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10 Observation Decks That Are Not for the Faint of Heart
An observation deck allows you a birds-eye view of whatever location you happen to be in. Some of the most popular observation decks in the world include the Eiffel Tower, One World Trade Center, and the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Some decks, however, have been built with adrenaline junkies in mind who want to get their hearts racing while appreciating the view.
Warning: if you’re not fond of heights, you might want to look away now.
10 Sampa Sky
The Sampa Sky observation deck in Sao Paulo, Brazil, was inaugurated in August 2021 and has already received over 11,000 visitors. The glass floor deck was inspired by a similar structure inside the Willis Tower in Chicago and is located on the 42nd floor of the highest building in Sao Paulo, the Mirante do Vale.
Those who are not afraid of heights will be able to take selfies inside a transparent box while gazing at the city below their feet. It is the least scary observation deck on this list and a great place to watch the sunset.
If Sampa Sky is too “tame” for your liking, there is always the CN Tower EdgeWalk—the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk. The CN Tower, located in Toronto, is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and stands 553 meters (1,815 feet) high. The EdgeWalk ledge snakes around the tower at a height of 356 meters (1,168 feet)—116 stories above the busy streets.
Before heading up to get your “edge walk” on, you will be asked many questions about your mental health and also tested for alcohol. Once you pass the tests, you are given a safety briefing, after which you can make your way up to the ledge—which is only 1.5 meters (5 feet) wide. You will be given a jumpsuit to wear and put into a harness. The harness is attached to ropes that are then attached to a rail on the edge of the tower. When you are ready, you can then dangle over the ledge of the EdgeWalk and slowly make your way around the tower while taking in the view.
8 Shanghai Skywalk
If you’re into living on the edge but want to stick a little closer to the ground, the 88-story skywalk that encircles the Jin Mao Tower in China might just be the thrill you are looking for. This skywalk doesn’t have any handrails, which means those who want to try it out are strapped to the side of the building via a harness.
The 60-meter-long (200 feet) ledge is only 1.2 meters (4 feet) wide and can accommodate 15 walkers at a time. From the ledge, walkers can take in panoramic views of Shanghai as well as the top of the hotel atrium below them.
7 Stairway to Nothingness
For a thrilling adventure that provides stunning views of the Alps instead of a concrete jungle, look no further than the Stairway to Nothingness at the Dachstein Glacier resort in Austria. The adventure comprises a 100-meter-long (328 feet) suspension bridge constructed at the edge of a 400-meter (1,300 feet) vertical cliff. At the end of the bridge are 14 steps that descend to a glass viewing platform.
The Dachstein Glacier resort’s website notes that the Stairway to Nothingness is only for visitors with “nerves of steel” who will be rewarded by the “pure freedom” of hovering above the cliff while gazing out at the beauty of the Alps.
6 Aurland Lookout
The Aurlandsfjord in Norway is truly spectacular, and to allow visitors to see it from every available angle, the Aurland Lookout Tower, or Stegastein, has been constructed 650 meters (2,135 feet)above it. The viewing deck is made from steel, dressed in pine, and stretches 30 meters (100 feet) before plunging downward toward a thin pane of glass that is the only thing between you and a steep drop.
The glass is meant to encourage the feeling of “falling into nature,” although those with a fear of heights might feel like they’re falling into the fjord instead.
5 SkyPoint Climb
The SkyPoint Observation Deck is situated on levels 77 and 78 of the Q1 skyscraper in Queensland, Australia. The Q1 held the title of the tallest residential building in the world between 2005 and 2011 and is now the 11th tallest. It is the only beachside observation deck in Australia and can accommodate 400 people. From the deck, visitors can see all the way to Brisbane, the Gold Coast hinterland, Byron Bay, and the Pacific Ocean.
Those who want a little more action can pay an additional fee and try out SkyPoint Climb. It is the highest external building climb in Australia, and the climbing starts at level 77. Almost 300 stairs lead to the Q1 Spire, while you enjoy fantastic views. Those who really have no problem with heights can walk along the edge of the stairs and ignore the internal handrail, as well as the 270-meter (885 feet) vertical drop below their feet.
4 Bihar Glass Bridge
The Hangzhou glass bridge in China served as inspiration for the spectacular glass bridge that overlooks the forests and mountains of Rajgir in the Nalanda district in Bihar, India. The bridge is part of a jungle safari that also includes glass-covered cabins that can accommodate eight tourists each. These cabins form part of a ropeway that gets tourists up close with the forests.
It is hoped that the new glass bridge attraction will increase the number of tourists in the area. The 25-meter-long (85 feet) and 61-meter-high (200 feet) bridge can hold 40 visitors at a time. The bridge will be one of a variety of activities for tourists, which include visiting the Son Bhandar caves and taking a dip in the hot water springs of Brahma Kund.
3 Step into the Void
“Step into the Void” almost sounds like a horror movie, but it is, in fact, a vertigo-inducing tourist attraction formally known as the Aiguille du Midi skywalk. It is situated high up in the French Alps at an altitude of 3,842 meters (12,600 feet). “The Void” consists of a glass box with a glass floor, allowing visitors an unobstructed look at the dramatic landscape.
A small elevator has been installed to get tourists to the glass box, and there is also a cable car that travels to the summit of the mountain. The Aiguille du Midi is a peak in the Mont Blac massif, and for those who are not avid mountain climbers or hikers, the skywalk is the closest you can get to Mont Blanc.
2 Glass Love Bridge
There are many incredible places to see and things to do in Vietnam, including hiking in national parks, gazing in awe at the wonder of Halong Bay, and visiting Ho Chi Minh City. In 2019, the country debuted yet another tourist attraction in the form of the 5D Love Bridge. The bridge is Vietnam’s first glass suspension bridge with 5D effects and was built in only four months. The 80-meter-long (262 feet) structure offers 30 special effects in total and was designed with the theme of love in mind. It is 20 meters (66 feet) high and offers impressive views of the immense mountains and forests of Moc Chau.
A second glass bridge was opened later in 2019, giving visitors a fantastic view of the O Quy Ho Mountain Pass in the northern Lai Chau province. The Rong May bridge is 600 meters (1,970 feet) high and 2,200 meters (7,200 feet) above sea level. A 300-meter-tall (985 feet) glass elevator gets you to the bridge, and the beautiful glass structure itself gets you to the mountain peak. Just try to not look down.
1 Huangtengxia Tianmen Sky Walk
The glass-bottomed Huangtengxia Tianmen Sky Walk in southeast China is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Three support pillars hold up a viewing platform that juts out 368 meters (1,200 feet) from a cliff edge. It is the world’s longest and tallest single-column cantilevered glass corridor and holds the largest circular waterfall.
The 500-meter-high (1,650 feet) skywalk comprises two oval structures: one a horizontal walkway and the other a vertical tower, which is reachable by an open-air corridor. The glass is 99.9% transparent and can bear the weight of around 4,000 people.
As dawn breaks over the area every day, the structure is often obscured by low-level clouds and at night it is illuminated by 2,000 multi-colored LED lights.
In 2019, a fashion show was held on the skywalk, with the models instructed to walk out onto the platform barefoot to avoid scratching the glass panels.