Best views of New York City, and where to find them

Manhattan Skyline

Astounding view from Governors Island Photo: Jeff Dobbins

Looking for the best views of New York City?  The iconic Manhattan skyline is stunning and well worth seeking out! Here are some of our favorite places for views of New York City.

Views of New York City from the East

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park: This waterfront park, created from Brooklyn’s abandoned piers, has astounding views of Manhattan, New York Harbor and, of course, the famous bridge. There are terrific views from Fulton Ferry Landing, Squibb Bridge, and along the park’s paths & piers.  North of the bridge is the trendy DUMBO neighborhood, perfect for grabbing a drink or dinner after watching the sun set over the Manhattan skyline.
Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge

Iconic city and brindge, seen from Brooklyn Bridge Park Photo: Jeff Dobbins

  • Gantry Plaza State Park: Long Island City’s new waterfront park offers piers, lawns, benches and chaise lounges for taking in the sweeping view of midtown Manhattan, including the Empire State Building, the United Nations, the Chrysler Building and the Queensboro Bridge.  To reach the park by subway, take the 7 train to Vernon Blvd./Jackson Ave. and walk two blocks west to the riverfront.  Another great option is the East River Ferry from East 34th Street or along the Brooklyn waterfront from Wall Street.
  • The Brooklyn Bridge: From the central pedestrian promenade, there are wonderful views of lower Manhattan, midtown, the harbor, and the Statue of Liberty.
  • New York Water Taxi: The crossing from Pier 17 in South Street Seaport to Brooklyn’s Fulton Ferry offers incredible views of the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan skyline. There’s also a free shuttle to Ikea in Red Hook, and a Hop-On, Hop-Off Cruise into the harbor.
Manhattan Skyline

Midtown Manhattan from Hoboken, NJ Photo: Jeff Dobbins

Views of New York City from the west

  • Hoboken Parks – Just outside the Hoboken PATH Station are two waterfront parks with incredible views of NYC – Pier A and Pier C Parks.  Both parks are well-manicured and an ideal place to relax and enjoy the view.  The journey via PATH is convenient, quick and inexpensive.  Or you may opt for the scenic route – take a NY Waterways ferry across the Hudson to enjoy the view from the water.
  • New York Water Taxi and Circle Line: Both depart from Pier 84 at West 44th Street and offer sightseeing cruises down the Hudson River to lower Manhattan and the harbor.
Manhattan Skyline

Three NYC icons, seen from Gantry Plaza State Park Photo: Jeff Dobbins

Views of New York City from the harbor

  • Staten Island Ferry: Crosses NY harbor every half hour (every 15 minutes during rush hour), offering wonderful views of the lower Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.  And… it’s free! The catch: you have to depart the boat in Staten Island and wait for the next returning to Manhattan.  The trip usually takes about 90 minutes.
  • Liberty Island and Ellis IslandBoth islands boast observation areas with amazing views of lower Manhattan and the harbor. The ferry from Battery Park to the islands also offers great views.
  • Governors Island: A ferry trip to this green oasis costs $2 round trip (free weekend mornings), and affords great views.  There are also sweeping skyline views from the island, particularly Water Taxi Beach and Castle Williams.  Open May – September.

The best view of New York… from up high:

  • Top of the Rock: The observation decks of the Empire State Building offer undeniably astounding views, but my vote for the best view goes to Top of the Rock because it includes the Empire State Building. Its midtown location affords great views of Central Park and upper Manhattan, as well.
Midtown Manhattan

Magical Manhattan, from Top of the Rock Photo: Jeff Dobbins

Honorable mentions for the best New York views:

  • NJ Route 495: Anyone who has commuted to Newark Airport has seen this stunning view of Manhattan as the roadway loops outside the Lincoln Tunnel. However, since this is a busy highway, it’s not possible to stop… so the view (and photo ops!) are fleeting.
  • Brooklyn Heights Promenade: This promenade boasts great views of lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge from across the East River. The bad news: The views (and photos) are marred by construction sites below. The good news: The problem is temporary, as the piers are being transformed into beautiful Brooklyn Bridge Park.
  • N & Q Trains: As these subway trains cross the Manhattan Bridge, they feature excellent views of lower Manhattan. Unfortunately, the passing bridge girders and dirty train windows make snapping a good photo near impossible.
  • Take Me Out NYC: Some of New York’s best rooftop bars and clubs can be visited on their rooftop nightlife tour of New York, so you can combine the amazing views of the city with evening socializing at some of NYC’s best venues!
Manhattan & Brooklyn Bridge best views of new york

Doesn’t get any better – Brooklyn Bridge Park Photo: Jeff Dobbins

Looking for the other best views of New York? Check out our post on the best rooftop bars! What’s your favorite view of the city skyline? Tell us in the comments below.

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  • Nico @ ATravellersJourney

    Looks like an awesome list of places to get a great view of the Manhattan skyline. The ultimate one for me I think would be the view from the top of the Empire State Building.

    • Thanks, Nico. No question, the view from the Empire State’s Observation deck is incredible. I was there recently, for the first time in many years, and was awestruck. And, it’s a fascinating building, especially if you’re a fan of Art Deco.

  • THE best view of NYC as a whole is when your on 95 coming up from the south. and when you begin to bend around just before you go into the lincoln tunnel check it out for yourself. YOU can see the whole Island of Manhattan. it will blow your mind just looking at the greatest skyline in the world.

  • THANKS MR JEFF DOBBINS for your reply. People try to compare HONG KONGS SKYLINE TO NYC. HONG KONG HAS A NICE SKYLINE BUT NYC HAS A ICONIC SKYLINE UNMATCH IN THE WORLD.

  • Yvette

    Hi Jeff, thanks for sharing – your photos are amazing. I’m interested to know how to get to Gantry State Park and the Brooklyn Bridge Park. Thanks again for sharing these great photo opt locations.

  • Vidit Saxena

    This is a such a great article. I did not want to be a tourist in New York City. It helped me a lot to find some photography spots in New York City.

    Thanks to the folks at Unwander.com for pointing me here.

  • Dave B

    Great tips and stunning photos. Just hope for a couple of clear crisp days when we’re there in January so I can get some great shots.

  • The V Photography

    I think the best view of Manhattan is from Brooklyn Bridge Park.. Just Below the Brooklyn Bridge..