Don’t look down! Actually, do. If you believe that every journey should include an awe-inspiring vista, we’ve got your vertigo-inducing guide to the planet’s best lookout points.
Best Lookout Points in the World for Unbeatable Views
You know how it goes, you’re motoring along Sogn og Fjordane County Road 243 in western Norway, wishing for a better gander at the immense fjord. Luckily, the Norwegian Highway Department granted your wish with the Stegastein Viewpoint. The 14-foot-wide platform, handsomely constructed of laminated pine, juts 100 feet from mountainside treetops, 2,000 feet above the village of Aurland. It feels like you’re treading toward the apex of the world’s prettiest roller coaster, and indeed you could tilt over the curved end if not for a glass pane.
Scene stealer: For a somewhat different experience of the view, hit the site’s restrooms, which poke over the edge, and ranked fourth on a 2106 list of best public toilets in the world.
Grand Canyon Skywalk
Some say that cantilevering a massive viewing platform off the western rim of the Grand Canyon is a clear case of gilding the lily. But the throat-catch thrill of staring through the structure’s three-inch-thick glass bottom onto the canyon’s rusty-striped glory is a damn compelling counterpoint. Seventy feet out and 4,000 feet above the snaking Colorado River, the experience speaks to that odd urge one feels to step out from the edge of the world’s most famous chasm—or is that just us?
Scene stealer: Did you say glass floor? Don’t fret—the Hualapai tribe, which owns this swath of land, made sure its design can support the equivalent of 70 fully loaded jumbo jets.
Pinggu District, China
China was a bit late to the platform-building party, so overcompensated not just by building the largest one in the world in 2016, but by making it resemble a futuristic spaceship about to zip back to the cosmos. The 1,350-square-foot structure, appropriately constructed of aerospace-grade titanium alloys (and a lot of glass), hangs off one of the highest peaks of rugged Stone Forest Gorge, known for forested, odd-shaped rock formations. When the sun sets, the view includes the lights of Beijing, 70 miles to the southwest.
Scene stealer: Undertake the two-hour hike up to the platform and you also pass a dramatic waterfall and mineral-tinted pools not visible from the cable car.
Getting to this platform is half the freak-out, as it is accessed by a long, steep ascent on a cable car from the Garmisch-Partenkirchen ski resort to the Osterfelderkopf mountain summit. Walk the short distance from the top station onto two curving platforms that overlap to create a soaring “X” extending over the panoramic abyss. (Pro tip: The Alps are pretty.) A semi-transparent bottom adds to the sensation of flying 3,200 feet above a rocky gorge—especially if a wind is whipping up through the steel mesh.
Scene stealer: To work the wobble out of your knees, hike a mile-long trail to a lower station where a different cable car will handle the rest of the way down.