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Top 5: Elevator rides

You’ll need a head for heights to appreciate the drop-dead gorgeous views in our roundup of the world’s most exhilarating elevator rides

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Gateway Arch elevator, USA. Image: Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch elevator, USA. Image: Gateway Arch

01 Gateway Arch, USA
Take a deep breath before stepping into one of the white pods zipping up and down the USA’s tallest monument — the glass doors reveal the mechanical ingenuity of this 630ft icon, and the Mississippi, snaking through St Louis far below. Designed by Eero Saarinen, the Arch commemorates Thomas Jefferson and St Louis’ role in the westward expansion of the US.

Heron Tower elevator, UK. Image: Corbis

Heron Tower elevator, UK. Image: Corbis

02 Heron Tower, UK
Shoot up this skyscraper, the tallest building in the City of London — at an ear-popping seven metres per second — for staggering views of this financial heartland. For added kudos, mingle with the modish set in its revered restaurants, Duck & Waffle and Sushisamba.

Bailong elevator, China. Image: Corbis

Bailong elevator, China. Image: Corbis

03 Bailong Elevator, China
Inducing vertigo even in the fearless, the 1,070ft Bailong Elevator— the highest and heaviest outdoor elevator in the world — scales a cliff, leaving you to swoon over the spectacular sandstone karst pillars of the UNESCO-listed Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area.

Westin St. Francis elevator, USA. Image: Starwood

Westin St. Francis elevator, USA. Image: Starwood

04 Westin St. Francis, USA
You don’t have to stay in this swish San Francisco hotel to reap the rewards. All you have to do is head for reception, then follow the signs towards the glass Tower Elevators — taking sneaky shoestring travellers 32 storeys up at 305 metres a minute, with stupendous views of Union Square unfolding below.

Hammetschwand Lift elevator, Switzerland. Image: Getty

Hammetschwand Lift elevator, Switzerland. Image: Getty

05 Hammetschwand Lift, Switzerland
Wide-eyed travellers have been riding this 1,070ft elevator — Europe’s highest public external lift — since it first opened its doors in 1905 at the Bürgenstock Resort. Reopening this spring after renovations, thrill-seekers start their ascent inside the mountain before emerging for spectacular views of the Alps and Lake Lucerne’s blue waters. 


Published in the April 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)