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You reach your final destination and drop your bags in your hotel, too exhausted to think about what to do and where to go first. Now what? To the summit of course! You’ve never truly experienced a city until you’ve seen it from above, so make it the first stop on your trip. Really get the lay of the land you’re about to explore, and head to the top of the nearest cathedral/duomo/tall building. If you can, grab a drink while you’re up there–do it. 

Related: 5 U.S. scenic drives that prove getting there is half the fun

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Campanile di San Marco, Venice, Italy

Attached to the cathedral in the bustling Piazza San Marco, this bell tower was originally built in the 9th century. It has undergone several rebuilds since then, but has always served as one of the first sights for visitors arriving to Venice by sea. A quick elevator ride to the top will provide the most spectacular sights in town, and possibly in the whole country. Go at dusk, just as the sun dips below the horizon, and watch the sunset reflect off the canals, illuminating the city in the purple hue. Cost is 2 euros ($2.17). 

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Carew Tower, Cincinnati, Ohio

The Carew Tower is only the second tallest building in this river city, but the view from the observation deck on the 49th floor is first rate. You can see three states, distinguish Cincinnati’s famous seven hills, and even watch traffic back up on Interstate 75. It’s $4 to get in and there’s a gift shop at the top. Don’t let the janky elevator deter you, and wait until it gets warmer to go—it can get pretty windy up there.

Courtesy of  Jiuguang Wang.

Courtesy of Jiuguang Wang.

Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany

Construction on the Cologne Cathedral began in 1248, and it is one of the oldest structures along the Rhine River, seeing as most buildings this old were bombed during World War II. But it wasn’t without wounds. It survived 14 bombs and underwent an extensive renovation since then. Now, for 4 euros (about $4.33) adults can climb hundreds of stairs to the top of the cathedral for a stunning view of Cologne, seeing sights both old and new. Tour the rest of the cathedral while you’re in there.

 

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Signature Lounge in the John Hancock Building, Chicago, Illinois 

Chicago is nearing the trifecta of observation decks, with the Willis Tower Skydeck ($19.50 for adults), 360 Chicago ($19 per adult), and talks of a potential third viewpoint in a skyscraper overlooking Millennium Park. But $20 is too tall an order for a great view. Hit the Signature Lounge in the John Hancock Building on the 96th floor. It’s free to get into the bar and the views areastounding day or night. All you have to do is spring for a drink.

 

Courtesy of mhx.

Courtesy of mhx.

Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London, England

This Anglican cathedral opened in 1708 and rises 365 feet above the streets of London. Visitors exploring the cathedral can climb 528 steps up to the Golden Gallery for panoramic views of the city. The ticket to this one is a little pricier at 15.50 pounds ($24.11), because it includes access to the entire cathedral. It is ripe with history and beauty though, and worth it for the trip. Plus climbing all those stairs is a nice workout.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Duomo, Florence, Italy

The Duomo in Florence (also known as the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) is truly the center of the city, marking one of the highest structures and most bustling piazzas in town. But if you thought the view down in the piazza was something (there’s always at least two gelato shops in your line of vision) wait until you get to the top of the dome. The sprawling hills of Tuscany unfold before your eyes, reaching beyond the stretches of the city. You have a couple summiting options here: You can climb 463 steps to the top of the Duomo’s cupola (dome), experiencing Giorgio Vasari’s “Last Judgement” frescos up close and personal on your way for 10 euro ($10.83), or you could save yourself a couple bucks and get just as spectacular a view from the top of the connecting campanile (bell tower) for 8 euro ($8.66).

Courtesy of Chris Murphy.

Courtesy of Chris Murphy.

Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, Ireland

The best aerial 360 view of Dublin is quite possibly from Gravity Bar, the pub at the top of the Guinness factory. You pay 14.40 euros ($15.59) for a tour of the factory, and it concludes with a free pint up in the Gravity Bar. On a clear day, the dozens of steeples protruding above the rest of Dublin’s buildings, painting a lovely picture of Irish culture. And no better way to enjoy the view than with a free pint.

Post by Ally Marotti.

Tagged: Cheap Tips, City, Food & drink, International, Tips & advice

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