We usually see New York from the ground, with gigantic buildings surrounding us. From below, it is almost impossible to know the magnitude of the city’s skyline and architectural wonders. That’s why New York is packed with strategic spots where you can look at the collection of famous constructions and iconic skyscrapers that make the city so famous.
So, where can we find that movie-like panorama of New York? Going up any of its tallest buildings already gives you a lovely scenery of the city that never sleeps. But some spots reveal the best views of NYC. Check out our list for that picture-perfect sunset!
Let’s start with a simple and easily accessible spot: the High Line.
The High Line is a park built over old train tracks that used to run above ground. It goes down the Chelsea neighbourhood and can grant you pretty unique views of the city, just a little higher above ground level. Although you may not see the entire Manhattan Skyline, this path will give you amazing views of modern architecture and many people-watching opportunities.
Liberty State Park
Liberty State Park in Jersey City offers iconic views of the financial district of lower Manhattan. It presents one of the city’s best views, especially at the end of the afternoon when you can see the lights as they start to take over the skyline. There is also the Empty Sky Memorial, dedicated to New Jersey’s 9/11 victims, and pretty amazing views of the Statue of Liberty.
Staten Island Ferry
On the Staten Island Ferry you can savor one of the best views in NYC without climbing up a building. Aside from the unique and up-close sights of the Statue of Liberty, you can see the city’s skyline from lower Manhattan, where the ferry departs. It is common for tourists to embark on the free ride, where they take plenty of pictures of both the statue and the buildings shaping the financial district.
Once you get to the other side, just embark on the ferry back.
Brooklyn Bridge & Brooklyn Bridge Park
When crossing to Brooklyn, you can’t avoid the views of the city from the Brooklyn Bridge. And once you get to the other side, visit the Brooklyn Bridge Park to get a complete picture of everything – buildings and bridge merging to create one of the most iconic New York scenes. Grab a blanket, prepare a summer picnic on a warm afternoon, and then watch the sun go down and feel the romance of the place.
Although you won’t see the city’s entire skyline, you will catch one of the most beautiful sunsets of your life.
Edge is the highest outdoor sky deck on this side of the globe. It opened in early 2020 and has been a hit ever since. Suspended in mid-air, this breath-taking platform has become one of the top places to get a full-on picture of the city. The see-through glass floors on the observation deck invite the bravest of souls to stand above it, watching people walk by, 1,000 feet beneath them.
Empire State Building
If you want a classic and iconic view of the city, going up to the Empire State Building is a must! It is part of everyone’s to-do list, and the whole experience is worth the wait and price.
Although it may no longer be the tallest building in NYC, it is still an essential part of its history, offering panoramic views from mid-town Manhattan. There are two observation decks; you must pay a little extra to go to the highest, less-crowded one.
You can see the One World Trade centre, financial district, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Chrysler Building, Brooklyn Bridge, and many other symbolic parts of the famous New York skyline.
One World Observatory
The One World Observatory is the highest observation deck in the city (indoors, different from the outdoor views from The Edge). Located on the 102nd floor of the One World Trade Center, this fantastic experience starts on the elevator ride up. There, you get to watch the history of the architectural evolution of Lower Manhattan.
On the top, maybe step over the Sky Portal, a glass floor where you can look down at Manhattan right under your feet! Look at the city’s panorama and observe most of its important monuments, like the Rockefeller Plaza and even the Statue of Liberty.
Insider’s Tip: Want to skip the line at One World Observatory? Take the 9/11 Memorial Tour with Walks, our sister company, for priority access to the observation deck!
Top of the Rock
The Top of The Rock observation deck is perfect for catching that amazing orange-pink sunset. It is one of the most popular observation decks in New York. With mesmerising panoramic views of the city, protected by glass panels instead of fencing, you can expect lots of people at any hour of the day. See the Empire State Building, Flatiron, Chrysler Building, and many other iconic city skyline components.
They have an interactive Beam Walk that shows what it felt like to balance the beams used for constructing the building – 70 floors above the ground!
Time Warner Center
From up in Time Warner Building, you can capture the contrast between the Central Park greenery and the bustling city greyness from Columbus Circle and the rest of the city.
Now called the Deutsche Bank Center, this building houses the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Have some afternoon tea at the hotel’s The Aviary bar, and watch as the city moves below you.
Insider’s Tip: On the fourth floor, you can find public views of the city, where you can still see the colour contrast.
Old Pier 1
Old Pier 1 is more of an off-the-beaten-path destination for views of the Manhattan skyline – but it doesn’t disappoint! For quieter sights of the city’s sunset, hit the East River wooden pier and watch as the lights change from natural to artificial as the night unfolds and the movement continues.
Take a helicopter ride and watch everything from way up high for the full-on panoramic view of New York! Catch a birds-eye view of some of the city’s most famous buildings and spots, and move around in the sky to see it from different angles and distances. Some helicopter tour companies even let you dangle your feet outside the ride, perfect for those who love lots of adrenaline in their travels.
Rooftop bars are the ideal spot for catching a beautiful sight of the Manhattan skyline while still sipping on a cocktail and munching on finger foods. Many rooftop bars spread throughout the city offer different viewpoints of its panorama. The Cantor Roof Garden at the MET is one of the most famous, where you can catch a glimpse of the Central Park greenery and the Upper-East Side luxury lifestyle.
Bar 65 at Rainbow Room is another famous option for panoramic sceneries of the city. Located on the 65th floor of the Rockefeller Center, this is a spot for creative cocktails and breathtaking views. There is even an outdoor terrace where you can complement your summer-night experience.
And don’t forget to consider visiting one of the amazing rooftop restaurants in NYC, too!
Best Views in NYC
New York has one of the most iconic and beautiful skylines in this world. Thankfully, there are lots of different spots in the city where you can get a panoramic view of its emblematic buildings, Central Park greenery, and extensive streets.
Enjoy the unique views of the sunset, skyline, and lively spirit of New York.
Camila has lived in New York for over six years. Writing about food, drinks, and travel, she has moved around the city gathering tales, flavors, and restaurant recommendations for her fellow explorers. A lover of bars and baos, Camila can introduce you to the most famous and best-kept secrets of New York!