New York City is famous for its beautiful skyline view. Whether you’re exploring New York City at night or during the day, you will see the impressive buildings and views from another perspective. The lit up New York skyline at night is something magical, while staring out from one of the rooftops during the day or sunset will give you unending New York City views. There are paid and free viewpoints in NYC, so even if you’re visiting New York on a budget, you can still visit some of the best viewpoints in NYC for free! Find in this complete guide the 20 best skyline views in NYC.
Best tours to do in New York
- Go up the Empire State Building to watch the New York skyline at night
- Book a New York City Skyline tour by night with a local guide
- See a Broadway show
- Book a helicopter tour over New York at night
- Go on a guided speakeasy history tour
- Book a bus tour at night to enjoy different vantage points of the New York skyline
- Relax at a Spa in the evening with views over New York
- Book a panoramic photo night tour around New York Brooklyn and Hamilton Park
- Go up the One World Observatory deck for incredible views
- Book a cruise to take in the New York city skyline at night from the river
- Go to the Top of the Rock for incredible views
Before we dive into the best viewpoints in NYC, let’s give you a little tip.
Buy a New York pass
In case you are planning to visit a lot of the NYC attractions such as the Observation Decks and Museums, then it is highly recommended to get a New York Pass. This will save you hundreds of dollars on entrance fees instead of paying all the fees individually.
The NYC attractions that are included in the New York pass are:
- Empire State Building (General Admission (86th Floor Observatory) Plus Bonus Night General Admission)
- American Museum of Natural History (General Admission plus one special exhibition)
- Guggenheim Museum (General Admission) OR Top of the Rock (General Admission)
- Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island (Reserve ticket for one Statue Cruises ferry ride to and from Liberty Island and Ellis Island and admission to Ellis Island Immigration Museum) OR Circle Line Cruises (Admission to one Landmark, or Liberty Cruise)
- Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (General Admission and Space Shuttle Pavillion) OR 9/11 Memorial and Museum (General Admission)
Book your New York pass here with Viator
20 BEST VIEWPOINTS IN NYC
A once in a lifetime experience is to book a helicopter ride over New York City to see the impressive skyline and New York landmarks. You can either book a helicopter tour during the day, or around sunset and at night. If you’d love to see the city’s skyline lit up at night and the glow of sunset disappearing at the horizon, then a helicopter tour at night in New York is a must. This is without a doubt a super romantic experience in New York and a must do!
Helicopter view – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
SUMMIT One Vanderbilt
The Summit One Vanderbilt observation deck sits atop the 427 meter tall One Vanderbilt skyscraper and is one of the best places to see the Manhatten skyline. The immersive, multi-sensory experience with art installations has floor to ceiling mirror windows with three levels to explore.
- AIR: An immersive art experience that mixes transparency & reflection. Perfect spot for your next Instagram shot!
- REFLECT: Art installation by famous artist Yayoi Kusama.
- LEVITATION: For the ones without vertigo. This attraction has two transparent glass enclosed skyboxes giving you a 360 view from NYC from above.
To secure your spot for SUMMIT One Vanderbilt and skip the line to get a ticket, it is highly recommended to buy your tickets in advance online. You can choose the time you want to go. But for the best NYC views it is recommended to come during the day or with sunset to see the golden light.
However, if you want to see all the city lights in the dark, then the best view of NYC skyline at night is either from SUMMIT One Vanderbilt or the Empire State Building.
SUMMIT One Van der Bilt – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
Liberty State Park
Although Liberty State Park is not located in the city centre of NY, it will give you some of the most beautiful views in NYC. And because the park isn’t that crowded you can still find some quiet spots to relax and take it all in. Great if you want to escape the busy city centre for a break but still have great New York views.
Besides that is Liberty State Park also home to one of the most touching memorials in NYC, the Empty Sky Memorial. This beautifully made memorial is dedicated to New Jersey’s 9/11 and absolutely worth a visit when you’re visiting Liberty State Park.
Liberty State Park – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
This New York viewpoint is the highest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere AND highest public balcony in NYC. The 100-stories-high observation deck with a glass floor, bar & 360-degree views is well worth a visit. With not only panoramic New York skyline views, but also a large, see-through glass floor on 1100 ft (340 meter) height, the Edge is an exciting New York viewpoint and attraction.
Book your tickets to The Edge in advance
The Edge – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
Top of the rock
Part of the majestic Rockefeller Center, the Top of the Rock is another famous NYC observation deck with spectacular views over the New York skyline. It’s actually a three-level rooftop with the top one on the 70th floor. From there you can enjoy the spectacular views over Central park surrounded by beautiful modern and ancient buildings. You can see the Hudson River, New Jersey Shore and Lower Manhattan with the Empire State Building’s iconic shape peering over the city.
Top of the Rock is without a doubt some of the best viewpoints in NYC and a must visit. You can choose to see the views of the NYC skyline at night, or come during the day or with sunset. The basic entry fee is $38 but for the evening ticket you pay an additional $10. And if you are feeling explorative, you can also include a Rockefeller center tour for an extra $25 and make the most of your visit. Just make sure you book in advance to secure your space to see some of the best NYC skyline views.
Book here your tickets to Top of the Rock with Viator
Top of the Rock – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
Manhattan skyline views from Staten Island ferry
Another fun thing to do in New York City for free is taking the Staten Island Ferry which will give you incredible New York views. Located at 4 Whitehall Street Lower Manhattan you can hop on the ferry crossing the Hudson River for an epic view of the New York City skyline and Liberty Island where you can see the Statue of Liberty from up close. That’s why I would even say that this is the best view of Manhatten! Especially with sunset or at night, when there are beautiful colours or twinkling lights from the city, the view of the New York skyline will be even more magical.
Staten Island Ferry views – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
Empire State Building
The most famous observation deck of the city provides some of the best views in New York. Visiting the 102-story skyscraper (located on 34th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues) is very popular, so it is highly recommended to book your tickets in advance. You can either choose to go up during the day, or see the best view of NYC skyline at night and all its magical lights. The views stretch all the way to the One World Trade Center, Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Plaza Center, Times Square and Brooklyn Bridge.
Book your tickets here for the Empire State Building with GetYourGuide
Book your tickets here for the Empire State Building with Viator
Choose the ‘Sunset Admission Ticket’ option to go with sunset. This gives you the opportunity to skip the ticket line to be up as one of the first with sunset at the Empire State Building. You can also choose to skip all of the lines including security, ticket, and elevator lines up and down. Then you’ll have to choose the ‘Sunset Express Ticket: Skip all the Lines’.
Empire State Building – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
If you go to New York and didn’t visit Central Park, you haven’t been to New York! No but seriously, Central Park is a must visit in New York. The iconic park has so many amazing viewpoints on New York. It’s just such a beautiful contrast to see the towering skyscrapers poking through the trees.
And with every season comes another view, especially during autumn when the colourful trees provide such a stunning contract with the grey buildings.
To find the best viewpoints in Central Park it is recommended to rent a bicycle or to just walk around and explore the park to find your favourite. Our favourite viewpoints were from ‘The Pond at Central Park’ and Gapstow Bridge. It’s just wonderful to see the different layers of elements in this view. From the pond to the historic bridge, trees and then the modern buildings of New York City.
One thing you can’t miss while exploring Central Park is a quick trip to the Time Warner Building near Columbus Circle. For some of the best free views of New York City you have to go to the fourth floor, and besides that it’s a great place to get some drinks and snacks at the food section. You can also rent a bike and explore the park by yourself or with your family which is definitely one of the best things to do in NYC with kids!
Central Park – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
The classic and iconic view of the Manhattan bridge in between the old red brick warehouses and cobbled streets in Brooklyn is hard to beat. Logically it is an Instagram hit and almost a must visit place in New York if you’re a photographer. The scenic view point is located along Washington Street in the Dumbo neighbourhood of Brooklyn. After spending time at the viewpoint you have to take stroll along the river to see more epic viewpoints and if you have the energy, then walk across the Brooklyn Bridge as it is another one of the “best free things to do in New York City”.
Dumbo – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
New York City view from Governors Island
With plenty of public green parks and breathtaking New York City skyline views provides Governors Island some of the best best viewpoints in New York. And the best thing is, you can visit for free! Or well, you will have to get the ferry but then you can just explore by yourself on foot or bicycle. It is really easy to get around and will get you fast from point to point.
Another great way to enjoy Governors Island is by picnicking on the lawn with some of the best skyline views in NYC!
Governors Island view – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
One of the most incredible things to do in New York City at night is to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. The views of Lower Manhattan are stunning, and the experience is truly unforgettable. And the experience is completely free so that you can save your money for other New York City adventures.
The New York City night skyline is illuminated with thousands of lights, and the reflections on the East River are simply breathtaking. Compared to the daytime, when the bridge is crowded with tourists and locals alike, walking across at night is a much more peaceful and intimate experience.
Start at dusk so you can watch the skyline transform as the sun goes down. As you walk across the bridge, you’ll be surrounded by the city’s twinkling lights. You can start your walk from either Brooklyn or Manhattan.
Read here about the 30 best things to do in New York at night
View from Brooklyn Bridge – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
One World Observatory
One of the must see attractions and most popular NYC observation decks is the One World Observatory. Being the highest building in America with 546 m to the top, the Freedom Tower, also known as One World Trade Center, takes you on an exciting journey from the ground floor to the 102nd floor in under 60 seconds. Especially at night the views over Manhattan with the illuminating lights are breathtaking.
You can also enjoy a dinner at the One Dine and Bar located on the 101st floor of the One World Observatory. But to eat here you’ll have to make dinner reservations separately. Because visiting the One World Observatory deck is so popular, it is highly recommended to book your tickets in advance. You can also choose for ‘skip the line’ tickets to save you time waiting.
One World Observatory – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
Manhattan Bridge view facing Brooklyn Bridge
Maybe a bit of a random New York viewpoint but definitely one that shows you the beauty of the New York skyline. While walking over the Manhattan Bridge you will pass a few great New York skyline viewpoints. When coming from Manhattan, the first one is an aerial view over Chinatown. When facing towards the Brooklyn Bridge at the beginning of the Manhattan bridge, you will overlook the Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive and Manhattan skyline. This is definitely worth a stop, and especially around sunset, the colors can get crazy! The last viewpoint gets better when you approach Dumbo as the Brooklyn Bridge will be visible in its whole length with the Manhattan skyline behind. This is another great free New York viewpoint and without a doubt some of the better skyline views in NYC!
Brooklyn Bridge Park view
Another fantastic New York viewpoint which you can visit for free is Brooklyn Bridge Park. This 80-acre park is definitely some of the best places to see the Manhatten skyline. And the best thing to do is to bring a picnic blanket, your own snacks or a take away, drinks and enjoy the sunset views until it gets dark and the city lights start to light up. You can also take a walk along the Brooklyn Heights promenade to see the views from different angles. Without a doubt that Brooklyn Bridge Park is some of the best places to see New York skyline, and it’s for free!
Brooklyn Bridge Park – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
The Tudor City Bridge is a scenic lookout point which spans 42nd Street just west of First Avenue. This iconic New York City photo spot is famous because of the yearly returning Manhattanhenge, also inaccurately called the Manhattan Solstice. This yearly event takes place when the setting sun or the rising sun is aligned with the main east–west streets of Manhattan. But, if you’re not in New York during this unique event, then don’t worry because any other season, the view from Tudor Bridge is worth it. The symmetry in this spot with trees lining the streets on both sides and the towering skyscrapers poking behind the trees is a treat for the eye as photographer. Make sure to add it to your New York City itinerary as it’s another one of the best viewpoints in NYC.
Tudor Bridge – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
The High Line
The in 2009 opened High Line is one of the most unique parks in New York City. Seen from the name, you might be able to guess what it previously was! This former rail-line was used for trains delivering cargo. But because the demand became less with the rise of trucks, the rail road was abandoned until a plan got approved to transform this old rail line into a city park.
Nowadays the Highline is a very popular promenade to visit with over 8 million visitors annually! The best time to walk along the High Line and take in the New York City views is in spring, summer and autumn. Of course you can see all the flowers and plants bloom in spring and summer, but autumn brings the beautiful orange and red leafs. The beautiful murals, unique art and rotating sculptures are there all year long, including some of the best New York viewpoints. So whenever the season, there’s always a reason to walk along the High Line.
The High Line – One of the best viewpoints in NYC
Cantor roof garden
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) is the largest museum in the USA located in Central Park. With a spectacular rooftop bar overlooking the park and New York City skyline you can imagine why this is one of the best viewpoints in NYC. Especially during sunset it can get busy, so be prepared for that. However, visiting Cantor roof garden is only possible if you’ve bought the entrance ticket to the MET museum of $25. But to visit the rooftop garden you don’t have to buy an expensive drink to hang out here. So if you have planned to visit the MET anyway, then you can’t miss the Cantor roof garden!
View from Brooklyn Bridge towards New York City skyline
The view from the Brooklyn Bridge is outstanding and a must see. Besides being another free New York viewpoint to visit, the Brooklyn Bridge in itself is a unique and famous landmark which has to be experienced when walking along. Meanwhile you can appreciate this 19th century suspension bridge with some of the most beautiful NYC skyline views. You can see Manhattan, Brooklyn and the New York Harbor while strolling along.
The best views on the Brooklyn Bridge are from the Brooklyn side walking towards Manhattan. Take your time during the Brooklyn Bridge walk as there are plenty of photo spots and amazing views which you have to take in. Especially with sunset it is a magical view to see how the sun disappears behind the skyline and how the sky change colours.
The Granite Prospect
The Granite Prospect is part of Brooklyn Bridge Park but deserves a separate mention as one of the best viewpoints in NYC. Located on Pier 1, the Granite Prospect has become an iconic feature of Brooklyn Bridge Park and offers breathtaking views of the NYC skyline. You can relax on the granite terrace and enjoy the view of the New York Harbor and skyline.
Gantry Plaza State Park
This 12-acre state park on the east riverside boasts spectacular views of midtown Manhattan including the Empire State Building. Enjoy a relaxing stroll along the park’s four piers or through the park’s manicured gardens and take in these nice views in NYC. There are also food trucks in the area so you can have a picnic to enjoy the views a bit longer.
More New York travel inspiration
I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about the best viewpoints in NYC.
For more New York travel inspiration, head over to our other guides.
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