Today (August 20, 2018): my 10 favorite skylines around the world.
There’s not much that awakens my wanderlust more than marvelling at a breathtaking city skyline. Whether it’s a human-made horizon or a wonderful natural setting, a fabulous skyline not only captivates and inspires travelers but also captures the essence of city’s history and the power of its citizens. From the US to China, and Canada to Australia, here’s my pick of the 10 most spectacular city skylines in the world. Of course, this list is subjective as it represents my own favorites – the skylines that impressed me the most during all my years of traveling – but i am sure these cityscapes will also captivate you. In addition, to help you, I have mentioned for each skyline the most awesome vantage points from which to enjoy the incredible urban views.
There is more information below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite skyline in the comments section, or take my poll below.
Singapore is the second most densely populated country on the planet, with over 90% of its population living and working in high-rise buildings. The city state’s tallest buildings are located in downtown where you also find the historical heart of the Singapore. Due to air traffic control restrictions, however, no skyscraper in Singapore is allowed to exceed 280 m (918 ft) in height, resulting in a visually stunning consistent building height and space pattern. The Marina Bay Tower is the most famous of these tall buildings and is the most expensive building in the world ($5.5 billion USD !!!).
- Best vantage point: rooftop terrace (or observatory) of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
9. RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
There’s a Brazilian saying that “God made the world in six days, the seventh he devoted to Rio.” Blessed with one of the most dramatic natural settings in the world, Rio never fails to impress its visitors. Anyone standing by the world-famous Christ The Redeemer statue on the Corcovado peak or at the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain will experience one of the globe’s most exciting skylines. In Rio, the deep blue of the Atlantic Ocean mixes with the bright white of the sandy beaches, the fresh green of the lush tropical vegetation, and fifty shades of grey of urbanization.
- Best vantage point: Corcovado Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, and the rooftop of the Hotel Fasano.
8. CHICAGO, USA
As the birthplace of the skyscraper, the Windy City is home to one of the world’s most spectacular skylines. When Chicago erected its first steel high-rise in 1885 – the Home Insurance Building – it introduced a new form of engineering that would change the vertical expansion of nearly every city on earth. Chicago’s most famous skyscraper is the 110-story Willis Tower, still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower. With a height of 442 m (1,450 ft), its stands atop a spectacular tapestry of skyscrapers set against the deep blue waters of Lake Michigan.
- Best vantage point: Adler Planetarium, Hancock Tower’s observatory, Willis Tower’s observatory, and Millennium Park.
7. SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
Australia’s largest city might not have the densest concentration of skyscrapers, but it certainly has one of the world’s most photogenic skylines. Under bright blue skies, soaring skyscrapers stand side by side with two iconic monuments: the shell-shaped, blinding white exterior of the Jorn Utzon-designed Sydney Opera House and the magnificent curves of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a steel through arch bridge. The impressive skyline overlooks dozens of idyllic bays and inlets around Sydney Harbour, often referred to as the most beautiful natural harbour in the world.
- Best vantage point: Kirribilli lookout, Mrs Macquarie’s Point, Milson’s Point ferry wharf, Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout, Balls Head, Circular Quay (Sydney Passengers Terminal), Darling Harbour, the rooms in the Park Hyatt Sydney Hotel, and the rooftop restaurant of the Shangri-La Sydney Hotel.
6. DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Emerging seemingly out of nowhere, Dubai is home to more skyscrapers taller than 250 m (820 ft) than any other city in the world. While the skyline is not so dense compared to most other cities in this list, each building is an architectural marvel on its own. The Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest manmade structure, with 163 floors topping out at 585 m (1,918ft), although the tip of its spire reaches 829 m or 2,722ft (over a half mile). Some of the other notable structures in the desert city are the world’s tallest all-hotel building, JW Marriott Marquis, plus the tallest all-residential building in the world, the 101 story Marina’s Princess Tower.
- Best vantage point: Burj Khalifa observatory, the Uptown Bar of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel (for views of the Burj Al Arab Hotel), Level 43 Lounge (for uninterrupted views of the Burj Khalifa), and the Dubai Marina.
5. VANCOUVER, CANADA
Known as one of the most livable cities in the world for over a decade, Canada’s largest West Coast metropolis features a distinctive skyline of modern high-rise condos, a background often used in movies to replicate New York City (since it’s cheaper filming here than in the Big Apple). While the buildings themselves don’t offer much in the way of aesthetics, it’s their overwhelmingly beautiful surroundings that make this one of the prettiest skylines in the world. Snow-capped mountains, wildlife-filled waters and lush rain forests frame the glass skyline, with the 62 story Shangri-La Hotel being the tallest building in the city.
- Best vantage point: Granville and Burrard Street Bridges, Charleson Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, Stanley Park, Kitsilano Beach, Jericho Beach, Grouse Mountain lookout, and Top of Vancouver (a revolving restaurant providing 360-degree views of the city).
4. SHANGHAI, CHINA
Once known as the “Paris of the East” for its glamour and elegance, Shanghai is now the largest metropolis in world with over 24 million inhabitants. The city is on track to become the world’s largest financial centre, and constantly adds new eye-popping skyscrapers to its ever-growing portfolio of skyscrapers. The tallest building in its skyline is the 127-floor Shanghai Tower, with 632 m (2,073 ft) the second tallest building in the world. The most recognized, however, is the Oriental Pearl Tower which has 11 spheres, a revolving restaurant, and an impressive light display at night.
- Best vantage point: The Bund, the rooftop terrace of the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai Pudong, the rooms in the Park Hyatt Shanghai Hotel, and Huangpu River cruise.
3. CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
Cape Town, South Africa is hands down my favorite city in the world. Although the city center’s unremarkable skyscrapers are nothing to be excited about, it is the backdrop of Table Mountain what makes Cape Town’s skyline so extraordinary. At 1,086 m (3,563 ft) tall, this iconic mountain dominates the coastal skyline of southern Africa, imposing a dramatic and domineering backdrop to an idyllic location. From the summit – which is often draped with cascading clouds – the mountainside tumbles down to the city’s fabulous white and gold sand city beaches.
- Best vantage point: Table Mountain observatory, Lion’s Head, Signal Hill, Kloof Nek Road, and Blouberg Beach.
2. NEW YORK CITY, USA
The Big Apple is defined by its iconic Manhattan skyline, a mesmerizing silhouette created by dozens of glimmering skyscrapers and easily recognized by almost anybody in the world. The crown jewel in New York’s skyline is the 102 story Empire State Building, which stood as the tallest building in the world from its completion until 1972 (now it it’s the 37th tallest skyscraper). Currentlyt, the tallest skyscraper in New York is the 104-story One World Trade Center, which rises 51 m (1,776 ft) above the sacred site where the Twin Towers were destroyed in the 2001 terror attack.
- Best vantage point: One World Observatory, Brooklyn Bridge Park, helicopter tour, Empirate State Building observatory, Roosevelt Tram, Staten Island ferry, Rockefeller Center observatory, Liberty State Park, Time Warner Building (4th floor) and the many rooftop bars.
1. HONG KONG, CHINA
Hong Kong has rightfully one of the most photographed city skylines in the world. The once British territory claims it has the world’s largest collection of buildings over 500ft (150 m), earning it the title of the “world’s most vertical city.” Towering skyscrapers and futuristic buildings stand tall and proud along Victoria Harbor, offset by verdant mountains in the background, transforming the Hong Kong skyline into a surreal urban spectacle that is unmatched in the world. The International Commerce Center, at 118 stories, is the tallest building in the city and the 9th tallest on the planet.
- Best vantage point: Kowloon waterfront, Star Ferry, Victoria Peak, and the rooms of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong hotel.