Sometimes you have to work for an amazing view! And by work, I mean sweat. And maybe whine and/or cry a little. But by the time you get to the top, you realize it’s all been worth it because the view in front of you is incredible.
Below is a compilation I’ve gathered from fellow travelers about some amazing views that were totally worth the climb. So next time you’re wondering if you should take that first step, I say do it! Take a sip of water first, make sure your shoes are tied, and then do it! You’ll thank me later. 😉
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Thailand
It was the last day we were in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and after seeing one too many temples that looked the same after a while, we asked our hostel what the best one was in the whole city, he told us the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This temple sits at the top of a mountain and once you make the lengthy taxi ride up, you are welcomed by 309 steep steps to get to the top. I don’t think many people realize how many steps that actually is—I mean, it doesn’t sound like a lot, but once you start walking, it is a lot, especially in hot weather. Once we reached the top though it was completely worth it. This was by far the best view in all of Chiang Mai. You could overlook the whole city from the top, and on top of that there was traditional dancing, and religious ceremonies happening when we reached the top. It was such a cool experience, and we even got blessed by a monk when we were there! Definitely worth the workout to get there.
Asinelli Tower, Italy
Asinelli tower is the tallest leaning tower in Italy at 97m, taller than Pisa! There are 498 steps you have to climb up to get to the top and it is 8 centuries old. There are some AWESOME views are up there. A 360 panoramic lookout welcomes you and your sweat after getting over that
minuscule number of steps. When I visited Bologna last October, my aim was to visit Asinelli tower everyday while in town to capture the light at different day times and so on. Truth is, that sounded great but I ended up making it up just once. There was so much to do and see in the Region to be limited to the towers!
The Monument to the Great Fire of London, England
London is a huge city and because of this it’s almost impossible to discover and see everything, even if you live here. About four months in living in this city, I came across The Monument to the Great Fire of London. The Monument was built to commemorate the great fire that took place in London in 1666 which burned for 3 days straight. The fire destroyed more than 13,000 houses and 436 acers of the city.
Finding this place isn’t easy as all the buildings in the area are quiet tall, so you will definitely need to put the address in your phone map and keep looking up searching for a gold tip of the structure. Once I had arrived, I took a few photos of The Monument before I decided to proceed inside. The spiral staircase inside the monument consists of exactly 311 steps. That’s a lot of steps of course, but the views above are more than rewarding and totally worth every step! You have access to 360 degree views of London and it’s an incredible panorama from above.
From 100 Days of Sunshine. Jelena is a freelance travel writer and photographer on her way to becoming a digital nomad. Her focus is sunny destinations across the globe. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
Ollantaytambo, The Sacred Valley, Peru
Ollantaytambo, located towards the western end of The Sacred Valley, is where the classic 4-day Inca trail to Machu Picchu starts. Besides serving as a practical base, it is also home to a spectacular Inca fortress that once served as the royal estate for Emperor Pachacuti. During the Spanish conquest of Peru it became the citadel from which Inca emperor Manco Inca Yupanqui successfully fought off the Spaniards in 1536, marking one of the Incas’ greatest victories of all.
Upon arrival, you are faced with the arduous challenge of climbing over 300 steps of stone terracing that rise up the steep mountainside – even more daunting with grumbling kids in tow. It’s amazing what a few mental games can do though. After telling them I would send a photo of them at the top to their respective teachers, they practically flew up (a round of applause please for Ms Manzanares and Ms Ford!).
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, US
We visited the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, near Daytona Beach, Florida, with our two daughters (5 and 14). Ponce Inlet has the distinction of being the tallest lighthouse in Florida. The beacon’s light can be seen up to 18 miles out to see!
As soon as we saw it, we knew we definitely had to make the climb. The lady who sold us our tickets promised the youngest a special sticker if she made it to the top, and then we started up. There are 213 very steep steps to the top, and I’m not sure if I thought that sounded like a lot or not, but whoah! That’s a lot of steps up – and just as many back down, oddly enough.
Even better than the view (and it was absolutely stunning) was the feeling of achievement that came with tackling that tower. We had one proud little girl when she got to the bottom and received that reward sticker.
Crysta Parkinson and her husband Justin have a big, happy “his, hers, and ours” family with six children. An American mom and and a Kiwi dad, they are worldschooling their youngest child, five-year-old Bria, and blogging about their travel adventures at Well Worn Suitcase. They can be found on Facebook and Instagram.
Batu Caves, Malaysia
Climbing 272 stairs is no easy challenge, but imagine doing it in an equatorial climate to visit the most famous Hindu temple outside of India. With sweltering 100 degree F heat and oppressive humidity, the climb to Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur is a difficult, yet rewarding hike.
Batu Caves is a sight to behold. This temple is actually located inside natural caves, high up the side of limestone mountains just outside the heart of KL city. While the stairs are wide, and well maintained…it’s a long hot climb without shade. We had a difficult time, so we took it slow and steady, taking breaks & drinking lots of water. But we couldn’t help but be amazed at the local worshippers who were breezing past us on the stairs…while carrying heavy pots of water on their heads!
Arriving at the top, we were welcomed with a cool breeze from the air inside the caves, as well as a stunning view out over the sprawling city of Kuala Lumpur. After taking a break, we were ready to explore this large cave complex; visiting temples, receiving blessings from priests, and watching ancient Hindu rituals take place. Well worth the sweaty hike!
Sometimes salty & sweet, but always nutty! Josh & Liz from Peanuts or Pretzels Travel Blog are always up for fun, laughter, adventure…and a bit of Geocaching. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter.
Inca Steps, Peru/Bolivia
Our boat leaves the calm harbor and sails into a stiff wind whipping the lake into whitecaps. I don’t much like choppy waters. Lake Titicaca is shared between Peru and Bolivia and sits two miles above sea level. Although I depart from the Peruvian side my destination is an island under Bolivian jurisdiction, Isla del Sol. No border guards or passport control here though.
The boat puts ashore at the base of the Inka Steps, below the village of Yumani. The climb ahead looks formidable, and youngsters earn soles from oxygen-deprived visitors hauling luggage up the 206 uneven steps. I however had anticipated this and spent a week slowly moving from sea-level into the Andes to acclimatize myself.
An Incan arched portal marks the top of this staircase. This is where I meet the guide I’ve hired to lead me to one of the many the pre-Incan shrines dotting this sacred island. We walk a mile along an ancient pilgrimage route to reach a rocky pinnacle littered with faint remains of a temple. Cairns mark the location of an ancient altar, and the snowcapped Andes dominate the view while the deep blue sky above is reflected in the waters below.
Steve Smith is associate editor of the digital magazine In The Know Traveler. His Facebook page (Steve’s Roadtrippin’ Travels) spotlights his latest work demonstrating how space age cartography intersects with digital storytelling.
Tian Tan Buddha (Big Buddha), Hong Kong
Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is one of the top attractions in Hong Kong. This 34 meter tall statue, touted as “one of the world’s largest outdoor bronze statues of a seated Buddha” attracts tourists and local Buddhists alike. The Buddha’s birthday, a public holiday, is an especially lively time to visit. Located near the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island, the Big Buddha can be admired from afar or up close, depending on how game you are for a bit of exercise. If you opt for the closer look, a flight of steep steps (268 to be exact) will lead you to an outdoor platform near the top. Visitors of all ages make the climb but for many, a little rest break along the way is definitely helpful. Once at the top, you will not be disappointed. The reward is a closer look at the Big Buddha but also beautiful panoramic views of Lantau Island and the South China Sea.
Pyramid of the Moon, Mexico
The Pyramid of the Moon is one of the magnificent pyramids built by the Teotihuacan civilization in Mexico between the 1st to 7th Century AD. Located near Mexico City, the archaeological site of Teotihuacan was the first set of ancient ruins we visited in Latin America. The pyramids in Teotihuacan are among the few ancient pyramids in Mexico that are still accessible through their original set of stairs. Although a climb to the third largest pyramid in the world, the Pyramid of the Sun, is more popular to tourists, don’t miss out on the Pyramid of the Moon! The climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Moon offers a stunning panoramic view of the ancient city of Teotihuacan, which includes the outstanding sight of the Pyramid of the Sun and the small temples along the Avenue of the Dead. The stairs are not very steep but the lack of rails require some caution. The top platform of the Pyramid of the Moon is also less crowded so you get the chance to better appreciate Teotihuacan, a place people had referred to in the past as the “City of Gods”.
El Peñón de Guatapé, Colombia
Climbing the 740 stairs of this massive rock reveals an amazing panorama of peninsulas and islands. A sign at the bottom claims it’s the “best view in the world” and once you witness it, that claim almost seems believable. You’re probably thinking that it doesn’t look natural, and you’re right, the lake is a result of a hydroelectric dam built in the 1960s. The climb to the top of the rock, itself a thing of weird beauty, is fairly difficult but doable for even the most out of shape tourist (it might take a while though). At the top you’ll find a couple of cafes selling cold drinks, and plenty of spots to take in the stunning views. It’s easy to visit the lake, and the colourful town of Guatape, as a day trip from Medellin.
From Jon Is Travelling. After leaving New Zealand for a life of English teaching in Asia, Jon is now on an indefinite trip around the world and is currently making his way overland from Mexico to Patagonia. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter.
Mutianyu, The Great Wall of China
They were steep, crooked, of varying heights and there seemed to be an endless number of them. Deciding to forgo the cable car to the top of the Mutianyu portion of the Great Wall of China meant we were hiking up the many, many steps that we were just too tired and hot to count. We’ve heard estimates from between 2000 and 4000 and by the time we reached the top, we didn’t doubt the true number was somewhere in between.
We wanted to make the climb. We wanted to know exactly what it felt like to scale the Great Wall as they had centuries ago and try to comprehend the feat of human strength and ingenuity that created this means of defense. By the time we reached the top we were exhausted, almost out of water and one of us had left a part of themselves, or their lunch rather, at the side of the stairs.
It was when we took that last step and finally saw the view that all our exhaustion disappeared and a sense of triumph took over. The view wasn’t worth all those steps. It was worth a thousand more! Whenever we think of that day we barely remember the fatigue in our legs or the effort it took. We do remember the incredible view and the feeling that we were someplace of significance, experiencing a part of ancient times we were scarcely able to comprehend.
Carolann & Macrae are travel writers, digital nomads and creators of OneModernCouple.com. They are currently travelling the world, sharing their experiences, tips and suggestions one destination at a time. You can find them on Twitter and Facebook.
16th Avenue Tiled Steps, US
The view from the top is indeed grand, but the 163 beautiful tiled steps are the prime destination. Created by a neighborhood group in 2005, San Francisco’s 16th Avenue Tiled Steps are a fabulous, somewhat hidden, urban artwork in Golden Gate Heights. Decorated tiles cover each riser, swirling their way to the top with rich color and beautiful detail—from abstract designs, to fish and birds, to cheese and grapes. Climb slowly so you can fully enjoy the tile art and the plantings that border the stairs.
At the top of the Tiled Steps, cross 15th street and climb another 100+ wooden steps, zigzagging to the top of Grandview Park. Here you can enjoy incredible views, from downtown San Francisco to the Pacific Ocean, including Golden Gate Park and a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. Even when the fog rolls in, as it does on many summer days, the lone bench encourages you to pause, and a short sandy path offers views from every angle. It’s a wonderful pay-off for your climbing efforts.
Julie and Charles McCool are long-time travelers, committed to finding fun wherever they roam. Charles shares money-saving travel tips, destination advice, and profiles of travel experts at McCoolTravel.com. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
Rock of Gibraltar, UK
Standing at just over 400 meters above sea level, the Rock of Gibraltar which was formed during the Jurassic Period, offers those you reach its summit fantastic views across the Mediterranean, Gibraltar and Spain.
The Mediterranean steps provide an arduous way to reach the top of the Rock of Gibraltar but the workout is worth it. There’s plenty of WW2 fortifications and tunnels to spot on the climb up. Just bear in mind that the narrow steps are not recommended for those afraid of heights!
An avid adventurer, Hannah from the travel blog That Adventurer, has been travelling from a young age even climbing Mount Vesuvius at the age of 6! Nowadays she’s learning to balance a 9-6 job with a never-ending wanderlust. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.
Machu Picchu, Peru
When I went to Machu Picchu, in Peru it was during the time when I used to travel very cheap. The route is known for being kind of pricey and it was a funny challenge for me to be able to get there in the cheapest way. So what I did was ask every local and other travelers and finally got to the town down the mountain called Aguas Calientes for around $10 from Cuzco. But then, to get to the ruins you need to go up, and there are two options: take a $15 minibus or walk. So I did. I went up through the highest steps I’ve ever climbed, yeah, it was like climbing those stone steps in certain parts of the route.
Exhausting, but beautiful jungle path. The funniest part of it, was that a little boy was running up and down through the cobbled stairs asking for tips to the ‘rich’ tourists going on the buses, and while I was nearly dying breathless he was jumping and running passing many times until I reached the top of the mountain. And then, you still have lots of other steps while you visit the old city and Huayna Picchu, the mountain facing Machu Picchu ruins. The reward: one of the most beautiful places and scenes I’ve ever seen in all my travels, this is still one of my favorite viewpoints ever!
In the middle of the Guatemalan jungle, you can find the ancient Mayan ruins of Tikal. There are a few temples, all of which you can climb by going up man-made wooden staircases. Visitors are no longer allowed to climb the temples’ original steps. The last temple we climbed was a bit different, however. The wooden steps might as well have been a ladder; they went straight up! My heart was pounding by the time I got to the top, but it was worth the adrenaline rush. You could see the top of the jungle canopy, with the tops of temples poking through.
Do you think these views were worth the climb? Have you climbed any of these stairs?