London is a city so divers that everyone will find something to their liking. Up until now I’ve visited London four times and I’m sure I will return in the future, for an exhibition, a play, a festival, a stroll along the river Thames, some great local food and/or an evening chatting away in one of London’s pubs.
In this article I want to share with you the best places to admire panoramic views of the London city skyline. And yes, some of those views come at a hefty price tag, but even in London you’ll find places that offer you stunning views for free. This is my list:
1. The Shard
London’s highest sky scraper is truly a landmark building that dramatically altered London’s skyline. The Shard reaches for the sky and offers stunning 360 degrees views on London and its surroundings. On a clear day the view reaches as far as 64 kilometers (40 miles). The open-air Skydeck is London’s highest viewpoint and although the price for a ticket is quite high, I found it money well spent. You can buy some drinks and snacks at the sky deck or just admire the view as such. The View from the Shard also offers a weather guarantee, which means that in the event of bad weather you’ll be able to return for free. If you don’t like paying for a view, you can also go for lunch or dinner in one of the restaurants in the Shard. The view won’t be as spectacular as on the Skydeck, but the lower floors also offer great views and you can enjoy some lovely food with it.
Location: 32 London Bridge Street, London
Price: Starting from £25.95
2. Sky Garden
Sure, the “walkie talkie” (officially called 20 Fenchurch Street) has been a controversial building since it’s conception, but from the outside viewing terrace the Sky Garden offers superb views on the Thames, the Shard and the Tower of London for free. You do have the book a ticket for your visit, but the process is easy and fast. There is a cue, because all visitors need to go through security before entering the building, so make sure to come ten minutes earlier. There are several options to have lunch or dinner at one of the Sky Garden restaurants, if you like. You can also just have of coffee or a tea with some biscuits. The garden in itself didn’t really succeed in wowing me, but the views made up for that.
location: 20 Fenchurch Street, London
3. The Blavatnik building of Tate Modern
If you don’t like the hassle of booking tickets and go through security checks, just take the elevator to the 10th floor at Tate Modern’s new extension, step outside on the viewing terrace and be amazed. The view on the Millennium Bridge and Saint Paul’s Cathedral is absolutely stunning and totally free. There is a small bar on the viewing terrace. So you on a chilly day you can buy a cup of coffee or tea to warm yourself.
location: Tate Modern, Bankside, London
4. Vertigo 42
London’s highest champagne bar at the 42th floor of Tower 42 offers a nice selection of drinks and tapas. The bar itself has windows from floor to ceiling and all the seats are nearby a window, so every seat in the bar has great views on London. Drinks are expensive, but that’s to be expected with a view like that. Best to make reservations though.
location: Level 42, Tower 42, 25 Old Broad Street, London
price: free, but you’ll have to buy some drinks
5. St Paul’s Cathedral
No introduction needed, I guess. A simply stunning monument that really is worth the entrance fee. The dome is exceptional and the three galleries offer stunning views on London.
location: St. Paul’s Churchyard, London
6. Tower bridge
A classic. Not extrtemely high, but such an iconic bridge surely can’t be missed and you’ll have the opportunity to visit the engine rooms! Since my last visit they added a Glass Floor 42 meters above the river Thames, so I guess I’ll have to go back to test out the strength of that floor. 😉 You can even take yoga classes on that floor!
location: Tower Bridge, London
7. One New Change Shopping Mall Terrace
Saint Paul’s Cathedral really is a marvel and this terrace is the best place to get up close and personal with the magnificent dome. And yes, it won’t cost you a penny. Just take the glass elevator to the terrace and enjoy the view. On a nice day you can enjoy a beer or a cocktail on the terrace of Madison’s restaurant and and bar.
location: 1 New Change, London
8. Monument to the Great Fire of London
Ok, the view from the top of the monument, built to commemorate the Great Fire of London and to celebrate the rebuilding of the City, really isn’t that great and it is hard taking pictures trough the security netting (to avoid somebody would jump down), but climbing the winding staircase with its 311 steps is an adventure in itself. The entrance fee is quite cheap and afterwards you are presented with a certificate that you succeeded in climbing all those stairs. Charming!
location: Fish St Hill, London
9. Primrose Hill
This lovely green hill is only 65 meter (213 feet) high, but offers a great view of central London. In summer this is a popular place to have a picnic with friends.
location: Tate Modern, Bankside, London
Did I miss something? What is your favorite place to enjoy London views? Please let me know in the comments.