressed center typically with onions and/or poppy seeds — and it’s baked instead of boiled and baked.

woman eating Kossar's Bialys before walking the Williamsburg Bridge
Photo via Kossar’s Bialys

The Pickle Guys: In the early 1900’s Essex Street was filled to the brim with pickle places. Today, The Pickle Guys boast being the only one. They showcase giant barrels full of pickled pineapple, mango, sweet peppers, cherry peppers, mangoes, horseradish, capers, watermelon, celery, baby carrots and more!

There are also hipster bites worth noshing on, my favorite of which is Pop Karma.

Here you’ll find organic kernel popcorn with a slew of interesting all-natural toppings — with everything made in-house. I love the White Truffle Cheddar.

Order a bag to go so you have something to nibble while you walk across the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn.

Now, the Williamsburg Bridge opened in 1903, completely changing the demographics of its namesake Brooklyn neighborhood.

Many called it the “Jews Bridge” due to all the Jewish immigrants that walked over the bridge from their tenements in the Lower East Side to settle in Williamsburg. In fact, after this bridge opened Williamsburg became the most densely populated place in the USA.

By 1917 the block between South 2nd and South 3rd had over 5,000 people!

It’s not surprising that air conditioning was invented in the neighborhood around this time.

woman walking the Williamsburg Bridge Pedestrian Path and posing under steel beams
NYC Photo Journeys tour guest on the Williamsburg Bridge

Things To Do In Williamsburg, Brooklyn

The opening of the bridge truly influenced the makeup of Williamsburg.

What was once a wealthy area where “robber barons” like Cornelius Vanderbilt, Charles Pratt, and Charles Pfizer had waterfront mansions and factories started becoming blue collar.

Today, walking around Williamsburg — which you should definitely explore when visiting NYC — it’s hard to imagine a time of struggle, as it’s very much gentrified.

The once factory-lined waterfront now showcases luxury high rises and beautifully manicured parks, though you’ll still see the abandoned and crumbling Domino Sugar Factory dotting the skyline in decay.

Not surprisingly, the factory’s lawn features an organic farm called North Brooklyn Farms, which is a nice place to enjoy the weather outside and take donation-only yoga classes on Tuesday nights.

view of the Williamsburg Bridge as seen from the Brooklyn waterfront
Farm to fork dinner at North Brooklyn Farms

While I do feel Williamsburg has gone too far with how much it’s progressed, I’ll admit that as a New Yorker with a bit of disposable income I do enjoy the restaurants, bars, boutiques, and thrift shops.

Plus, you can absolutely enjoy the local offerings on a budget.

And if you’re looking to spend an afternoon wandering, it’s one of the best places to walk in Brooklyn, especially as it’s easy to make fun discoveries without a plan.

Now while many stores in this neighborhood are pricey, one gem for those who don’t have $100+ to blow on a shirt:

Vintage Monk Thrift Shop.

I regularly buy jeans and hats from there for $5 each.

woman posing in front of a red and black mural after doing the Williamsburg Bridge walk
Williamsburg has street art, too! Photo of photo tour guest via NYC Photo Journeys.

My favorite Williamsburg experiences (though note some are seasonal):

Bedford Cheese Shop: Here you’ll find a stinky heaven of farmstead cheese and local artisanal products. This and Dépanneur are my favorite places for exploring Brooklyn culinary creativity.

wicker cheese board with assorted cheeses in a line
Photo via Bedford Cheese Shop

The Ides Rooftop at the Wythe Hotel: This rooftop has great views and a very chill vibe.

Westlight at the William Vale Hotel: No Brooklyn travel guide would be complete without mentioning this rooftop, which pairs craft cocktails with a true 360-degree view of NYC. This is one of my favorite rooftop bars in New York. If you’re walking the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn, end the day with a spicy mezcal cocktail paired with a gorgeous vista here. This is definitely one of the best NYC Instagram spots!

Brooklyn Barge: Technically in Greenpoint, this waterfront park, boat bar, and hangout is massive and offers superb views of Manhattan. One of the best “boat experiences” in NYC, and it’s big enough that you’ll never have an issue getting in.

couple posing for a photo in front of the East River with the Manhattan skyline in the background
My boyfriend and I at The Brooklyn Barge

Hotel Delmano: The best cocktail bar in Brooklyn and one of the most beautiful restaurants in NYC. Worth the price tag and skipping dinner for (though you’ll want something in your stomach as they’re boozy). This spot is also one of the top things to do in NYC after midnight as it’s open late.

This Manhattan to Brooklyn walk is one of the best things to do in NYC in spring, though honestly, you can’t go wrong enjoying this experience any season of the year.

Looking to cross another NYC bridge on foot?

Try walking across the Manhattan Bridge, which connects Chinatown in Manhattan to DUMBO in Downtown Brooklyn!

Best Hotels In NYC

There are so many incredible hotels, like NoMo SoHo, the Williamsburg Hotel, and The Ludlow.

Click here for a full list of New York City hotels!

Prefer self-contained stays? 

Click here to check out unique local rentals! 

You can also use this map to search for local stays:

When it comes to walking the Williamsburg Bridge, what are your favorite stops?


Enjoyed this post on the Williamsburg Bridge pedestrian walkway? Pin it for later!

walking the williamsburg bridge in brooklyn

About Jessie Festa

Jessie Festa is an New York-based travel content creator who is passionate about empowering her audience to experience new places and live a life of adventure. She is the founder of the solo female travel blog, Jessie on a Journey, and is editor-in-chief of Epicure & Culture, an online conscious tourism magazine. Along with writing, Jessie is a professional photographer and is the owner of NYC Photo Journeys, which offers New York photo tours, photo shoots, and wedding photography. Her work has appeared in publications like USA Today, CNN, Business Insider, Thrillist, and WestJet Magazine.

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2 Comments

  1. Nikki (NYNomads) on at 11:13 am

    What a CUTE walking guide! My boyfriend is coming to visit me in NYC this weekend and I think this would be a perfect way to spend a day together.

  2. Kevin Mc Eneaney on at 8:54 pm

    I have a question for you. I just watched a movie called The Naked City. In one of the final shots of the movie, the entrance to the walkway on the Manhattan side. This entrance looked like it was quite wide. Has the walkway changed thought the years?

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