Norfolk VA Mini-Trip Report
- Aboard The Elizabeth River Ferry: Portsmouth To Norfolk
- Review: Hilton Norfolk The Main
- Review: Grain Rooftop Beer Garden
- On The Hunt For Norfolk Mermaids
- An Ode To The Hummingbird Macaron
- Review: Sheraton Norfolk VA
- Review: Grace O’Malley’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, Norfolk
- Straight Off The Vin: Our Visit To Vin Wine Bar, Norfolk
Shae and I decided to have a staycation over in Norfolk VA. It’s the city across the Elizabeth River from where we currently live in Portsmouth before we head off on our 50 state road trip.
Rather than paying the toll to take the downtown tunnel and then paying for parking at the hotels, we decided to take the paddlewheel Elizabeth River Ferry from Portsmouth to Norfolk.
There are two ferry stops in Portsmouth. The first is on High Street – to get there, walk all the way down High Street until you get to the river, with the ferry stop being on the left. If you’re into naval stuff, you’ll enjoy seeing the navy ships in dry dock across the water.
The second stop is at North Landing Dock. To get there, head towards Harbor Tower Apartments – the 25 story building on Harbor Court. You can’t miss it as it’s the tallest building downtown.
We parked our car in the parking lot there and headed down to the ferry dock.
If you’re getting on at High Street, there’s a ticket machine on the corner of High Street and Water Street where you can pay by credit card.
If you’re boarding at the North Landing Dock, there’s a visitor center where you can buy tickets during the day.
You can also purchase tickets on board the ferry, but it’s cash only and you have to have exact change.
Tickets cost $1.75 each way for adults, while children are free if traveling with an adult (limit of two children per adult). If traveling without an adult, young people age 17 and under cost $0.75.
You can also check the prices on their website in case the fares increase after we publish this.
Another ticket option is to get a farecard. This gives you an unlimited number of trips that day on Hampton Roads Transit which includes the ferry, light rail (The Tide) and the bus.
Elizabeth River Ferry Schedule
The ferry has two schedules. The winter schedule runs from Labor Day to Memorial Day, with the ferry running every 30 minutes.
In the summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day), it runs every 15 minutes Friday to Sunday during peak hours.
You can also find a link to the schedule here in case it changes in the future (and because the photo cut off some of the times – oops!).
The ferry starts at the High Street stop in Portsmouth, then heads to the North Landing stop – also in Portsmouth. From there, it crosses the river to the Waterside stop in Norfolk, before heading back to the High Street stop.
So if you board at High Street, make sure you don’t accidentally get off at North Landing!
If the ferry hasn’t arrived when you get there, you have to wait at the top of the dock as they let passengers disembark before allowing you to board.
Soon enough, you’ll see the Elizabeth River Ferry arriving round the corner to the right. As the ferry gets closer, it’ll rotate 180° just before it docks.
If you already have a ticket when you board, insert it in a ticket machine. Otherwise, feed your notes and coins into one of the machines to buy your ticket.
If you head to the right, you can sit inside downstairs. This is a good choice if you have a bike, if it’s cold / wet outside or if you want to read about the history of the Elizabeth River Ferry.
Otherwise, you can turn left and head upstairs. That’s where we prefer to sit when taking the ferry, although it does get chilly up there during the winter months.
It’s also fun as you can sit close to the paddlewheel.
It’s a short 6-7 minute trip from North Landing in Portsmouth to Waterside in Norfolk. The journey provides great views on the Elizabeth River.
After the short trip, the ferry docks over at the Waterside stop, straight outside the newly revitalized Waterside District.
Harbor Park Ferry
If you’re planning on taking the ferry in the evening during the summer months, be aware that there’s a different ferry that runs from Portsmouth to Norfolk.
That’s because there’s a ferry that transports passengers to Harbor Park (and back) whenever the Norfolk Tides minor league baseball team are playing at home. The Harbor Park dock is only a 15 minute walk from Waterside, so it’s not terrible if you did end up there by accident.
If you live in Norfolk or Portsmouth or are visiting, we can highly recommend taking the Elizabeth River Ferry to travel between these two cities in Virginia.
It’s a fun and cheap experience, especially as it means you can avoid both the downtown tunnel traffic and tolls. You can enjoy a night out at one of the many bars or restaurants either side of the water, then sit back and relax on the ferry journey home.
Kids also love taking the ferry, which is great seeing as they’re free when traveling with an adult.
If you’ve traveled on the Elizabeth River Ferry, what was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments below.