Extreme Travel

The world's most harrowing observation points

A view through the Sky Portal shows a live video view of the streets below from One World Observatory, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. The observatory atop the 104-story One World Trade Center opens to the public on May 29. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A view through the Sky Portal shows a live video view of the streets below from One World Observatory, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, in New York. The observatory atop the 104-story One World Trade Center opens to the public on May 29. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Ever feel like you're on top of the world?

Now you really can be. 

Imagine hanging from a glass cube on top of Sears Tower or dangling from a Ferris wheel 1,493 feet in the air. Sound scary? For those brave enough to reach new heights, we’ve pulled together a list of the world’s most harrowing observation points.

So pack your parachute, we’re going up, up and away. 

  • 1. Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower, Chicago

    Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower, Chicago

    Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower

    Open 365 days a year, Chicago’s Skydeck atop the original Sears Tower offers jaw-dropping views and interactive exhibits. And if walking along the top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere isn't exhilarating enough for you, there’s always The Ledge. Located at the harrowing height of 1,353 feet, The Ledge is a series of glass boxes that extend out nearly four-and-a-half feet from the skyscraper’s 103rd floor. Each Ledge box is comprised of three layers of half-inch thick glass, laminated into one seamless piece. Don't worry-- they're strong enough to support the exhibit’s 1.7 million annual visitors. 

  • 2. The View from The Shard, The Shard, London

    The View from The Shard, The Shard, London

    The View from The Shard

    At 800 feet high, The View from The Shard offers the highest vantage point from any building in the European Union. The observatory boasts 360 degree views of the entire city of London. Twelve digital telescopes enable guests to see London by day, night and sunrise as well as provide information on over 250 landmarks in 10 languages. Word of advice, if you’re thinking of scaling the Shard to pop the big question, you will not be the first. The observatory is fast becoming a popular place for couples to get engaged. The first marriage proposal took place only ten minutes after the attraction opened.

  • 3. One World Observatory, One World Trade Centre, New York

    One World Observatory, One World Trade Centre, New York

    Mark Lennihan/AP Photo

    The observatory atop the 104-story One World Trade Center in New York City opened to the public in May 2015. The building is the nation's tallest, at 1,776 feet, and reaching its stunning observatory is a big part of the experience. Entering one of five elevators called "skypods," guests reach the observatory via a mesmerizing 60-second ride into the sky. They will experience a virtual time lapse that recreates the New York City skyline from the 1600s to the present. At the top, along with a spectacular view, visitors will see a video called "Voices" about those who built One World Trade Center.

  • 4. Bubble Tram, Canton Tower, Guangzhou, China

    Bubble Tram, Canton Tower, Guangzhou, China

    CantonTower.com

    If an observation deck doesn’t quite do it for you, why not try zipping around a Ferris wheel that reaches 1,493 feet high. Located in Guangzhou, China, the Bubble Tram on top of the Canton Tower has 16 crystal sightseeing cabins, each set at a 15 degree angle to rotate around the outside of the highest tower in China. This ride is not for the faint-hearted, as the bubbles rotate slowly, taking about 25 minutes to make a full circle around the edge of skyscraper. Check out this video to see the ride in all its terrifying glory. 

  • 5. Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters

    Soaring high at 1,821 feet, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa boasts the world’s highest outdoor observation deck. Situated at the top of Dubai’s most iconic destination, the At the Top sky lounge takes the notion of “observation” to an entirely new level. Your vertical ascent begins in a high-speed elevator that opens to floor-to-ceiling, 360-degree vistas of the city, desert and ocean. Once on deck, special telescopes provide virtual time-travel views of the scenes beyond and below. Whether by day or night, the telescopes allow guests to zoom in, with close-up, real-time images of the cityscape.

  • 6. Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan

    Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan

    Reuters

    Looking to have a little sky-high fun? At 1,253 feet above the ground, the observation deck on Taipei 101 is equipped with a fully-stocked bar. So for those who may need a little “liquid courage,” Taipei 101’s observatory should edge its way onto the top of your list. Kick back with a cocktail and enjoy a commanding view of the city and Taipei Basin. Just don’t venture onto the outdoor platform after a few drinks.

  • 7. The Edge, Eureka Tower, Melbourne, Australia

    The Edge, Eureka Tower, Melbourne, Australia

    Eureka Skydeck

    If you’re truly ready to face your fear of heights, the Edge at Australia’s Eureka Tower has got you covered. The Edge is a glass cube that extends from Eureka Tower’s 88th floor and suspends you nearly 984 feet over the city of Melbourne. We’re talking glass walls, glass ceiling and glass floor -- hanging over a bustling city. 

  • 8. Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo, Japan

    Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo, Japan

    Reuters

    The 2,080-foot Tokyo Skytree rises just 640 feet shy of the world’s tallest building, Dubai's Burj Khalifa. Its two observation decks are located 1,150 feet and 1,475 feet above the Japanese capital. But like many of the trips up to these harrowing observation decks, the ascent may take a little mental preparation. After entering a high-speed elevator, it takes just 50 seconds to arrive at the lower observation deck and another 30 seconds to reach the very top. Prepare yourself for a minor case of "airplane ear." But once you make it to the top, guests can enjoy the view from a variety of restaurants and bars, or brave a walk around the sky-high deck.

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