Photography

10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in New York

New York is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Its magnificent skyline, which is a little different every year, won’t leave anyone indifferent. But where are the top public spots to photograph this stunning city? Continue reading to find out.

Wether you love photography, sketching or just a pretty view to delight your eyes, these places will take your breath away. It’s not surprising that in many of these spots people kiss or even propose! This is a list of my top places to bring your camera (and sketchbook). Which other places are worth checking too?

My favorite is #1, yours?


Check 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in Dubai


virginia-duran-new-york-empire-state-skyline-top-of-the-rock-wallpaper

Top of the Rock

1. Top of the Rock
Location: 45 Rockefeller Plaza (Google)
Best Views:  Central Park, 432 Park Avenue (Rafael Viñoly), One World Trade Center (Daniel Libeskind, David Childs), Bank of America Tower (Rick Cook)
Admission: $28 (online tickets here)
Opening hours: Mon-Sun (8am-11pm)
Description: The Rockefeller Center has been offering the most beautiful views of New York since its completion in 1939. The best time to take pictures is at sunset and everyone knows this so expect huge crowds. My favorite part to set the tripod before everyone gathers around the glass windows is facing south (1st picture). Make sure you buy your tickets online, it will save you a lot of time in the queue.


virginia-duran-blog-new-york-skyline-one-world-trade-center2. One World Trade Center
Location: 285 Fulton Street (Google)
Best Views:  North Manhattan, Empire State
Admission: $34 (online tickets here)
Opening hours: Mon-Sun (9am-9pm)
Description: This magnificent building by Daniel Libeskind and David Childs offers great views from its brand new observation deck. This northern views are quite unique, since there aren’t many public buildings with rooftops around this area. Come here before the sun sets because the glass reflections are horrible. Oh and don’t miss the Transit Hub by Santiago Calatrava.


3. The Standard
Location: 848 Washington St (Google)
Best Views:  South Manhattan, One World Trade Center (Daniel Libeskind, David Childs), Jersey City
Admission: Free admission$6 beer.
Opening hours: Mon-Tue (4pm-12am), Wed-Fri (4pm-4am), Sat (2pm-4am), Sun (2pm-3am)
Description: Among the many rooftops in this area, The Standard hotel is my favorite. Why? Because the High Line and the new Whitney Museum are just beneath making it the perfect visit combination. Drinks aren’t very expensive in comparison to other hotels of its kind, therefore it gets packed.


4. Central Park South Views
Location: 1802 65th St Transverse (Google)
Best Views:  432 Park Avenue (Rafael Viñoly), North Manhattan
Admission: Free admission
Opening hours: Mon-Sun (6am-1am)
Description: The rock formations in Central Park are one of the favorite spots in the big Apple. People sunbathe, read, rest and even take their wedding pictures here. This area around the southeast corner of the park offers beautiful skyline views throughout the day – perfect for a picnic!


virginia-duran-blog-new-york-skyline-230-fifth5. 230 Fifth
Location: 230 5th Ave (Google)
Best Views: Empire State Building
Admission: Free admission, Raspberry Mojito $14 (check menu)
Opening hours: Mon-Fri (4pm-4am), Sat (10am-4pm), Sun (10am-12am)
Description: The Empire state building is probably the most beautiful building in New York, that’s why climbing to its Observation deck makes no sense – you can’t see it. Many restaurants and hotels have nice views of this amazing building but 230 Fifth is the best in my opinion, it offers unobstructed views of it with the right distance for the perfect shot.


6. Brooklyn Bridge Park
Location: 334 Furman St (Google)
Best Views: Brooklyn Bridge, East Manhattan
Admission: Free admission
Opening hours: Mon-Sun (6am-1am)
Description: Wake up at 5am and enjoy walking through Brooklyn Bridge without a soul. After the sun is up in the sky bring your sketchbook and camera to this stunningly colorful park. Also, check Gantry Plaza for similar skyline views a little bit north from here. You won’t regret it.


7. Staten Island Ferry
Location: 4 Whitehall St (Google)
Best Views: Liberty Statue, One World Trade Center (Daniel Libeskind, David Childs), South Manhattan
Admission: Free admission
Opening hours: 24h (Check schedule)
Description: Among the many amazing free things one can do in New York, this is the best one. Truth is that views from the ferry are quite amazing and given that the Liberty Statue is getting difficult to visit, this is the best option to have a sneak peek. The funny thing about this ferry is that almost no one has interest in visiting Staten Island, so everyone returns back to Manhattan on the same boat. This means many people come just for the photography so make sure you are first in the line.


virginia-duran-blog-new-york-skyline-times-square8. Times Sq
Location: Times Square (Google)
Best Views: Times Square
Admission: Free admission
Opening hours: 24h
Description: One of the craziest urban junctions in the world is Times Square. Its history its quite complex and impressive so check it next time you come here to photograph. I’ve taken quite a lot of pictures here and even if it’s more famous by night, I still think during daylight hours it’s even more special. If you want a slightly different perspective, don’t miss the bar at the top floor of Marriott Marquis.


virginia-duran-blog-new-york-skyline-wythe-hotel9. Wyte Hotel Roopfot
Location: 80 Wythe Ave & North 11th Street (Google)
Best Views: Williamsburg Bridge, Empire State, East Manhattan
Admission: Free admission, Manhattan Cocktail $16 (check menu)
Opening hours: Mon-Fri (2pm-11pm), Sat-Sun (12am-11pm)
Description: Located at the 6th floor of the Whyte Hotel, this rooftop offers stunning views of East Manhattan. The good thing about open air terraces is that even if it’s winter and no one is outside, you still get a chance to take a picture with no window reflections (or people). If you visit New York in winter, don’t miss this one.


virginia-duran-blog-new-york-skyline-exchange-place-waterfront10. Exchange Place Waterfront
Location: Exchange Place (Google)
Best Views: One World Trade Center (Daniel Libeskind, David Childs), West Manhattan
Admission: Free admission
Opening hours: 24h
Description: As you can see on the picture, this is a favorite location for runners. Although the views along the seaside front are amazing, you won’t see many people taking pictures which makes it one of the top spots on the list to visit.


virginia-duran-blog-new-york-skyline-helicopter-ride[BONUS] – Helicopter Ride
Location: Pier 6, East River New York (Google)
Best Views: 360 New York
Admission: $180-250 per person/ 30 minute ride.
Opening hours: 24h
Description: Certainly the most expensive on the list. I wouldn’t be able to recommend one company since this is a big business and I’ve read terrible stories about people getting scammed, prices not being trustworthy, flights being too short… so do your research thoroughly before paying. The best time is sunset, so make sure you depart at least 30 minutes before that. The best area if you are going for a short ride is south Manhattan.


Check these and other amazing spots of New York on the map below or download the Free Architecture Guide of New York:

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28 thoughts on “10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in New York

        • That is exciting! Do you remember the first time you saw New York? My first impression was that it looked exactly like in the movies. You know where you will take her in such a short time?

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        • I was staying with my boyfriend-at-the-time’s family in New Jersey and I remember topping a hill and being able to see the skyline and it was just so massive! Actually in NYC, we took the train over and got off by Times Square. It was, like you said, just like the movies. My favorite, though, was walking through The Village. I’m not positive where I’m going to take her! I told her to make a list and we could see what we could get to. Any recommendations?

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        • The view from New Jersey is quite amazing! Besides the typical stuff, I would suggest visiting The Cloisters, it’s quite unique for being New York. Also, I loved eating at Joint Burger. I wonder if they are ever going to be kicked out of Le Meridien!

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  1. I enjoy reading your blog and following your travels! I live in NJ and visit NYC often. I have been to all 10 sites on your list except the Wyte hotel. Two suggested additions; 1 – The Brooklyn Bridge has great views of Manhattan when walking from Brooklyn, one of the best free things to do in the city. 2- Roosevelt Island also has great views of both Manhattan and Brooklyn, Consider the tram ride and Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park a bonus.

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    • Hi Robert, thanks for your kind words. I loved the places you suggest, visited both of them the same day this past summer. As an architect, I lobed Roosevelt island, but the skyline view from that location is not the best. Maybe I’ve never been a big fan of the United Nations complex.

      Also, which was your favorite view?

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      • I like the view of Manhattan from the NJ side of the Hudson. So may great spots from Jersey City to Hoboken. The city always seems so peaceful and quiet from across the river.

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  2. Pingback: The Free Architecture Guide of New York (PDF) | Virginia Duran Blog

  3. Pingback: 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in Hong Kong | Virginia Duran Blog

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