View from the Top
We're rounding up some of the highest points from around the world, giving you a closer look at cities from above. This is one of our travel favorites, reaching the top of Dubai, New York, Bangkok, Colombia, Iceland, and France.
New York, New York - Freedom Tower
elevation: 1,776 ft was deliberate to reference the year the declaration of independence was signed.
observation deck: 1,254 ft
cost: Starting at $34
experience: As a native New Yorker, there are a lot of touristy things which I don't usually do. I don't go to Times Square at night and I don't try to climb to the top of the Statue Of Liberty. However, when they opened the observation deck for the Freedom Tower, I had to go check it out. Now, I've flown in helicopters over NYC many times and I can honestly say that you get very comparable views to that at a much lower price. Being jaded by being in this city for so long, I didn't expect to be so impressed, but I was still in "awe" over what you can see from up there. You get a panoramic view of so many icons throughout the city such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue Of Liberty, and even as far as all the skyscrapers in midtown. There's even a nice little show on the elevator ride up, and the way the view is revealed to you once you get to the observation deck is truly unique. You have to see it for yourself to know what I mean!
Paris, France - Eiffel Tower
elevation: 984 ft
top floor: 906 ft
experience: For me, its not the view that makes the Eiffel Tower such a unique experience, it was the fact that it's so different from almost any other "observation deck" I've ever been to. You can walk up, or an elevator takes you diagonally to the 2nd floor where you find yourself standing in the middle of this iron skeleton which is a truly exclusive experience to the Eiffel Tower. You're not inside a building or behind huge windows separated from the world, you're out there. You can stick your hands out through the structure, feel the wind blow from one end to another and even seen through the floor beneath you. If other observation decks let you just see the city you're in, the Eiffel Tower allows you to BE the city you're in.
Dubai, U.A.E. - Burj Khalifa
elevation: 2,717 ft
observatory: 1,823 ft
cost: Starting at $34
experience: For years, I've wanted to look out from the highest building in the world and luckily, I've been able to do it twice so far. Somehow, it gets better every time. Like many other observation decks around the world, it gives you a 360˚ view of the city but Dubai isn't any ordinary city. From one side you'll see the beaches leading to the bluest ocean, another side you'll look down on one of the most futuristic cities in the world, and another side you'll witness almost nothing but desert as far as the eye can see. Almost every photo you take facing out looks like you're in the clouds, and in some ways, you kind of are. If you buy the ticket that takes you all the way up to the 148th floor, they really try to give you a first class, Arabian experience. You get unlimited snacks and drinks delivered to you while you're walking around on a very spacious floor since they limit the number of people at a time to be on the 148th floor. There's no fighting or waiting for front row view by a window, you just go. On my ticket, it had a fun fact which read that The Burj Khalifa is so tall that you can watch the sunset on the ground then re-watch it again when you get to the top. Do yourself a favor, go to Dubai and watch the sun set twice within an hour.
Bangkok, Thailand - Baiyoke Sky Hotel
elevation: 1,014 ft
cost: Starting at $11
experience: The Baiyoke Sky Hotel isn't all glitz and glamour like other observation decks around the world, but it could possibly be the most fun. There's no security checkpoints to pass through and no long lines to wait on, you just walk into the hotel, buy your ticket then find your way to the elevator that takes you to the top. You get 1 free drink at the bar on the 83rd floor, then you can take the stairs up to the roof which, did I mention... rotates??? Yes, it's a REVOLVING ROOFTOP with colorful lights everywhere which makes this experience kind of feel like a carnival ride (it's also funny watching people trip and fall on and off the rotating platform). It's great for shooting photos since there are no glass windows, just a big gate with plenty of room to hang your camera or phone out of.
Bogotá, Colombia - Monserrate
elevation: 10,341 ft
cost: Starting at $2
experience: This lookout is a must for a visit to Bogotà. You get to take a fun metrocable ride (or gondola) to the highest mountain that dominates all of Bogotà city. In my opinion, the metrocable ride alone is worth the $2 since its probably the highest and steepest one you'll ever take. I went right as the sun set and it was cool seeing all of the city lights turn on as the moon rose from behind the horizon. There is also a church from the 17th century that sits atop this mountain which is where the best views are from.
Reykjavik, Iceland - Hallgrimskirkja
elevation: 244 ft
experience: Although the Hallgrimskirkja is the highest point in Reykjavik, it's only 244ft tall but that's more than enough to see the small city below. It's not as dramatic as New York or Dubai but you get to see the snowcapped-mountains in the distance, the North Atlantic ocean, all of the colorful houses and all of the disgraceful parallel parkers below. Instead of the hustle and bustle of most cities, you can just take a breath of truly fresh air and appreciate Reykjavik for the quaint, beautiful and quiet city that it is. It's a short visit since it's pretty small so this is easily something you could squeeze into your day if you had to.