There are so many ways to explore a new city and get under its skin. Every city has a unique skyline and architecture that defines it. So how about exploring the city from above? Going to the top of a building is a great way to get to know a city from a different perspective. I’ve teamed up with other travel bloggers to show the best buildings around the world that offer unique views of skyscrapers and buildings in cities.
Burj Khalifa – Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Burj Khalifa in Dubai is tagged as the tallest structure in the world. Its observation deck at the 124th floor of the building called At The Top was also the highest in the world but they held this title only for a year. The view from this deck is breathtaking with the whole of the Old Town Dubai at the bottom while the rest of the contrasting sights of modern and old Dubai at the horizon.
Empire State – New York, USA.
New York is an amazing city – and you get a true sense of the scale when you look out from the top of the Empire State Building!
Old Town Hall – Prague, Czech Republic.
Being an avid photographer, I never miss an opportunity to take panoramic shots from high places – even if it means going up steep hills or ten flights of stairs. When I was in Prague last September, I made sure I got to climb every hill and tower (well, almost) to capture the city’s old-world beauty. Every spot offered spectacular views of the city, but if I had to pick a favourite it would be the Old Town Hall.Famous for its 600-year-old astronomical clock, the Old Town Hall is located right in the heart of the city’s historic centre, overlooking the imposing Tyn Church. Its 59-metre-tall tower treats visitors to 360 degree views of Prague, but the best thing about the building is that you don’t need to sweat your way to the top – there’s a lift that takes you straight up to the viewpoint!
Notre Dame – Paris, France.
After climbing 400 steps to the top of Notre Dame in Paris, you will be rewarded by a great view of the City of Light including the Seine and its bridges, the Eiffel Tower, and even Sacre Coeur. But what makes this different from other places in Paris with nice views is that you also come face to face with Gargoyles and bells. It’s like you are part of the world from the Victor Hugo’s novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Also, it is a great perspective to admire the impressive architecture of the building which was essentially finished in 1345. Of course, don’t forget to also check out the inside of the church, the stained glass is beautiful.
Duomo (Santa María del Fiore) – Florence, Italy
You’ll have to put in a bit of work to get this view. It’s 463 steep steps from the ground to the cupola of the Duomo. You’ll get a brief break from the stairs as you walk around the inside of cupola and can stop to admire the frescoes. Then it’s even narrower stairs as you walk between the two dome structure of the Duomo. The smaller dome helps hold up the larger dome. The last step brings you outside on the cupola, which you can walk all the way around to see Florence in every direction. This is my favorite view with Santa Croce and the mountains in the distance.
Al-Zaytuna Mosque – Tunis, Tunisia.
This roof is actually hidden in a tourist shop in the haotic medina of Tunis, capital of Tunisia. I was lucky to have a local with me who knew where to find it, otherwise I don’t think I would have find it. You can see the whole city, “enjoy” the heatwave and make Instagram worthy pictures with the old town. Even though I’ve visited the skyscrappers from NYC, this view is one of my favorite for its capability of making me feel small in such a human way, rather than a huge robotic concrete.
– Daniela from Jump the Lights
Moses Mabhida Stadium – Durban, South Africa.
Moses Mabhida Stadium is one of the 10 stadiums that was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The Stadium is a 106m high and has hosted 7 FIFA World Cup matches, including a semi-final attended by the likes of Paris Hilton, Leonoardo DiCaprio and John Travolta. There is a platform on top of the stadium can be reached by a 2min SkyCar ride or an Adventure Walk with 500 steps to the top. The platform offer a 360deg view of the beautiful Durban City below, and the amazing ocean horizons.
US Bank Tower Building – Los Angeles, USA.
Both the Skyslide Terrace and the Hollywood Terrace are the tallest open-air observation decks in California. From these terraces one can pick out icons and landmarks bothman-made and natural in all directions. Stand freely in the open air and gaze over the now dwarfed height of city Hall (once the tallest building in Los Angeles), check outthe large parking lot at Dodger Stadium, watch traffic call up to downtown on the 110, this same traffic head west on the 10 or merge with the 5 or the 101. Immediatelyglance down from the Hollywood Terrace onto the beautiful open air plaza next to the Bonaventure Hotel and admire the outdoor pool or those sunbathing here – then moveyourself to the Skyslide Terrace and gaze south.
The Shard – London, UK.
The Shard is the tallest skyscraper to grace the London skies. It is also the tallest building in the European Union. The spire-like structure appears to emerge from the River Thames and boasts spectacular 360-degree views of London. There is an indoor viewing gallery on Level 69 and an open-air viewing gallery on the 72nd floor. Interactive audio guides and strategically-positioned Tell:Scopes enable guests to see London by day and night and provide information on over 200 landmarks in 10 languages. You can also use the wi-fi “in the sky” to share your experience on social media.
Sky 100 (International Commerce centre) – Hong Kong, China.
Sky 100 is located on the 100th floor of the Hong Kong’s tallest building ‘The International Commerce Centre (ICC)’. It is an indoor observation deck offering 360-degree views of the spectacular Victoria Harbour. You can walk around the deck and explore Hong Kong’s history and culture imbibed on the walls all around. There is also a well-lit miniature model of Hong Kong’s famous skyline perfectly assorted in the floor, inside a glass cubicle on which you can walk! You cannot afford to miss the silhouette sunset view of the Victoria Harbour from here. There is also a café in which you can have a coffee with the best views of Hong Kong. Also in the lower floors of ICC, you can find many high-end shops to satisfy your shopping woes.
London Sky Garden – London, UK.
London Sky Garden is the best place to get a 360 view of the city for free! A trip to the Sky Garden bar is at no cost, and drinks start a 8 pounds. The views of the city are spectacular and not to be missed. The facility also hosts daily morning yoga and has several restaurants. If you want to visit, you can book a reservation in advance and skip the line.
Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the Hancock Tower – Chicago, USA.
Why wait in line and spend $22 per person to see Chicago from the Willis Tower when you can enjoy a more stunning view and a cocktail at the Hancock Tower? The Willis Tower observation deck might be 7 floors higher, but the Signature Lounge is free of admission charge and there’s rarely a line. An express elevator takes you to the 96th floor, where you can enjoy a drink and soak in the view. There’s also a lovely restaurant if you want to stay longer and have dinner. From this height, you can see all of Chicago, Lake Michigan and even down to Indiana.
Palacio Barolo – Buenos Aires, Argentina.
While in Buenos Aires, I visited hell, purgatory and heaven all in one day. For that matter, it was all in one building. The Palacio Barolo building went up in 1923 as a Dante’s Inferno construct. The basement and first floor are Hell. The middle floors are Purgatory. And the top floor lighthouse? Well it’s just Heaven. The building offers a 360’ view of sprawling Buenos Aires. The view gave me a surprising appreciation for the complex scale of Buenos Aires which I couldn’t have gotten at ground level. Heavenly.
KL Tower – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
I went up at 9am in the morning and was the only person there. I spent some time taking in the view and absorbing the amazing sites of the city. It was my first day in KL so it was nice to be able to see everything from a different view. I would recommend getting there early before the crowds do.
Martinelli Building – Sao Paulo, Brasil.
The Martinelli Building has amazing views over downtown Sao Paulo in Brasil from its 30th floor. It was the first skyscraper in Sao Paolo and built by an Italian immigrant in 1934, Giuseppe Martinelli. When people were afraid such a tall building would be unsafe, Martinelli built himself a villa at the top of the building so he could live there himself. At one point, it was also the tallest building in South America. It’s free entrance but the hours are limited to 4 hours a day (weekdays only).
Top of the Rock – New York, USA.
For the most stunning view of NYC, I would definitely go to the Top of the Rock observation deck at Rockefeller Center. At the top of this historic landmark you get a 360-degree panoramic view that actually includes the iconic building of the city: Empire State Building. You’ll get a spectacular view from 70 floors up.
Red Sky Bar – Bangkok, Thailand
Some of the best views of Bangkok can be found from the top of a building, and what’s better than happy hour at a skybox in Bangkok. If your spending a day or maybe 3 days in Bangkok make sure to head to a skybar at least once for sunset for some of the best views of Bankok. One of our favorites is Red Sky Bar Bangkok located on the 55th floor of the Centra Grand Hotel in the Central World mall in the Siam area. They have happy hour daily 4-6pm half priced drinks, but come early to get a good seat.
Petronas Towers – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The city of Kuala Lumpur is one that has always intrigued me with its culture and feel. Malaysia, an up and coming country, houses what is an incredible city that is clean, vibrant and exciting. There are plenty of hotspots for visiting within KL, and one of the musts is indeed climbing the remarkable twin towers owned and named by PETRONAS. Stopping at the skybridge at level 41 sees the section where the two towers are connected and include incredible views of the city. From there it is up to level 86, the observation deck, which is where the stunning photo above was taken.’
Santa Bárbara Castle – Alicante, Spain.
Santa Bárbara Castle is located on Mount Benacantil, with a height of 166 m. It is near the sea so you you get to admire the whole Alicante Bay. A unique panoramic view.
Washington Monument – Washington, DC, USA
You can honestly see all of Washington, DC from the top of the Washington Monument. Within seconds, you can go from looking at the White House to looking at the Capitol Building to looking at the Lincoln Memorial and the Tidal Basin. An elevator takes you up and down, but goes slower on the way down so you can see the tiles on the inside which were donated from various cities and organisations. It’s such an incredible experience (and feels patriotic for Americans, too!).
Arc de Triomphe – Paris, France.
The steps of Sacre Coeur and the Eiffel Tower offer incredible views of Paris, but my favorite views are from Arc de Triomphe. The triumphal arc celebrates those who fought for France in the Napoleonic War and the names of generals and soldiers are inscribed. After climbing 40 steps, you’re rewarded with 360 degree views at the top of the roof terrace. Twelve avenues all meet at the Arc and it was beautiful seeing Paris’ linear topography. Even the trees were in a straight line!
Perlan – Reykjavik, Iceland.
Perlan (The Pearl) stands at almost 85 feet tall in Reykjavik and was designed by Ingimundur Sveinsson. It sits on a hill in the city and was originally just a place to store hot water tanks. In 1991 a glass dome was added to the top which is now home to exhibition space, a fancy revolving restaurant and a range of shops. The view of the city is absolutely breath taking, we visited in the midst of Winter and the monochrome landscape and crisp cold air was starkly beautiful and serene.
Galería Güemes – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Classical buildings in Buenos Aires are a mix of styles (particularly French and Italian) and the majority of them were built in the neoclassical style. But the real magic of Buenos Aires architecture happens above us! The buildings in Microcentro are usually topped by beautiful cupolas. Galería Güemes is definitely the best spot to admire them, and also see some of the city modern buildings. At the 14th floor of this building you get to the “mirador” (lookout point) with an amazing 360º vista. When you are in BA, remember to look up!
Have you visited any of these buildings? I’d also love to hear what your favourite building with a panoramic view is! Leave a comment and let me know. Thanks!