Famous NYC Landmarks & the Most Instagrammable Places to Take Pictures in NYC

If you’ve never been to New York before (and honestly, even if you have) everything is visually stunning; from the beautiful buildings to the street performers – the places and people of NYC have such character.

Many of us are probably still lacking that sense of restraint that prevents us from taking a picture of each different subway station sign with the sepia filter from Instagram.

Our travel experts are here to help you find the best places in NYC to take pictures from your trip.

Best Ways to See Famous NYC Landmarks

There’s plenty of great places to snap the perfect instagram photo of famous NYC landmarks during your trip.

Here are a few fun ways to help you get around while sightseeing…

  • Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours
  • Sightseeing Cruises
  • Bike Rentals
  • Walking Tours

Here’s some more info on fun New York sightseeing tours.

Many of the photo opps we listed below are located near some of the top attractions in the New York – so you can combine the best sights with the best things to do.

See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.

Best Places to Take Pictures in NYC

1. The Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty Night View

The Statue of Liberty is an iconic NYC landmark and component of the New York skyline, although it’s technically located in New Jersey waters.

Your best angles for photographs will likely come from a ferry ride or cruise ship, as that will give you an unobstructed view in a way that the perspective from land won’t be able to provide.

If you take the ferry to Liberty Island, you can also get gorgeous shots from below.

2. The view from the Top of the Rock

Everyone flocks to the Empire State Building for the best bird’s-eye views of the city, but the Top of the Rock is actually more propitiously located for the photography buff.

Due to a construction boom in the area around the Empire State Building the last few decades, you actually don’t get an unobstructed view from the top the way you used to.

The Top of the Rock is farther away from its taller neighbors, so you’ll see a better vista of the city below.

3. The Brooklyn Bridge

The Brooklyn Bridge, as seen from DUMBO.

The Brooklyn Bridge, as seen from DUMBO.

As the first ever steel wire suspension bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge is actually now National Historic Landmark. Although it’s no longer the largest such bridge in the world, it’s still a beautiful and instantly recognizable piece of New York architecture.

Walk or bike across this national treasure for shots of the supporting structure from below, or take a picture from a Brooklyn neighborhood like DUMBO for a great perspective from a distance.

Bonus – most shots of the Bridge are taken from the Manhattan side, so a shot from Brooklyn itself will be unique.

4. Central Park

It’s hard to list just one thing to take a photo of here, although you certainly shouldn’t try to take them all.

To revisit my earlier warning, you can literally take a few hundred pictures between the flowering trees, hidden sculpture gardens, and charming waterfalls.

The best approach may be to take a guided tour of the Park, as this will highlight the best features and the elements New Yorkers consider the most valuable.

Central Park is beautiful year-round, but late spring through early fall as the best times to visit in terms of greenery.

5. The Gardens at the Cloisters

New York City photography

The stavesacre flower, blooming in the Medieval Garden

The sister organization to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters Museum combines a specialized collection of art, artifacts, and even architecture with the charming setting of a medieval cloister.

They’re best known for their collection of the famed Unicorn Tapestries (which you can definitely not photograph), but they also have a lovely series of gardens designed to mimic the gardens that were planted in medieval monasteries. Historical AND naturally beautiful!

6. Grand Central Terminal

New York City photography

The restored Main Concourse ceiling at Grand Central Terminal

Located right in Midtown Manhattan, Grand Central is the main commuter train hub for New York City.

Take a stroll around to soak up all the details you’ll recognize from movies, and be sure to visit the awe-inspiring ceiling in the Main Concourse, a beautiful work of art which has only recently completed a long-term restoration project.

Fun fact: despite the first versions of the station having been built as early as 1871, Grand Central remains the largest train station in the world.

7. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Image credit: www.bbg.org

Image credit: www.bbg.org

If you’re interested in nature photography, New York City has a surprising amount of nature for you to explore that spans the gamut from local trees and wildlife in the larger parks to exotic flowers and imported plants in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Along with the Brooklyn Museum, the Botanic Garden is part of Brooklyn’s collection of 19th century architecture and landscape – a wonderfully restored and preserved section of the city that will almost make you feel like you’ve stepped into a period film.

8. St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Image credit: Saint Patrick's Cathedral Facebook page.

Image credit: Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Facebook page.

While there are literally dozens of beautiful historical churches and other religious structures in New York, St. Patrick’s has always been my favorite.

Unlike some others, it is still a currently operational Catholic Church, so it’s not always easy to tour the interior of the building – but it is definitely worth trying to visit in between masses.

With its stained glass windows, artisan-crafted altar, and famous statues and sculptures, this Neo-Gothic structure will remind you of an Italian church. It’s also right in Midtown Manhattan, making it very easy for visitors to find.

Plus, they’ve recently completed a total renovation of the facade, so it’s definitely worth a second look even if you’ve seen it before! You can even take a Rockefeller Center tour after your photo shoot, since you’ll be right there.

9. William the Hippo at the Met

New York City photography

William the Hippo; photo copyright Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is known around the world for its prestigious collection of art and artifacts, a collection with particular strengths in Egyptian artifacts.

While you can find everything from the almost fully-reconstructed Temple of Dendur (dating from 15 BC) to beautifully restored sarcophagi, this faience sculpture of a hippopotamus is one of the museum’s favorite pieces.

Affectionately called William, this little hippo has become an icon of the Museum itself. Fortunately, you can take photos of most of the sculpture and architecture in the Egyptian collection, so snap away to your heart’s content!

10. The Lions at the New York Public Library

Image credit: nypl.org

Patience, one of the lions. Image credit: nypl.org

In addition to being a fabulous working library (one of the two largest public libraries in the country, in fact), the NYPL is a must-see for lovers of architecture, history, and of course, books.

The main building is the most recognizable to visitors, with its front entrance guarded by two reposing lion statues – one of my favorite sites in NYC as a kid.

It has been open to the public since 1911 and has served the people of New York since. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark and boasts an impressive collection of materials, among which is a rare copy of the Gutenberg Bible.

Let’s Recap

While this list is by no means exhaustive, it does contain a bunch of our favorite places to take pictures in NYC.

From the most popular attractions to skyline views and scenic parks, there’s something to suit every taste when it comes to NYC photo opportunities.

Remember, a number of these famous NYC landmarks and attractions are available with the Go NYC Card, where you can save on combined admission prices vs. paying at the gate.

New York City Explorer Pass

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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