From land, water, and air, there are plenty of ways to admire the Manhattan skyline. Take a cruise on the Hudson River, East River, or New York Harbor for views of the city skyline and other landmarks including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Alternatively, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge or Manhattan Bridge, an activity that provides the chance to see the skyline at your own pace.
For aerial views, head to the top of Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, or One World Observatory, or opt for a helicopter tour for a VIP-style experience in the Big Apple.
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Things to Know Before You Go
The skyline is broken into two notable sections—Midtown Manhattan and Lower Manhattan.
The walk from One World Trade Center to the Empire State Building is about 3 miles (5 kilometers).
If you want to visit a skyscraper observatory such as that at the Empire State Building, consider a skip-the-line ticket to avoid the typically long wait.
For water views without booking a cruise, hop on the free Staten Island Ferry.
There are lots of wheelchair-accessible ways to admire the Manhattan Skyline.
How to Get There
Manhattan is situated in the heart of New York City and is easily accessible on foot, by bike, boat, or train from various points across the city. The skyline itself is visible from various vantage points in and around, including across the river in Brooklyn. You can also admire the Manhattan Skyline as part of a walking tour or flightseeing experience.
When to Get There
For great photos, avoid admiring the Manhattan Skyline in the middle of the day when the sun is high. For a romantic atmosphere, opt for a dinner cruise or nighttime stroll to see the skyscrapers illuminated. Or, go to New York City during the holidays for the chance to admire the skyline in the snow and see the landmark buildings decked out in seasonal decorations.
Famous Buildings in the Manhattan Skyline
The 102-story, art deco–style Empire State Building—built in 1931—is possibly the most iconic piece of architecture on the planet. However, the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center surely aren't far behind, while the Time Warner Center, 4 Times Square, and One World Trade Center (aka Freedom Tower) feature more modern, but equally captivating, designs.
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- Empire State Building
- Macy's® Herald Square
- Museum of Sex
- Madison Square Park
- New York City Garment District
- Madison Square Garden
- New York Penn Station
- Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (New York Public Library Main Branch)
- Bryant Park
- Nederlander Theater
- Stephen Sondheim Theatre
- Grand Central Station
- The Ride
- Flatiron Building
- Chrysler Building