Having visited nearly every major city on earth, I’ve become a sucker for a skyline’s ability to dazzle its guests. In the same way I enjoy the beauty of towering mountains and vast desert sand dunes, the energy of the world’s biggest and best cities provides a corresponding level of excitement.

What makes a great skyline? I’ve taken into consideration three primary factors:

  • 1- The height and density of its tallest buildings.
  • 2- Overall appearance/beauty.
  • 3- How iconic the skyline is, i.e. – how well it performs as the face of the city.

The only other criteria is that I must have visited the city at least twice. As with virtually every one of my posts, I took all of the displayed photos (with an iPhone). Let’s get to it!

10.) Sydney, Australia

Sydney experiences more clear and sunny days than any city on this list, a perk that allows the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge to routinely charm its 13 million annual visitors.

9.) Chicago, USA

The Windy City’s Willis Tower held the world’s tallest building honor for more than 25 years. Chicago rests on Lake Michigan’s southwestern shore and is home to four of the eight tallest buildings in the US.

8.) Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul may not be a best skylines list regular, but go take a sunset cruise down the Bosporus and get back to me. Congratulations to Istanbul for being the only ‘European’ city to make the countdown.

7.) Panama City, Panama

Over the past 75 years, Panama City has executed one of the most rapid urban development efforts in history, an achievement that has lead to its nickname as ‘the Dubai of Central America.’

6.) Toronto, Canada

The CN Tower dominates the Toronto skyline and is often visible from as far away as Buffalo. Already Canada’s largest city, Toronto is expected to see more considerable growth in the next half century than any other in North America.

5.) Dubai, UAE

Dubai’s spectacular skyline is commanded by the world renowned Burj Khalifa, a structure that shoots up from the desert sand to an astounding height of 830 meters (2,723 feet).

4.) Singapore

Despite over half a decade living on the little red dot, walking through the CDB still triggers a feeling of awe. Don’t miss the laser beam and dancing water shows that take center stage every evening near Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay.

3.) New York City, USA

New York City is the capital of the world and will forever stand as the original concrete jungle. From the Chrysler Building to One World Trade to the Statue of Liberty, New York’s skyline is as compelling as they come.

2.) Shanghai, China

Viewing the heart of Shanghai from a stroll down the Bund is a breathtaking reminder of Asia’s growth capabilities. I also found the Indigo Hotel’s rooftop bar to be among the best vantage points.

1.) Hong Kong

When I first viewed Hong Kong Island from Tsim Sha Tsui’s Avenue of the Stars in 2013, I had the same feeling as when I first visited the Grand Canyon – my eyes couldn’t process the magnitude of what was being seen. Hong Kong’s sprawling skyline is the best you will find!

What do you think about my choices? Which ones have I missed?

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4 Comments

  1. Daniel Brown

    Nice list. I could quibble with a couple, but you’ve captured the best.

    I’ve put Dubai on my bucket list. Definitely need to get there someday.

    Reply
    • Sam

      Thanks! And yep, anytime. It’s worth a stop, for sure!

      Reply
  2. Kevin

    Good to hear you are safely home !

    Having lived in SHanghai for the past 20 years and HK for 3 years before that I’d have to make Shanghai #1 as it’s core is far more iconic whilst HK’s isn’t as impactful (talking about Central, HK Island) though more diverse and covers a longer river/port side area. No London ? Big Ben, Houses of Parliament and The London Eye, to name just a few of the river-side sights, make quite an impression.

    Reply
    • Sam

      Thanks, Kevin! Yep, I agree that Shanghai could potentially be #1 – so hard to say for sure. London… yes, great skyline, but not in my top 10 😀

      Reply

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