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  • Nicole Connolly | March 18, 2015 1:00 AM ET

    The World’s 5 Most Scenic Ferris Wheels

    The World’s 5 Most Scenic Ferris Wheels

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

    It used to be about who had the tallest tower, but in recent years the Ferris wheel has become a source of civic pride and competitiveness. These vast circular structures have been around for over a century.

    The first Ferris wheel was built by Mr. Ferris himself in 1893 for a World Exposition in Chicago in a direct “we can too” response to France's new Eiffel Tower. The craze for these playful pieces of technology took off, and in recent years they have made something of a comeback. This time, though, construction techniques have enabled a bigger, better and brighter wheel experience. We take a look at some of the world’s most scenic Ferris wheels.

    The oldest wheel, the only survivor from the golden age of the Ferris wheel, is Vienna's Giant Wheel, the Wiener Riesenrad (pictured above). This was built in 1897 and stands at 64.75 meters. A setting loved by filmmakers, the wheel has featured in numerous movies over the decades. It was bombed by the Allies in World War II but was rebuilt after the war with 15 of its original 30 enclosed gondolas.

    A journey takes 20 minutes with views over the fairgrounds and forests of Vienna's extensive Prater Park and the picturesque city itself. At night the wheel sends out a blaze of flashing lights on the hour, a flash for each hour so that it doubles as a public clock for much of Vienna. It is a must-see amongst the world’s most scenic Ferris Wheels.

    Dramatic views do not get any more dramatic than those from the Niagara Skywheel on the Canadian side of the border at Clifton Hill. The Canadians have a superior view of the falls, and the sight of this world wonder from the Skywheel is one of the best. At 53.5 meters tall, it takes 15 minutes to make a revolution overlooking the largest and most spectacular Horseshoe Falls and also takes in the smaller American Falls and the Niagara River. It really is worth the trip over the border.

    Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

    A wheel which immediately gained icon status, the London Eye or Millennium Wheel is now 14 years old and a must-do tourist attraction for visitors to the city. The sheer size of this sprawling metropolis can be overwhelming from the ground, but the city lends itself perfectly to an aerial viewing. At 135 meters tall and 120 meters wide, the Eye is the biggest wheel in Europe. The brilliant design feature of this wheel is the positioning of the 32 capsules on the exterior rim of the wheel enabling uninterrupted 360-degree views.

    Photo courtesy of London & Partners

    On a clear day, it is possible to see a distance of 25 kilometers from the city. But it really is the views over London that put it on the world’s most scenic Ferris Wheels list. With views of the Thames, the corridors of parklands that crisscross the city and all the old tourist favorites - Westminster, Houses of Parliament, and the Tower of London to name just a few.

    Another show-stopper is the Eurowheel in Ravenna, Italy. The wheel is part of the Mirabilandia Amusement Park and at 90 meters tall gives the passenger a superb view of the wooded areas of the park, the coastal beaches and inlets of the region. In the distance is the ancient city of Ravenna with is Byzantine, Medieval and Baroque architecture. The wheel is the brightest in Europe with 50,000 light bulbs.

    Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

    It only seems right that the mother of all Ferris wheels should live in Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps. The High Roller opened in 2014, and at 167 meters tall (that is 51 stories high) and 160 meters wide it is currently the biggest wheel operating in the world. Positioned right on the strip, its 30-minute revolution gives passengers in the glass sphere carriages views over the whole city and notable casinos.

    Photo courtesy of Caesars Entertainment Corporation

    During the day, you can see out to the desert and the mountains fringing Las Vegas. At night, trips in this neon wonderland are spectacular. Passengers pass through a bar on their way to their capsule, with time to pick up a drink to take aloft. Then in true LV tradition, the High Roller comes to life with a 2000 LED system producing solid colored light, and once in motion the wheel becomes a giant kaleidoscope!


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Nicole Connolly Suitcase Stories' Luxe Life Travel Tales and Tips

Nicole Connolly Nicole, along with her husband Michael, left her ordinary life behind for a life of extraordinary travel. The couple left Australia in March 2012 and have been traveling ever since. Nicole has a penchant for all things luxury and this shows in their lifestyle. They may live the life of a gypsy but they certainly know how to do it in style. Their goal is to share their experiences and show others how a life of luxury is possible without the big bank account. Follow their adventures at
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