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    Skyline New York: the best panoramic views of Manhattan's skyscrapers

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    Lluis Enric Mayans

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    Nothing distinguishes New York more than his famous skyline: the profile of skyscrapers of Manhattan it is not only one of the most evocative panoramic views of the city, but also the most fitting and representative iconographic representation of a unique metropolis in the world, perpetually projected towards modernity.

    There are so many possibilities to fully enjoy this view and it is not at all obvious to find privileged observation points in the city or in the immediate surroundings. So let's find out what is the best way to enjoy it skyline di New York and what are the strategic points to exploit to photograph the better panoramic views.


    • Premise: which skyline?
    • The best spots to photograph the skyline (or just to enjoy it)
      • Skyscrapers
      • Views from Cruises, water taxis and boat tours
      • Viewpoints of Manhattan and its surroundings
      • Lookout points outside of Manhattan
      • Helicopter tour
      • The best Rooftop Bars and Hotels

    Premise: which skyline?

    Before starting, a clarification is important: when it comes to New York skyline we refer to the profile of the skyscrapers of the Downtown, the southernmost area of ​​Manhattan, the one that directly overlooks the bay (Upper New York Bay, where the Statue of Liberty is located). This is the area of ​​the city that hosts on average the tallest skyscrapers and that most of all has contributed to shaping the imaginary of the New York metropolis. Once it housed the twin towers, now there is the Freedom Tower, which we will talk about later.

    However, New York is dotted with skyscrapers and there are also other areas that, by extension, could be understood as a skyline: I am talking in particular of the Midtown where there are very tall skyscrapers (although not as tall as those of Downtown), including some of the most famous, such as the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building.

    The best spots to photograph the skyline (or just to enjoy it)

    Here is a list of strategic observation points divided by categories. Ready to take an unforgettable photo?


    One of the easiest ways to enjoy the New York skyline is to admire it from one of its famous skyscrapers: above all there are 3 unmissable ones, which provide an observatory at the top from which to dominate the entire city (or almost ):

    • Freedom tower (One World Trade Center): the skyscraper that rises next to the bases of the twin towers, the tallest in New York. It is located in the downtown area, and offers a 360 ° view of the whole city (even if filtered by a glass window). The observatory (One World Observatory) allows a particularly privileged view of the harbor and allows you to admire the highest area of ​​Manhattan (Downtown) up close. However, being part of the skyline itself, it is not the best place to photograph it from the outside, as an overview. It must be said, however, that this lack is compensated for by the close-up view of the other skyscrapers and an excellent perspective view of the Midtown skyline, including the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building. For more details, I refer you to our article on how to visit Freedom Tower.
    • Empire State Building: until recently it was the tallest skyscraper in New York, but despite the loss of the primacy it continues to compete on equal terms for the primacy of the most evocative view with the new One World Trade Center. Compared to the latter, it allows a view of Central Park and, above all, a splendid overview of the Downtown skyline (the best among those offered by all 3 skyscrapers). To find out more, read our guide on how to visit the Empire State Building.
    • Top of the Rock (GE Building): Lower than the Empire State Building and less crowded with tourists, it certainly offers the best view of all of Central Park. It is also located in Midtown, a 20-minute walk from the other skyscraper. The view is similar to that of the Empire but many prefer it, above all because it allows you to admire and photograph the latter up close. Find all the details about the view in our article on how to visit Top of the Rock.

    Views from the Empire State Building

    Downtown view
    View your Central Park
    Vista su Chrysler Building
    View towards Hudson River

    Viste dal Top of the Rock

    View on Empire State Building
    View your Central Park
    Top of The Rock Panoramic Terrace
    Obstructed view on the Chrysler-Building

    Views from the Freedom Tower

    View towards the Hudson River
    Vista su Lower Manhattan
    View of the Statue of Liberty
    View of Downtown from the Freedom Tower

    Views from Cruises, water taxis and boat tours

    Equally famous is the view of the skyline from the bay, aboard a boat or a cruise boat; the feeling you get when you see the skyline move away (or approach) from the sea is indescribable (and the photos are taken by themselves). Let's see some possibilities:

    • Ferry to Liberty Island: you know the many photos of NY that you find online that show the Statue of Liberty on the left and all the skyscrapers of the skyline in the background? Do you want to take that photo? One of the best ways to do this is to take the Liberty Island ferry and get ready to “click” when you are about to land on the island (the ferry will bypass it and here is the perfect opportunity to enrich your album with memorable shots). How can I take this ferry? Follow our directions on how to visit the statue of liberty.
    • Free ferry to Staten Island: many people take this free ferry only to make the crossing to the island and get back to the ferry immediately afterwards. You will pass very close to the Statue of Liberty and will have endless opportunities to capture the skyline.
    • Paid cruises: New York is probably one of the cities with the largest number of cruises and boat tours; you will find all kinds of them: at night, with dinner, with brunch or buffet ... to get an idea of ​​the wide offer you can take a look at this page, and if too much offer displaces you a bit here here the most popular.
    Photo from the ferry to Liberty Island
    Liberty Island photo

    Viewpoints of Manhattan and its surroundings

    Inside the city or in its immediate surroundings you can find unique and particularly favorable corners. Here are 3 not to be missed:

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art Roof Garden

    A unique view that shows the skyscrapers of New York camped above the green mantle of Central Park. The rooftop terrace (with attached bar) is located on the fifth floor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and if I were you I wouldn't miss it!

    Belvedere Castle (Central Park)

    Among the panoramic views of Manhattan, the one offered by the suggestive Belvedere Castle, an unlikely castle with Romanesque and Gothic reminiscences placed at the lookout of Central Park, is certainly worthwhile. The skyline will appear in the distance, while you can admire the green lung of Manhattan that stretches as far as the eye can see.

    Governors Island

    Governors Island is an island part of the borough of Manhattan, from which you can enjoy another (yet another!) Splendid view of the Downtown skyline and the Statue of Liberty. To reach it you will have to take a ferry (here the timetables) from the Battery Maritime Building (10 South Street, very close to the departure point of the ferries to Staten Island) or from Brooklyn (Pier 6, Atlantic Ave & Brooklyn Bridge Park Greenway).

    Once you arrive on the island, walk north / northwest until you reach the "Hills", where you can take photos from a location over 20 meters above sea level. The cost of the ferry is $ 2 return.

    Lookout points outside of Manhattan

    Some of the best photos you will ever take of the Manhattan skyline are from locations outside the borough, which allow for remarkable overall views. Here are some examples:

    Hoboken (New Jersey)

    It may surprise you, yet one of the most beautiful views of the New York skyline can be enjoyed from Hoboken, New Jersey. You can take a very pleasant walk on the Frank Sinatra Drive, sit on a bench on the banks of the Hudson and enjoy a view of the entire western side of the island of Manhattan, seeing in one fell swoop all the most representative skyscrapers from the Empire State Building to One World Trade Center.

    To get there, you can take the PATH (Port Authority Trans Hudson) train from any of the Manhattan stations for $ 2,50 (Metro Card is also accepted) and get off at Hudson Place. In about 15 minutes you will be at your destination.

    Another privileged place to observe the city skyline is the Riverside park. A well-kept green area also ideal for taking a stroll in peace and relaxing away from the frenzy of the Big Apple.

    Brooklyn Bridge Park

    Another great free view! It is a small pier close to the Brooklyn Bridge, a place away from the hustle and bustle from which you will have a regenerating view of the East side of the downtown skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge. The easiest way to get there is to take the subway (line A or C) and get off at High Street - Brooklyn Bridge Station. From there you can walk down Old Fulton Street and get to the park in 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can also arrive at your destination with the NYC Ferry ($ 2,75 one way).

    Brooklyn Bridge

    One of the most beautiful walks in New York, not only because you will cross one of the most famous bridges in the world but also for the splendid view of the skyline that you can enjoy. My advice is to get off at the same stop indicated for the park (High Street - Brooklyn Bridge Station) and cross the bridge to get to Manhattan. There are many activities and accompanied tours on the bridge that you can find on this page.

    Helicopter tour

    The most impressive experience of the Manhattan skyline is certainly from the sky, flying over the skyscrapers of the metropolis with a helicopter. Get ready to have both a concise skyline glimpse and an extremely spectacular close-up view of New York City's skyscrapers (check out both photos below for an idea).

    There are many such tours and the views they offer are truly breathtaking. We have collected them all in our article on flights to New York by helicopter.

    The best Rooftop Bars and Hotels

    There are many bars and hotels with panoramic views, if you already look forward to the feeling of sipping a drink in front of an unforgettable view at sunset I recommend you to consider the following:

    • Top of the Strand (The Strand Hotel, 33 West 37th Street), with stunning views of the Empire State Building
    • Jimmy Rooftop Bar at the James Hotel (15 Thompson St,): a beautiful 360 ° view (and with a pool!) On the terrace of a SoHo hotel
    • The View, New York Marriott Marquis (1535 Broadway): The only restaurant with a revolving view in all of New York.
    • PHD Terrace: Ready to have a drink among the skyscrapers? Here are 2 beautiful rooftop terraces with lounge bars located one in Midtown (210 W 55TH ST) and one in Downtown (355 W 16TH ST).
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