6 Skywalks you shouldn't miss

Date Posted: 19/07/2012

Pictured: The View from The Ledge of the Skydeck Chicago (Photo credit: Skydeck Chicago).

When visiting a new destination, finding a great view is always popular with tourists. Here are six of the best skywalks you shouldn’t miss on your group travels.

Studies estimate that five per cent of people are afraid of heights, so chances are the majority of people in a group would be keen on experiencing ways of enjoying the best views on offer when you’re enjoying a group holiday.

Including both man-made and natural settings, these skywalks might scare even the most non-acrophobe. Don’t look down!

1. The Ledge at Skydeck Chicago, Willis Tower, Chicago, USA

Briefly the tallest building in the world, the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) is a tribute to American ingenuity and Chicago’s days as the Second City. The Tower’s Skydeck, which opened in 1974, attracts more than 1.3 million visitors annually to the 103rd floor of the building; its glass walls provide unobstructed views of Chicago and up to four states bordering the city.

In July 2009, the Tower and the city raised the ante by building The Ledge, a series of glass bays that jut out 4.3 feet from the Skydeck, allowing visitors to stand over Wacker Drive and the Chicago River. By looking down, visitors get a direct view from 1,353 feet above street level.

2. CN Tower, Toronto, Canada

In addition to serving as a major communications hub within the city, Toronto’s CN Tower is also the city’s tallest landmark and a tourist attraction in its own right, providing a number of activities testing one’s resistance to heights.

The Tower’s glass floor, said to be the first of its kind in the world, has only 2.5 inches of glass suspending visitors 113 stories above the ground. If group travel organisers want to try a little higher, you can take an additional elevator up another 33 stories to Sky Pod, where you can see a 360 degree view of Toronto from 1465 feet above the ground. The tower also has a revolving restaurant called 360, featuring the world’s highest wine cellar.

For the even more daring, the tower has recently started offering EdgeWalk, promoted as the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk, on a five foot wide ledge that encircles the Tower’s main pod, over 1168feet above the ground.

2. Grand Canyon’s Skywalk, Hualapai Reservation, Arizona, USA

The newest of the attractions on this list, the Grand Canyon’s Skywalk was built in 2007 to much acclaim and interest. Ironically, the Grand Canyon Skywalk is not located inside the National Park or near Canyon Village, but at Grand Canyon West, a Native American tribal park owned and operated by the Hualapai Indians about five hours from the main National Park. 

For those daring enough to step out onto the horseshoe shaped platform, looking down will present them with a 500 to 800 view of the Colorado River in the base of the canyon. Grand Canyon West requires a permit for entry and an additional permit for the Skywalk.

4. Skywalk on Tianmen Mountain, Zhangjiajie, Hunan, China

By far the most remote of our chosen skywalks, located over 800 miles from Shanghai,  is the Skywalk on Tianmen Mountain.

The pathway, which runs alongside the Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, suspends you 1,430 metres high in the air, providing amazing views of the surrounding mountains and the nature of Hunan Province. Visitors are required to wear sock booties because unsurprisingly they have been unable to find workers willing to clean the glass floor at this height.

5. Shanghai SWFC, Shanghai, China

The Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC) is a mixed-use building located in the Pudong district on the east side of the Huangpu River. In addition to containing a hotel, offices, and conference rooms, the SWFC contains three great lookout spots, including the world’s highest observation deck.

Sky Arena 94, located 423 metres above street level, provides a regal room for special events, while Sky Walk 97 is a viewing area 439 metres above the ground floor.

The true gem of the building is Sky Walk 100, which at 474 metres high, is the world’s highest observatory and surrounds visitors with glass on three sides. Any vantage point provides visitors with a great view of The Bund, the Oriental Pearl Television Tower, and the former highest building in Shanghai, the Jin Mao Building.

6. Top of Tyrol, Stubai Glacier, Tyrol, Austria

Unlike our other two natural skywalks, the Top of Tyrol doesn’t have a glass floor; however, the weather-resistant steel caged floor of the platform means visitors can see directly below them all 10,500 feet to the ground.

The platform is on the Great Isidor in the middle of the Stubai Glacier, providing a panoramic view of over 3,000 metres, with sights including the Ötztal Valley, the Stubai Alps, and the Dolomites. While it’s rarely accessible in wintertime, you can visit the Top of Tyrol almost anytime during the summer months.

This list was compiled by the team at VirtualTourist.com, which is a resource for travellers seeking an insider’s perspective.

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