Bridges are an underrated piece of architecture. When people think of engineering marvels, they’re more likely to think of soaring skyscrapers, elaborate buildings, and historic churches. But famous bridges are just as impressive, if not more.
They’re used to get you where you need to go, and some are traversed by thousands of people each day. From striking American bridges to ancient Roman aqueducts, these structures are one of a kind.
It’s time to discover the most famous bridges and what makes them so unique.
31 Famous Bridges
Table of Contents
- 31 Famous Bridges
- 1. Sydney Harbour Bridge
- 2. Golden Gate Bridge
- 3. Brooklyn Bridge
- 4. Bixby Creek Bridge
- 5. Royal Gorge Bridge
- 6. Mackinac Bridge
- 7. Confederation Bridge
- 8. Alcantara Bridge
- 9. Vasco da Gama Bridge
- 10. Ponte Vecchio
- 11. Rialto Bridge
- 12. Bridge of Sighs
- 13. St Angelo Bridge
- 14. Charles Bridge
- 15. Szechenyi Chain Bridge
- 16. Stari Most Bridge
- 17. Forth Bridge
- 18. Millennium Bridge
- 19. Tower Bridge
- 20. Glenfinnan Viaduct
- 21. Clifton Suspension Bridge
- 22. Millau Bridge
- 23. Pont du Gard Aqueduct
- 24. Great Belt Bridge
- 25. Chapel Bridge
- 26. Sunniberg Bridge
- 27. Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge
- 28. Tsing Ma Bridge
- 29. Helix Bridge
- 30. Khaju Bridge
- 31. Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge
- Famous Bridges | Final Thoughts
From fun facts to construction timelines and how you can visit them, here is everything you need to know about the world’s most famous bridges.
1. Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic Australian landmark. Spanning the dazzling Sydney Harbour, it’s the picture postcard image of the city.
It was built from 1923 to 1932 and has an arch-based design that gave it the nickname “the coat hanger” with locals. You can drive or walk across the bridge any time of day. It’s open 24/7 and free of charge. You can also book a guided bridge climb for jaw-dropping panoramic views of the city.
2. Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is synonymous with San Francisco. The suspension bridge spans the Golden Gate, the strait between San Francisco and Marin County in California. Construction lasted from 1933 to 1937.
The massive bright red-orange structure is considered the most photographed bridge in the world. You can admire it in several ways: on foot, on a bicycle, or if you want to see it from a different angle, take a Golden Gate bay cruise.
3. Brooklyn Bridge
Image from Chris Molloy on Pexels
There are lots of famous bridges in New York, but the Brooklyn Bridge is the most well-known.
It was built from 1869 to 1883 and is one of the United States’ oldest suspension bridges. Crossing over the East River, it links the borough of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
You can walk or cycle across or stroll the Brooklyn Bridge Pedestrian Walkway. You’ll be treated to incredible views of the city’s skyline. It’s suggested to go early in the morning to avoid the flocks of daytime tourists.
4. Bixby Creek Bridge
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Bixby Creek Bridge, also commonly called the Bixby Canyon Bridge, rests along the breathtaking Big Sur coastline in California. Due to its artistic design and dramatic surrounding scenery, it’s one of the most photographed bridges in the state.
This reinforced concrete open-spandrel arch bridge opened in 1932. It’s set right next to the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. If you want to get out of your car to admire this impressive structure and take pictures of it, there is parking on the ocean side at the north end of the bridge.
5. Royal Gorge Bridge
Image from K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash
The Royal Gorge Bridge is a striking suspension bridge that crosses the Arkansas River near Canon City, Colorado. It was constructed from June 1929 to November 1929 and features 1292 wooden planks that cover giant steel structures.
You can walk across the bridge or soar through the sky on the aerial gondola next to the bridge.
The surrounding area is an inviting and thrilling destination for tourists. There’s an amusement park, mountain climbing, sky diving opportunities, river rafting excursions, and more.
6. Mackinac Bridge
Image from jasongillman on Pixabay
The Mackinac Bridge is a lengthy suspension bridge that stretches over the Straits of Mackinac in Northern Michigan. It connects the Upper and Lower peninsulas of the state. Or, more specifically, the city of St. Ignace with the village of Mackinaw City.
It opened in 1957 as the Western Hemisphere’s longest suspension bridge between anchorages. As of December 2022, this record still stands. The total length is about 8 km.
The bridge is a toll bridge that’s used strictly for highway traffic. However, you can walk across once a year on Labor Day; this is when the Mackinac Bridge Walk takes place.
7. Confederation Bridge
The Confederation Bridge is an impressive box girder bridge that rests over the Abegweit Passage of the Northumberland Strait. It opened in 1997 and links the Canadian provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, which gives residents and visitors of the island easy access to the mainland.
Stretching for 12.9 km, it’s the longest bridge in the world that crosses ice-covered water. It takes about 15 minutes to drive across, and the panoramic views of the water you’ll be treated to are jaw-droppingly beautiful.
8. Alcantara Bridge
Image from MemoryCatcher on Pixabay
The Alcántara Bridge crosses over the Tagus River in Spain. It’s an ancient Roman bridge that was built between 104 and 106. The Roman Emperor Trajan ordered the bridge to be built, and he was honored with the triumphal arch in the middle and the small temple at the end.
The old structure has suffered more damage from war than natural causes, but it still stands tall and proud. It’s in remarkably good condition and is still functional to this day.
9. Vasco da Gama Bridge
Image from asdeliciasdabela on Pixabay
Vasco da Gama Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge laid over the Tagus river in Lisbon, Portugal. As of December 2022, it’s the longest bridge in Europe; it runs for about 12 km. Construction of this very lengthy structure lasted from 1995 to 1998.
It’s named after the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who is believed to be the first European to travel to India via the Atlantic Ocean. He sailed there at the end of the 15th century.
There isn’t a pedestrian footpath or cycle lane on the bridge. The only way to travel across is by motor vehicle.
10. Ponte Vecchio
Image from Rangoni Gianluca on Pexels
Ponte Vecchio is a stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge that rests over the Arno River in Florence, Italy. It’s been standing since 1345 and was the only bridge in the city not destroyed or damaged during the Second World War.
The area around the bridge is famous for containing many high-end jewelry stores, art dealers, and souvenir shops. It’s an enchanting place to visit any time of day, but when the sunsets, it becomes even more magical.
11. Rialto Bridge
Rialto Bridge is the oldest of the four bridges that cross over the Grand Canal in Venice. The single-arched bridge has been standing since 1591. It connects the city center with the well-known Rialto Markets.
Whether you cross the bridge on foot or travel below it on a gondola ride, seeing this famous bridge is a must when visiting Venice. If you want to admire it without hordes of tourists, you’ll need to arrive early in the morning or late in the evening.
12. Bridge of Sighs
The Bridge of Sighs is another beautiful old bridge in Venice, Italy. The enclosed structure is made of white limestone and features several windows with bars over them. It passes over the Rio di Palazzo canal and has been standing since 1603.
The bridge connects the New Prison to Doge’s Palace. Back in the day, the view from the bridge was the last sight of Venice that convicts would see before being imprisoned. It’s believed that the prisoners would sigh upon seeing their final view of the beautiful city before being taken to their cells.
13. St Angelo Bridge
Image from valtercirillo on Pixabay
St Angelo Bridge, also known as Ponte Sant’Angelo, is one of the most beautiful bridges in Rome. This pedestrian walkway was built in 134 AD by order of Roman Emperor Hadrian.
The structure’s five arches span the Tiber River, leading to the historic Castel Sant’Angelo. It features several larger angel statues that add to the bridge’s charm.
At night, the area is illuminated with lights and the soft glow of the moon. Visiting it is a magical experience that everyone should experience when in Rome.
14. Charles Bridge
Image from Duernsteiner on Pixabay
The Charles Bridge is one of Europe’s most recognizable bridges. The medieval gothic stone arch bridge spans the Vltava River in Prague, Czech Republic. It’s been around for a very long time; construction started in 1357 and finished in 1402.
Today, it’s one of the most visited attractions in Prague. It provides many different views of the city and contains dozens of unique statues. Painters and other traders set up along the bridge path, showcasing their work and selling various items.
15. Szechenyi Chain Bridge
Image from Yuki Matsukura on Unsplash
The Szechenyi Chain Bridge towers over the River Danube. It connects Buda and Pest, the west and east sides of the Hungarian capital of Budapest.
It opened in 1849 and was highly regarded as one of the world’s engineering marvels. Two iconic lions sit at each end of the abutments; they were installed in 1852. Visiting this famous bridge is a treat for the eyes. Whether you see it during the day or at night, the view is always spectacular.
16. Stari Most Bridge
If you’re a history fan, you’ll appreciate this next famous bridge. Located in the city of Mostar, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the stunning Stari Most Bridge crosses over the Neretva River. The original structure dates back to the 16th century, but unfortunately, it was destroyed during the Bosnian war in 1993.
It was rebuilt and opened again in 2004. The new bridge was made to showcase the original beauty and design of the previous structure. Walking across the bridge is a must when visiting Mostar. You’ll be treated to striking views of the sparkling blue river, which you might see locals diving off the bridge into.
17. Forth Bridge
Image from Sean Kuriyan on Unsplash
Forth Bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a railway bridge that crosses the Forth estuary in Scotland, just west of central Edinburgh. It was completed in 1890, at a time in history when railroads were the most important mode of transportation.
Today the bridge only takes rail traffic. The nearby Forth Road Bridge is open to cars, public transport, pedestrians and cyclists.
18. Millennium Bridge
Harry Potter fans will recognize the Millennium Bridge (officially named the London Millennium Footbridge) from the sixth movie in the wizarding series: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
This pedestrian bridge opened in 2000. It crosses over the River Thames and links some popular London attractions. On the north bank, you have the gorgeous St Paul’s Cathedral, and just across the bridge, in Southwark, there’s the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe.
It’s one of the most remarkable London landmarks and a unique place to capture photos of the city.
19. Tower Bridge
Out of all the famous bridges in London, Tower Bridge is probably the most iconic. It’s been a symbol of the city since it opened in 1894. The structure is a combined bascule and suspension bridge that stretches over the River Thames.
Pedestrians can walk across the lower walkway of the bridge for free. Or, for a fun experience, there’s a glass walkway on the upper level of the structure you can cross for a birdseye view of the city. You’ll just need to purchase a ticket for this experience beforehand.
20. Glenfinnan Viaduct
Image from Adryan RA on Unsplash
The Glenfinnan Viaduct is yet another bridge you might recognize from the Harry Potter film series. Set in the scenic Scottish Highlands, this railway viaduct was featured in several of the movies.
Most notably, it was shown in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s in the scene where Harry and Ron struggle to control the flying car, and the Hogwarts Express pulls up right behind them.
The Glenfinnan Viaduct is the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland. It was built from 1897 to 1901 and overlooks the Glenfinnan Monument and the calm waters of Loch Shiel.
There are several viewpoints around the bridge where you can admire it. Or, you can ride across it on the train.
21. Clifton Suspension Bridge
Image from Nathan Riley on Unsplash
The Clifton Suspension Bridge is located in the UK; it crosses the Avon Gorge and the River Avon, linking Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in North Somerset. It opened in 1864 as a toll bridge, and today it only cost £1 to drive over.
Without a car, you can walk or cycle across for free. The route goes over and under the bridge and takes about one hour to complete. For more info on the walking path as well as the history of the suspension bridge, there’s a small visitors centre that’s open daily.
22. Millau Bridge
Image from Jordi Vich Navarro on Unsplash
Millau Bridge (also called Viaduc de Millau) is a famous French landmark that crosses over the Tarn River in the country’s south. It’s one of the tallest bridges in the world — standing at 343 metres. It showcases incredible achievements in European bridge building.
Construction lasted from 2001 to 2004. The end result was a sleek design, with eight notable steel box deck sections that span the length of the bridge.
If you want to visit, you’ll need to be in a car. It’s a motorway road bridge, and walking is strictly prohibited.
23. Pont du Gard Aqueduct
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Pont du Gard is one of the most exceptional bridges in France. It was built by the ancient Roman Empire in the first century AD as an aqueduct bridge to transport water to the Roman colony of Nemausus.
It lies over the river Gardon, close to the town of Vers-Pont-du-Gard. There are three levels of arches that make up the bridge. It’s not open for vehicles, but visitors can walk across the ancient structure and admire views of the valley all around.
24. Great Belt Bridge
Image from Bazzaboy on Pixabay
The Great Belt Bridge is a suspension bridge that connects the Danish islands of Zealand and Funen. It lies over the Great Belt strait for a total of 18 km and features sweeping views of the sea for the whole length.
The structure is actually made up of two bridges and a tunnel – East Bridge, West Bridge, and East Tunnel. It opened in 1998 as a toll bridge, and the only way to cross it is in a car or on the train.
25. Chapel Bridge
Image from Monika Baumgartner on Pexels
The Chapel Bridge looks like something from a fairytale book. This beautiful wooden covered footbridge rests peacefully over the river Reuss in Lucerne, Switzerland.
It was built in 1333, making it one of the oldest bridges in Europe. It’s also noted for housing a series of 17th-century paintings, which depict events from the city’s rich history. They cover the inside of the bridge’s roof, and you can view them as you stroll through the structure.
26. Sunniberg Bridge
Image from Sepp Rutz on Unsplash
The Sunniberg Bridge is a multi-span extradosed road bridge found in the Swiss village of Klosters. The design was a bit of a challenge. It needed to be built with an elegant appearance so that the large curved structure would effortlessly blend into the rural Alpine landscape.
Construction started in 1996 and finished ahead of schedule in 1998. However, it didn’t open to the public until 2005. It functions as a road bridge and features some pretty spectacular views of the Swiss countryside.
27. Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge
Image from Kanenori on Pixabay
The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is an architectural gem in Japan. This giant suspension bridge links the city of Kobe on the island of Honshu with Iwaya on Awaji Island. Construction started in 1988 and didn’t finish until ten years later, in 1998.
It’s part of the Kobe-Awaji-Naruto Expressway and crosses over the vast Akashi Strait. But apart from serving vehicular traffic, it’s also a tourist attraction. Visitors can walk along the bridge’s lower deck and travel to the top of the main tower on the Kobe side for the spectacular city and water views.
28. Tsing Ma Bridge
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Tsing Ma Bridge is a marvellous example of modern engineering in Hong Kong. It’s named for the two islands it connects – Tsing Yi and Ma Wan. It opened to the public in 1997 after a five-year construction project.
The bridge carries road and rail traffic and was built as part of the Hong Kong airport infrastructure. It’s one of the first things you see as you leave the airport.
There are no walkways on the bridge; you need to be in a vehicle to ride across. Although, there is a nearby hiking route (Tsing Yi Nature Trail) that features fantastic views of the bridge.
29. Helix Bridge
Image from Colin Watts on Unsplash
The Helix Bridge is a work of incredible engineering and construction. It’s a pedestrian bridge that links Marian Centre with Marian South in Singapore. Since it opened in 2010, it’s been captivating tourists and locals.
The spiral bridge has four platforms that showcase an incredible view of the city skyline and the marina bay. When the sunsets, the whole structure lights up, which completely changes the vibe. The bridge is free of charges and takes about seven to ten minutes to walk across without stopping.
30. Khaju Bridge
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Khaju Bridge is a historical bridge in Isfahan, Iran. It crosses over the Zayanderud, the largest river on the Iranian Plateau. It’s believed to have been built around 1650 under the rule of Abbas II.
It serves as both a bridge and a low-head dam. A unique feature of the structure is a pavilion that’s located in the centre. It’s where Abbas II would have once sat to take in the gorgeous water views. Today, you can see the remains of a stone seat, which would have been the king’s chair.
31. Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge
Image from Rodrigo Pederzini on Pexels
Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge, more commonly referred to as Ponte JK, is a concrete and steel arch bridge. It crosses over Lake Paranoá in Brasília, Brazil, and connects the city center with the regions of Lago Sul and the International Airport of Brasilia.
This stunning structure opened in 2002 and combines masterful engineering with exquisite artistry. You can drive or walk across; there is a separate walkway for pedestrians. It’s especially magical at night when the structure lights up and reflects its brilliant colors across the water.
Famous Bridges | Final Thoughts
Hopefully, after reading about the world’s most famous bridges, you have a new appreciation for these massive transportation structures. Many are found in big cities, but a small handful of historic bridges are located in quiet corners of the earth too.
They’re aesthetically pleasing and showcase unique and innovative designs. And maybe they’ll inspire your next adventure; they’re all great bucket list ideas for travel lovers.