Best View in New York: We Compare the Observation Decks

3:55 pm  |  06.10.2021

New York offers numerous viewing platforms and opportunities to view the skyline. Are you in the process of planning your trip to New York and you are overwhelmed with which of the sights and viewing platforms to visit …

We again searched, visited, and compared the best views and observation decks in New York: Empire State Building, One World Observatory (One World Trade Center), Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center), and rooftop bars in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

In general, we can say that you have spectacular views of the skyline from everywhere.

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But which one do we like best? At what time of the day is it worth visiting and which views can you even enjoy for free? Our tips – almost everyone has their own opinion – can be found here!

Here you will find all the viewing platforms and our tips for the best views of New York.

View from the One World Observatory

The One World Trade Center offers you the One World Observatory, the highest observation deck with a view of New York.

At 541.3 meters, it is the tallest skyscraper in the city. The tallest building in the United States is right next to “Ground Zero”, the place where the two towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed on September 11, 2001.

Incidentally, there are currently only three taller buildings in the world: Burj Khalifa (829 m in Dubai), Shanghai Tower (632 m, China), and Makkah Royal Clock Tower Hotel (601 m in Saudi Arabia).

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This is included in the normal “STANDARD” ticket:

  • Admission to floors 100, 101, and 102 of the One World Observatory observation deck.
  • Film presentation about New York in the See Forever Theater.

+ View of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

+ Highest viewing platform in New York

+ Is done well. For $ 10 more you can use the express access and get tablets with the “One World Explorer”, on which the buildings in front of and below you are shown interactively. Most of them have short explanatory videos. Well done and well worth the $ 10 surcharge.

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+ Everything is done great, immediately after leaving the elevator there is a “WOW effect” that we don’t want to reveal.


  • Completely glazed, everything reflects depending on the incidence of light and the time of day.
  • No tripods allowed.

Empire State Building Observation Deck

The Empire State Building advertises the “highest open terrace in New York”. On the 86th floor, you can experience what is probably the most famous viewing platform in the world and thus a 360-degree view of New York.

The Empire State Building is one of New York’s most popular attractions and a landmark of the city. The sunset and the view of the city at night are particularly beautiful. Then everything around you shines and sparkles. When visiting the Empire State Building, you have an additional option to go even higher to the 102nd floor.

From the top, you have a great view of One World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan, and the glowing Times Square.

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Our advice and experience: We think the Empire State Building is particularly worthwhile at sunset and at night. During the day we would always prefer Top of the Rock because the view of Central Park is better and you can still take photos of the Empire State Building when looking towards the One World Trade Center.

Top of the Rock Observation Deck

The viewing platform in Rockefeller Center is called Top of the Rock. From here you have a great view of the southern tip of Manhattan with One World Observatory and the Empire State Building. Plus the best view of Central Park from one building.

We were now very surprised that on a Sunday morning in August we found no line at all. In general, Top of the Rock is less visited than the Empire State Building, which we cannot understand.

It is not normal that there is no queue. To avoid long waiting times, we always buy the tickets online in advance. Or we have one of the sightseeing passes that we can use to avoid the queue at the ticket counter.

Important note for photographers: A tripod is not allowed. We were able to use the stick for the 360-degree camera (GoPro Fusion), but this is normally not allowed either.

“Edge” Observation Deck at 30 Hudson Yards

The “Edge” viewing platform in the newly emerging Hudson Yards district will be New York’s highest viewing platform. Probably at the beginning of 2010, you will then be able to look down at a height of 335 meters!

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The observation deck “Edge” will extend over the 100th and 101st floors.

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For the 700 square meter terrace in the outdoor area, you should be free from giddiness and ideally not suffer from fear of heights. Because a glass floor extends 20 meters to the outside and provides a view of Manhattan below! Thrill guaranteed!

Empire State Building or Top of the Rock?

A frequently asked question is which prospect do we find the best? Or if we had little time, whether we would rather visit Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building.

Clear answer: Top of the Rock. The view of Central Park is better and you are closer. You also have a perfect view of the Empire State Building.

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