Ah, internet – we knew we loved you, but we just didn’t know quite how much until we were stuck inside. With much of the planet staying indoors, working from home, self-isolating or under lockdown thanks to the COVID-19 crisis, travel has ground to a halt for the time being. But we can still expand our horizons and discover somewhere new from our phone screens, thanks to the miracle that is Google Street View.
We’ve dug around for the very best panoramas available on the platform, captured from some of the world’s most stunning observation points and decks. Check out these incredible 360-degree views of some of the world’s greatest cities, available for free online – and then start planning your trip IRL, for as soon as we’re allowed to travel again.
The best city skyline views on Google Street View
Paris from Sacré-Coeur
The steps leading up to the basilica of Sacré-Coeur on Montmartre have spectacular views over the French capital – hence the eternal swarms of visitors looking for a bit of Paris magic.
London from The Shard
No surprise that the view from the UK’s tallest building is pretty amazing. From here you can see practically all of London’s major sights, from Tower Bridge and the Tower of London to St Paul’s Cathedral and the London Eye.
Barcelona from Turó de la Rovira
From this hill high above the city – a popular spot for sunsets – Barcelona lies spread out before you. The bunkers you can see here are relics from the Spanish Civil War.
Hong Kong from Lion Rock
Lion Rock, so called because from certain angles it looks like a crouched big cat, looms over Hong Kong. The panorama from the top is impressive, but it’s a famously difficult hike to tackle – so save your legs and check it out online instead.
Jaipur from Nahargarh Fort
Constructed in the seventeenth century, this fort was part of a defensive ring around Jaipur in northern India. Now it’s a popular spot for surveying the sprawl of the city.
Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo
A raised square on the south side of the Arno River, Piazzale Michelangelo provides dreamy views of Florence’s skyline, which has hardly changed in centuries. Make sure to zoom in on the Duomo and the Palazzo Vecchio.
New York City from Top of the Rock
There’s no shortage of skyscraper views in NYC, but the double aspect at Top of the Rock – looking downtown towards the Empire State and uptown towards Central Park – makes it feel properly in the centre of things.
Chicago from 875 North Michigan Avenue
The view from the top of this hundred-storey skyscraper (formerly known as the John Hancock Center) is one of the best in Chicago. From the observation deck you get sweeping views of the skyline as well as Lake Michigan.
Singapore from OCBC Skyway
The OCBC Skyway lets you get up close to the iconic supertree structures at Singapore’s Gardens By The Bay, as well as giving you a good look at the city’s lush greenery and impressive architecture. Spot the Marina Bay Sands hotel, with its three towers topped by an infinity pool and restaurant complex.
Cape Town from Table Mountain
The dramatic plateau of Table Mountain is one of South Africa’s most recognisable landmarks. You can hike or ride a cablecar up to the top for incredible views over Cape Town – or, for now, check out this beautiful sunset online.
Lisbon from Cristo Rei
Cristo Rei, a statue of Christ blessing the city of Lisbon, stands on the south side of the Tejo Estuary. An 18-metre-high viewing platform here give visitors unbeatable views of Portugal’s capital city and its enormous 25 de Abril suspension bridge.
Los Angeles from Griffith Observatory
This popular viewing point is the place for incredible views of L.A., stretching away towards the Pacific Ocean. Or turn inland to see the iconic Hollywood sign on the mountainside.
Naples from Castel Sant’Elmo
The jagged, heavily fortified bulk of Castel Sant’Elmo dominates Naples’s skyline. It’s a trek to climb, but the reward is possibly the finest view of the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius – and it’s yours for free online.
Rio de Janeiro from Sugarloaf Mountain
Rising almost 400 metres above the harbour below, this famous peak is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a two-leg cablecar journey to the top, with incredible views of Rio de Janeiro below on both parts of the journey.