Top 13 Famous Bridges Around the World

What is San Francisco without the Golden Gate? Venice without the Rialto? Some of the most renowned bridges in the world are an essential part of a city’s character and a lot more than just a way for people to get from here to there. We’ve compiled a list of our top 13 bridges around the world. Read on to learn about the feats of engineering that created these structures and their cultural significance.

Bridges

1. Rialto Bridge, Grand Canal Venice

Stretching proudly across the heart of Venice, the 16th-century Rialto Bridge was the very first bridge to span the city’s Grand Canals. At the time, architects deemed the engineering of its two inclined ramps too risky and predicted it wouldn’t last. It still stands today.

Famous bridges like the Rialto Bridge are known for their unique architectural style and history. As you view the Rialto Bridge, you can study Renaissance architecture and materials used, including Istrian stone, a type of limestone that gives it a lighter complexion. With shops lining both sides of the bridge, the Rialto Bridge is a popular tourist destination that symbolizes Venice’s commercial importance throughout its long and storied history.

Explore the Rialto district for yourself: Independent Venice: Art, Culture and Canals

Bridges

2. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

One of the most famous bridges in the world connects San Francisco to neighboring Marin County. Construction on the Golden Gate Bridge began on Jan. 5, 1933, during the Great Depression, and serves as an example of excellent engineering under challenging conditions, as strong tides, storms, water depth and frequent fog posed various challenges. But don’t be fooled by this famous bridge’s name. The Golden Gate gets its vibrant orange-red color thanks to a special coating designed to withstand corrosion and be more visible through the fog by boat.

The Golden Gate Bridge is arguably the most popular bridge in the world for several reasons. It’s known for its Art Deco design and international orange color, making it an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco. With two distinctive towers standing 746 feet tall, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most photographed bridges in the world, as vantage points like the Marin Headlands, Baker Beach and Fort Point offer breathtaking views.

See the Golden Gate Bridge up close with your grandchild: Baseball & the Land of Giants: San Francisco With Your Grandchild

Bridges

3. Sydney Harbor Bridge, Sydney, Australia

A structure of national heritage significance, this impressive construction was designed to expand and contract to handle the Australian heat. The Sydney Harbor Bridge is another bridge that is vying to be the most popular bridge in the world. As one of the longest steel arch bridges, the Sydney Harbor Bridge is 3,770 feet long, with an arch standing 440 feet above the harbor.

What makes the Sydney Harbor Bridge one of the most famous bridges are the four decorative pylons at each corner of the arch, which house offices and a museum where visitors can explore and enjoy panoramic views of Sydney.

Ride across this iconic bridge during An Odyssey Down Under: Australia and New Zealand

Bridges

4. The Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

The oldest bridge in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio, was originally built as a defensive structure. Space was later rented to vendors to recoup the money spent on building the bridge — and the tradition stuck.

As another one of the most famous bridges in the world, the Ponte Vecchio is known for its unique architecture with its wooden corbels and sculptural elements like the coats of arms of the Medici family and a bust of Benvenuto Cellini. Lining both sides of the bridge are local shops occupied by fishmongers, butchers and other types of merchants, making the area a bustling tourist attraction that serves as a commercial hub of the city.

Set off on an expert-led walk across Ponte Vecchio on a holiday learning adventure: New Year's in Florence

Bridges

5. Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, Boston, Massachusetts

One of the world’s widest cable-stayed bridges, engineers had 14 elephants from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus walk across the bridge in 2002 to test its strength. The Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge in Boston is named after Lenny Zakim, a civil rights activist, and the American colonists who fought against the British Army during the Battle of Bunker Hill.

What makes the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge one of the most famous bridges is its architectural style, with two towers that rise above the roadways with distinct cables that provide support. The bridge is also illuminated at night, showcasing its architectural features with the ability to celebrate holidays and special occasions through changing lights.

Check out the Zakim Bridge during Boston: Birthplace of American Liberty

Bridges

6. Chapel Bridge, Lucerne, Switzerland

This wooden pedestrian bridge is as lovely up close as it is from afar; the underside of its roof is adorned with various paintings depicting the history and legends of Lucerne. This bridge is one of the most photographed landmarks in the area, thanks to its warm-toned timber that contrasts the cool colors of the town and mountains in the background.

Admire this bridge up close as you wind your way through the Swiss Alps by train: Splendors of Switzerland By Rail

Bridges

7. Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

The Charles Bridge in Prague connects the Old Town to the neighborhood of Malá Strana, making it easy for visitors to get to the Prague Castle. A fantastic example of Gothic architecture, this historic bridge features 16 arches and 30 unique decorative statues, all carved from stone.

Walk over Charles Bridge with your grandchild: Czech This Out! Discovering Prague With Your Grandchild

Bridges

8. Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama

On March 7, 1965, a day known as Bloody Sunday, this small but mighty bridge transformed from a simple structure to a National Historic Landmark and a solemn reminder of our country’s fight for civil rights. The Edmund Pettus Bridge is one of the most famous bridges, as it was televised across the country during the Bloody Sunday attacks, sparking public support for the civil rights movement.

Follow in the footsteps of brave freedom fighters on The Civil Rights Movement: Atlanta, Montgomery, Selma and Birmingham

Bridges

9. Szechenyi Chain Bridge, Budapest, Hungary

Built in 1849 as the first permanent bridge connecting the then-separate towns of Buda and Pest, today the Szechenyi Chain Bridge is a beautiful symbol of the city’s cultural heritage. This chain bridge crosses the Danube River, connecting both sides of the capital city of Budapest, and is one of the most famous bridges for its symbolism as an architectural and engineering feat.

Visit this iconic bridge on a learning adventure to two Old World cities: Budapest and Prague: Capital Cities and Jewels of Central Europe

Bridges

10. Evergreen Point, Seattle, Washington

There are only 20 permanent floating bridges around the world, and you will find three of them (including the world’s longest floating bridge, Evergreen Point) in Seattle — thanks to Lake Washington’s tricky geographical properties.

Learn more about Seattle’s fascinating waterways on Signature City Seattle: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest

Brooklyn Bridge, New York

11. Brooklyn Bridge, New York

Another one of the most famous bridges in the world is the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, which serves as a symbol of American engineering. Spanning the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge connects the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan. The bridge is constructed of limestone, granite and Rosendale cement, with steel wires making up the cables that drape between the two main towers and their iconic Gothic-inspired arches.

One of the reasons the Brooklyn Bridge is known as one of the most famous bridges is that it includes a pedestrian walkway that’s elevated above the roadway, making it easier for tourists and locals to get to and from each borough. It’s also a cultural icon featured in countless TV shows, films and works of art, as its silhouette is easily recognizable against the Manhattan skyline.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge through an expert-led New York City tour

Tower Bridge, London

12. Tower Bridge, London

One of the top distinctive features of the London skyline is the Tower Bridge, another one of the famous bridges that’s easily recognizable around the world. The Tower Bridge was opened to the public in 1894 and features a neo-Gothic design that complements the White Tower at the Tower of London. 

The Tower Bridge is located over the Thames River and features a bascule (drawbridge) mechanism, one of its most distinctive features, making it easy for large ships to pass. The Tower Bridge makes it easy for visitors to view notable landmarks of London. This is due to the Tower Bridge Exhibition, located within the bridge’s two towers, and features a glass-floored walkway to view the Thames and the city.

Visit the Tower Bridge on United Kingdom tours for seniors

The Millau Viaduct in France

13. Millau Bridge, France

Holding the world record for the tallest bridge in the world, the Millau Bridge, or Millau viaduct, stands 1,125 feet above the Tarn River in Southern France. Known for its innovative design and engineering excellence, the Millau Bridge is one of the most famous bridges because of its significant contributions to transportation infrastructure.

This cable-stayed bridge was completed in 2004, and environmental concerns were taken into consideration during its construction. For example, many components of the bridge were prefabricated and assembled on site to reduce transportation emissions during construction and limit the disruption to the local environment. The bridge also uses lightweight materials to minimize its impact on the natural landscape and allows for the free movement of animals that call the area home.

Witness the tallest bridge in the world on educational France tours