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Top of the world: The six best spots to view the New York City skyline

Vantage points to view all of the Big Apple

Ashwin Rajagopalan | Published 30.04.22, 03:08 PM

New York City is one of my favourite cities anywhere in the world. For over a hundred years, the Manhattan skyline has been one of the most defining images of the United States and has been etched in our minds thanks to popular culture. Some people like to holiday in the mountains or lounge at an exotic beach resort for their zen moments; I prefer the energy of a big city. I find my ‘zone’ at NYC spots like The Top of the Rock with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline.

If you’re planning a trip to NYC, pick from one of these vantage points for the quintessential Big Apple panoramas:


From up above – overhead views

Ashwin Rajagopalan

Charter services like Liberty helicopters provide chopper tours that fly over the city with a convenient pick-up point in Manhattan. There’s another way to catch these views – a window seat. If you’re planning any flights or trips within the US make sure you pick LaGuardia airport located in the Queens neighbourhood as your touch-down point. Don’t forget to pre-book that window seat that’s away from the wing for clear views just before you land at LaGuardia.

Top of the Rock

Ashwin Rajagopalan

I’ll admit, of all the viewing decks in the world, I have a bias towards the observation deck at the Rockefeller Center. New Yorkers call it the Top of the Rock and if there’s one place you have to catch a New York sunset, it’s here. The observation deck atop the Rockefeller Center offers the best views of the Manhattan skyline and Central Park. And then there’s the bonus – the best views and images of the Empire State Building, still the most instantly recognisable NYC skyscraper.

Empire State Building

Ashwin Rajagopalan

New York City’s most iconic skyscraper was completed in 1931 and became an international icon almost instantly. This art deco tower has been an integral part of popular culture since it featured in the 1933 version of King Kong. It has two viewing decks with the same spectacular view, except you can’t view the Empire state building itself. You can choose from the 86th or 102nd floors to look down at NYC. Sunset is a particularly busy time and just like the Top of the Rock, it’s always wise to pre-book.

Staten Island Ferry

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This is a free-service that shuttles between Manhattan and Staten Island. If you’re looking for stunning images where the Manhattan skyline is offset by a shimmering water body, this is the place to be. The ferry also offers views of the Statue of Liberty. It’s best to avoid the office rush hour if you opt for this free ride. You could also choose from a range of paid ferry rides with open viewing decks.

One World Observatory

Ashwin Rajagopalan

At 1,776 feet (yes that number is more than a coincidence) the One World Center is the tallest building in the US. It just takes you 60 seconds to zip through to the observation deck on the 100th floor in one of the five ultra-fast elevators that they call skypods. You can catch a virtual time-lapse that recreates the evolution of the NYC skyline from the 1600s. The observation deck is located at 1,254 feet and also offers views that stretch almost 80kms and include the State of Liberty from a distance.

Brooklyn Bridge

Ashwin Rajagopalan

New Yorkers dubbed this 1,825-metre-long bridge the Eighth wonder of the World back then. There are many ways to discover this bridge, I’d recommend walking especially if you can time it around sunrise or sunset. Aside from the Manhattan Skyline views, the bridge adds a great element to your pictures.

Last updated on 02.05.22, 07:18 AM

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