Visiting the World's Tallest Buildings & Towers in a Wheelchair

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Selfie of John in front of the PETRONAS Twin Towers.
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After my car accident, I wiped my travel bucket list clean. I'm a new man, given a second chance at life, and free to discover whatever strikes my fancy. But the path of exploration is different now - my power wheelchair has to come along for the ride. In fact, it is my ride! :p

Travel addicts set goals for themselves, and the same is true for wheelchair travelers. My list is long and typical of a lifelong traveler, with visiting every country and all 7 continents at the top. As a fan of architecture, though, I've decided to pursue the 25 tallest buildings, and also the 25 tallest towers in the world. In this blog post, I'd like to catalogue my pursuit of the top 25. I'll be sure to update this post as I see more. Also, I'm only counting a tower as visited if I have been there in my wheelchair!

25 Tallest Buildings in the World

I've dropped a list of the 25 tallest buildings in the world. They hail from the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Here are a few pictures to whet your appetite:

Now, to the list... if they are bolded, that means I have visited. But keep in mind, not every one of these buildings is open to the public, and even fewer contain an observation deck. Some of the buildings, like 23 Marina in Dubai - I have only admired from the outside. If the building's name is linked, that link will lead you to an article detailing my experience there.

  1. Burj Khalifa - Dubai, U.A.E.
  2. Shanghai Tower - Shanghai, China
  3. Abraj Al-Bait Clock Tower - Mecca, Saudi Arabia
  4. Ping An Finance Center - Shenzhen, China
  5. Lotte World Tower - Seoul, South Korea
  6. One World Trade Center - New York City, USA
  7. CTF Finance Center - Guangzhou, China
  8. Taipei 101 - Taipei, Taiwan
  9. Shanghai World Financial Center - Shanghai, China
  10. International Commerce Centre - Hong Kong
  11. Petronas Twin Towers (Towers 1 & 2) - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  12. Zifeng Tower - Nanjing, China
  13. Willis Tower (Sears Tower) - Chicago, USA
  14. KK100 - Shenzhen, China
  15. Guangzhou International Finance Center - Guangzhou, China
  16. Wuhan Center - Wuhan, China
  17. Marina 101 - Dubai, U.A.E.
  18. 437 Park Avenue - New York City, USA
  19. Trump International Hotel and Tower - Chicago, USA
  20. Jin Mao Tower - Shanghai, China
  21. Princess Tower - Dubai, U.A.E.
  22. Al Hamra Tower - Kuwait City, Kuwait
  23. Two International Finance Center - Hong Kong
  24. 23 Marina - Dubai, U.A.E.

The world's coolest buildings aren't limited to just the 25 tallest. Here are a select few skyscrapers I have also visited that deserve a mention in any architectural tourism post:

  1. Empire State Building - New York City, USA
  2. JW Marriott Marquis Dubai (Towers 1 & 2) - Dubai, U.A.E.
  3. Stratosphere - Las Vegas, USA
  4. John Hancock Center - Chicago, USA
  5. Chrysler Building - New York City, USA
  6. U.S. Bank Tower - Los Angeles, USA
  7. Baiyoke Tower II - Bangkok, Thailand

I'm more than halfway done with my pursuit of the 25 tallest buildings in the world, but many of the ones I'm missing are in faraway places. I hope to check off more of them soon!

25 Tallest Towers in the World

In addition to tall buildings, the world is filled with towering towers. 😉 Allow me to share a couple photos - here are two of my favorite towers:

Now, to the second list... Towers are interesting, as they are built primarily for the purpose of telecommunications. While many have interior areas that have been converted to observation decks, some are just towers... boring, with nothing to do inside.

  1. Tokyo Skytree - Tokyo, Japan
  2. Canton Tower - Guangzhou, China
  3. CN Tower - Toronto, Canada
  4. Ostankino Tower - Moscow, Russia
  5. Oriental Pearl Tower - Shanghai, China
  6. Milad Tower - Tehran, Iran
  7. KL Tower - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  8. Tianjin Radio & Television Tower - Tianjin, China
  9. Central Radio & TV Tower - Beijing, China
  10. Zhongyuan Tower - Zhengzhou, China
  11. Kiev TV Tower - Kiev, Ukraine
  12. Tashkent Tower - Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  13. Liberation Tower - Kuwait City, Kuwait
  14. Almaty Tower - Almaty, Kazakhstan
  15. Riga Radio and TV Tower - Riga, Latvia
  16. Berlin Fernsehturm - Berlin, Germany
  17. Stratosphere Tower - Las Vegas, Nevada
  18. West Pearl Tower - Chengdu, China
  19. Macau Tower - Macau
  20. Europaturm - Frankfurt, Germany
  21. Dragon Tower - Harbin, China
  22. Tokyo Tower - Tokyo, Japan
  23. Emley Moor TV Tower - Huddersfield, United Kingdom
  24. WITI TV Tower - Shorewood, Wisconsin, United States
  25. Sky Tower - Auckland, New Zealand

Just like buildings, there are some iconic towers outside the 25 tallest. Here are some of my favorites (I've visited them all!):

  1. Eiffel Tower - Paris, France
  2. Olympiaturm - Munich, Germany
  3. Olympic Park Observation Tower - Beijing, China
  4. Rheinturm Düsseldorf - Düsseldorf, Germany
  5. Žižkov Television Tower - Prague, Czech Republic
  6. Cairo Tower - Cairo, Egypt

Many towers lack the accessibility of modern skyscrapers. One of my favorite towers, the Berlin Fernsehturm, is off-limits to wheelchair users. It's accessible, but a German safety law prohibits me from visiting the top due to my mobility impairment. Others, like the Eiffel Tower, are only partially accessible.

I've seen only a handful of the top 25 tallest towers, but I'm hoping to see more of them soon - particularly the European ones, as they'll be much easier to reach.

Final Thoughts

In 2015, I wrote an article in which I stated that chasing sights and destinations will leave you empty. But here I am, chasing tall structures. What gives, you may ask?

Whenever I travel, I am looking for an experience, not a destination. I'm not visiting these buildings and towers for a picture or a blog post - I'm going to uncover an experience. Most of the time, what I'm looking for is unknown to me. But travel yields surprises.

At the KL Tower in Kuala Lumpur, I had an opportunity to play with a kangaroo. At the Žižkov Television Tower in Prague, I marveled at an interesting art display. At the Oriental Pearl Tower in Shanghai, I met a beautiful family from India. And at One World Trade Center, I memorialized a lost friend. My love of travel and desire to explore the heights of architecture are what made each of these experiences (and many more) possible.

Don't travel for an Instagram photo - travel to open your world.

  • I totally want to jump on board with chasing tall buildings and towers! How fun – and definitely different to the usual lists! Keep up with the awesome goals John!

  • Gokul

    Very good post….never saw anyone chase tall buildings. A unique post. Keep up the good work!!!

  • JustGoPlaces

    you are really inspirational! good for you. I am not a fan of tall buildings (vertigo!!) but my kids are. I can definitely see your list above as something they would want to check off. We’ve only been to 4 of the towers you list … that means plenty more to visit as far as they are concerned.

  • Great post! I am a fan of tall buildings, love the thrill of looking down! Good on you for being so positive and good luck on your goal 🙂

  • Arzo Travels

    First of all I think you are such a positive role model for many. I love reading about your adventures and the the accident has not stopped you to travel. Also, I love reading about the two building because I absolutely loved them and they are one of my fave buildings ever (more impressive than Burj Khalifa).

    • Thats for your kind words! And yes, the Petronas Twin Towers are definitely impressive! Beautiful sight, staring up at them from the nearby park.

  • Punita Malhotra

    This is an interesting goal…seeing the tallest towers in the world. It got me thinking about if i had to make a travel-list-goal, what would it be! Good luck with your list. I hope you tick off all of them as soon as possible 🙂

  • Melody Pittman

    Hey John, I was just wondering about you a few days ago. I had not seen any posts from you in awhile. Glad to see you are staying busy. I have only been to a couple of these. I love that you have Sears Tower in parentheses. It will always be that to me. LOL

    • Thanks, Melody! I have been traveling a lot this month, but now have a lot more to write about! 🙂

  • Wow! So many tall towers. I’m glad that you’re able to visit so many of them and you’ve made it a goal to travel to them! Best of luck in achieving your travel dreams 🙂

  • I suppose I should include the height measurements for each of these!

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