Grand Canyon Skywalk, USA
Just being at the Grand Canyon is a jaw-dropping experience – being able to walk over it makes it completely unforgettable. Looping in a horseshoe over the canyon some 1220 metres above the riverbed, the glass-floored observation deck offers stunning views over the striated walls of the natural wonder at Grand Canyon West. It’s commissioned and owned by the Hualapai Tribe, who also set up a visitor’s centre offering insights into this special part of the world.
At the Top, Burj Khalifa Sky, Dubai
It’s the tallest manmade structure in the world, so it makes sense that Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (830m high) tower offers a viewing platform set 555 metres above the ground. A series of projections fill the dedicated elevator that zips you up to level 125 (456 metres), where interactive displays tell the story of the vast desert city below. From here, another elevator takes you to level 148 where you have access to the world’s loftiest outdoor observation deck – hosts provide fascinating insights into the construction of this groundbreaking building.
The View from The Shard, London
London’s tallest, and one of its newest, building has elevators that climb six metres per second to two observation decks offering unbroken, 360-degree views of the English capital: the first is a triple level indoor gallery on Level 69, and the second is a partially outdoor gallery on Level 72. Special interactive “Tell:scopes” are able to identify more than 200 famous landmarks and places of significant interest around the city.
Empire State Building, New York
Located in the centre of Midtown Manhattan, the 86th– and 102nd-floor Empire State Building observatories provide unforgettable 360° views of New York City and beyond. The open-air 86th-floor deck has been the setting of dozens of movie and television scenes (King Kong and Sleepless in Seattle among them), wrapping around the building’s spire and taking in views of Central Park, The Hudson River and East River, The Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, The Statue of Liberty and much more. Sixteen floors above, the Top Deck is dazzling – and on a clear day you can see beyond the skyscrapers up to 130 kilometres away.
Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower, Shanghai
While it’s no longer the tallest structure in Shanghai, the Oriental Pearl Radio & TV Tower still offers some of the most dazzling views of China’s largest city. Set on the Pudong side of the Huangpu River, the distinctive building is known for its colourful nightly LED show. Inside, meanwhile, there are a whopping 15 different observatory levels, the highest being the Space Module at 350 metres. There’s also a revolving restaurant 267 metres above the ground, so you can take in the metropolis from all angles.
The tallest structure in Japan, and second tallest in the world, the 634m Skytree features two observation decks at 350m and 450m above the ground. The lower deck spans three levels with great views from all of its floors, while the upper “Tembo Gallery” consists of a sloping spiral ramp that gains height as it circles the tower. The construction of the steel and glass tube allows visitors to look down from the dizzying height of the tower and out over the Japanese capital.