Whether you’re picnicking in the park or indulging in gourmet cuisine, the location is just as important as the food itself – after all, who could forget toasting champagne at the pinnacle of the Eiffel Tower or sharing dessert with a window-view over the thundering Niagara Falls? From a personal-butler service atop the world’s highest Ferris wheel to an authentic Aussie barbecue under the outback stars, here are 12 of the world’s best locations for dinner with a view.
1. Dinner on the Melbourne Colonial Tramcar
Eating on the move isn’t normally recommended, but relaxing on-board a luxury restaurant-on-wheels as you chug through the historic streets of Melbourne is a clear exception. Hop on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant where you’ll not only get to experience the old-world ambiance of the 1948 vintage tramcar itself – decked out with lavish velvet and brass fittings – but you’ll get a tour of Melbourne’s landmark sights as you eat. Silver-service waiters dish up a decadent 5 courses, as you wind through the city streets, the verdant Albert Park and the bustling suburb of St Kilda.
2. A barbecue under the stars at Uluru/Ayers Rock
You can’t visit Australia without taking part in the country’s most famous tradition, a barbecue, but forget flipping burgers in the backyard – a real outback BBQ needs to be set under twinkling stars. Explore the vast red desert of central Australia and dine with a view of the country’s most iconic natural landmark – Ayers Rock. Known as Uluru to the Aboriginals, the giant sandstone mass – the world’s second-largest monolith – is located on a major planetary grid point and revered as a sacred place among the Aboriginal tribes. Opt for the Sounds of Silence Restaurant or an Uluru (Ayers Rock) Outback Barbecue Dinner and Star Tour where you’ll get to discover the UNESCO World Heritage listed natural wonder up close (climbing the mountain is forbidden out of respect to the aboriginal communities) and sample a true Aussie-style barbecue with a backdrop of the mount. Throw a ‘shrimp (or a kangaroo sausage) on the barbie’ as the sun sets over the desert plains, then lay back for a natural cosmic light show as you spot star constellations in the clear desert skies.
3. Dining in the revolving Sydney Tower
Once you’ve tackled the outback wilderness and dined on the rails, finish off your tour of Australia with a view of the cosmopolitan cultural capital from above. Towering 300 meters over Sydney city center, the Sydney Tower Restaurant is the highest revolving restaurant in the Southern Hemisphere, with panoramic views stretching all the way to the distant Blue Mountains. Join an all-you-can-eat dinner buffet at the top of the city’s tallest building and eat to a backdrop of the glittering Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera house and the golden sands of Bondi Beach. The adventurous can even brave the Skywalk – a glass-floor viewing platform running around the iconic golden turret at a dizzying 268 meters. Better try it on an empty stomach first!
4. Eating at a Paris icon in the Eiffel Tower
Few counties offer such a winning combination of incredible cuisine and undeniably romantic surroundings as Paris and where better to experience the magic of the City of Lights than from the top of the magnificent Eiffel Tower? Climbing the 1,710 steps to the top floor of Gustave Eiffel’s 19th-century masterpiece (or at least riding the elevator) is a must, but for the ultimate experience, enjoy an Eiffel Tower Dinner and Seine River Cruise. The Eiffel Tower’s Restaurant 58 is one of the most fashionable brassieres in town, where you’ll get to tuck into aperitifs and sip wine with a birds-eye view over the surrounding Trocadéro gardens and the Paris skyline.
5. Hawaii dinner cruises
If you prefer your vistas with white sand and rippling ocean, take your dinner date to America’s most tropical state, Hawaii, where you can add Hawaiian dancers, swaying palm trees and rainbow-colored lei (garlands) to the occasion. Sail along the idyllic Kohala coast on an Oahu Sunset Dinner Cruise, where you’ll soon be enraptured with the views – cobalt-blue waves, sculpted coastal cliffs and a molten sunset setting the beaches alight. You’ll even travel out past the landmark Diamond Head to discover the deserted bays and hidden coves of Oahu, and keep your eyes on the waters too, as whales can often be seen peeking out of the waves.
6. Breaking records on the Singapore Flyer
Forget the iconic London Eye and the dazzling Texas Star; the Singapore Flyer takes the prize for the world’s highest observation wheel, soaring an vertigo-inducing 541 feet in the air. Best of all, you can even dine on board with your own luxury butler service serving up a four course spread as the wheel completes two rotations. The expansive panoramas not only offer fantastic bird’s eye views over Marina Bay, Singapore River and the Raffles Place financial district, but on clear days you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of foreign shores, with neighboring countries Malaysia and Indonesia lying within view. Better get there quick though – Beijing’s 682-foot Great Observation Wheel and the 550-foot Las Vegas High Roller are both under construction, so it looks like Singapore won’t be holding its title for much longer.
7. Dinner on Victoria Peak in Hong Kong
There’s no better place to marvel over Hong Kong’s dazzling neon lights and imposing skyscrapers than from the famous Victoria Peak, the city’s highest and most popular observation point. Reached by the Peak Tram, a 120-year-old funicular railway, the mountain offers expansive vistas over the lively harbor below, as well as 360-degree panoramas from the Peak Tower viewing terrace. Take a Hong Kong Harbor Night Cruise and Dinner at Victoria Peak tour, where you’ll get to soak up the city lights from the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant (Bubba Gump’s) at the top of The Peak Tower and follow it with a romantic night cruise along the Victoria Harbor in a traditional Chinese boat.
8. 360-degree views at KL Tower, Kuala Lumpur
Built in 1995, the iconic Kuala Lumpur (KL) Tower is the city’s tallest building, boasting the highest public viewpoint in the Malaysian capital. High-speed elevators whisk visitors to the top floor of the futuristic telecommunications tower where the observation deck offers mind-blowing city views at over 900 feet above street level. At the top, the Seri Angkasa Revolving Restaurant serves up a buffet of local cuisine where you’ll get 360-degree city views without having to move from your chair. Of course, you could always just grab a Big Mac a few floors down, at allegedly the world’s highest McDonald’s.
9. London’s highest meal at The Shard
Opening its highly anticipated 72ndfloor rooftop observation deck – London’s highest lookout point at 800 feet above street level – in February 2013, The Shard’s spectacular architecture, fashioned from glass panels that change colors in the light like a gigantic ‘shard of glass’, presents magnificent views even from ground level. Diners can choose from a range of world-renowned restaurants spread over 3 floors of the futuristic skyscraper, designed by legendary architectural visionary Renzo Piano and now the E.U’s tallest building measuring in at 1,016 feet. Housed in a glistening glass atrium on the 31st to 33rd floors, this is dining with a view at its most spectacular, with 360-degree views taking in Big Ben, the houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace and a host of other key sights. The only downside is you’ll have to wait – the restaurants aren’t set to open until later in 2013.
10. The View Restaurant, NYC
The most iconic lookout points might be from the Statue of Liberty and the Top of the Rock observation deck, but for dinner with a view, New York’s highest restaurant is a worthy rival. The aptly named The View is New York’s only revolving restaurant, located on the 48th floor of the Marriot Marquis hotel, where you can indulge in a varied menu of international cuisine, or just sip a cocktail in the lounge bar while taking in the spectacular views over Times Square and the Broadway Theater District below. If vertigo-inducing heights aren’t your thing, explore the glittering Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building from street level, with a New York Dinner Cruise along the famous Hudson River, instead.
11. Watching Niagara Falls at Skylon Tower
For a waterfront view you can’t get more dramatic than looking out over the colossal Niagara Falls from the area’s highest viewing point. The landmark Skylon Tower presides over the Canadian Horseshoe Falls – the largest of the Niagara’s three falls stretching an awe-inspiring 2,600 feet wide and reaching heights of 173 feet. Take to the sky-high revolving dining room for a view that changes with each course, spanning the American Falls, Niagara Falls, the Great Gorge, the Niagara wine district and, on clear days, as far as the city skylines of Buffalo, New York and Toronto. For the ultimate experience, enjoy an atmospheric evening dinner set to an explosive backdrop of fireworks over the floodlit Horseshoe Falls.
12. Eating at the Top of Europe at the Eiger Glacier Mountain Restaurant in Switzerland
If dining on the brink of a vast glacier sounds like the perfect adventure, you’ll find few views more wondrous than those from the famous Eiger Glacier Mountain Restaurant. Teetering on the icy foothills between the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains, the terrace restaurant lies at 7,618 feet (2322 meters), surrounded by a wintry wilderness of snowy peaks, glistening glacial passes and icy streams. Reached by train on the famously picturesque Jungfrau railway, you can make a day of it and carry on to Jungfraujoch – the Top of Europe at the end of the line. The highest railway station in Europe is a destination in itself, towering an incredible 11,333 feet (3,454 meters) above sea level, but most famous is the Sphinx Observation Terrace, overlooking Europe’s longest glacier, the Aletsch Glacier.
– Zoë Smith