Panoramic views: The world’s 10 best viewpoints
Places that take your breath away and your camera lens are easy to find in the metropolis as well as in the middle of sprawling mountains. And climbing higher for beautiful views and a couple of juicy shots is a separate kind of travel pleasure. Take a hot air balloon ride over Paris, climb the Israeli Masada or find yourself on a tall skyscraper in Tokyo: keep the top 10 viewpoints from around the world, which we compiled together with the new Huawei P30 Pro, a smartphone designed for mobile photography connoisseurs.
Savello Park / Orange Garden
Park Savello, or the Orange Garden (Giardino degli Aranci), is located at the top of the Aventine, one of Rome’s seven legendary hills. It takes its official name from the castle of the Savello family, built on this site in the 16th century. The orange trees were born here thanks to the followers of St. Dominic, who founded a monastery in the basilica of Santa Sabina.
From the tranquil and sparsely populated garden you can see two states at once: Italy and the Vatican. And both of them pose perfectly. The Vatican flaunts itself almost entirely, predictably flaunting the dome of St. Peter’s Cathedral in the center. The Roman part of the panorama is proudly represented by the Tiber and its western shore, the Trastevere.
The views are spectacular, but Park Savello is beautiful in its own right. The observation deck is surrounded by pine trees, orange trees (you shouldn’t eat the fruit, they’re decorative) and fountains that, even in hot Rome, allow you to take shelter in the shade – to take a break for a book, a picnic or contemplation.
Take the return trip through the fifth-century Santa Sabina Basilica and the monastery’s store. And in Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta (Piazza of the Knights of Malta), it’s worth casting another glance at St. Peter’s Cathedral through the keyhole.
Three entrances lead to the garden: from Piazza Pietro d’Illiria, Via di Santa Sabina or the Clivo di Rocca Savella. By bus: Nos. 81, 160, 628 (to Greca stop), 23, 30, 44, 280, 130, 170, 716, 781 (to Lungotevere Aventino stop). By subway: The nearest station is Circo Massimo.
October to February: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; March and September: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; April to August: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Price: gratis (i.e. free) .
Stegastein is a strategically and aesthetically important part of the Aurlandsfjellet (“Snow Road”), Norway’s most beautiful hiking route, which connects the towns of Lerdalsøyri in the north and Eurlannvangen in the south. It is one of the most photographed vantage points in the region. And rightly so.
The structure, which looks like a wooden bridge to nowhere, is 650 meters off the ground – and extends another 31 meters forward out of the cliff above the Eurlann Fjord. So architects Todd Saunders and Tommy Willemsen decided to erase for visitors the line between man and nature. However, at the end of the bridge they left a glass partition – it is the only intermediary between the eyes of travelers and the views of the Norwegian fjords (which, incidentally, are included in the UNESCO heritage list). The fantastic beauty of the natural scenery on the observation deck also catches up with the manmade one: joke’s on it, but in 2015 Design Curial magazine awarded the restroom on Stegastaina in Eurlanne the “Most Beautiful Toilet” award.
When you get to Stegastein and have seen enough of the Norwegian landscape, leave some time to walk along the Aurland Fjord or take a ferry.
How to get there: take a bus from Flåm to Aurland. Click here for the timetable. From Eurlann to the observation point – 8 km on foot.
Masada National Park and Fortress
Masada is a cool mix of heroic history, architectural and engineering marvels combined with incredible desert scenery, the Jordan and the Dead Sea. The views from Masada are impressive at any time of day, but especially good at sunrise or sunset. Then at least you don’t have to exhaust yourself from the heat and squeeze your fifth tube of sunscreen.
In Masada fortress, which stands on the edge of the Judean Desert, there are 7 viewing platforms around the perimeter of the archaeological park. The plateau itself – crowned by a 450 meters high natural elevation above the sea – is a great vantage point for visitors at any point. You can climb it either on foot, on the so-called Snake Path (keep in mind – it’s a challenge for the strong of spirit), or by a cable car located on the eastern slope of the mountain.
Masada is interesting not only because of its enviably photogenic panorama, the beauty of mosaics, ancient fortifications, ruins, or audio-visual performances that take place here after sunset (on Tuesdays and Thursdays). It is a must visit place in Israel. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is first and foremost a cultural center that tells the story of the Jewish people and symbolizes its independence. It was the fortress of Masada that was the last stronghold in the struggle against Rome during the Judean War described by Flavius: the thousand inhabitants who held it in defiance for three years chose surrender in order to remain free men.
How to get there: by bus from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Eilat; by car take the turn off from Route 90.
October through March: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; April through September: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed an hour earlier on Fridays and holidays. For hiking the park opens an hour before sunrise (time to be specified).
Price: from €8 (cable car), from €20 (National Park + cable car).
Skydeck Chicago at the Willis Tower
Skydeck Chicago is located on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, the “tallest” skyscraper in the States (443 meters) at a height of 412 meters. The platform is four floor-to-ceiling glass balconies that stick out from the facade of the building. Up to five people can be on each of them at a time, although the loggias themselves can hold up to five tons of weight. In good weather, not only the state of Illinois with Chicago at its head, but also – 80 kilometers ahead – the lands of neighboring Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana mixed with the ocean underfoot.
The Skydeck is equipped with interactive screens that show a short film about the construction of skyscrapers in Chicago, with information about local landmarks and other high-rises around the world – for comparison.
A professional photographer works at the observation deck, but you can capture your surroundings almost better than him with Ηuawei P30 Pro and its ultra-wide lens, with which you can fit everything in the picture. The attention to pictures on the Chicago skyscraper is so intense, that the only advice to stick to on the official Skydeck website is not to forget to take a photo as a memento.
The Skydeck site periodically hosts events, but you can arrange your own. For example, you can have breakfast or dinner right above Chicago.
By the way, the Willis Tower observation deck is one of the few in the city that is open at night. There’s even a different, cheaper ticket on Saturday evenings.
How to get there: 233 S. Wacker Drive entrance from Jackson Blvd.
March through September: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (10 a.m. Mondays); October through February: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Price: $25, $17 (children ages 3 to 11); $20 and $15 on Saturday nights; event prices differ.
Balloon at Andre Citroen Park.
Lookouts of the world: 10 places with breathtaking views
Observation decks are amazing architectural structures that allow people to enjoy stunning views without endangering their lives. Now, you don’t have to be a rock climber to climb hundreds of feet and look down on the ground.
Losko Magazine has compiled 10 observation decks whose architecture is as beautiful as the view from them.
1. “Skywalk” over the Grand Canyon.
The beautifully named Skywalk is located in the Grand Canyon at an elevation of 1,219.2 meters. Extended 20 meters above the abyss, the “horseshoe” creates the feeling that you are floating in the air, because both the floor and the handrails are made of glass.
The seemingly fragile structure can withstand earthquakes of up to 8 points, wind gusts of up to 160 km/h and a load of up to 70 tons. The creator of this platform – the architect Mark Ross Johnson.
2. Wooden Playground The Warp in China
The Warp Wooden Playground in the village of Ludian, Yunnan province, China, was reconstructed by the Hong Kong architects John Lin and Olivier Ottevaere. It was erected after the 2014 earthquake, and now serves as a meeting place and resting place for local residents.
Not only does it offer a view of the picturesque region, but its shape also mimics the landscape of the area.
3. SkyPoint Viewpoint in Australia
Architect Kent Elliott created Australia’s tallest skyscraper, the Q1 Tower, which is located in the Gold Coast. On the 78th floor, at 230 meters high, there is an observation deck. Yes, it does offer a breathtaking panorama of Byron Bay and the expanse of the Pacific Ocean. But, standing behind the thick glass, you do not feel the wind in your hair and adrenaline.
Therefore, for those who do not suffer from acrophobia, it is proposed to climb even higher – to a height of 270 meters, on foot, in an open space. The ascent lasts 90 minutes, but it is not suitable for everyone: there are a number of restrictions in terms of both age and medical conditions.
4. “Troll stairs” in Norway.
Normally, viewing platforms become a bright spot among natural landscapes. But studio Reiulf Ramstad has tried to make its intervention minimal by designing the harmoniously blended “Troll Stairway”.
It is located on the long-known tourist route of the same name. The project includes not only an observation deck, but also stairs leading up to it, restaurants, and pavilions for resting. It is definitely worth stopping here to get a new perspective on the delightful mountainous terrain.
5. Glacier Skywalk in Canada
Probably many people have dreamed of a bird’s-eye view of the mountains at least once. But not from an airplane window, but feeling the freshness and coldness of thousands of years of glaciers. Now that doesn’t seem unrealistic, as every visitor to Jasper National Park can admire the stunning panorama of the mountains.
The site is built on the same principle as the Skywalk above the Grand Canyon. It juts out several meters above the precipice in the form of a horseshoe. The project was prepared by the specialists of Sturgess Architecture, also used as the floor durable glass.
6. Observation decks made of glass in France
The Aiguille du Midi is a 3,842-meter peak in France. There is no doubt that the view from there is stunning. But that wasn’t enough for the architects, and Pierre-Yves Chays built a completely transparent observation deck with walls of 12mm glass.
Its dimensions are more like an elevator cabin. But what a cabin! Entering it, you find yourself as if in weightlessness, one-on-one with white silence. Step into the Void opened at the end of December 2013, and has already become famous as the highest attraction in Europe.
7. Top of Tyrol in Austria
The architectural construction by LAAC Architekten is not known for its exquisite beauty. It is a simple construction made of weatherproof steel. And this is not surprising, because the platform is located on fragile rock, and the site is almost always covered with snow.
Nevertheless, it was among the ten most beautiful observation sites in the world, according to GEO magazine. Located at an altitude of 3,210 meters below Mount Isidor in Austria, the platform will allow you to feel an extraordinary peace of mind, looking at the mountains spread out at your feet. However, this is only if you are lucky with the weather.
8. Quilotoa Shalala in Ecuador
Due to its geographical characteristics Quilotoa volcano located in the westernmost part of the Ecuadorian Andes has become a popular tourist spot. People were attracted not only by the amazing color of the lake, but also by the feeling of being in the heart of the volcano – in the crater.
The observation deck allows you to enjoy the view from all angles. The structure has several tiers: the upper one overhangs the cliff, creating the feeling of floating and making your heart beat faster. And the bottom one, on the contrary, for those who prefer to quietly contemplate the beauty of nature. Or are afraid of heights.
9. Lookout tower on the river Moor in Austria
From the observation tower we cannot see the mountains or the lakes in the crater of the volcano, but the tower itself is worth seeing. It sits on the banks of the river Moor in Austria.
The tower is an intertwined spiral staircase, one for ascending and one for descending. Before you reach the top point (27 meters) you have time to enjoy the panorama, because with each step you will get a new picture.
10. Lookout tower in Belgium
In Belgium, in the province of Flemish Brabant, they built a platform that defies the laws of gravity. Architects from Close to Bone erected it after the old tower was burned down by vandals.
Now a new site of red-brown Corten steel rises in the area. It now looks like an art object and is guarded by the locals. It also reminds us that it’s not just mountains that can be admired from observation decks. Sometimes fields and trees can be more interesting than alpine panoramas when viewed from a different angle.