Upon arriving in a destination, an effective way to get the lay of the land is to look down on the city from above. Whether from the roof of a centuries-old cathedral, the summit of a mountain, or the observation deck of a skyscraper, these views can offer travelers a breathtaking new perspective on even the most popular tourist spots. Scared of heights? Get a vertigo fix without leaving your living room, with photos from the top of 21 landmarks around the world.
Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia
Thrill-seekers know the best view of Sydney’s famed Opera House comes from the top of Harbour Bridge. Climb to almost 440 feet above sea level for an unobstructed vista of the city below.
Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
No trip to the Malaysian capital would be complete without an expedition to the top of these twin towers. Visit the observation deck on the 86th floor, or walk between the structures on the Skybridge, 557 feet above ground.
The Empire State Building in NYC
Once an airship docking station, the Empire State Building now stands as an icon in New York City’s skyline. Head up to the main observation deck on the 86th floor for expansive views of The Big Apple’s most notable landmarks. Then, kick your visit up a notch by taking the manually operated elevator to the 102nd-floor “Top Deck” where you can see up for 80 miles, depending on the weather.
For a truly vertigo-inducing visit to the Grand Canyon, take a stroll on the Skywalk, a glass-bottomed, horseshoe-shaped platform that extends over the western end of the natural wonder, nearly 4,000 feet above the floor.
The Shard, London
London’s iconic, Renzo Piano-designed skyscraper offers visitors a view of the city skyline from 800 feet up. Once you’re at the top, pause for a snapshot, or, if you’re feeling peckish, a picnic.
Eiffel Tower in Paris
The most famous lookout in the City of Light got a bit of a makeover last fall with a new glass floor 187 feet above the ground. Stop your ascension there for breathtaking views of the city below or take the stairs one story up and reward yourself with a panoramic vista paired with a glass of champagne from the on-site bar.
The reward for summiting the highest peak on Earth? An otherworldly view of the mountain below.
Willis Tower in Chicago
Perhaps more commonly known by its former name—Sears Tower—Willis Tower gives tourists a new perspective the Windy City. Dare-devils should venture out on the “Ledge,” a glass box extending four feet from the Skydeck that gives the impression of hovering over thin air.
St. Peter's Basilica
After taking in the beauty of the Sistine Chapel, climb to the top of St. Peter’s Dome—a short 551 steps, but who’s counting—for another masterpiece: the view of Vatican City.
Climb to the top of the Incan citadel for this birds-eye view of the Peruvian UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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