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Shanghai is very well known for a city skyline that's nothing short of iconic, to say the least. Visitors from China and abroad flock to the city in large numbers each year, and one of the first things they do is go to the Bund or a famous hotel rooftop to get first-hand view of the beautiful skyline across the River Huangpu.
However, there are many other spots where you can go to look at Shanghai from high above and get lost in the view. Shanghai's backstory of fast and dynamic growth has made this city a treasure of great views.
We at China Highlights have taken a wander around the city and listed down the best vantage points, in addition to the most obvious ones, where you can take in grand views of the city and also click some great photos!
For the most classic shots of Shanghai's skyline, head to The Bund.
Take a walk along the river, and take in the gorgeous sights of the Pudong skyscrapers from different perspectives. All the crown jewels of the city are right in front of you.
Turning away from the Huangpu River you can see colonial architecture on the other side of the road. If you choose to go at night, even better! A cool way to enjoy the night view is to take a private convertible jeep.
All along the Bund and nearby are hotels, restaurants, and other buildings offering superb Shanghai skyline views.
With one of the best locations along the Bund, this hotel is a go-to if you are looking for a fabulous view of Shanghai. Go up to their U-shaped rooftop Bar called Sir Elly's Terrace (you may need to book a table in advance, especially in the summer) which is probably the most luxurious view of the Huangpu and the skyline, over a nice cocktail.
Cool Docks is at one end of the Bund and offers a super angular riverfront view of the Pudong skyline, and what's best, these views are clear, away from the crowds. Lots of opportunities to click some really good photos.
For a totally different angle to view the Financial Tower, Pearl Tower, Bottle Opener, etc. come to this bridge. You may also catch a glimpse of a wedding shoot on any given day. This is a very pretty and picturesque bridge, in a not so crowded part of town, surrounded by art deco buildings. Very cool sport for some great shots and views for sure across the Suzhou Creek.
Do go for a walk along Suzhou Creek itself, as it offers gardens, parks, running pathways and of course a beautiful view along the riverside.
We recommend a few open-space bars that have an advantage in that they offer patrons with some fantastic views of the river, the skyline and the city streets.
A few of the better views can be sought from Bar Rouge [7/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Nanjing Dong Lu], Char Bar in Hotel Indigo [585 Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, near Dongmen Lu], and Kartel in the Former French Concession, offering the best sunset views of the city center [5/F, 1 Xiangyang Bei Lu, near Julu Ku].
Three on the Bund [3 Zhongshan East Rd, Huangpu] is very well known for its roof top and the Pudong skyline view. Go there for some afternoon tea and the view, of course!
If you are looking for a not so fancy spot that's up close to the Bund skyline, we have just the place for you. This is Captain's Bar, [37 Fuzhou Lu, near Sichuan Zhong Lu] that's atop a hostel, bang in the center of all kinds of fancy bars, hotels, clubs and government buildings. Perfect place for a beer in the summer evenings, and a really close view of the Huangpu and the Pudong skyline. A pleasant surprise.
Also see Best Places for a Sundowner in Shanghai.
After taking in the views from various points along the Bund, it's a great idea to go across to Pudong for some even more breathtaking views from across the river.
This The Pearl TV Tower is a trademark of the city's skyline. There is a revolving restaurant (in the second sphere of the tower) at the top along with a observatory deck — making this ideal for getting some great shots of the city.
This is an iconic structure, and offers a great view from the 88th floor. There is a skywalk as well as an inner atrium for some great shots. The Jin Mao Tower is one of the most elegant, and houses Grand Hyatt Hotel, offices and residential spaces.
This was the tallest tower in Shanghai until very recently, having been overtaken by The Shanghai Tower (now open to public). The Financial Center is popularly known as the Bottle Opener, given its shape and futuristic design. We recommend a glass of wine at the bar on the 98th floor at Park Hyatt Hotel — it goes very well with the stunning views of the river and the adjacent skyscrapers.
As the tower with the world's highest observation desk and possibly one of the world's fastest elevators, we don't need much convincing that you will get some of the best views of Shanghai from this tower in Pudong. It stands tall and proud next to the Bottle Opener, the Jin Mao and the Pearl Tower.
If you want to take a different look at the famous Yu Garden of Shanghai, head to the restaurant in this hotel. You will be pleasantly taken aback by the clear view of the entire Yu Garden architecture, and if you are here for dinner, then that view is priceless with the lights outlining the pagoda rooftops. Very pretty.
If you want to get views of a bustling neon-lit Shanghai shopping street, full of lights and life, there is no better spot than the Nanjing Pedestrian street at night. The bright lights all over and the buildings around make for a very lively view and clicks.
For a little different skyline viewing experience we wanted to include this location. If you are looking to click some hot futuristic, hi-fi flyovers criss-crossing each other, all lit up in blues and reds, then this is the spot for you.
The photographic results are stunning however there is one catch. The building that lies at this junction is private property and well guarded by guards who are frequently approached by curious photographers so be ready to smooth talk your way onto the terrace for that one amazing Shanghai traffic shot.
We hope you liked reading this piece and are better informed about the best spots in the city to go to and see spectacular views of the city, and get great photos too!
We'd love for you to ask more questions of our expert city guides who are great with tips and will guide you in the right direction. Your travel is our priority so you see the best of China with us. Contact us!
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