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London has one of the most iconic skylines in the world. If you love heights, then you won’t want to miss some of the best views in London, from the top of iconic monuments, rooftops and even hotel rooms. Here are a few recommendations from fellow travel bloggers for enjoying breath-taking views from some of the top London viewpoints.
Where is the best view of London?
There is a multitude of things to do in London and some incredibly picturesque sights throughout the city that are Instagram worthy. But nothing can beat enjoying panoramic views of London from a vantage viewing point. Fortunately, London is a city that is blessed with many vantage viewpoints, and luckily many of them are free to reach.
From the Shard to Greenwich Park, here’s where to go to find the best views of London.
Best view of London from Monuments
For unbeatable views of London, a visit to the View from The Shard is a must. This is London’s highest viewing platform that gives 360-degree views for up to 40 miles on a clear day over London and beyond on floors 68, 69 and 72.
Standing at 800ft (244m) above ground The Shard is one of London’s newest skyscrapers which has quickly become an iconic monument in the city’s famous skyline. Opened in 2012, it is the tallest structure in both the UK and Western Europe. Visitors can purchase tickets for the Shard from £30 per person. It is highly advised to purchase tickets in advance to benefit from cheaper ticket prices and skip the line privileges.
Alternatively, you can enjoy views from the Shard by staying at the Shangri-La Hotel (one of the best hotels with a view of London) or by visiting one of the restaurants, Aqua Shard, Hutong and TĪNG, or bars Oblix, Bar 31 and Gong.
The London Eye
If you have ever wanted to enjoy a great view of London city without having to worry about the weather, then The London Eye might be what you’re looking for. Opening in 2000, millions of people board this engineering marvel every year to get a different perspective of England’s Capital. It was intended as a 5 Year temporary structure, but its popularity prompted the lease to be extended and today it is a permanent structure on London’s skyline. Don’t mistake this icon as a Ferris wheel, the 32 pods are enclosed and positioned outside the wheel, allowing up to 800 visitors at a time to enjoy an unobstructed view. You can sit, stand and move around while it slowly turns. Its costs around 31 British Pounds for a standard adult ticket, but cheaper if you book online or as a group.
Located near Waterloo Station, The observation wheel stands at 135 Metres tall and offers 360-degree views over London. You will be able to see national landmarks like Big Ben, Palace of Westminster and not to forget the River Thames. In fact, on a clear day to could see anything up to 40 kilometres across the city.
St Paul’s Cathedral
Of all the incredible views in London, one of the best is the view from the dome at St. Paul’s Cathedral. St. Paul’s is one of the most recognisable landmarks of London’s skyline and from its dome you can get sweeping views of the city, near and far.
A visit to St. Paul’s is a must on any London itinerary. St. Paul’s dome actually has three levels you can visit, two of which are located on the exterior of the dome in the open air. The Stone Gallery is 174 feet (376 steps) above the cathedral floor and the Golden Gallery is 279 feet above ground level and will require a climb of 528 steps. (There is no elevator access to the top of St. Paul’s unfortunately.)
Visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral and its dome has an adult admission fee of £20 (about $26 USD, but less if you purchase online ahead of time) which includes admission into the cathedral, the crypt, and up into the dome galleries. Given St. Paul’s location just off the Thames, you can get great views of sights like the London Eye, the Millennium Bridge, Tower Bridge, and more. Plus, you’ll have excellent views of the Shard, the building known as the Gherkin, and even straight down into the city packed with red busses.
Ashley Smith from My Wanderlusty Life
Although London is known for many sights that offer panoramic views, they often come with a high price tag. If you are on a budget but still want to enjoy the sweeping views of London, then visit The Monument.
Located at the intersection of Fish Street Hill and Monument Street, Monument is the tallest isolated stone column in the world.
In 1666, a major fire blaze raged for four days, spreading across 436 acres of London and destroyed many buildings, houses and churches of the city. As a consequence, the city became a debris, 6 people lost their lives and millions were left homeless.
The Monument was built on 1677 (designed by Sir Christopher Wren who also designed St.Paul’s Cathedral) to commemorate the Great Fire and also to celebrate the city that transformed itself and rose from mere ashes. The fluted Doric column is topped with a golden flaming orb and gold leaf gilding to represent the fire, while the base contains inscriptions in Latin narrating the story of Great Fire.
It stands tall at 202 feet in height, and 202 feet away from the where the actual fire started. Climb the 311 narrow winding staircase and you will be rewarded with sweeping views of London. The adult ticket costs £5.40 and child ticket (aged 5-15) costs £2.70 and children aged 5 or below go free.
Over 40,000 tourists and Londonites use the Tower Bridge every day to cross over the River Thames. Located near to London’s Tower of London, it is a mechanical masterpiece with a venerable history. It is one of London’s most famous landmarks, an iconic symbol of the city and, it offers up some of the best views in London!
You can learn the history of this renowned bridge inside the Tower Bridge Rooms that tell the story of the heroes responsible for running the original bridge. However, it is the panoramic views of London that seem to attract the most attention! High above the River Thames, 140 feet to be precise, is the Glass Floor Walkway. It is 36 feet long and about 6 feet wide, with floor to ceiling windows on either side.
You have an almost 360 degree unlimited view of London in all directions. Around you, you will see bustling London through both sides of the glass walls. And below you, to the street and the River Thames, always busy with boat traffic.
The Tower Bridge is open from 10:30 AM to 7:00 PM daily. It is fully accessible to wheelchair and strollers, as there is a lift to use. Admission fees vary depending on the type of ticket purchase. Adult tickets cost £10.60 for an adult (around $14.00 USD). Senior and children tickets are a bit less. If you’re planning a trip , read this 5 day itinerary for London to help you plan your days.
Linda from Linda on the Run
One of the best views of London can be seen from the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit at London’s Olympic Park. The Orbit was built for the 2012 London Olympics and is Britain’s largest piece of public art, standing 114.5 metres tall and dominating the surrounding skyline. It was designed to add “something extra” to the park and was designed by the Turner Prize-winning artist Sir Anish Kapoor along with designer and architect Cecil Balmond.
Visitors to the ArcelorMittal Orbit can go up to two viewing platforms near the top of the sculpture. The views from the top are stunning; visitors will get a full 360-degree view over the Olympic Park. The Olympic Stadium is close by, as is the Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre. The Orbit is also a great place to see a view of Canary Wharf and Docklands.
When it’s time to return to the ground, you have two choices. You can take the looping walkway down, accompanied by the sounds of the East End and informative displays pointing out interesting things to look at on the skyline. Alternatively, you can choose to ride the Orbit Slide, the world’s longest, tallest, fastest tunnel slide that’ll hurtle you to the bottom in just 40 seconds at speeds of 30 miles an hour.
Combined tickets for the Orbit viewing platform and the slide cost between £16.75 and £17.75 for adults and between £10.75 and £11.75 for children. You’ll need to book in advance to visit.
Top of the O2 Arena
Did you know you can climb over The O2 Arena to get some of the best views of London? The Up at The O2 Experience allows visitors to walk on a path suspended two meters above The O2 Arena in Greenwich.
It’s an adventure climbing up at a 28-degree angle, but don’t worry there are safety harnesses. At the top, there is a small viewing platform, 52 meters high, where you have time to take in 360-degree views of London and even enjoy a glass of bubbly if you like. From here, you have unobstructed views of Canary Wharf, the River Thames, the Emirates Air Line, and more of East London.
Going down, in a way may be more difficult than going up. The incline is slightly steeper at 30 degrees. If you don’t like the thought of looking down, try going backwards. It’s not a race, so you can go as slow as you need to. All the effort will be worth it and its is definitely a once in a lifetime experience. Climb tickets start at a reasonable £32 per person.
Anisa from Two Travelling Texans
Emirates Air Line
London is full of amazing places to explore and stunning views of the main landmarks in the capital city. One of the best places to admire the beautiful panoramic views of London is the Emirates Air Line cable car!
This attraction is located in East London in the historic Greenwich area and the modern Canary Wharf. It is less than a mile long and it passes directly over the River Thames, connecting both banks of the river. Opened in 2012, the cable car is currently operated by Transport of London, which allows tourists (and locals) to use an Oyster card or a contactless payment card to pay for the ticket. The one-way journey, based on a Pay as you Go method, takes around 12 minutes and costs £3.50 for adults and £1.70 for children.
If you are looking for a romantic experience or would like to enjoy watching the sunset from above London, you should consider booking a night flight experience. It is available on a daily basis after 7 pm. The fare fee is the same, but it will allow you to see the stunning London’s panorama for around 25 minutes – double length of the normal time flight.
Aerial view of London from an Aeroplane
The best way to see London in all its glory is from up above. Each time you know you are flying into London Heathrow, you should aim to get a window seat so that you can watch the beautiful skyline below unfold before your eyes.
If you’re arriving from Europe, your view of London starts with the East End, then following along the River Thames it passes over the O2 Arena along the Greenwich Peninsula over to Canary Wharf. The next part is the best – starting from the handsome Tower Bridge, your view continues along the river as it bends around the famous West End where the best musicals of London happen, continuing down along Waterloo Bridge, the London Eye and Westminster Palace.
Other large landmarks to spot include the large patch of Greenland which is Hyde Park – during the Christmas months the park is all lit up as a Winter Wonderland which takes over the whole area. The final approach over West London becomes a ‘test your knowledge’ game for soccer fans as you head over the football grounds of Chelsea, QPR and Fulham.
A top tip for travellers who want the best views of London when flying into Heathrow Airport is to aim to get a seat on the right-hand side of the plane. The East to West flight path goes along the southern side of the River Thames, which means the main sites appear from the right-hand side of the window. Over on the left, you would only see the sites of South London, which aren’t as famous. And – this is all, of course, weather dependent, so hope for a clear day on your way in.
Stefan from Nomadic Boys
Best free views of London
Admiring one of the panoramic views of London is a must-do on any London itinerary, but many of the best views of London come with a hefty price tag.
If you’re visiting London on a budget, there are still many ways you can enjoy London’s viewpoints for free and below I have included some of the best free views of London for you to discover.
Primrose Hill offers panoramic views of London and over Regent’s Park. At the viewpoint located at the top of the hill, there is a plaque showing the location of key monuments in view. On a clear day, you can see many London landmarks such as the London Eye, the Shard and the BT Tower. The trees are kept low to make sure that nothing obscures the view.
The park is always open and is free to enter. When the sun is out this is a very popular place for locals and tourists so come early or on a weekday if you can. Although it is a great place for a picnic on a warm summer evening, just expect to share the view with many others with the same idea.
Beyond the park the area of Primrose Hill is full of pastel-coloured grand Victorian terraced houses. After admiring the view, the cafes and restaurants along Regent’s Park Road provide a great place to stop for lunch, dinner or just a coffee.
Chalk Farm a 10 minute walk away, is the closest tube station. However, you can also stroll through Regent’s Park to Regent’s Park tube station, or for a longer walk taking in additional London landmarks, walk along the canal to Camden Market.
North London’s nicest viewpoint, Alexandra Palace (or ‘Ally Pally’ as it is known to many locals) sits atop a hill with panoramic views of London, near to Wood Green and Muswell Hill.
Dating back to 1873, the majestic Alexandra Palace and its gardens became known as the ‘People’s Palace’ due to its sheer number of activities made available to entertain and educate Londoners when it first opened. Today, it is still free to visit the grounds and it hosts concerts and various events, as well as having an ice-skating rink, boating lake and a wonderful weekly farmer’s market held every Sunday.
The views of London from Alexandra Palace and the park immediately in front of its main elegant and ornate entrance are stunning and, on a clear day you can make out all of the main landmarks including the iconic Shard and the Walkie Talkie building.
The views at night are equally spectacular as there is very little light pollution around the Palace so you can see for miles around. Most recently, a new summer beer garden has opened for 2020 at Alexandra Palace meaning you can enjoy epic sunsets with a glass of wine or pint – cheers!
Caroline from CKTravels
One of the best places to get an epic panoramic view of London is Sky Garden, a fancy public garden and bar located on the top floor of the Walkie Talkie skyscraper in the financial district of the city.
As soon as you enter this garden, you’ll see large glass windows that go from floor to ceiling, revealing the magnificent London skyline behind them. You can pretty much see the entire city of London from there!
Lush plants surround you as you walk around Sky Garden, and the vibe is super laid back. There is also a bar inside this garden with a huge lounge area for you to sit down, have a chat with a friend while admiring the beautiful views in front of you. If you visit during sunset, you’ll even get the added bonus of watching the sky turn pink above the whole of London; it’s a sight you won’t forget!
The best part about Sky Garden is that despite it being one of the best photography spots in London, entrance to this place is absolutely free. You do have to book your visit in advance on their website though, as the place can fill up quite quickly. Sometimes, you’ll have to book your visit at least 3 weeks in advance! However, there is a way to visit Sky Garden if you don’t have a reserved booking. Just get there after 6 pm on weekdays and 9 pm on weekends and you’ll be allowed in after joining a queue. Later on in the night, there will also be a DJ playing music and you can dance away to an epic view of London!
Jiayi from The Diary of a Nomad
One New Change
Located in the heart of the City of London, One New Change provides one of the best views of London and St Paul’s Cathedral. It is a shopping centre with a rooftop bar but the photo opportunities are plenty!
As you enter One New Change at the west entrance, you will find yourself in a mirrored tunnel. Look back out from the shopping mall and you’ll be met with an incredible view of St Paul’s Cathedral, perfectly centred and framed by the reflective glass. However, the best is still yet to come! Head to the middle of the shopping centre and take the lift all the way to the rooftop. As you ascend, you’ll be treated to increasingly gorgeous views of the impressive cathedral.
While there is a rooftop bar here, Madisons, most of the rooftop area is public access and free to visit. The public area is also the part with the best views! From atop the roof, take in the stunning sweeping views of St Paul’s and the London skyline providing one of the most Instagrammable places in London. Once you’ve had a walk around the public area, continue to enjoy to soak in the views with a cocktail in hand at the rooftop bar. This is a particularly beautiful spot for sunset.
Sophie and Adam from We Dream of Travel
Greenwich Park in East London is home to a number of notable and interesting sights including the Greenwich Maritime World Heritage Site, National Maritime Museum, the Greenwich Observatory and Old Royal Naval College. But one of the things many people come to Greenwich Park for is to enjoy its fantastic vantage viewpoint of London.
The view of London from Greenwich Park is one of the most famous and one of the most photographed. Walk to the top of the hill or stand in front of the statue of General Wolfe for a full-on panoramic view over London and the curve of the 215 mile long River Thames. You can the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard and so much more, making it truly one of the best free views of London in the city.
While the view of London is beautiful during the day, it is even better either at sunrise or sunset when there are fewer crowds.
It’s one of the leafiest districts in London, not only boasting endless rows of high-end homes, but it’s fair share of greenery. It’s the London Borough of Richmond which has everything from the globally-renowned Kew Gardens and historic Hampton Court Palace to Bushy Park, the previous hunting grounds of King Henry VIII. But it’s Richmond Hill and it’s associated park, Richmond Park, that offers up the most tantalising views of London.
The park itself (one of 100 in the borough) is a magnet for locals – families strolling its paths, amateur runners pounding out the miles, many a picnic-goer and all those trying to spot the fallow deer which call the park their home. Richmond Park itself offers its own draw, including a striking view of London’s cityscape, punctuated by landmarks like the Shard and the London Eye.
And, a bit of a walk through the park and up the hilly steps will deliver one of the most spectacular vistas in the UK: an endless panorama over the picturesque park, with low-lying meadows and the mighty Thames winding through it. This is the Richmond Hill viewpoint, immortalised by many an artist but, curiously, even protected by law! That’s right – in 1902 the ‘Richmond, Ham and Petersham Open Spaces Act’ was passed in Parliament, which banned the development of riverside land in the area!
James from The Travel Scribes
The Garden at 120
Located on the rooftop of One Fen Court, The Garden at 120 offers fantastic and free panoramic views of London.
The Garden is a relatively new addition to the city. It officially opened to the public in February 2019, when the building’s 15th floor was little more than a collection of steel pergolas, water features, and barren planters. But it didn’t take long before The Garden was dripping in wisteria and greenery, making the rooftop a welcome retreat from the bustling financial district below.
Despite its 15th-floor height, visitors get excellent views of iconic landmarks including the Tower of London, the Shard, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. You’ll also get unique up-close perspectives of the Walkie Talkie and the Gherkin. While the glass barriers make photographing the city below a challenge, they don’t detract from the breathtaking panoramas.
As mentioned earlier, there is currently no charge to visit The Garden at 120. Guests need to pass through a security checkpoint inside One Fen Court that includes a bag scanner before riding the elevator up to the roof. To avoid a queue, it’s best to visit in the mornings during weekdays. Whether you’re spending a few days in London or discovering new places close to home, The Garden at 120 should be on your bucket list when looking to visit some of the best views of London.
London’s best contemporary and modern art museum holds three amazing views: the art itself, the building that houses it, and the panoramic view of London from its top floor. The best part is that all these amazing views are absolutely free of charge, making the Tate Modern a must in everyone’s bucket list!
Before entering the museum, take a good look at the building. It sits in the old Bankside Power Station, which was renewed into the structure that is one of London’s landmarks today. Then, walk around the lovely work of Dalí, Picasso, Monet, Klee, Delaunay, and so many other renowned artists, plus check out the newcomers’ interesting installations. Take your time to explore the art up to level 4.
And lastly, go one more story up. An open-view terrace located on the top floor features a bar, where you can have drinks and snacks while marvelling at one of the best views of London. You’ll get to watch the River Thames flow, with the Millennium bridge adorning it, the stunning St. Paul’s Cathedral showing the magnificence of its dome, and Canary Wharf in the far background.
The closest underground stations are Blackfriars and Southwark, or you can just walk alongside the river from any of the other landmarks of the city and look for a tall chimney –you can’t miss it.
Coni from Experiencing the Globe
Best views of London from Bars and Restaurants
If you find yourself in London in the winter and are looking for a cool view of the River Thames and the Tower Bridge then make sure to get a reservation for an Igloo at Coppa Club.
You may have seen it on Instagram. This winter wonderland on the banks of the River Thames looks almost photoshopped – but it is not. The Coppa Club is located in “the city” in one of oldest neighbourhoods in London; a great place to stay in London for first-timers that would like to be close to sights.
Located a short walk from The Tower Bridge on the River Thames the Coppa Club is the perfect spot to go for drinks or dinner. The closest tube station is Tower Hill. Prices for drinks start at £8 and wines by the glass around £6. They have small plates starting at £4 and entrees range from £8-£26. If you want to reserve an igloo there is a minimum spend of £30 per person. Monday-Friday for parties of more than 3 this minimum is lifted. However, on the evenings and weekends, the minimum is calculated based on a part of 8, therefore, no matter your party you’re looking at a £240 spend.
If you’re able to try to reserve an igloo for lunch during the week. If you’re unable to reserve an igloo you can enjoy amazing views of the River Thames and The Tower Bridge right from the outdoor patio. In the summer and on warmer days this is a great alternative.
Duck and Waffle
Duck and Waffle is a restaurant sitting on the 40th floor of the Heron building, located in downtown London.
The restaurant’s concept is to take the traditional British cuisine – that well all know and love – but add a playful spin on these dishes. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and, their menu revolves on fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients. That all sounds amazing, right? Well, that’s not even their biggest draw. Without question, the best reason to visit Duck and Waffle is the view of London. Being located so high in London’s downtown area makes for an unparalleled view of the city. The restaurants have large windows making for one of the best views in London.
The restaurant is open all day. So for those who want to see London bathed in the morning sun can head here for breakfast. On the other hand, an intrepid traveller could finish a long day of sightseeing at Duck in Waffle. Cocktail in hand while enjoying the twinkling lights of the city.
A restaurant with one of the most breathtaking views of London’s skyline has to cost a tiny fortune right?. And it’s true that their entrees get pricey. But their starters, small plates, and drinks are affordable and will set you back somewhere between £10 – £20. And for this unforgettable view of London, that is a small price to pay.
Nestled up in the sky on the 16th floor at the heart of London is a magical rooftop bar- The Nest. Featuring breathtaking 360-degrees panoramic views of the city, The Nest is one of London’s best hidden gems having just recently opened and is quickly becoming a hot spot. The bar is located in Treehouse Hotel on a quiet road in Marylebone right off the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street thus providing a much-needed escape from the busy city.
The Nest offers delicious drinks and nibbles along with great customer service. The view from The Nest does not disappoint indeed, but what is even better is the bar’s treehouse-themed interior. Filled with wooden walls, green foliage and plants on the ceiling- the decor is a cosy paradise. With floor to ceiling windows, customers can enjoy uninterrupted city views while sipping on a delicious cocktail. There is also an outdoor deck with seatings on offer for sunnier days.
On weekends there’s a minimum spend of £75 per person on food and beverage. The bar is opened 08:00 to 01:00 subject to change and table availability. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks is available. The menu features food made from local ingredients and a selection of cocktails, wine and beer.
Hadas from Luxury Voyager