New York City boasts one of the world’s most iconic skylines and we wanted to share our favourite spots from which to gaze upon the best views in New York and the Manhattan skyline. From the dizzying heights of its towering skyscrapers to cruising the East River and the Hudson, sipping a cocktail in a panoramic rooftop bar and exploring the neighbouring waterfront parks, there are awesome vantage points both across the city and outside of it from which to enjoy the incredible Manhattan skyline.
If you’re searching for the places with the best views in New York then read on and take note!
1 | One World Observatory
Standing in the clouds on the 102nd floor of the One World Trade Center, the One World Observatory offers incredible 360 degree views of the city: the Empire State Building, the Rockefeller, the Statue of Liberty, the Hudson River, the 5 Boroughs and even the Atlantic Ocean are all visible on a clear day – click here to book tickets to the One World Observatory!
Best views in New York tip: The downtown location gives an awesome perspective of the city in its entirety and the tallest building in Manhattan leads the way for the best view in New York!
Where to stay in New York
We’ve stayed all over the city during our trips to NYC. Here are some of our favourite hotels:
- Courtyard Soho: for its downtown location and price. – click here for latest prices
- Pod 51: an awesome and funky option close to the Rockefeller Center – click here for latest prices
- Renaissance Times Square: for its Times Square location, spacious rooms and the stunning R Lounge bar. You can have breakfast overlooking the iconic Times Square and enjoy cocktails in the evenings overlooking the lights! – click here for latest prices
- Hi NYC: on the Upper West Side is a great hostel option – click here for latest prices
2 | Brooklyn Bridge Park
Located on the East River, the waterfront Brooklyn Bridge Park has breathtaking views of lower Manhattan and is the perfect spot for a weekend picnic in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Old Pier 1, with its historic wooden pier pilings, is a firm favourite for views and photos or, if you prefer some fine dining, reserve a coveted window seat at the nearby River Café nestled under the Brooklyn Bridge.
Best views in New York tip: make sure to check out the awesome view from Washington and Water Street close to the Brooklyn Bridge Park where the Empire State Building aligns perfect with the pylon of the Manhattan Bridge.
3 | Helicopter
A city with a skyline as beautiful as New York is best viewed from above and a helicopter ride offers an incredible vantage point from which to admire the city.
As well as the thrill of soaring over the city by helicopter, the sweeping aerial views are awe-inspiring. If you’re feeling brave, check out the doors off helicopter rides for the ultimate adrenalin rush – check helicopter tour prices here!
4 | Empire State Building
The Art Deco Empire State Building is both an iconic part of the New York skyline and an amazing spot from which to appreciate the beauty of New York City.
Its 86th-floor viewing platform is the highest open-air observatory in the city and the protective hatched fencing means you can get some great photos of the skyline. The 102nd floor, while not open air, is also accessible if you crave even loftier views.
The panoramic views of Central Park, The Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square and The Statue of Liberty result in the Empire State Building offering one of the best views in NYC – reserve passes for the Empire State Building here!
5 | Brooklyn Bridge
The pedestrian walkway of the Brooklyn Bridge, linking Manhattan and Brooklyn, gives panoramic views across the city from downtown up to mid-town.
All the major New York buildings are visible, from One World Trade in the financial district to the Chrysler building and the Empire State in Midtown.
Best views in New York tip: Start at the Brooklyn side of the bridge and walk towards Manhattan to capture the best views.
6 | Roosevelt Tram
Beautiful views of Manhattan skyline and the East River together with the novelty of a cable car ride and all for a single swipe of a Metro Card: the Roosevelt Island tram ride is a win-win trip for a great view in New York City!
7 | The Rooftop Bars
New York has an awesome rooftop bar scene and there are so many great options with beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline to choose from.
We’ll let you in on a secret! Mr Purple on the LES, 1 Rooftop in Brooklyn, Le Bain and Top of the Standard in the Meatpacking District and the Press Lounge on the West Side are our favourite rooftops for admiring the Manhattan skyline. Cocktail in one hand and the bests view in New York through the camera in the other… bliss!
8 | Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry travels between downtown Manhattan and Staten Island and the views from the water are fantastic with Lower Manhattan, the downtown Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty the stars of the show. Best of all, it’s free to ride the ferry!
There are also some great sunset cruises which circle Manhattan and offer great views from the river while enjoying a sundowner as the sun goes down on Manhattan – book a sunset cruise here!
Best views in New York tip: the Staten Island ferry is free to ride. The only slight inconvenience is that passengers have to disembark in Staten Island and queue to board the return ferry.
9 | Top of the Rock
For the best views of midtown and Central Park head the top of the Rockefeller Centre in midtown Manhattan.
The 67th floor viewing platform is surrounded by glass panels and the views from the top are simply breathtaking both north to Central Park and south along the Manhattan skyline – click here to buy Top of the Rock tickets!
10 | Bar SixtyFive at the Rainbow Room
The Rainbow Room, on the 65th floor of the Rockefeller Center, is a great complement to a visit to Top of the Rock or as an alternative if you prefer to supplement views with cocktails!
The bar has an outdoor terrace which requires a minimum spend of $65, not too difficult to reach over cocktails in New York, but its spectacular views make it worth every cent.
Best views in New York tip: Make sure to reserve a table. We’d recommend visiting for sunset to enjoy a cocktail as the sun goes down and the Manhattan sky turns pink.
11 | Liberty State Park
At the mouth of the Hudson River, the Liberty State Park in Jersey City has fantastic waterfront views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.
It’s also home to the Empty Sky Memorial, a beautiful and poignant memorial to the New Jersey victims of the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Best views in New York tip: If you’re planning on visiting Ellis Island, the ferries also leave from Liberty State Park.
12 | R Lounge, Times Square
The neon lights of Times Square are often referred to as the crossroads of the world and the views are sensational from above the hustle and bustle of the neighbourhood.
Luckily, there are some hidden cocktail bars above the crowds and craziness Our favourite is the R Lounge in the Renaissance Hotel which offers incredible views of the bright lights and yellow cabs that the city is so famous for!
13 | Time Warner Building, Columbus Circle
One of the best views in New York is from the Time Warner Building. It’s Columbus Circle location captures beautifully the contrast between the lush green of Central Park and the towering skyscrapers synonymous with the city.
The best free views are from the public space on the 4th floor or, if you feel like splashing out, the Mandarin Oriental has insane views from both its park view rooms and public areas.
It’s expensive but we treated ourselves to afternoon tea in The Aviary NYC, the Mandarin Oriental bar, on the 35th floor of the hotel and the bird’s eye views of Central Park and Columbus Circle took our breath away.
After checking out the views at the Time Warner Building, make your way to the park and check out some of our best things to do in Central Park.
14 | The Cantor Roof Garden Bar, Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met is one of the greatest museums in New York and what better way to round off an afternoon of culture than with a Martini stop at the rooftop bar.
The uninterrupted views of Central Park are spectacular and are beautifully framed by the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline.
Best view in New York tip: admission fees at the Met are recommended amounts so don’t feel under pressure to pay the full whack if you’re just stopping by for a drink.
15 | From the sky
Some of the best views are unexpected! Always remember to look out of the window as you approach and depart the city by airplane. Or, if you want a real treat, arrange for a helicopter ride over the city!
While departing Newark on a recent flight to London we were gifted with one of the best views of New York we’ve ever seen with the city twinkling in the darkness beneath our wings.