Dave and I have seen a lot of the best city skylines in the world through our travels.
We’ve actually been to all the skylines of the world listed in this post. We don’t have to use stock photos like the other city skyline articles on the web because we have our own pictures of cities from our travels. City skylines are one of Dave’s favorite things to photograph and these are the best views we’ve seen around the world.
The Best City Skylines That We’ve Seen
We can attest that the cities below have the most unique, and interesting skylines in the world. How do we know, we’ve been to 110 countries and have seen them all with our own eyes.
1. Hong Kong – China
Hong Kong is definitely our favorite skyline on earth. There are skyscrapers everywhere. And highrises can be viewed from several different angles. Each night Hong Kong puts on a light display to show off its stunning skyline.
The top of the Peak Tram is our favorite city view of Hong Kong followed by the skyline view from Kowloon.
2. Dubai – United Arab Emirates
Dubai is filled with skyscrapers and ridiculously tall buildings. The unique thing about Dubai is that its skyline is very spread out. There are several different pockets, to witness its impressive skyscrapers. There’s downtown in the business district with the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Marina, and the Beach housing the Burj Al Arab, Dubai’s most iconic 7-star Hotel.
Dubai has several of the tallest buildings in the world including the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest hotel, and the tallest residential building in the world. We stayed at the JW Marriott which was the tallest hotel in the world but is now in second place to Dubai’s Gevora Hotel. Be sure to go up to the top of the Burj Khalifa to really see how massive Dubai is.
- Read about: All the Things to do in Dubai
3. Shanghai – China
Shanghai has an out of this world skyline. The skyscrapers of Pudong were designed to look impressive with the most eye-catching city skylines in the world! It is difficult to choose between Hong Kong or Shanghai. Both cities are filled with tall buildings trying to outdo one another. Each time we go back to either city, we fall in love all over again.
The best place to photograph Shanghai is from the Bund. The Bund is a historic district with impressive colonial buildings and a lovely waterfront walkway offering several different views of The Shanghai business district.
4. New York City, USA
We love The Big Apple. New York is the most energized city on the planet and yes, it has one of the best skylines in the world. Many people would say that New York City has the best skyline in the world! We can’t get enough of New York and there are so many great vantage points to take in the New York City skyline.
The best places to view the New York skyline are from DUMBO under the Brooklyn Bridge, from the Top of the Rock, One World Trade Centre, or from the Empire State Building. New York’s skyline changes before your eyes. Check out these Fun Facts about New York
- One of the best places to take a photograph of the NYC Skyline is from the Statue of Liberty.
- Read more at Where to Stay in New York a Guide to the Best Neighborhoods
5. Tokyo – Japan
Tokyo is massive. It is in fact the largest city in the world by area. There is no one skyline view of Tokyo since it is so spread out. Instead, there are several tall buildings clustered together in different pockets. It was difficult to choose the best view of Tokyo’s skyline because everywhere we looked there was somewhere more spectacular.
If you want to get the best view of the Tokyo Tower take a walk across the street to the park. From the Tokyo Tower you can really take in all the views of Tokyo and if you go up to the top of the highrise building known as the Mag7, you’ll see great views of Shibuya Crossing.
I don’t think there is a more dynamic city in the world than Tokyo. Each district of Tokyo has some sort of impressive skyscraper mixed with countless high rises.
6. Paris – France
We love Paris. It is the city of Love and there is no better city for romance than Paris. Looking at it from above lets you really see just how big this city is. What I love about Paris is how there are no skyscrapers in sight. It is a sprawling urban centre featuring the Eiffel Tower peering out from every angle.
Our favorite views of Paris are from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Couer, and Montparnasse Tower.
7. Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
What makes the Rio de Janeiro skyline so magnificent is the surrounding mountains framing the endless beaches and densely populated city. Christ the Redeemer looks over and can be seen from every vantage point of the city.
Great views of Rio can be found from Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer or by taking a helicopter tour of Rio.
- Check out: Things to do in Rio
8. Florence – Italy
You may not expect Florence, Italy to make the list since it doesn’t have any skyscrapers. But it is the Duomo and historic buildings that make it stand out among some of the best views on earth. Viewing Florence from the Piazzale Michaelangelo is the best way to truly take in the city.
9. Toronto – Canada
How can our home town not make the list? We were proud to see that Toronto has been a part of so many “world’s best skyline” lists. We have since moved, but we think the best view of Toronto was from our balcony on the 63rd floor of Yonge and Bloor.
If you want to get the classic Toronto skyline view, take a ferry over to Toronto Island for great pictures of the CN Tower, and the Toronto Skyline.
Toronto is the largest city in Canada and another great view can be seen from the top of the CN Tower. It was once the world’s tallest building but has now dropped to number 9. Another great city view is from the top of the Manulife Centre at Bay and Bloor.
10. Panama City – Panama
Who knew Panama had such a magnificent skyline? We didn’t expect it to be so modern and filled with skyscrapers. Panama reminded us of Dubai with many similar tall buildings.
With skyscrapers, a fantastic waterfront walk, luxury hotels, and the Panama Canal close by, Panama was one of our favorite cities in South America.
Great skyline views can be taken from the bars at the top of the W Hotel and the Hard Rock Panama Hotel.
11. Istanbul – Turkey
We knew Istanbul would be historic. With the Blue Mosque standing proud over the old city how could it not stand out? But we were surprised with how modern and progressive the city is.
Not every city in the world can boast that it straddles two continents! With the Istanbul Bridge spanning the Bosphorus linking Europe and Asia together, Istanbul is a city where East meets West. Istanbul is a mix of old and new.
A beautiful city view can be seen from the skyline of the Galata Tower.
12. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is one of our favorite cities in Europe. Walking along the river offers the best views of the Budapest skyline. The Budapest Chain Bridge spans the Danube River connecting the cities of Buda and Pest.
Each city is as different as its skyline but they work together creating a beautiful destination view. The best views of the skyline can be seen from Gellert Hill, Buddha Castle, and from the waterfront and Chain Bridge looking back at the Parliament building.
13. Brisbane, Australia
We finally had the chance to explore more of Australia this year. We’d been to the “Land Down Under” a couple of times, but we really didn’t explore the cities of Oz. Australia has done a beautiful job designing their cities.
We loved photographing Brisbane which has it’s own bridge similar to the Sydney Harbour Bridge of Sydney Australia. But Brisbane’s came first in our opinion!
14. Sydney – Australia
Sydney Australia has probably one of the most recognizable harborfronts in the world with the Sydney Opera House dominating the waterfront.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is another famous structure in the city and this view from underneath offers a unique perspective.
15. Cape Town – South Africa
During our first visit to South Africa, Dave and I spent four days in Cape Town before the sun came out. We had heard that Cape Town was beautiful, but we didn’t believe it. Until the skies opened up on day four to reveal a breathtaking view. What makes Cape Town’s skyline so extraordinary is the backdrop of Table Mountain.
With a modern waterfront and colonial architecture mixed framed by Table Mountain, Cape Town truly is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Love Cape Town? You need to read: Awesome Things to do in Cape Town South Africa
16. Astana – Kazakhstan
Where is Astana you ask? It is in Kazakhstan. Never heard of it? Well, you will. While driving through Kazakhstan during the Mongol Rally, we took a detour to the country’s capital city. Astana was quite the contrast between the desert landscape and massive spans of land, dirt and mountains.
We were mesmerized by the massive, modern urban center plopped in the middle of nowhere. With indoor malls complete with an amusement park and skating rink, Astana is poised to become a world city.
Read: Mongol Rally Tips
17. Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia
The last time we were in Kuala Lumpur was 2003. We didn’t even own a digital camera so you will have to forgive me for taking this scan of an early print above. Kuala Lumpur had an impressive skyline when we visited and it has grown immensely since.
The Petronas Twin Towers are definitely the centerpiece of the Kuala Lumpur skyline. They are the tallest twin towers in the work, but the nearby KL Tower is actually taller! The KL Tower is also a good place to view the Petronas Towers.
Singapore is certainly one of the most modern cities in South East Asia. I cannot tell a lie, we had to use this picture from a guest post written for us as when we visited Singapore, we weren’t traveling bloggers yet and didn’t take a proper photograph.
We haven’t been back to Singapore since it designed its incredible Marina Bay Sands and the Supertree Groves, but we look forward to seeing it again soon! With a stunning waterfront and unique modern buildings, the setting for Crazy Rich Asians is definitely a destination of luxury and decadence.
19. Vancouver – Canada
Since our time living in Vancouver, the city has grown immensely. The waterfront of False Creek has turned into a beautiful residential neighborhood with walkways and restaurants.
The view of the Vancouver skyline was taken from Stanley Park. If you want to get that great reflection from English Bay, this is the spot.
20. Suzhou – China
There are so many places in China that have amazing skylines. There are cities in China that you’ve never heard of that are filled with tall buildings and millions of people. When I looked around at other skyline articles on the internet, Shenzen, China is the popular choice since it is close to Hong Kong and has the second tallest building in China – The Ping An Financial Tower. But we have never been there so we chose Suzhou.
Like Hong Kong, Suzhou has a neon light waterfront and a light show in the evenings. The best place to see this is from the top of the W Hotel. As we have often said, China really does come alive at night.
21. San Francisco
San Francisco is a fantastic city to visit. There are so many iconic sites to see with The Golden Gate Bridge being the star attraction. Thanks to Local Photographer Eric Bravo, we learned where to see all of the great views of San Francisco including this view above.
- Check out his San Francisco Photography Guide for more Skyline Views of San Francisco
22. Santorini – Greece
I know Santorini doesn’t really fit with the rest of the cities in this article. It doesn’t have any skyscrapers or high rises but it does have a very distinct skyline. Everyone knows of the blue domes of Santorini. Read more: Where to Stay in Santorini: Best Hotels and Towns
When getting out of a taxi and walking to the crater’s edge, we gasped at the beauty of seeing Santorini for the first time. The whitewashed buildings clinging to the side of the sea cliffs are one of the most extraordinary views we’ve ever seen.
23. London – England
London is definitely an iconic skyline thanks to the London Eye, the Tower Bridge, and the Houses of Parliament lining the waterfront. London has held on to its history while embracing the 21st century.
Walking along the water offers the best views of London.
24. Chicago, Illinois
While going through images on our website, we saw this fantastic shot of Chicago by Lisa Luban of LLWorld Tour. She shared a great post about the top eats in Chicago, so to leave you, we thought we’d share this city view shot of Chicago. Chicago is a city we’ve merely driven through and haven’t explored enough. We must fix that soon! Chicago is known for its tall buildings, most notably the Willis Tower (previously the Sears Tower).
Shanghai is definitely the most beautiful skyline we’ve seen during our travels to 110 countries.
We think that New York City is the best and most beautiful of all the skylines we’ve seen in the US.
Hong Kong has the most skyscrapers of all the cities in the world with 355 buildings standing more than 150 m (492 ft)
Check out these other city articles and guides