New York City has one of the best skylines in the world. Everyone knows New York when they see it in a movie or on the cover of a magazine, it is instantly recognizable. There are so many places to take in the best New York City views and we want to share our favourite spots to take in the Manhattan skyline. One of our favorite things to do when visiting NYC is to look for fantastic photographs. So, when you make your way to the Big Apple, check out these views of New York to add to your Instagram feed.
Best Views of New York City
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For our multiple trips to New York, we’ve used a New York Pass to make the most of our time and save money. Many of these New York Views are accessible with the New York Pass. Check it out to see if it works for you.
Note: Openings and closures are changing regularly as New York City opens up after COVID. Some activities, bars, restaurants, and attractions may be closed or limited. Check this website for updates, resources and restrictions in New York.
1. Top of the Rock Observation Deck
First of all, going up to the Top of the Rock is so much fun, located at the home of NBC studios in Rockefeller Plaza, the Top of the Rock is one of the best attractions in New York City. It is one of the best views of NYC because it offers views of mid-town the Empire State Building and One World Trade Centre one way, and then beautiful views of Central Park the other. The viewing platform is located on the 67th floor and is surrounded by glass panels letting you feel safe and sound above the city.
Top of the Rock entrance is free with the New York Pass or you can get more information on visiting the Top of the Rock at their website. Open until 11pm (reduced hours for COVID).
Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112
2. Bar Sixty Five at the Rainbow Room
While you are at the Rockefeller Centre, make a detour to The Bar 64 at Rainbow Room on the 65th Floor. There is a minimum spend of $65 so make this your splurge night out. Obviously, this is a popular bar as it has a terrace and gorgeous views of New York City, so make sure to have a reservation. Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza 65th floor, New York, NY 10112 Check the Website for details and reservations.
3. Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Ferry
Chances are you will visit the Statue of Liberty when visiting New York, and when on the ferry and the island, you’ll be treated to one of the best New York City views. For the best NYC view from the ferry, make sure to stand on the right-hand side facing the dock when leaving. Most people go to the left looking out at the water, but once the boat moves, the best views of the city skyline are from the right.
The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Ferry are free with the New York Pass or you can book this guided tour of Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Reserve Line Access boarding on the ferry to Liberty Island.
The statue of Liberty ferry and ticket office is located at Battery Park in Manhattan. Ferries open at 8:30 am and we suggest getting there as early as possible.
4. Liberty Island
Once you arrive at the Statue of Liberty, you’ll have amazing views of New York and Manhattan. Take a walk around the island to explore all the different viewpoints. Liberty Island lets you see views of Jersey, Brooklyn and the Manhattan Skyline. Ellis Island is another excellent view of New York and it includes views of Liberty Island with lady liberty herself. Check out our complete guide to Tips for Visiting The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
5. Staten Island Ferry
If you aren’t planning on going to the Statue of Liberty, take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry instead. Hop on the ferry for views of The Manhattan Skyline, Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. The ferry runs 24 hours a day so you can get those city lights shots that you’ve always wanted. The great thing is, the Staten Island ferry is free! The ferry runs between St. George and Whitehall every 25 minutes.
Book this 90 Minute Cruise of New York City – Take this cruise to see the iconic sites of midtown and lower Manhattan on a Semi-Circle Cruise. Sail down the Hudson, cruising around the Battery, and up the East River with views of the Statue of Liberty. You’ll pass under the Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Williamsburg Bridges to the United Nations.
6. Brooklyn Bridge
Walking along the Brooklyn Bridge is a bucket list item of things to do in New York City and not only that, it lets you see some great views of the NYC skyline. Take your time to stop and enjoy the views of the East River, and the iconic buildings of New York City: The Empire State Building, Crysler Building, One World Trade Centre, the Statue of Liberty and the other two iconic bridges of New York City – The Williamsburg Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge.
7. Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park is not only a great destination in New York, it is also one of the best places to see the Manhattan Skyline. There are several places to take in the iconic views of New York across the East River. The Manhattan Skyline is unobstructed from DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and The Brooklyn Bridge Park. Here are few places to see the skyline from Brooklyn.
8. Old Pier One
Thanks to our friend Susan of Insatiable Traveler, we found out about Old Pier One. During a freezing December evening, we made our way along the East River to find the old wooden pier looking directly at the Manhattan skyline. This is the best place in New York City for sunset views of Manhattan.
9. Brooklyn Heights Promenade
Once you have finished up at the Old Pier One, take a stroll along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. The 557 m-long (.3 mile) pedestrian walkway offers unobstructed views of Lower Manhattan and New York Harbour.
10. Washington and Water Street
While you are in Brooklyn, you cannot miss heading to Washington and Water Street. This is the place for that iconic view of the Manhattan Bridge. Stand on the cobblestone street and marvel at the classic view of New York that you have seen so many times on Hollywood gangster films.
11. Empire State Building
One of our favorite things to do in New York City is to go up the Empire State Building late at night. It is the best view of New York City at night. We like going after midnight when the crowds are low and we can take our time walking through the display on the first floor before hopping on the elevator to the 86th floor.
Did you know that this is the highest outdoor observatory in the world? Feel the wind whip through the safety barrier fence as you enjoy views of the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, Central Park and the Hudson River. It truly is not only one of the best views in New York City, it is one of the best experiences too! The Empire State Building is free with your New York Pass
12. From the Vessel
The Vessel is our new favorite place in New York. Located at the The Hudson Yards Shopping Center. While the views from The Vessel are great looking over the Hudson River and the surrounding skyscrapers, it is the view within the vessel that is spectacular.
Going up the Vessel is free, but it can be a long wait. If you haven’t booked a ticket in advance, you can do that now for free at the kiosk and set your time for the day. Or you can pay $10 to go inside anytime. If you want to book ahead of time (highly recommended, you can do so on their Website
13. The High Line
While at the Vessel, take a walk on the Highline for a different perspective of the buildings of Manhattan. The 1.5 mile (2.3 km) raised walkway weaves through the West Side following the Hudson River. It follows an old railway line right through the centre of city lofts, skyscrapers and condos making its way to Chelsea.
Planning on staying near the High Line? You may want to check out this apartment rental to feel like a local.
14. One World Observatory at One World Trade Center
Located in the Financial District of Manhattan, One World Trade Center should not be missed when visiting New York. Freedom Tower stands at the site of the former World Trade Center and houses a museum dedicated to the first responders and victims of the World Trade Center bombings on its main floors. But you can also take the elevator up to the 102 floor for panoramic views of New York. There is a glass floor called the Sky Portal and an audio visual display at the Forever Theater.
This is an extra charge outside your ticket to go up to the One World Observatory but the memorial museum is included in your New York Pass.
15. From the Plane
Sometimes the best views can be as simple as flying into a city. When flying into New York City make sure to look out your window as you land. We always have our camera ready when flying you never know what you’ll expect. When flying in or out at night, there are beautiful views of the city as the NYC lights dazzle below.
16. Take a Helicopter Ride
Not flying into New York City? Get up in the air on this New York City Helicopter Flight. Take in the beauty of Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Hudson River and more on this narrated flight above New York City. Nothing beats seeing a city from the sky, and New York is not to be missed.
17. Time Warner Center Columbus Circle
It took us about a half a dozen times to get up to the Time Warner Building on Columbus Circle. Lucky for us we were speaking at a conference and had the opportunity to go into the Mandarin Hotel. and found out about it. What makes this one of the best views in New York is the fact that it shows Central Park contrasting with the skyscrapers in the distance.
Queens really has some great views of the New York Skyline. During one of our stays in New York City, we rented an apartment in Queens and we were absolutely blown away with the Manhattan Skyline views. Some of the best places to see the skyline from Queens are from Gantry Plaza State Park. We had a waterfront apartment in Queens for this view, but there are plenty of places to see New York from Queens. The A+ Roof Bar at the Parc Hotel in Flushing Queens is another great rooftop bar for views of New York.
19. Edge NYC
The latest and greatest view of New York is the Edge NYC. It is the highest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere and it opened just after our last visit to New York before the lockdown. The observation deck is surrounded by glass looking down over Manhattan with some of the best views in the city. This is a great place to enjoy a glass of champagne as you take in the panoramic views. You can book a champagne admission for $53. General admission is $36. Check out the website for details.
20. Roosevelt Island Tram
Looking for something unique to do in New York, hop on the Rossevelt Island Tram for views of the Manhattan Skyline and the East River. the Roosevelt Island Tram is part of the Metro system, so you can get on it with your metro car and see a different side of Manhattan. There’s a great dive bar at near the tram on the Manhattan side that we had drinks up. I can’t remember the name, if anyone knows of it, please let us know in the comments!
21. Times Square
Times Square is the classic view of New York with LED Billboards lining the massive city square. Plant yourself on the Red Steps to take in the 360 degree view of the electric billboards reaching 20 stories in the air. It is alive with energy, street performers, and the lights of Broadway. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, make your way to the R Lounge at the Renaissance Hotel Times Square.
22 – 25 Other hotels with views at Times square are:
230 Fifth Rooftop Bar – New York’s largest outdoor Rooftop Garden with fantastic city views. Bar 54 – A rooftop bar located at the Hyatt Centric on the 54 Floor. St. Cloud Rooftop Bar at the Knickerbocker Hotel Supernova Restaurant and Bar has such great views it even offers viewfinders to have a closer look at the skyscrapers
26. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
Our favourite museum in New York is the Met and after perusing all the amazing displays, make your way to the Cantor Roof Garden Bar on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. From here you’ll get views of the Manhattan skyline and Central Park. Free entry with your New York Pass
27. New York Rooftop Bars
Speaking of Rooftop Bars, New York has some of the best nightlife in the world and when the weather is warm, get outdoors to take in the city lights. We’ve been lucky enough to visit New York for conferences and speaking engagements and they always love to Wine and Dine us as rooftop bars. We’ve had some incredible views while sipping our cocktails.
28 – 30: Some favourite New York City Rooftop Bars Are: Reservations recommended
Harriet’s Rooftop – Atop 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge offers panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn BridgeLe Bain & The Rooftop at the Standard High Line – Busy bar with great views of the Hudson River on the 18th floor. The Press Lounge – This is New York’s Premier Rooftop Lounge on the 16th floor with views of the Manhattan skyline and Hudson River year-round.
And these are the best views of New York City and Manhattan that we’ve seen. Where is your favourite NYC rooftop bar or view point? This is one beautiful city and there are NYC views from everywhere. One of our favourite views was simply from a friends balcony in Manhattan. The iconic views are endless in the city that never sleeps.