For those who love to travel, skylines and cityscapes present excellent photography opportunities. Although landscape photography typically involves natural elements like mountains, forests, and waterfalls, there is a place for urban landscapes as well.
While cityscapes can be captured in countless cities, there are some that stand out. On this page we’ll look at 11 of the best skylines for photographers.
→ Related reading: 10 Tips for Amazing Cityscape Photography
There is a lot to love about Dubai, and it features a unique skyline with plenty of photographic potential. The tallest building Burj Khalifa is also the tallest structure in the world, at more than 2,700 feet.
The Burj al Arab (not pictured above) is also a highly-recognizable building in Dubai. This luxury hotel was designed to resemble the sail of a ship, and at almost 700 feet, it is one of the tallest hotels in the world. The Burj al Arab sits on a small artificial island, connected to the mainland by a short bridge.
2. New York City
New York City has a lot to offer, and plenty of options for different views and vantage points. Your skyline photos of New York may include iconic structures like the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, or the Brooklyn Bridge.
At 1454 feet in height, the Empire State Building is the main feature of many photos of the New York Skyline. Not only is it a great subject for your photos, but the observation decks on the 86th and 102nd floors also provide amazing views of the city.
One World Trade Center (now the tallest building in the city) also provides an observation deck on floors 100 – 102 that provides a stunning view.
At 30 Rockefeller Plaza (Top of the Rock) you can get a very nice view from the 70th floor. From here you can see the Empire State Building to the south and Central Park to the north.
Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fort Lee Historic Park (in New Jersey) both provide excellent vantage points for photographers.
The Sydney Opera House is easily the most recognizable building in Sydney, and one of the most recognizable in the world. With its location on the Sydney Harbor and close to the Sydney Harbor Bridge, it makes an excellent subject for photographs.
At more than 1,000 feet high, the Sydney Tower Eye provides one of the best views of the city. The observation deck is open to the public.
Another great vantage point can be found at Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, where you can get a nice view of the opera house and the bridge.
4. Hong Kong
Hong Kong is an impressive city with a skyline that is perfect for photography. The city sits along the Victoria Harbor, which is perfect for reflections and as a foreground in your photographs. Mountains also provide an excellent background, something that you won’t find with a lot of cities on this list.
Although it is a small city geographically, Hong Kong is densely populated and is home to more buildings of 500+ feet than any other city in the world. The nightlife and lights also make it perfect for night photography.
→ Related reading: Tips for Better Urban Landscape Photography
The Space Needle is easily the most recognizable structure in Seattle, and it has become an icon of the city. The Space Needle is more than 600 feet tall (the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River when it was built) and has an observation deck at 550 feet.
Not only will the Space Needle serve as the subject for many photographs of the Seattle Skyline, but you can also capture great views from the observation deck. On a clear day, you’ll be able to see the Cascade Mountains (including Mount Rainier) and the Olympic Mountains.
6. Rio de Janeiro
The skyline of Rio de Janeiro features Christ the Redeemer, a statue that sits atop Corcovado Mountain. The water of the Guanabara Bay and the mountains only add to this stunning skyline. You’ll need an aerial view to get the best photographs of Christ the Redeemer as well as the city below it.
The Eiffel Tower dominates the Paris skyline, which is one of the reasons this city is so unique. Other highly-recognizable structures include Notre Dame, and some skyscrapers are also visible in the distance. With the Eiffel Tower being such a center of attention, there are plenty of places to find great views.
On the shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto features a distinct and beautiful skyline. The main feature is the CN Tower, which was the tallest building in the world (at more than 1,800 feet) prior to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Toronto is a great city to photograph at night, thanks in part to the reflections off of Lake Ontario.
The historic city of Istanbul has a different type of skyline than most of the other cities on this list. Although new buildings have been built in recent years, the most noteworthy parts of Istanbul’s skyline are not skyscrapers. Instead, you’ll find mosques like the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (also known as the Blue Mosque). Other historic structures like the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace make Istanbul one of a kind.
The city is also located on the Bosphorus (also known as the Strait of Istanbul), which forms the border of Europe and Asia. The Bosphorus can also be an interesting part of photographs of Istanbul.
Chicago has an impressive skyline that features many tall buildings, including the Sears Tower. One of the best features of this skyline is the fact that it sits picturesquely on Lake Michigan, making it an excellent destination for photographers.
Many of the buildings in Tokyo are not as tall as buildings in some of the cities listed above, but Tokyo is home to some interesting and beautiful architecture. And equally important for photographers, the snowcapped Mount Fuji is visible in the distance, providing an excellent backdrop.
If you would like to learn more about how to take amazing skyline and cityscape photos of your own, be sure to read 10 Tips for Amazing Cityscape Photography.