Best City Skylines in the World – Our Favourite Photos

Written By: The Planet D

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

best skylines in the world hong kong
Hong Kong is our favourite city skyline

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.

best city skylines in the world hong kong
View of Hong Kong from the top of the Peak Tram

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

city skylines dubai
Dubai Skyline

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.

best skylines dubai
The Burj Khalifa lit up from the fountain show

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.

3. Shanghai – China

city skylines shanghai

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

city skylines new york city
New York City Skyline from Brooklyn

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.

new york city skyline from statue of liberty
View of New York from the Statue of Liberty

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

5. Tokyo – Japan

Things to do in Tokyo Jikken Bridge

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.

tokyo tower

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

best skyline view paris
Paris skyline view from Arc de Triomphe

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

best city skylines rio
Rio has an amazing skyline view

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.

skylines in the world rio de janiero

Great views of Rio can be found from Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer or by taking a helicopter tour of Rio.

8. Florence – Italy

skyline view of Florence
The skyline view of Florence from Piazzale Michaelangelo

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

view of torornto 
 best skylines in the world
Dave enjoys the view of Toronto from our Apartment

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

panama city skyline

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.

Panama City is the the start of the Panama Costa Rica Cruise

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

istanbul city skylines
Did you Expect Istanbul to have one of the best skylines

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.

City Skylines Middle East
The Galata Tower offers an amazing city view of Istanbul

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

City Skylines Budapest
We love the Budapest skyline view from the river

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.

City Skylines Budapest
Buda and Pest Skylines

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.

Enjoy 16 of the Top Things to do in Budapest

13. Brisbane, Australia

best skylines brisbane
Brisbane Skyline

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

best skylines around the world | australia
Opera House of Sydney Australia

Sydney Australia has probably one of the most recognizable harborfronts in the world with the Sydney Opera House dominating the waterfront.

city skylines | sydney harbour bridge

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

best skylines in the world cape town
Table Mountain Contributes to Cape Town’s Beautiful Skyline

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.

best skylines in the world cape town
another view of Cape Town

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

kazakhstan photography buildings
Astana is a modern city!

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.

best skylines in the world Astana
Another View of Astana’s Skyline

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

best city skyline in the world
An early selfie taken in Kuala Lumpur

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.

best skylines | kuala lumpure

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.

18. Singapore

most beautiful city skyline | singapor

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

best city skylines | Vancouver

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

surprising beautiful city skyline

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.

best skyliens in china | 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 Photography Guide Treasure Island
View from Treasure Island photo by @Let’sGoBravo – see his complete photography guide here.

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.

22. Santorini – Greece

best skylines in the world | santorini

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

beautiful city skylines of the world | Santorini

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

england travel guide

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.

tower bridge | part of the london Skyline

Walking along the water offers the best views of London.

24. Chicago, Illinois

best skylines Chicago
Chicago skyline

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).

What is the most beautiful skyline in the world?

Shanghai is definitely the most beautiful skyline we’ve seen during our travels to 110 countries.

What is the best skyline in the United States?

We think that New York City is the best and most beautiful of all the skylines we’ve seen in the US.

What city has the most skyscrapers in the world?

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

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

36 thoughts on “Best City Skylines in the World – Our Favourite Photos”

  1. Nice article idea.

    Just reference Istanbul there are two better skyline views than the Galatea tower which is often busy with tourists.

    Mikla restaurant has the best 360 views of the whole city.

    Secondly Camlica mosque also has amazing 360 views.

  2. Wow! These are incredible, what I’ve also come to realise is that I literally cant choose a favourite, I’ve been to a good few cities on the list and there’s honestly such an incredible feeling looking at these pictures and reminiscing about that feeling you get having sundowners watching the skyline line in these places. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Hope you guys are doing well. I agree with you on some of these skylines. I live in New York City , but have visited some of these cities. London, Brisbane , San Francisco , Vancouver, Toronto , Singapore , Sydney and Kuala Lumpur as I worked for Malaysia Airlines in Los Angeles for 8 years. The skylines of some of these cities are amazing.

  4. I think Chicago is too low on this this list. It was the birthplace of the skyscraper and has some of the best architecture. The view from the Adler Planetarium or Shed Aquarium is the best.

  5. It’s wonderful feeling just by looking at those amazing city skylines, inspire you to travel and witness yourself splendour of urbanization. I’ve only been to two of the listed cities, KL & Singapore. Though not many European cities are listed, my sole visit to Madrid and Andalusia makes me wonder if there ever a chance to study, work and experience living in Europe, with the highest list of Unesco world heritage sites. In KL, The Petronas Twin Towers and its unique skybridge with Petronas Philharmonic concert hall and Suria KLCC Mall as the podium below the towers makes KLCC a must visit tourist attraction. Thanks to Cesar Pelli Associates, the architect who had created an amazing design for the twin towers. My experience working with the project team from ground breaking on the site to safe completion of the project will always linger on my mind.

  6. What an awesome list 🙂 Great to see the changes over the years, if you compare your 2003 pics with today.
    Should add Shanghai as well, i really love that one .

  7. Great pics! I know as a city it might seem small and inconsequential, but my current home of Pittsburgh has a small but beautiful skyline, especially when seen from the lookouts of Mt. Washington. Check it out….it may surprise you! The fact that it’s surrounded by 3 rivers and beautiful bridges doesn’t hurt.

  8. Paris in France is my favorite one. Very romantic city, museums, entertaiments and much to do there. not too expensive compare with others. Loved to visit the Eiffel tower, it was a great experience.

  9. Nice post guys! Some really fabulous skylines and it’s also cool to see how your photography has evolved over the years. The Hong Kong and Istanbul shots are my favourites. 🙂

  10. That view of Hong Kong from the hilltop is incredible. I’m hoping to get there next year myself!

  11. It was an amazing experience traveling through Kazakhstan. the locals were curious and friendly. They were helpful and often stopped to chat with us. (in broken English and sign language) It was a fantastic country that I’d go back to and visit again and again.

  12. Amazing photos!! Love the perspective in the Rio de Janeiro photos and the ones of Cape Town!

  13. I was scrolling through all the amazing shots and just when I started wondering where Chicago was — there it appeared! Glad you included my old hometown and city close to my heart. Fantastic pics. Apparently, I’ve got a lot of beautiful places to see yet.

    • Yay! I am so glad we included your home town. I’d love to do a US road trip in the near future and just round up all the best US skylines. You’re country has put together beautiful cities. I think the founding fathers really thought about the aesthetics of the skyline of US cities.

  14. Skyline pictures are some of my favorites because you can really see how each city is different in their own unique way. Great photo article!

  15. Fabulous photographs. I’d visit each and all of these places just for the skyline! If I could add to the list, I would suggest Panama City, in Panama; Rome in Italy; Cagliari (my hometown) in Italy; Bangkok…

    • We’ll be going to Panama in September and can’t wait. We will definitely check out the skyline! Who knows, it may turn into 18 of the World’s Best City Skylines. I agree, Rome is beautiful too. I haven’t been to Cagliari. Another things to add to the list!

  16. Great list but Ho Chi Minh City should be on there. The view at night of all the moving lights is mesmerising.

  17. Wow, such amazing shots and nice to see Brizzy get a mention there, an often overlooked city. Cheers C&K

    • Thanks. I really thought Brisbane was beautiful. The skyline at night took is fantastic. I think we stayed in the right spot to really take it in.

  18. Might be a little hometown bias, but San Francisco has a great skyline. Treasure Island is one of the best spots for viewing along with the Marin headlands and Twin Peaks. There are so many different places to get good views of it that I can’t list them all. I think Hong Kong is the best I ever seen. Love your pictures.

  19. I really like the following 3 cities night view of skylines photos.

    1. Hong Kong, China
    2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    3. Florence, Italy

    Wonderful click at the right time, that’s only its looking so nice.

  20. Amazing photos – specially love the night shot of Rio’s Guanabara Bay from the cable car connection to Sugarloaf Mountain. Great details and beautiful colors. Respect to the photographers for their skills.

  21. Awesome photos, you guys have good photo skills. The ones from Budapest made me want to go there again. Cheers.