There’s nothing like leaning over a railing, hundreds of feet in the air, to feel the thrill of dizzying heights and gaze at a city from the viewpoint of a bird. Mostly modern (with a couple of classics thrown in), these 18 tourist lookouts and towers, from Norway to the Czech Republic, provide an incomparable way to experience cities and natural settings alike.
London Eye on the Thames, England
(images via: wikimedia commons)
Europe’s tallest ferris wheel is also one of the coolest ways to catch a view of London. The London Eye, located on the Thames River, is 443 feet tall and is described by the operators as “the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel.” It features 32 air-conditioned passenger pods, and full revolution takes about thirty minutes.
Bahnorama Tower, Vienna, Austria
(images via: wombats-hostels.com, tixik)
The highest walkable wooden tower in Europe can be found in a lesser-traveled section of Vienna. The Bahnorama is a temporary exhibit allowing tourists to get a look at construction of a new train station, but that’s not all you can see – at nearly 219 feet in the air, you can get a fantastic panoramic view of the entire city. You don’t actually have to walk up; there are all-glass lifts that take you to the top in 40 seconds. There’s a cafe at ground level serving breakfast, lunch, beer and wine.
Observation Tower, River Mur, Austria
(images via: abitare.it)
Two polygonal helicoid stairs swirl around each other to a height of 90 feet in this stunning observation tower overlooking the River Mur in Austria. Designed by Terrain: Loenart & Mayr, the tower has a black steel cage and a number of cables and rods to keep it safe in winds or heavy usage.
Bostoren Tower, Putten, The Netherlands
(images via: eikongraphia)
The stunning Bostoren tower by SeARCH architects mimics the colors of the forest in brown, green and copper with a spiraling stair and several cantilevered decks. Just below the bowl-like observation deck that tops the tower is a small screened room with a net floor that lets you look down at the ground below. The tower overlooks the small town of Putten in The Netherlands.
Four Stunning ‘Uitkijktoren’ Towers, The Netherlands
(images via: klaas5)
These images were collected (with little additional information provided) by Utrecht architect Klaas Vermaas, depicting observation towers in The Netherlands and Germany. The towers are located in the following towns (clockwise from top left): Utrecht, The Netherlands; Breda, The Netherlands; Inden, Germany and the Fochteloerveen nature reserve in The Netherlands. Of the German tower Vermaas says: “The Indenmann is a 45m high observation tower overlooking a huge strip-mining operation. It’s in the German Ruhrgebiet near the town of Inden. It was designed by the Dutch Maurer Associated Architects. Not for people suffering from vertigo. It’s all open steel grate foors [sic] and cantilevers!”
TV Tower, Munich, Germany
(images via: ariaski, jasminejennyjen, emdees)
Among the tallest towers in the world, the TV Tower in Munich, known in German as the ‘Olympiaturm‘, is an amazing 954.72 feet tall. In addition to broadcasting analog FM and digital radio and television, the tower features a revolving restaurant that seats 230 people. A full revolution takes 53 minutes.
Korkeasaari Island Lookout Tower, Helsinki, Finland
(images via: coolboom)
Located on a cliff on Korkeasaari Island in Finland, this lookout tower made of wood battens has an organic form inspired by the natural setting, in between a birch grove and the sea. Bolted together with over 600 joints, the tower overlooks both its immediate natural environment and the bustling city of Helsinki.
Trollstigen Overlook, Norway
(images via: pixdaus, channelbeta)
Reiulf Ramstad Architects of Norway designed this overlook in Romsdalen, which provides a view of the Geiranger Fjord, as part of the Trollstigen National Tourist Route Project. Completely inaccessible in winter, the site is only open in summertime. With copper walls, a white platform and an all-glass cap to the cantilevered portion of the overlook, the structure was made to complement its natural surroundings.
Landscape Promontory, Switzerland
(images via: etienne deffinis, architonic)
Designed by Paolo Burgi, Landscape Promontory is a suspended metal platform that almost looks like an insanely oversized, modern version of a carnival ride – except that it (thankfully) doesn’t move. The viewing platform extends out from Cardada mountain in Switzerland and is marked with symbols and explanations that tell of local history and literature.
Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
(images via: wikimedia commons)
Who could forget the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Though certainly not modern nor originally built as an overlook, the tower – which was closed for over a decade while engineers worked to strengthen it – is once again open to tourists. The tower is over 183 feet tall and was built starting in the year 1173. The recent restoration, which was completed in 2001, will allow it to remain standing for at least another two centuries.
Aurland Lookout, Norway
(images via: todd saunders)
From WebUrbanist: “You know that stomach-clutching, heart-in-your-throat sensation you get on roller coasters just as you’re coming up to the edge of a terrifyingly steep drop? That moment is drawn out indefinitely at the Aurland Lookout in Norway, a stunning wooden overlook that puts nothing but a sheet of plate glass between you and the countryside below. Designed by Todd Saunders & Tommie Wilhelmsen, the minimalist structure celebrates the region’s natural beauty and exemplifies its spare, modern design sense.”
Nebra Ark Observation Tower, Germany
(images via: dailytonic.com)
This observation Tower is located beside the Nebra Ark multimedia visitor center, which stands near the site where the Nebra Sky Disc was found. The bronze disc is the oldest known visual representation of the cosmos. The tower, which leans slightly to one side, was designed by Holzer Kobler Architekturen as the pointer of a giant sundial.
Petřín Lookout Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
(images via: dale harvey, mediafury)
If this tower looks familiar to you, that’s probably because it’s extremely similar in design to another very famous lookout tower located on the other side of Europe. The183-foot-tall Petřín stands atop a hill to provide an amazing view of the city of Prague. Built in 1891, the tower features two observation platforms that can be accessed by lift or stairs. Once used for radio and television transmission, it is now solely a lookout tower for tourists.
Science Park Observation Tower, Granada, Spain
(images via: picasaweb)
No, you’re not imagining it – those are giant ants on the side of that tower. This quirky structure stands on the grounds of Granada’s Science Museum which houses scientific experiments on meteorology, geography and astronomy. 164 feet high, the tower also provides a beautiful view of the city.
The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
(images via: wikimedia commons)
Perhaps the most iconic lookout tower in the world, let alone Europe, the Eiffel Tower is an unforgettable part of the Paris skyline as well as the best place to see the city in all its glory. Standing 1,063 feet tall on four latticed iron ‘legs’, the Eiffel Tower was not popular at first with city residents, who thought that its shape was intentionally provocative; however, its design was based on engineering concerns to stand up to strong winds. It’s painted three different colors so that it maintains a uniform appearance from the ground. Originally featuring a very narrow set of spiral stairs, the tower now has several large elevators. It is the single most visited paid monument in the world.