New York City is packed with iconic monuments and places to see - from the Statue of Liberty to Central Park, to Washington Square and Rockefeller Center. However, when it comes to bridges, there is only one that every visitor to NYC needs to see: the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s appeared in countless movies and TV shows, and spans the water between Manhattan and Brooklyn, giving pedestrians a stunning view of both skylines as they stroll from one side to the other. It’s a bridge with some fascinating history, too; the first steel suspension bridge, and the longest bridge in history back when it first opened in 1883. The Brooklyn Bridge has become synonymous with New York City, and whether you cross it on foot, in a car, or simply gaze at it in the distance, it’s a stunning part of the city landscape.
However, this is far from the only bridge that has become a tourist attraction as well as a thoroughfare. Around the world, you can find bridges that are record-breakers, feats of engineering, or even just make for absolutely beautiful views. Some of these are just as iconic as the one that connects Brooklyn and Manhattan, and adorn postcards and tourist memorabilia, while others are lesser known… but deserve to be much more famous than they are!
20 Iconic: Millau Viaduct, France
The Millau Viaduct may not have the charm of some of the smaller and prettier bridges that appear on this list, but it is impressive thanks to its sheer size. Located in the South of France, the bridge is 1,125ft tall, making it the tallest bridge in the world. It’s often considered an engineering marvel, and is also one of the newest bridges on this list, having opened in 2004.
It stretches over the French countryside, and makes for stunning photos from afar - but is closed to pedestrians, so travelers wishing to take in the view from the bridge itself will have to do so by car.
19 Underrated: Capilano Suspension Bridge, BC, Canada
There are plenty of suspension bridges and walkways over areas of astounding natural beauty in the world, and it can be difficult to choose just one to single out… but if we have to, it’s going to be Capilano Suspension bridge in BC, Canada.
Built in 1889, the bridge spans the Capilano River, and is surrounded by stunning forests and nature areas. In the winter, the bridge and surrounding park are turned into a wonderland of lights for the holiday season, too, with twinkling lights stretching across the bridge itself, making it a popular attraction year round.
18 Iconic: Tower Bridge, London
London Bridge is falling down, falling down… in fact, the official London Bridge has been destroyed twice in its history, and while a third stands across the Thames today, it’s probably not the one that you are picturing. Instead, it is Tower Bridge that is the most iconic of the many bridges that span the Thames river in London, England.
This bridge is a great one to visit, as well, because tourists can do much more than simply walk across. It’s possible to visit the engine rooms, the glass-floored walkway, and exhibits teaching about the history of the bridge.
17 Underrated: Chapel Bridge, Switzerland
In Lucerne, Switzerland, Chapel Bridge may look like nothing more than one of the many charming wooden bridges that dot the landscape, but its rich history makes it worth a much closer look. The bridge is probably the oldest wooden bridge in the country (the date of building is difficult to trace, but it dates back to at least 1367), but it is inside the bridge that the real treasure lies.
Under the roof of the bridge are stunning paintings depicting scenes of Catholicism, although sadly many were destroyed in a fire in 1993. The remaining paintings make this a major Swiss tourist attraction.
16 Iconic: Sydney Harbor Bridge, Australia
Sydney Harbor’s defining landmark is, of course, the Sydney Opera House, but beyond the white sails of that famous building stands the steel arch of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Nicknamed ‘The Coathanger’, thanks to its shape, this bridge doesn’t just offer the usual walks from one side to the other… but also offers the option for adventurous visitors to climb up the arch itself! It’s certainly an unusual (and adrenaline filled) way to experience this landmark, and provides the best views over the harbor and the city.
15 Underrated: Stari Most, Bosnia
Stari Most literally translates to ‘Old Bridge’, but it’s so much more than just an old bridge in Bosnia. Of course, it is definitely that as well - built in the 16th century to span the river Neretva, the bridge joins two parts of Mostar. As well as being a beautiful example of the work of architect Mimar Hayruddin, the bridge has a nearby museum dedicated to its history, for those who want to learn more.
For those who just want to have some fun, however, you can head to the divers club and learn how to jump off the bridge into the river below.
14 Iconic: Rialto Bridge, Venice
As a city built entirely on water, Venice is a place with bridges around every corner - and most of these beautiful stone arches date back centuries. However, if there is one bridge that stands out as the most famous in all of Venice, it has to be the Rialto - the iconic bridge that spans the Grand Canal, and that is crowded with tourists every day of the week.
Built in the late 1500s, the Rialto Bridge was designed to allow galleys to pass under it, and tourists can stroll along three different walkways, including one dotted with shops and market stalls for a little shopping along the way.
13 Underrated: Si-o-se Pol, Iran
Also known as the Allah-Verdi Khan Bridge (after the man who built it) and the Bridge of 33 Arches, this Iranian bridge has also served as a dam, but the real attraction is simply the beauty of the stone arches. A stunning example of Safavid architecture, the arches have become a gathering place, for travelers and locals to meet and look out across the water.
It’s especially beautiful when lit up at night, with the shape of the arches reflecting in the still waters, and during the day, the nearby parks are a perfect place to relax.
12 Iconic: Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
The Golden Gate Bridge may well be the most famous tourist attraction in the Bay area of San Francisco, more so than the trams making their way up and down the colorful streets, than the Fisherman’s Wharf or Golden Gate Park. It’s certainly the easiest to get a great photo of, or a great photo from, looking out over the city from the pedestrian walkway. Spanning the Golden Gate strait, it was both the longest and the tallest suspension bridge in the world when it first opened, and is still often considered the most photographed bridge in the world.
11 Underrated: Bridge of Sighs, Venice
While the Rialto may be the most famous bridge in Venice, the Bridge of Sighs is a close second. Originally built to connect the palace and the prisons, the bridge got its name from the sighs of the prisoners as they caught their last look at the city before being locked up (or even executed!).
Don’t let that bloody history put you off, though. This bridge is a beautiful one, and although you can cross it, the view is better from a gondola underneath. Legend even has it that if you pass under it at sunset with a loved one, your love will last forever.
10 Iconic: Akashi Kayiko, Japan
We’ve covered the world’s tallest bridge, now it’s time to talk about the world’s longest suspension bridge; the Akashi Kayiko, in Japan. At 1.237 miles across, this bridge connecting Kobe and Iwaya is truly massive, spanning the width of the Akashi Strait. The bridge may be a stunning addition to the area, but it was inspired by tragedy, when in 1955, two ferries sank crossing the strait, amd 168 people lost their lives.
The bridge itself was not completed until 1998, and while it is not accessible to pedestrians, it boasts stunning light shows at night.
9 Underrated: Seri Wawasan, Malaysia
This asymmetrical cable-stay bridge in the city of Putrajaya, Malaysia, may not be the longest, the tallest, or the highest in the world, but it may well be one of the most dramatic!
The bridge rises on one side to look a little like a sail in the wind during the day, and at night, beautiful colors light it up and reflect in the waters of Putrajaya lake below. Unlike some other newer bridges, Seri Wawasen is built with a cycle track, so you can appreciate it (and the views over the city) from every angle.
8 Underrated: Gateshead Millennium Bridge, UK
The Millennium Bridge in London may be the more famous, but there’s a second Millennium Bridge in the UK that is worth a look; the Gateshead Millennium Bridge in Gateshead, near Newcastle. This pedestrian (and cyclist) bridge tilts - lifting into the air to allow small watercraft to pass underneath, a sight that is amazing to see (and if you can’t make it to Newcastle, you can always watch one of the many timelapse videos of the tilt online).
As well as watching the bridge tilt, pedestrians on it can enjoy the view of a line of bridges, all crossing the River Tyne.
7 Iconic: Ponte Vecchio, Florence
Modern bridges tend to be sleek and streamlined, carrying traffic from A to B with a minimum of fuss… but centuries ago, bridges weren’t just a way to get from one place to another, but an extension of the streets - which means markets, buildings and more crowding the sides. For anyone wanting to experience this kind of bridge, there is no better place to visit than the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy
. The current bridge was rebuilt after a floor in 1345, and features art dealers, souvenir shops and jewelers as well as views over the river.
6 Underrated: Helix Bridge, Singapore
This pedestrian bridge in Singapore looks more like a sculpture than a simple bridge to get people from one place to another. Inspired by a DNA helix, the walkway passes through a helix of spiraling steel and glass, with viewing platforms to allow pedestrians to look out over Marina Bay. The entire bridge is curved, and lit at night to add another dimension to an already spectacular piece of engineering.
The Helix Bridge has won awards for engineering, and it’s certain to make the perfect backdrop for your travel photos, as well!
5 Iconic: Millennium Bridge, London
While many of the most iconic bridges of recent decades have provided access for pedestrians and traffic, or simply for traffic, London’s Millennium Bridge is a footbridge only. Built in 2000, the suspension bridge connects Bankside with the City of London, and was built for the Millennium celebrations in London… but ended up being closed between 2000 and 2002!
The closure was due to an issue with the bridge swaying with the weight of the people on it - something that earned it a lot of derision at the time. Now, however, this is a stunning way to take in the views of London, and has appeared in multiple films and movies as an iconic London landmark.
4 Underrated: Somerset Bridge, Bermuda
This little bridge may not look as impressive as many of the others on this list, but it is actually a record holder… for the world’s smallest working drawbridge! Located in western Bermuda, the Somerset Bridge is a simple stone bridge with a wooden plank just 32 inches wide in the center, removed by hand to allow the masts of sailboats to pass through. Tourists can enjoy the view from a nearby park, and may even be called upon to help solo sailors with navigating the bridge and lifting the plank, a feat that isn’t always easy to manage alone.
3 Iconic: Tsing Ma, Hong Kong
Another record-breaking bridge is the Tsing Ma, in Hong Kong. Built in 1997, the bridge is named after the two areas that it connects (Tsing Yi and Ma Wan), and is the longest suspension bridge in the world that serves both road and rail traffic. Although the bridge is not open to pedestrians (should any wish to traverse the full 4,518 ft), it has a visitor center and viewing platform, allowing tourists to take in the view of the bridge - which is especially stunning when lit up at night - as well as the nearby Ting Kau Bridge and Kap Shui Mun Bridge.
2 Underrated: Wind and Rain Bridge, China
Also known as the Chengyang Bridge, this is a stunning bridge of pagodas in the Sanjiang County of Guangxi Municipality on the Linxi River, China. The bridge gets its name because of the pavilions and the protection that they provide from the elements, and is the oldest and largest wind and rain bridge in the area.
Here, you can wander the pavilions and sit on the benches that line the bridge, and simply enjoy the stunning view - the same view that in 1965, the poet Guo Moruo was inspired to create a poem based on, because the bridge was simply so beautiful.
1 Iconic: Duge Beipanjiang Bridge, China
Our last record-breaking bridge is China’s Duge Beipanjiang Bridge - which holds the crown for the world’s highest suspension bridge, at a dizzying 1,854 feet above the valley it spans. The bridge only opened a couple of years ago, in December of 2016, to connect Liupanshui in the Guizhou province and Xuanwei in the Yunnan province, and cost approximately $144 million US to build.
The bridge cuts travel time between these two areas by several hours… but only for those who are willing to brave the heights to take it!