Brooklyn walking tour [self-guided in 11 stops]
In this Brooklyn walking tour, I go through the best of the borough with a free handy map for a self-guided stroll.
Keep in mind that Brooklyn is a huge borough, 3 times the size of Manhattan, with 77 neighborhoods .
The Dutch were the first inhabitants of this area that they called Breuckelen.
In this walk, you will have the possibility of visiting the oldest Dutch Colonial stone house in New York City, built in 1709.
Now, without further ado, let’s have a start
Table of Contents
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Being Brooklyn such a huge borough, I had to split the walk in two parts, morning and afternoon.
In the early part of the day, the walk goes through the downtown area of Brooklyn.
In the afternoon, the walk extends to a different neighborhood of Brooklyn, easily reachable by subway.
Once there, you will spend the afternoon walking and exploring the local attractions.
Let’s start the walk from the first stop, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan.
Many of us have heard of the love lock bridges in European cities like Paris. Well, the Brooklyn Bridge is part of that epic tradition.
Opened in 1883, it is a well-known landmark which connects Brooklyn and Manhattan and is known for its stone and steel design.
Locals and visitors have been placing their love locks at the bridge as a fitting souvenir of their visit to NYC.
It is interesting to note that the locks are usually removed when the bridge is full.
This is to protect it from damage, but the good news is the custodians usually preserve them, not throw them away.
Come with some padlocks where you can write your names and place them on the bridge.
And don’t forget to add the date when you placed your love lock on the bridge!
There is something calming and inspiring about old churches.
Take a walk to 57 Orange Street to check out Plymouth Church.
It is an important part of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District and has been around since 1849.
Fun fact – This is the only New York Church that Abraham Lincoln ever visited!
It was the speech he gave while at the church that expressed his firm stand against slavery.
Come and see the red brick sanctuary that holds about 2,800 congregants at a time.
Located in a 1936 Subway stop, the New York Transit Museum is a must visit once in Brooklyn.
Launched in 1976, it is the perfect place to visit and learn more about the history of trains and mass transportation.
Here, you will also discover great stories of the workers who toiled fearlessly underground.
Come and board the train cars and get a feel of train transportation history.
You can also enjoy the exhibitions which regularly change, so you will always have a different experience.
One more thing – the R-32 line is ending its run in NYC after 58 years of service and they want everyone to help them bid farewell to the line.
Who knows, you might get a chance to learn more about the R-32!
If you’re into art and DIY design, you will absolutely love the story of the Mosaic House.
A lady by the name of Susan Gardener began attaching items to the 3-storey brownstone building a long time ago.
It is clear from its unique exterior that she never stopped and is now up to the 2nd floor!
Locals loved her work and would even bring materials for her to add to the mosaic. If you look at the house from a distance, you will see images come to life on the wall, not just colours.
Currently a teacher at Yeshiva University, she is always happy to talk about Mosaic House and the work she has been doing.
Are you interested in exploring more of the Big Apple? Here are 5 unique self-guided walks of New York, including maps and little gems like the Mosaic House.
Govinda’s Vegetarian Lunch
This is one of the most convenient and tasty lunch you can have in Brooklyn.
Positioned under the Hare Krishna Temple, Govinda prepares vegetarian and vegan meals, served in a basic but very clean room.
The food is presented on a buffet where you can choose your favourites.
There is also an option for a complete lunch buffet where you get a bit of everything.
The environment is very mixed, with white-collar men and backpackers shoulder to shoulder
As mentioned, Brooklyn is a huge borough of New York City, 3 times the size of Manhattan, and it would be impossible to visit all on one day
The morning has been dedicated to the exploration of the Downtown Brooklyn area.
In the afternoon, you have two options.
- go for the arty side: take the subway to the Bushwick neighborhood, one of the best area in New York for Street Art, eclectic restaurants, Avant-Garde bars and funky live music places
- go for the retro and vintage side: take the subway to Coney Island, the best spot on a hot summer day
If you are the arty kind of person, then you should make your way to the Bushwick Collective, really unmissable on any trip to New York
To get there, take the metro to the Jefferson Street Station, around 25-30 minutes from Brooklyn downtown.
This is where you will get to see and experience the Bushwick Collective.
Way back in 2011, Bushwick was another industrial area of New York.
Then the first mural started the conversion of Bushwick, now recognised as one of the trendiest street art area in NYC.
A change that has been started, curated, coordinated by the love of Joe Ficalora, a local that has transformed this neighbourhood into one of the most beautiful open-air street art museum.
You will find local artists, the first to cooperate with the Collective, as well as amazing international legends as the French graffiti artist Blek Le Rat (surely you have already seen a few of his popular black mice), or German born Case Ma’Claim (famous for its photorealist and surrealistic works) or the Italian artist Pixel Pancho (inspired by his Spanish studies), Santo Domingo born Ruben Gerardo Ubiera Gonzalez and Brooklyn raised Danielle Mastrion.
You can easily spend from 2 to 4 hours walking in the area, with one or two stops in one of the trendy cafes around, like Caffè Vita, famous for its house roasted coffee.
From the Jefferson Street Station, walk up Jefferson Street and you will be in the heart of the Collective.
You can decide to have a walk on your own or join a locally run tour to get more of an inside of the area and the art works too.
You will get so much out of a guided tour and for such a bargain price, it’s a no-brainer.
And if you are in New York in June, make it to the Collective Block Party, a unique event running over a weekend (in 2021 the party took place end of August, check the website for the next date)
You can literally spend the entire afternoon, evening, and night in Bushwick, especially during the weekend.
Then, for dinner, make it to one of the famous Mexican restaurants (Bushwick is popular with Hispanic-American people).
Another great place is the intimate MoonRise, a boutique circus usually performing around dinner time.
Welcome to the oldest Dutch house made of colonial stone, the Vander Ende-Onderdonk House.
The owner, Vander Ende-Onderdonk, bought the land back in 1709 and began construction on the house that stands there today.
It embodies true Dutch architecture thanks to its double-hung windows with shutters, gambrel roof and a central hallway.
It is so popular that in 1995, it received a New York City landmark recognition.
Visit the house for guided tours, craft classes as well as traditional Dutch celebrations like St. Nicholas Day.
The best words to describe Coney Island are nostalgic and vintage.
Coney Island is world famous for its Luna Park, right in front of the beach and that is where you should start your adventure.
After a few rides there, head to the boardwalk for a nice stroll along the beach, especially on a sunny day.
Take your way to the Pat Auletta Steeplechase Pier, also a great place for sunset.
For some street art, head to the Coney Art Walls, an open-air museum of street art. This is a place used also for events, especially on weekends and the summer season.
The place is run by a restaurant where you can have some food as well.
Keep in mind that the subway trip takes around 45 minutes from Brooklyn downtown to Coney Island.