Getting to a high point in a city is a great way to gain stunning views of the surrounds and an incomparable sense of perspective. When travelling this can be achieved by heading up a hill or mountain, taking a ride in a cable car or overlooking a destination from a tall hotel. Nothing compares to climbing a tower, however and there are some on this incredible planet that just need to be conquered.
Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur
The Petronas Towers can be seen from all over , which in turn means you can view the entire city from near the top. This iconic landmark houses the headquarters of the Petronas oil and gas company, with the very top floors reserved for its chief executive officer. Visitors can, however, head up to the 41st level and cross the Skybridge, which links the two towers. Ascending yet further, the 86th storey out of a total of 88 has a stunning observation deck, where the whole of Kuala Lumpur is spread out in front of the viewer.
Only 1,700 people can go up the towers each day and tickets go on sale at 8.30am with allocated time slots, so it is a good idea to get in line early. The term climb is used very loosely in this article and there is in fact a lift that takes everyone up to the respective viewing platforms – phew!
Burj Khalifa, Dubai
The big daddy of towers, Burj Khalifa is the tallest building on the planet and therefore had to be included in this list. The viewing platform is on the 124th floor out of 163 and is reached by a lift that travels at 36 kilometres per hour. What greets those who make the journey to the top are vistas that cannot be compared with anywhere else in the world.
While conquering the tower may be at the top of the list of priorities for many, there are a number of ways to make the experience even better. An extravagant afternoon tea is served on the 123rd floor, while the 122nd storey features a bar and restaurant. Talk about a meal with a view.
CN Tower, Toronto
Probably the most instantly recognisable landmark in , the CN Tower has a special place in the heart of the locals. Reaching 550 metres into the air, it dwarfs everything else around it. Originally built as a telecommunications tower, it still functions as such to this day, but also features a series of experiences that are enjoyed by tourists from all over the world.
Those feeling brave can traverse the 2.5-inch thick glass floor that is situated on the 113th storey. While reassurance is given that it can withstand the weight of 14 hippos, the feeling is very much of walking on air. For a slightly less nerve-wracking, but just as impressive experience, the 360 Restaurant resolves, so that the views of the city drift pass over dinner. The ultimate opportunity for thrill-seekers, however, has to be the newly opened EdgeWalk, where they are attached to a harness and head out across the ledge on the 116th storey with no handrail.
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
Antoni Gaudi planned 18 towers to grace the skyline of , as part of his iconic church, La Sagrada Familia. Nearly 90 years after he died, the number that have been completed now stands at eight. You can opt to go up one on the Nativity facade, offering views to the east of the city or to ascend a tower on the Passion side, which offers vistas of Barcelona itself. Those who choose the Nativity option will come back in a lift, while it is steps to descend the Passion tower.
Tickets to access the towers are more limited than those for the church as a whole, so it is a good idea to buy them online in advance. It is definitely worth it to see the intricate details of Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece up close. Some of the delicate stonework and mosaics simply cannot be appreciated from the ground, so making the journey is a must.
The Shard, London
Slightly closer to home is London’s very own skyscraper, The Shard, which stands proudly at 87 storeys high. It is almost twice as tall as any other landmark in the city and boasts uninterrupted views for around 40 miles in all directions from its 68th, 69th and 72nd floors. While the former two platforms are inside, the latter is actually open air, allowing visitors to get as close as possible to the city around them.
One of the great things about The Shard is the wide variety of events and activities that go on inside it. As well as being able to grab a bite to eat or a drink, the building also hosts regular yoga events, meaning a special sort of zen can be achieved at such a height removed from the frenetic activity of daily life going on below.