On Top of the World: The 20 Most Stunning Urban Views

Everyone loves a good view. Observation experiences are a type of specialty attraction growing in popularity around the world. After all, if you're going to build the tallest building in the land, you might as well sell tickets to the top.

This growth of these attractions is driven primarily by a combination of increasing urbanization, technology improvements that allow for higher building heights, faster and more reliable mechanical systems, and the realization by developers and operators that they can provide serious money, according to the Themed Entertainment Association, which produces an annual report on global attractions. 

Some of the sites on this list are iconic, historic, must-see experiences that have been around for decades or longer, others are repurposed broadcast towers, multi-use buildings, Ferris wheels or stomach-dropping observation decks with bars, restaurants and plenty of Instagram ops. Most are fascinating examples of engineering, architecture, and innovation. All have epic views of some of the most famous cities in the world. Above, the shadow of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world's tallest building, is seen from the observation deck.

Based on the Themed Entertainment Association's report on 2018 attendance of attractions around the globe, these are the most popular observation experiences in the world.

Photo: DDCoral / Shutterstock

1. Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo
1. Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo

1. Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo

  • 2018 Attendance: 6.4 million

This broadcasting and observation tower is 634 meters, or 2,080 feet, tall.

It is the tallest structure in Japan and the second tallest in the world at the time of its completion.

Photo: Shutterstock

Tokyo Skytree
Tokyo Skytree

The Skytree has two decks, the lower Tembo Deck, at 350 meters and spanning three levels, and the 450-meter high Tembo Gallery, pictured here, a sloping spiral ramp that gains height as it circles the tower. The Skytree has a large shopping complex with an aquarium at its base.

Photo: stepmorem / Shutterstock

2. Eiffel Tower, Paris
2. Eiffel Tower, Paris

2. Eiffel Tower, Paris

  • 2018 Attendance: 6.2 million

Probably one of the most recognized structures in the world, the 324-meter Eiffel Tower, named for the engineer who designed and built it, was constructed as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair.

Photo: Shutterstock

The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second levels. Though hardly the tallest structure in the world these days, it held that title for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York City was completed in 1930. It still offers stunning views of Paris, though a view of Paris seems incomplete without the iconic tower in it. At night, every hour on the hour, it lights up and sparkles for five minutes.

Photo: Feel Good Studio/Shutterstock

3. The London Eye, London
3. The London Eye, London

3. London Eye, London

  • 2018 Attendance: 3.9 million

Europe's tallest cantilevered observation wheel, the Coca-Cola (KO - Get Report) London Eye is also the most popular paid tourist attraction in the U.K. When it opened in 2000, it was the world's tallest Ferris wheel, at 443 feet high. (It has since been bested by China, Singapore, and Las Vegas.)

Photo: Shutterstock

The London Eye
The London Eye

The only higher view in London is the Shard, a 95-story skyscraper, which you can also visit, but hey, it's not a Ferris wheel. Above, people view the Thames from one of the London Eye's capsules.

Photo: Ale Argentieri/Shutterstock

4. Empire State Building, New York City
4. Empire State Building, New York City

4. Empire State Building, New York City

  • 2018 Attendance: 3.8 million

The Art Deco skyscraper in midtown Manhattan was completed in 1931 and known by many as King Kong's hangout, from the movie first released in 1933.

Photo: Shutterstock

The Empire State Building
The Empire State Building

The Empire State Building stood as the world's tallest building for nearly 40 years when it was completed, until the World Trade Center was built in 1970. After the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, it reclaimed the title as the tallest building in New York until the new One World Trade Center was finished in 2012.

Photo: travelview / Shutterstock

5. Tokyo Tower, Tokyo
5. Tokyo Tower, Tokyo

5. Tokyo Tower, Tokyo

  • 2018 Attendance: 2.92 million

Another communications and observation tower in Tokyo, this is the second-tallest structure in Japan at 332.9 meters high. The structure is an Eiffel Tower-inspired lattice tower that is painted white and international orange to comply with air safety regulations.

Photo: Shutterstock

Tokyo Tower
Tokyo Tower

The Tokyo Tower has 600 steps to the top. Because the staircase is in the open air, it is sometimes closed in bad weather. According to the Tokyo Tower site, most kindergarteners make the 600 steps in 15 minutes, and it encourages "out-of-shape fathers, mothers on diets, children's groups" to climb the stairs as a challenge. Calorie-burning charts are posted along the climb.

Photo: TokyoTower

6. Tokyo City View, Tokyo
6. Tokyo City View, Tokyo

6. Tokyo City View, Tokyo

  • 2018 Attendance: 2.9 million

This 27-acre development complex in Tokyo includes the 54-story Mori Tower as its centerpiece, which has both indoor and outdoor observation decks. There is a museum in the complex.

Photo: Shutterstock

Tokyo City View
Tokyo City View

The observation deck of Tokyo City View offers 360-degree views of the city of more than 9 million people, giving a sense of how enormous Tokyo is.

Photo: bluehand / Shutterstock

7. Taipei 101, Taipei City, Taiwan
7. Taipei 101, Taipei City, Taiwan

7. Taipei 101, Taipei City, Taiwan

  • 2018 Attendance: 2.88 million

This super-skyscraper in Taipei was the world's tallest from its opening in 2004 until 2010, when the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai was completed. The observatory is 1,474 feet in the air. The elevators of the tower travel at 37.7 mph and take passengers from the fifth floor to the 89th floor in 37 seconds.

Photo: Shutterstock

Taipei 101
Taipei 101

Near the top of Taipei 101, suspended between the 87th floor and the 92nd, is this 660-metric-ton steel pendulum that serves as a tuned mass damper. It sways to offset movements in the building caused by strong gusts.

Photo: Zephyr_p / Shutterstock

8. Oriental Pearl, Shanghai, China
8. Oriental Pearl, Shanghai, China

8. Oriental Pearl, Shanghai, China

  • 2018 Attendance: 2.8 million

The Oriental Pearl is another radio and TV tower. Its double-decker elevators can carry 50 people to the top at 23 feet per second.

Photo: Shutterstock

Oriental Pearl
Oriental Pearl

Pictured is the interior of the space capsule inside the Oriental Pearl TV tower.

Photo: A. Aleksandravicius / Shutterstock

9. Top of The Rock, New York
9. Top of The Rock, New York

9. Top of The Rock, New York

  • 2018 Attendance: 2.6 million

The centerpiece of Midtown Manhattan's 19-building Rockefeller Center is the Art Deco skyscraper dubbed "30 Rock" for its address. The 66-story Rock is 850 feet tall and was built between 1931 and 1940.

Photo: MarinaMonroe / Shutterstock

Top of The Rock
Top of The Rock

The Top of the Rock observation deck offers stunning views of Central Park and New York City. Oh yeah, that view of New York. Tickets start at $38 for adults.

Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

10. One World Observatory, New York City
10. One World Observatory, New York City

10. One World Observatory, New York City

  • 2018 Attendance: 2.4 million

The elevators of One World Trade Center climb 102 stories in 47 seconds. The observatory, located on floors 100-102, offers exhibits, restaurants and sweeping views.

Photo: Josef Hanus / Shutterstock

One World Observatory
One World Observatory

One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the U.S., and the sixth tallest in the world. It dominates even New York's imposing skyline.

Photo: Shutterstock

11. Christ The Redeemer, Rio De Janiero, Brazil
11. Christ The Redeemer, Rio De Janiero, Brazil

11. Christ The Redeemer, Rio De Janiero, Brazil

  • 2018 Attendance: 2.2 million

The Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ overlooking the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was completed in 1931. It is 98 feet high and sits on a 26-foot pedestal. Visitors can reach the base of the statue on Corcovado mountain on foot, minibus or trolley.

Photo: Ksenia Ragozina / Shutterstock

12. At The Top - Burj Khalifa, Dubai
12. At The Top - Burj Khalifa, Dubai

12. At The Top - Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  • 2018 Attendance: 2 million

The 160-story Dubai skyscraper is 2,722 feet high and the tallest building in the world. The design was inspired by a desert flower.

Photo: Shutterstock

13. Willis Tower Skydeck, Chicago
13. Willis Tower Skydeck, Chicago

13. Willis Tower Skydeck, Chicago

  • 2018 Attendance: 1.65 million

The Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower, features glass-floored balconies that give stomach-dropping views to the street directly below.

Photo: fadedphotoshop / Shutterstock

14. (tie) Cn Tower, Toronto, Canada
14. (tie) Cn Tower, Toronto, Canada

14. (tie) Cn Tower, Toronto, Canada

  • 2018 Attendance: 1.6 million

Toronto's tower doesn't just have an observation deck, it lets you (for about $150) walk hands-free in the open air on a 5-foot-wide ledge that sticks out from the Tower's main pod. Groups of six are attached to an overhead safety rail via a trolley and harness system.

Photo: Shutterstock

14. (tie) Space Needle, Seattle
14. (tie) Space Needle, Seattle

14. (tie) Space Needle, Seattle

  • 2018 Attendance: 1.6 million

Seattle's iconic Space Needle was built for the 1962 World's Fair. You may think it was inspired by "The Jetsons," when actually it was the other way around. According to Seattle magazine, a layout and design artist for "The Jetsons" told The New York Times in 2005 that the Space Needle inspired the structures in the cartoon. The Space Needle originally had a gas-powered torch at the top. It is pictured here next to the Museum of Pop Culture.

Photo: Checubus / Shutterstock

16. (tie) Canton Tower, Guangzhou, China
16. (tie) Canton Tower, Guangzhou, China

16. (tie) Canton Tower, Guangzhou, China

  • 2018 Attendance: 1.5 million

The 604-meter tall multi-purpose observation tower in Guangzhou was topped out in 2009 and opened the following year the 2010 Asian Games. A sloping, revolving wheel near the top carries 16 of these cable cars.

Photo: Lao Ma / Shutterstock

16 (tie) High Roller, Las Vegas
16 (tie) High Roller, Las Vegas

16 (tie) High Roller, Las Vegas

  • 2018 Attendance: 1.5 million

You can build just about anything in Vegas, which is why Caesars (CZR - Get Report) built the world's tallest Ferris wheel at the LINQ Hotel on the strip. It is 550 feet tall, and takes 30 minutes to complete one revolution.

Photo: trekandshoot / Shutterstock

16. (tie) Sky Garden, London
16. (tie) Sky Garden, London

16. (tie) Sky Garden, London

  • 2018 Attendance: 1.5 million

It may look like a walkie-talkie from the outside, but The Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street in London offers 360-degree views of the city in a three-story public space with beautifully landscaped gardens, observation decks and an open-air terrace in what is London's highest public garden.

Photo: BBA Photography / Shutterstock

19. Berliner Fernsehturm, Berlin
19. Berliner Fernsehturm, Berlin

19. Berliner Fernsehturm, Berlin

  • 2018 Attendance: 1.35 million

The Fernsehturm is a television tower constructed between 1965-69. It has a quirky lobby, and an observation deck, bar and restaurant at the top, with great views of Berlin.

Photo: Shutterstock

20. Sugarloaf Cable Car, Rio De Janiero, Brazil
20. Sugarloaf Cable Car, Rio De Janiero, Brazil

20. Sugarloaf Cable Car, Rio De Janiero, Brazil

  • 2018 Attendance: 1.25 million

The cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain has been around since 1912, only the third such cable car in the world at the time. You may remember it from a scene in the James Bond film "Moonraker." Each of the cars can carry up to 65 people.

Photo: Shutterstock

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