Humanity's obsession with height and adrenaline has a long history, but it started to be embodied only from the 18th century with the development of technology and engineering. Almost 126 years passed since the erection of the Washington Monument in 1889 (200 meters high) to the finalization of Burj Khalifa construction (828 meters high) in 2015. But all these years people chased the ideal which is known to humanity from the myth about the Babylon Tower.
The great difference between this myth and the modern achievements of humanity is that people who were building the Babylon Tower tried to reach the abode of God, and we're constantly trying to improve ourselves.
From the touristic point of view, these monuments to mankind's achievements in construction and engineering are of great value because they simply allow us to get the best view of the place we're visiting.
But observation decks aren't limited to the towers and skyscrapers located in big cities as there are many breathtaking viewpoints located in the middle of nature's kingdom where you can get very different, but no less magnificent views.
In this article, you will see the list of the greatest observation decks and viewpoints in the world both in big megalopolises and nature's most beautiful spots. But it's not a journey for the faint of heart, because in many cases only several layers of glass separate you from the abyss. Ready for an adrenaline injection and wet palms?
20 The Ledge (Chicago, USA)
And now something more traditional. The Ledge is an observation deck in Chicago, the USA where you can get an excellent view of the city from the 103rd floor of Willis Tower. It's the tallest building of the Western Hemisphere so it's no wonder that an observation deck was opened in it. The glass boxes which jut out from the side of the skyscraper, offer the best view on the city and even the four neighboring states.
To get the best experience of your 103rd-floor visit it is recommended to: go during the off-peak season in Winter, bring binoculars, go during the sunset or have a breakfast on the top.
19 Ushiku Daibutsu (Ushiku, Japan)
Ever thought about observing the beauty of nature from the chest of the Buddha? What sounds like a crazy idea was embodied in Ushiku, Japan. When it was finished in the mid-’90s, it was the tallest bronze statue in the world. However, it was soon outshone by taller statues which were erected later.
Still, it's the third tallest statue in the world (120 meters high) and for only $10 you can take an elevator ride to the 22nd floor an take a look at the beauty of surrounding countryside from the inside of Buddha of Infinite light. That's surely something you can only do in Asia.
18 Stegastein Viewpoint (Flåm, Norway)
Woah, what a view! Certainly, Stegastein Viewpoint in Norway is one of the most beautiful observation decks in the world if you like natural landscapes more than the views of megalopolises. It's located 30 minutes from Flåm, hangs about 30 meters out of the mountain walls over the 650 meters high Aurland Fjord and offers spectacular views on UNESCO World Heritage Site of Næøyfjord.
However, the Stegastein is a construction which requires attention itself. It juts out from the mountain, it's made from steel and laminated wood and it has gained many accolades from modern architects. The classic Norway nature panoramic view that is opened at the Stegastein has all chances to make an impression that you'll never forget.
17 Yuanduan (Chongqin, China)
Opened at the beginning of 2015, Yuanduan observation deck is located in China's Longgang National Geological Park. Yuanduan means 'at the end of the clouds' and it's a very appropriate name for this breathtaking observation deck. The jaw-dropping effect of its panoramic views is doubled by a transparent bridge which will take you some courage to step on. Looking down you will see a 715-meter deep abyss which is separated from you by layers of thick glass.
One remarkable thing about Yuanduan is that it's the longest cantilever bridge in the world, that beats even Grand Canyon's Skywalk which we will take a closer look later. The cantilever bridge of Yuanduan can accommodate up to 200 people at once.
16 CN Tower EdgeWalk (Toronto, Canda)
There are higher observation decks in the area, but CN Tower EdgeWalk is famous not for its height but for the experience of safely that you have when walking on the edge of a skyscraper. After being secured in a harness you can easily walk around the edge of CN Tower hands-free on the height of 356 meters, not being afraid for your life.
Although it's safe to walk there because of the harness, it's still not an adventure for the faint of heart, because the feeling of high altitude can easily induce fear which will be difficult to overcome. So make sure you're ready for this experience if you plan to visit CN Tower EdgeWalk.
15 Grand Canyon Skywalk (Arizona, USA)
Grand Canyon is a unique experience itself, but you can make it even more memorable if you visit the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Located at Eagle Point it has the same horseshoe-shaped steel bridge as Yuanduan's observation deck, its floor is also made of glass and it hangs more than a 1000 meters above the canyon. Grand Canyon Skywalk extends 21 meters over the rim of the canyon and offers incredible views on one of the world's greatest natural wonders.
However fragile this skywalk may look, it's strong enough to bear the weight of seventy 747 passenger jets. In addition to visiting the Grand Canyon Skywalk there are many other things which you can do at Eagle Point including the exploration of regions where indigenous tribes live.
14 Cliffwalk (Vancouver, Canada)
We've already seen many cliff walks, but this one is definitely one of the most heart-stopping on the list. It's located in Suspension Bridge Park in Vancouver. Following the best traditions of cliff walks, it has areas with a glass floor and hangs 70 meters above the river. Standing there you will get access to Canadian signature nature experience, which will easily make you forget that you're actually standing on the glass floor over a cliff.
Make sure to explore the Suspension Bridge Park where the cliff walk is situated because it also has a lot of impressive places to visit.
13 Dachstein Stairway to Nothingness (Austria)
The Austrian Alps are so beautiful that it would be totally unfair not to build an epic observation point there. Dachstein Stairway, which is the highest suspension bridge in Austria, maybe the stairway to heaven about which Led Zeppelin song in the seventies because as you can see from the picture, it can lead you straight to the clouds. To get the best view you should walk the final 14 steps (known as the stairway to nothingness,)which are the most challenging because they hang over a 400-meter drop.
The view that opens from the platform is very rewarding and it will surely justify your courage and determination.
12 Golden Bridge (Da Nang, Vietnam)
Golden Bridge was opened in Vietnam only recently (summer 2018) but it has already attracted tens of thousands of tourists from Asia and the world. It looks more like a construction from 'Lord of the Rings' movie and some people even find it difficult to believe that it's real.
Vu Viet Anh, Design Principal at TA Landscape Architecture said that this bridge was designed to evoke the image of the “giant hands of Gods, pulling a strip of gold out of the land.”
The walkway for pedestrians is located at over 1,000 meters above sea level and offers tourists incredible views of marvelous landscapes.
11 Iguaçu Viewing Platform (Iguaçu National Park in Brazil)
Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil is without a doubt one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. Experienced travelers advise to experience it from both Argentinian and Brazilian side. But it's on the Argentinian side where you can walk the walkway which brings you to the edge of Devil's Throat, the most famous and highest waterfall in the park.
Standing near the edge of this spectacular observation deck you can enjoy both the marvelous view of the waterfall and feel the water rushing right below your feet. You can also take a look at 275 other waterfalls located in the park.
10 Glacier Skywalk (Alberta, Canada)
Glacier Skywalk in Alberta, Canada is where you can feel like you're in the middle of the sky, while birds fly above and glaciers rest below. On your way to this impressive cliff-edge walkway you can experience fossils, wildlife, waterfalls but the real reward awaits you on the top where only glass separates you from a 280-meter drop. An incredible bird's eye view which you will never forget.
Your journey to the observation deck will be accompanied with stories from a guide, that will connect you to surrounding natural world on a deeper level. Don't miss the opportunity to visit this unique place if you ever come to Alberta.
9 The Skyslide (Los Angeles, USA)
If the transparent floor of Grand Canyon Skywalk and Yuanduan isn't extreme enough for you, then you may consider gliding down the transparent slide of the iconic US Bank Tower in Los Angeles. The slide is attached to the 70th floor of the highest skyscraper in California and it can take you to the 69th floor if you're ready to face the challenge.
But the challenge of riding 300 meters above the Downtown LA is not something that everyone can face. You think you have what it takes to do it? If you do, you will certainly experience the city from a totally new perspective.
8 Skywalk on Tianmen Mountain (Zhangjiajie, China)
The beauty of Tianmen Mountain, in Hunan Province, China was appreciated by all the tourists who have been there. There are many attractions which visitors can attend there including the world's longest cable car ride, 'Heaven's Door' and the 99 Bends, cliff-hanging glass skywalk, and vertical cliffs.
Best way to reach the mountain is by cable car, which is 7 kilometers long and takes about 30 minutes. The cable car starts close to the railway station and bus station and it will take you to the mountaintop. From there you can go to a glass skywalk to enjoy the mind-boggling views.
7 Burj Khalifa (Dubai, UAE)
The list of incredible observation decks around the world wouldn't be complete without the tallest building in the world (828 meters high), which is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, OAE. It's an incredible feat of engineering, a living wonder and an unprecedented example of international cooperation.
There are multiple offers for observation deck visitors and the prices range from $50 on lower levels in low demand time to $150 on a higher level on prime hours. The lower level observation deck has a 360-degree view and the higher level observation deck has numerous interesting VIP options.
It is not cheap, but there's only one highest building in the world.
6 Matteo Thun's Viewing Platform (Merano, Italy)
Italy has many amazing natural wonders and breathtaking landscapes so it's quite predictable that they also have spectacular viewpoints. The binocular-shaped viewing point in Merano, located high above the garden's huge oak forest, offers great views on Adige Valley and Merano Valley Basin which are home to Italy's most beautiful gardens. The observation deck was named after its designer and architect from South Tyrol and it was built in 2005.
In fact, there are several other platforms in the gardens which offer views from different angles, but Matteo Thun's viewpoint is considered to be the most popular one.
Standing there, visitors feel like they flow above the gardens.
5 Skypoint Climb (Queensland, Australia)
There is a great attraction in Queensland for thrill seekers. But you should have a decent physical shape because you need to overcome this 322-meter climb on your own. Adventurers start at level 77 of the iconic Q1 Resort Building and need to climb 30 meters to reach the skypoint top. 30 meters doesn't sound like something challenging but if you think about the steepness and the altitude, you will understand that it's not an easy endeavor. In fact, on average it takes about 90 minutes to do this.
This is the highest external building climb in Australia and it offers a sense of fulfillment and uninterrupted views of the Queensland coast for those who conquered it.
4 Shanghai World Financial Center (Shanghai, China)
Getting back from nature to giant cities of steel and stone again, we should point our attention to the Shanghai World Financial Center observation deck. Ever wanted to do yoga 500 meters above the ground? This building offers a unique chance to do it. Known for its bottle opener shape it gives its visitors the opportunity to experience Shanghai from above.
There are several observation decks on the Shanghai World Financial Center and you can visit all of them by purchasing one ticket. For instance, the Sky Walk on the 97th floor will make you feel like you're floating in the air and the transparent glass-walled walkways located on another floor will make you experience Shanghai like never before.
3 Step into the Void (Chamonix, France)
We're already stepped into nothingness in Dachstein Stairway in Austria and now let's step into the void in France. As you can suggest from the name, it's not an experience for the faint of heart as you will need to stay inside the glass cube overlooking the French Alps. But if you have the courage, you will be able to stand 1000 meters above the mountains with a 360-degree view.
Getting there is not difficult, because you can access the glass chamber via a cable ride. Information in the guides says that this ride takes twenty minutes, however, people who were there, say that in reality, it will take an hour during the low season and two or three hours during the high season.
2 Top of the Rock (New York, USA)
Most of the people think that they should ascend the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty in New York and the Eiffel Tower in Paris to get the best panoramic views on the city. Would it be better to get a panoramic view where you can actually see these attractions? From this standpoint, it's much better to visit Top on the Rock, than the Empire State Building in New York. Think for yourself. Top of the Rock has a bigger deck., has multiple levels, is less crowded and standing on the top of it you can see the Empire State Building.
Top of the Rock is located not far away from the Empire State Building and in the opinion of many people, it's the best place to look at New York panorama.
1 AlpspiX Viewing Platform (Höllental Valley, Germany)
Germany's AlpspiX Viewing Platform closes our list of dramatic observation decks and viewpoints. It derives its name from two 25 meters long, steel platforms which form an X. At the end of each platform, there's a glass wall which gives visitors an opportunity to observe an incredible panoramic view of the snow-capped cliffs of Höllental Valley.
The steel X is located over a 1000 meters drop and in contrast with many viewpoints for the thrill seekers it doesn't have a glass floor.
As you can see, due to the progress in technology and engineering, we can now visit many incredible viewpoints and observations decks around the world. Provided we have the courage and some cash.