Views of the New York City skyline are some of the most iconic in the world, and most people visiting New York City will want to try to capture those famous shots. I’ve rounded up a list of some of my favorite views of the New York City skyline, including how to get to the place where I’ve taken the photo and anything else I think you might need to know.
Empire State Building
How much will it cost to take this photo? If you want to visit the Empire State Building, you have a couple of options. You can either buy regular tickets to the viewing platform on the 86th floor, or you can upgrade to go up to the 102nd floor. Tickets can be purchased here.
How to get there? The Empire State Building is in midtown on 34th St and Fifth Avenue. You can’t really miss it if you look up, and the entrance is pretty obvious with signs and a red carpet outside. There are multiple subway stops nearby.
Anything else to know? The Empire State Building is more than just a view of the skyline, it’s a whole experience. The history of the building, which was at one point the tallest in Manhattan, is really interesting and there are various exhibits and photo ops on your way to the top.
There is a pretty substantial price difference between tickets for the main viewing platform on the 86th floor, and the upgrade to the 102nd floor. We paid the difference, and honestly I probably wouldn’t bother again. The view from the 102nd floor wasn’t that different really, and it’s a small, enclosed viewing area that made me feel a bit claustrophobic. The main platform views are spectacular enough!
Staten Island Ferry
How much will it cost to take this photo? Nothing! The Staten Island ferry is completely free to use! It runs every 15-30 minutes so it’s easy to take the ferry over to Staten Island, get take the pictures on the way, then turn around and come back.
How to get there? The Staten Island ferry leaves from Whitehall ferry terminal in downtown Manhattan, and from St George ferry terminal on Staten Island.
Anything else to know? This view is just going to be of the downtown Manhattan buildings, although you do get a good view of the Brooklyn Bridge as well. I found the best views came from being on the right hand side of the ferry (as you go towards Staten Island), where you also get the absolute best photos of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
The Edge at Hudson Yards
How much will it cost to take this photo? Tickets for The Edge at Hudson Yards can be purchased here and there is an additional charge to visit at sunset (a charge that is well worth the cost in my opinion).
How to get there? The entrance to The Edge in on the fourth floor of the shopping center at Hudson Yards.
Anything else to know? As I mentioned, the very best time to visit The Edge for the most spectacular photos will be at sunset; I would suggest arriving about 30 minutes before sunset to take photos with the changing colors of the sky. Everyone else will have the same idea though, so be prepared for it to be busy.
The other thing to note is that The Edge is an outside platform (there is an inside section, but the views aren’t quite as good). This means there is a partition around the edge of the platform and there is no way to take photos other than through the glass. This means making sure your camera angles don’t have any reflections in the photos; you might have to adjust some settings, but it is doable.
How much will it cost to take this photo? It doesn’t have to cost you anything, you just need to make your way to Brooklyn. You can take the subway from Manhattan or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (which also gives you an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline – see the next suggestion!)
How to get there? You can either walk over the Brooklyn Bridge or take a subway to Brooklyn, then walk down towards the water.
Anything else to know? While there are a number of great spots along the waterfront in Brooklyn to take pictures of the New York City skyline from, the best spot is generally considered to be Pebble Beach, which is where the above photo was taken.
Pebble Beach is literally a little beach made from pebbles in Brooklyn Bridge Park; it is in itself a very photogenic spot and there were a lot of people taking photos when I visited. Looking towards the Brooklyn Bridge, you can frame the New York City skyline perfectly in the distance.
I’d recommend walking along the water up and down the waterfront to see different angles of the skyline for the view you like the best. Don’t forget to head to Washington Street to take the famous DUMBO photo with the Manhattan bridge in the background for a perfect Instagram-worthy photo!
The Brooklyn Bridge
How much will it cost to take the photo? Absolutely nothing, walking across the bridge is free!
How to get there? If you want the New York City skyline in the background, then you need to walk over from Brooklyn. Take the subway over (or walk over the bridge in that direction first). The pedestrian entrance to the bridge is on the corner of Tillary Street and Boerum Place, or you can access the bridge via the underpass at Washington Street.
Anything else to know? Timing is everything for a photo of the view of the New York City skyline if you don’t want people in said photo! The earlier in the morning you can get there, the better; crowds build throughout the day and although the views at sunset are beautiful, the bridge will be especially crowded then.
You also need to watch your surroundings on the bridge; pedestrians share the bridge with cyclists, those on scooters and skateboards, etc. and there are designated lanes for each. Walking from Brooklyn, you walk on the left hand side of the walkway.
I saw many people walking on the wrong side of the walkway, meaning cyclists had to slow down or shout to people to move over. I even saw a couple of near misses when people suddenly stepped around a slower group and didn’t notice a cyclist coming up behind them. While it’s obviously fine to stop for photos and move around to get different angles, just be aware of the people around you on the bridge.
It took me about 45 minutes to walk across the bridge at a leisurely place, stopping every now and then to take photos. If you know you want to stop and set up a lot of different shots, definitely leave more time. Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is a really fun experience and one of my biggest suggestions for a solo New York trip!
How much will it cost to take the photo? Tickets can be purchased here. Please not that the Vessel is currently closed with no reopening date.
How to get there? Head over to Hudson Yards and you can’t miss The Vessel! It certainly stands out!
Anything else to know? This isn’t necessarily the place to get those sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline; The Vessel only stands at eight stories tall, so significantly lower than the skyscrapers around it. It does, however, offer really unique views and opportunities for some really incredible shots.
If you stand at the front of The Vessel, you face New Jersey and some amazing views of the sunset if you time your visit correctly. If you stand at the back, however, you can frame the photo with the structure itself in front of the river and get a really cool picture.
One World Trade Center
How much will it cost to take this photo? Tickets can be purchased here.
How to get there? I found this a little hard to find so I’ll try to be specific with my directions! Head to the World Trade Center plaza and stand facing One World Trade Center (the biggest building in the area, as you look up, so you can’t miss it!) Then walk towards the building with the plaza behind you, and walk around the left side of the building to a little awning where you’ll enter.
Anything else to know? One World Observatory work hard to make this an experience, so you really get your money’s worth; everything from the elevator ride up to the observatory, to the movie you watch when you arrive with an incredible reveal as the curtains go up as you look out over the city make this a pretty spectacular trip!
The views are amazing. They were similar to The Edge but a bit more central and looking to the north you really get to see everything the New York City skyline has to offer. You can also look to the south to see the Statue of Liberty, then all the way over to the other New York City boroughs and New Jersey.
Tablets are offered for an extra charge (and included in some ticket prices) that you can use to actually understand what you’re looking at, with buildings labeled and named, and places in the distance pointed out. There were staff members walking around who were happy to answer questions, and there was even a restaurant if you wanted to grab a bite to eat with a view.
Statue of Liberty
How much will it cost to take this photo? Visiting the Statue of Liberty is actually free, but the only way to get there is by ferry and you have to buy tickets. Tickets for the ferry can be purchased here.
How to get there? You access the Statue of Liberty by ferry, either from downtown Manhattan or from New Jersey. The New Jersey side is a great option if you’re over that side of the water since there’s plenty of parking available and the ferries are usually significantly less crowded. If you’re leaving from Manhattan, head downtown towards Battery Park and the ferry terminal is clearly signposted from there.
Anything else to know? This is one of my favorite views of the New York City skyline; not only can you explore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island as part of this trip, but there’s a picture down by the water where this photo was taken with photos of the same spot in years gone by. It’s amazing to see how the skyline has changed over the years!
The Statue of Liberty is a fantastic National Monument to explore, with so much history. When the ferry departs the island to head back towards Manhattan, it first stops at Ellis Island which is another amazing piece of history and definitely worth exploring as well.
How much will it cost to take this photo? Nothing at all, Central Park is free!
How do I get there? Central Park is huge by park standards, spanning from 110th Street to 59th Street, so you can enter from wherever in the park you like. This particular photo, however, was taken from the very south of the park, just a block or two from the 59th Street entrance.
Anything else to know? I walked all over the park trying to find the best place to take a photo of the view of the New York City skyline! I found that, for what I was looking for, the south side of the park provided the best views. I really liked how The Plaza sat in the forefront of the picture and the other buildings provided the backdrop.
My advice would be to walk around the south of the park, and whenever there’s a gap in the trees to look to the south and see how the view looks. I was just on a random pathway when I took this photo, but I took other photos of the Manhattan skyline from other areas that I like just as much.
My favorite thing about trying to find the best places to view the New York City skyline was realizing that there are so many options for different views. Whether you’re on the ground looking up or high above the city, the views are spectacular and the photos will be amazing!