With historic monuments dotted across the capital, verdant patches of greenery, and the mighty River Thames carving a path through the urban sprawl, London’s cityscape captivates visitors and locals alike. Naturally, to get the full effect of London’s eclectic architecture and sheer size, it’s wise to seek out an elevated vantage point, whether that’s at top of London’s tallest landmarks or from the deck of a river cruiser. Here, we take a look at eight locations that afford some of the best views in London.
The View from The Shard
Officially London’s highest viewing platform, The View from The Shard occupies floors 68, 69 and 72 of what is Western Europe’s tallest building. From over 300 metres above street level, visitors have 360-degree views of up to 40 miles in each direction. Anyone looking for a more exhilarating experience can coincide their visit with one of the View at The Shard’s events, from yoga classes to silent discos.
Also known as the Millennium Wheel – having been opened to mark the year 2,000 – the London Eye is among the world’s tallest Ferris wheels, and, in its riverside setting on the Southbank, it is now an integral part of the city’s skyline. But it’s the views from the glass pods that people love – especially as they reach the top.
London’s highest landscaped gardens, located at the top of the skyscraper known as the ‘Walkie Talkie’, Sky Garden provides both a magnificent view and lush surroundings. From 15 metres up, visitors can wander through the greenery, dine in one of the luxurious restaurants, or sip a cocktail in the City Garden or Sky Pod Bar.
A Thames Cruise
Not all of the city’s best views are from London’s highest viewpoints; another perspective can be found from the capital’s great waterway on a Thames River Cruise. While floating along the Thames, passengers have the advantage of passing by the city’s greatest sights, without the need to navigate the busy streets.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is without doubt one of the city’s most iconic landmarks, with a suitably impressive history to match its majesty. Conveniently, it also offers some of the best views in London from the top. While it may not be as high as its more modern counterparts, the view from the Golden Gallery has its own charm, and seems especially rewarding after climbing the 528 steps to reach it.
In addition to being a world-class art gallery, Tate Modern is somewhere to savour a coffee or bite to eat with a view. Within both the original building and new Switch House setting, restaurants and bars afford views out across the river through their floor-to-ceiling windows, with St Paul’s Cathedral situated on the opposite riverbank.
Away from the skyscrapers of central London, some of the city’s outdoor spaces also have the advantage of great cityscape views. On the wildlife and heritage-rich Hampstead Heath, people can climb to the park’s hilltop to see the urban landscape of London sprawled out before them.
Greenwich is best known as the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), as well as the location of the world’s last surviving tea clipper, Cutty Sark. But by paying a visit to Greenwich Park, visitors are also rewarded with views of the city beyond its lush greenery.
Back on street-level, sit back and take in each of the sites you pass by on the Big Bus London open-top bus tour or Original London Sightseeing Tour, or see the city when it’s lit up at night on the See London by Night bus trip.
Image credits: Cover photo © iStock / Image Gap. The Shard © iStock / ivanastar. The London Eye © iStock / Deejpilot. Sky Garden © Flickr / Alison Day. Thames River Cruises © iStock / cristapper. St Paul’s Cathedral © iStock. Tate Modern © Flickr / Michela Simoncini. Hampstead Heath © iStock / Anatoleya. Greenwich Park © iStock / enis izgi.