This post lists where you can get incredible views of New York City, including locations on land, from the water, and from the sky.
There are many more options than the famous skyscraper observation decks, such as the Empire State Building. Let us tell you where else to go!
- Views from Brooklyn
- Views from New Jersey
- Views from the Sky
- Views from the Water
- Views from Parks
- Free Tours by Foot
View of Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade
You can enjoy great views of the Manhattan skyline by visiting the Brooklyn Heights Promenade (image below).
The Promenade has benches, is never very crowded, and is an amazing place to relax and take in the beautiful views.
You can reach the Promenade by subway or car. Click here for directions to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade from your starting point.
You can also get to the Promenade by walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, something you should have on your "must-do" list.
Just below this picture is information about the amazing views from the bridge.
View from the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking over the Brooklyn Bridge has so many amazing aspects.
The bridge itself is a beautiful piece of architecture, but what is so special is the 360-degree view of the New York Harbor.
You will have spectacular views of Manhattan from the southern tip up to midtown Manhattan and beyond.
You will see the skyline of Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, the Manhattan Bridge, and Williamsburg in the distance.
You can even see the Statue of Liberty although she looks about 5 inches tall from the bridge.
Below is a virtual 360 view from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Skyline View from the Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn Bridge Park
You can also get a great view of Lower and Midtown Manhattan from the Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Click here for directions to the Fulton Ferry Landing.
You can also take the East River Ferry (see below) which stops right at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
New Jersey (in particular, Hoboken, Jersey City, and Weehawken) enjoys arguably the best view of Manhattan.
From almost top to bottom, as you can see the entire island from Battery Park to Washington Heights (shown in the picture at the top of this post).
Getting to the neighborhoods of Hoboken, Jersey City, and Weehawken isn't very difficult. Just take one of the New Jersey PATH subway trains located in Midtown on the west side, Chelsea, Greenwich Village or Lower Manhattan.
If you have a pay-as-you-go MetroCard, you can use your card on the PATH system.
Otherwise, you will need to add enough money for two rides. For more information, check out the PATH website.
Tip: Visit Frank Sinatra Park in Hoboken. Click here for a map and directions.
VIEWS FROM THE WATER
View from the Staten Island Ferry
To see the other side of Lower Manhattan and to get some views of the Statue of Liberty, take the Staten Island Ferry on a trip to Staten Island and back.
You will share the boat with commuters and other visitors.
Most ferries have outside seating areas, where you can catch great views as well as a nice breeze. The ferry runs 24 hours a day.
Below is a video of using the Staten Island Ferry including views you can expect. You can read more at our in-depth guide on how to take the Staten Island Ferry.
Views of Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Midtown Manhattan from the East River Ferry
The East River Ferry connects Lower Manhattan to Midtown Manhattan with stops at several points in Brooklyn and one in Long Island City in Queens.
It's a great scenic alternative to taking the subway, offering incredible views of both Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn (including a view from UNDER the Brooklyn Bridge!
Unlike the Staten Island Ferry, the East River ferry is not free, but a single ride is just $2.75 per person, the same as a subway ride.
Check our East River Ferry post for more details.
Views from the Governors Island Ferry
Governors Island offers a unique view of the southern tip of Lower Manhattan, New Jersey, as well as Brooklyn all at once.
The island is located just 7 minutes away from Lower Manhattan via ferry.
The island is only open during the summer, between May and September on weekends and holidays between 10 am-7 pm.
Not only is the view from the Governors Island Ferry amazing, but once on the island, you'll have the chance to take pictures on stable land and not from a moving boat!
The island is vehicle-free and is a recreational park popular with locals for biking, picnicking, and escaping the hustle and bustle of New York City.
One of our favorite spots is Water Taxi Beach, which offers great views and also has a small beer garden.
Further, you may visit exhibitions as well as family-friendly events on the island. Check out the Governors Island Event Calendar.
To learn all about Governors Island, see our in-depth post Things to Do on Governors Island which also has directions on how to get there on the ferry.
Views from Boat Tours and Cruises
There are many different cruises and boat tours that circle Manhattan giving you fantastic views of the island from different perspectives.
The choices available can seem a little overwhelming so we've compiled all the information on the different types of cruises and tours offered by the most popular companies.
To help decide if a boat tour or cruise is right for you, read our post Which New York Boat Tour or Cruise is Best?
TIP: Most of these boats and ferries either depart from Lower Manhattan, have stops at Lower Manhattan.
The East River Ferry stops in DUMBO, Brooklyn, and in the summer, the Governors Island Ferry also stops in Brooklyn, near Brooklyn Heights.
Any one of these boat rides could be combined with several of our pay-what-you-wish walking tours, including tours of Lower Manhattan tour, our Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Heights, and DUMBO Tour as well as our shorter Brooklyn Heights Tour.
Visit a Skyscraper Observation Deck
More likely than not, you planned on visiting an observation deck to get sky-high views of NYC.
All these decks offer unbelievable views for miles around. The hard part is knowing which one to visit since they differ in vantage points and price ranges.
For help deciding which to visit, check out our comparison of the Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, or One World Trade Center Observatory.
You will find comparisons in cost, experience, and how to find discounts as well.
Whichever one you decide to see, you will have unforgettable views of the many skylines of New York City!
Take the Roosevelt Island Tram
The Tram to Roosevelt Island travels over the East River to connect Midtown Manhattan and this small, mostly residential island.
This is a fun way to get 360-views of NYC and beyond from a unique vantage point.
Although the ride on the tram is about 4 minutes, these may be the most exciting 4 minutes of your visit to New York!
Once at Roosevelt Island, you can relax and have plenty of time to take pictures from Southpoint Park.
The tram runs from 6 am till 2 am on Sundays through Thursdays and from 6 am till 3:30 am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Take a helicopter ride
There is nothing like a bird’s eye view of New York City from a helicopter.
We know that helicopter tours can be expensive and figuring out which one offers the best value can be difficult.
In our post Helicopter Tours over New York we’ve analyzed which New York helicopter tour is best - both quality and value-wise.
We also share some tips for finding discounts for helicopter rides.
Many of NYC's best parks and green spaces are located along either the East River or the Hudson River and offer wonderful views of Manhattan.
Visiting one of the parks below gets you a two-for-one! Enjoy a beautiful green space and get amazing skyline views!
We've already listed the Brooklyn Bridge Park and Roosevelt Island's Southpoint Park above. Here is the rest of the best!
Long Island City Promenade
This is the best spot in New York City to get a full panoramic view of Midtown Manhattan on the east side.
Getting here is very easy. Click here for directions to the Long Island City promenade. Free Tours by Foot doesn't offer a tour that takes in this view, so you will have to do it on your own.
If you do head over to Long Island City up can find two of the best pizzerias in the city! See our post on the Best Pizza in New York City by Neighborhood.
Skyline views of Manhattan don't necessarily have to be from outside Manhattan!
Since Manhattan is long and gets narrower as you go toward the bottom, you can find views of Lower Manhattan from certain waterfront locations in Midtown Manhattan.
Little Island is one such location. Situated on the waterfront in Chelsea, this most unusual park provides a view of Lower Manhattan and New Jersey. You can even see the Statue of Liberty way off in the distance!
Find out how to visit this truly one-of-a-kind NYC park here.
While not exactly a skyline view, the view from inside Central Park is one of NYC's most iconic.
This much-loved park is surrounded on all sides by some of the city's most beautiful buildings. Just to name a few, you can see the Neo-Renaissance Beresford, the Plaza Hotel and even the Ghostbusters Building!
For the most cinematic skyline from Central Park, go ice-skating in Wollman Rink! For the most relaxing view, head to the Sheep Meadow, lie down and look up!
Other great views are from Belvedere Castle, Gapstow Bridge, and the Pond.
Find out more about things to do in Central Park here.
Though not a park, this historic cemetery is located on a large hill in Brooklyn so offers a very different view of Manhattan.
Green-wood is visited by thousands of history-loving locals and tourists each year.
If you have some extra time in your schedule, consider visiting Green-wood Cemetery for a uniquely-framed view of the Lower Manhattan skyline.
You can take an official tour or use our self-guided tour to explore this most memorable NYC site.