A gorgeous skyline is often one of the things that big cities can boast about, but the fact is, it isn’t just Hong Kong and New York City that have amazing skylines. Indeed, all over the world, there are cities with stunning skylines that you won’t forget once you see them in person, and not all of them are in huge cities.
In fact, our world is filled with skylines that have everything you could want when you’re looking at skylines – bright lights, tall buildings, and stunning architecture that is often unique to that part
cular area of the world.
But what makes a great skyline? Is it the height of the skyscrapers? The shade of neon used to light them? Or is it the way the buildings work together to form one complete picture?
We think what really matters is you look out across a city and think –‘Wow!’ We’ve looked across the globe to count down what we think are the ten most impressive skylines our great cities have to offer. From the US to China, Canada to Australia, here is our rundown of the very best – our Top 20 of the most beautiful skylines in the world…
20. Boston, Massachusetts, USA – one of the best US skylines
If you want to get the best glimpse of the Boston skyline, come see it at night. With its tall buildings and colorful lights, the skyline reflects onto the water and paints a picture that most cities can only dream about.
One of the oldest cities in the country, it isn’t that the buildings are huge, it’s that they are gorgeous and well-lit to create a picturesque view that everyone will love. Seeing this skyline in person should definitely be on your bucket list.
19. Houston, Texas, USA – one of the best city skylines in the world
Houston is the most populous city in Texas with roughly 2.3 million people. It is also the fourth largest city in the United States, and its skyline offers a view that is one in a million.
With more than 45 high-rise buildings that are more than 425 feet high, the city offers a stunning view regardless of where you are while you’re looking at it. This is a city that proves everything truly is bigger in Texas.
18. London, England
London’s skyline is undoubtedly one of the most recognized skylines in the world, and it includes infamous buildings such as the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, the London Eye, and some less familiar but equally interesting buildings such as Tower 42, the Gherkin, and the Pinnacle.
No matter how many times you visit this amazing city, you’ll never get tired of seeing its skyline. It is a combination of tall and not-so-tall buildings that offers just enough variety to keep you interested.
Also, check out our post on the best boutique hotels in London.
17. Panama City, Panama
If you’re ever in Central America, you need to check out the skyline in Panama City. The city sits on the water and the reflection of the lights on that water will take your breath away.
The curved shape of the landscape gives it even more ambiance, and its skyscrapers offer views that you are certain never to forget.
A friendly city, you’ll enjoy your time here even more if you take the time to view the skyline at night.
16. Paris, France
The skyline offered at the City of Love is one of the most recognizable skylines in the world. This iconic skyline is quite large and includes tons of buildings, both familiar and unfamiliar.
Even the way the buildings are arranged is unique and interesting, and it causes you to want to look at the skyline even longer.
The Eiffel Tower is, of course, the most familiar building in the skyline, but you’ll see lots of others that are just as bright and curious. Paris offers one of the best city skylines for numerous reasons.
15. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Although the Christ the Redeemer statue is the most recognizable part of Rio de Janeiro’s skyline, it is not the only reason this skyline is so fantastic.
The city offers a great view thanks to the mountains, the water, and of course, the buildings that light up the sky at night.
It truly offers the best of both man-made architecture and that from Mother Nature, and it is a skyline you are certain never to forget. Even if you’re not religious, the Christ the Redeemer statue is something you are certain never to forget.
14. San Francisco, California, USA
Everyone recognizes the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge, but the adjacent skyline is just as amazing, if not more so.
San Francisco is a unique city in many ways, and the lights and tall buildings that come in various designs are something you will never forget.
The buildings reflect on the water for an even more amazing view, and the only thing more exciting than San Francisco’s skyline is going into the city and sampling everything it has to offer. We also have a post on the most romantic hotels in San Francisco.
13. Seattle, Washington, USA
With beautiful Mount Rainier and the ever-looming Space Needle Observation Tower lining your view, the Seattle skyline is truly unique.
But it also offers skyscrapers and buildings of many different designs and sizes, and if you view the city at night, you’ll get the best view ever.
The Seattle skyline is recognized by almost everyone, yet it looks even more amazing when you view it in person. It even has one thing that many city skylines do not have – tons of trees that give the skyline a little oomph and make it even more beautiful.
12. Shanghai, China
Not only is Shanghai the most populous city in the world with shopping for 24 million people, but it also offers one of the most eye-catching skylines in the world.
While not all of the buildings are tall, they are all amazing in their designs and colors, and some of these sights include the Oriental Pearl Tower and the Shanghai Tower.
If you like skylines with lots of color and interesting architecture, Shanghai is a city you have to visit. When it comes to beautiful skylines, you can’t beat this one.
11. Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei is the capital of Taiwan, and its amazing skyline shows it. One of the most interesting aspects of this skyline is its almost futuristic look, which has fascinated people for decades.
It also consists of The Taipei 101 Skyscraper, which was the tallest building in the world until it got beat out by the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Still, the 101 is very impressive and extends over 1,600 feet in the air if you measure it to the tip of the building.
10. Singapore, Singapore – a stunning skyline in Asia
Singapore is an example of a great skyline formed within the constraints of city-wide planning regulations.
A thought out urban street plan, shackled with a height restriction of 280 meters for all buildings gives this city a consistency and style not found in other cities.
With mostly light-colored buildings and great swathes of greenery throughout the city center, Singapore is a definite highlight of the South East Asian region.
9. Frankfurt, Germany – a gorgeous skyline in Europe
As Europe’s only entry in our list, Frankfurt is flying the flag for the continent with five structures that beat the 200 meter mark.
Amongst them, the unorthodox design of the Commerzbank Tower, internationally recognized for its use of ‘sky-gardens’ and environmentally friendly technologies, the 331-meter Europaturm observation tower, or the aesthetically pleasing Messeturm with its 257-meter pyramid peak are also of note.
However its tall structures are at odds with the ancient low-rise, high-density European architecture below, regardless of this Frankfurt nudges its way into our list.
8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – often known as one of the most beautiful skylines in the world
The skyline of Kuala Lumpur may not be the most densely packed in our list, but that only allows what it does have to stand out boldly.
Only 10 of its structures stand at over 200 meters tall, but amongst them are the distinctive Petronas Towers (the world’s tallest twin buildings) and the 420 meter Menara Kuala Lumpur Tower.
7. Toronto, Canada
Toronto’s architecture is a true mix of periods and styles, with many dating back to the mid-19th century.
The city shows no signs of slowing down either, currently in the midst of an architectural revival that includes a condo boom along the shoreline and several buildings such as the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario being designed by world-renowned architects.
The city has 11 structures that stand over 200 meters, dominating the skyline is the 553.33 meter CN Tower, no longer the tallest tower in the world, but still featuring the highest viewing deck
6. Sydney, Australia
Sydney’s skyline is about much more than just skyscrapers. Sure the cloud bothering heights of Centrepoint Tower, the MLC Centre, and the AMP Tower protrude from the inner CBD.
But the world-famous harbor with its iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge are what people really book flights to Australia to see, best viewed from a ferry on the shore of Sydney Harbour to take in the full view.
5. Dubai, United Arab Emirates – one of the biggest skylines in the world
Dubai barges into our list through extravagant ambition and persistence. A mix-matched overlapping sea of indulgence, wealth and architectural accomplishment, the recent growth of the city seems to be without plan or prudence.
All 33 of its structures reaching over 200 meters were built in the last 15 years, and they do appear to be competing with rather than complementing each other. But they sure are pretty.
The Burj Khalifa beat all competition to take the title of the world’s tallest building, at a neck-straining 828 meters. The city shows no signs of stopping either, with the proposed Dubai City Tower, set to break all records with a height of 2,400 meters.
4. Tokyo, Japan
The densely populated mega-city of Tokyo is a sea of flashing neon lights and high-rise structures that reaches skyward under the view of the Mount Fuji range.
With the required flashing red lights atop every building of significant height, and a fleet of helicopters on hand to avoid the heavy traffic of rush hour, Tokyo is a skyline that means business. Also while staying make sure you check out some of the best Tokyo hotels while you’re in the city too, they are some of the craziest in the world!
3. Chicago, USA
We all know the US likes to fill its cities with tall buildings, so we’re conscious not to fill our rundown with US cities. But Chicago gets an honorable mention for being the birthplace of the modern skyscraper.
When the city unveiled its first steel high-rise in 1885, no one could have predicted how well the new design would catch on.
Since then Chicago has kept up with the trend, housing 19 buildings over 200 meters and producing some of the finest skyscrapers found in any city; The Trump Tower, John Hancock Tower and the 1451 foot Willis Tower front up along the shoreline of Lake Michigan to form a truly picturesque skyline.
2. New York, USA
In at second place is New York. Perhaps the world’s most easily recognizable skyline due to its featuring in so many Hollywood blockbusters, think Spiderman swinging through its towers, bathed in golden sunlight, Home Alone 2 at Christmas or the city shots of Independence Day.
The city also has so many identifiable, iconic buildings; the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and overlooking them all from offshore, the majestic Statue of Liberty including many very impressive New York City hotels and Brooklyn hotels that are just waiting to be explored and stayed in.
With 47 buildings over 200 meters New York is the definitive US city, but just misses out on the number one spot.
1. Hong Kong, China
Hong Kong earns its place at the top of our list for its sheer commitment to the modern skyscraper.
With a whopping 43 buildings measuring over 200 meters tall, 30 of which were built since the year 2000 and with four of the 15 tallest buildings in the world, the city has the best skyline to have ever had a camera pointed at it.
With a high population density of 6,943,600 people, Hong Kong is a major seaport, financial center and the business hub of Asia. The concentrated, high-rise environment of the city won’t be to everyone’s taste, but for city lovers, this is paradise.
The tipping factor that makes this city is its location; with the mountain ranges circling the city, the juxtaposition between man-made structures and the surrounding mountains makes this jarring proposition our number one.
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Michael Cowley – writer and photographer
Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper Michael has always had an affinity for adventure. Growing up he was lucky enough to live in a handful of exotic far flung locations including Hong Kong, Pakistan, Kenya and Tanzania and since then he’s continued seeking out new places and cultures. In his spare time he explores everywhere from the sizzling street markets in Bangkok to random back alleys in Sri Lanka and everything in between! He also has a special fondness for Cohibas, trying all kinds of street food, playing carrom with random strangers, and fine wine – he knows his clarets from his chiantis. He counts Cuba, Amsterdam, Indonesia, Goa, Cambodia and Italy as his favourite destinations. Find Michael on Instagram or Twitter.
Hotel Reviewing Experience –Asked by many tourist boards and many high-profile travel brands to formally review hotels including Discover Greece, Barcelo Hotels, and Rickshaw Travel. Also travelled around the world scouting out and reviewing all the most unique hotels in the world, check out our Instagram page for photos. Also mentioned as a top UK travel journalist.