best london viewpoints

London is a huge city and looks magnificent from high locations.In the past decades, many skyscrapers have sprung up across London, some of which have rooftop viewing platforms. However, there are more ways, some free of charge, to admire the impressive London skyline. Here are five of my favourite London viewpoints:

Viewpoints to enjoy the London skyline

The Shard

The tallest attraction in London right now is The View From The Shard which has two viewing platforms at the top of this iconic building. The Shard is 310 m (1,016 ft) tall. From here, you have views of London of up to 64 km (40 miles) in all directions. On level 69 there are twelve “tell:scopes” which move like a telescope but have a touchscreen so you can identify 200 landmarks. It also offers the same view at different times of the day which can encourage you to book to return. Up on level 72 you are outside but still safely behind large windows. It’s hard not to be impressed by the view of London from that height.

The view from The Shard (image: © Laura Porter)

Thames cruise

Another opportunity to see the city in a new way is to take a cruise along the Thames. There is a choice of dining vessels and you can enjoy lunch with live jazz or a romantic dinner with music and dancing. Afternoon tea is a good choice as you see many of the famous London landmarks and can enjoy this quintessentially English dining experience at the same time. London sure offers one of the most iconic city cruises anywhere around.

London Thames river cruise (image courtesy of Luca Vavassori/Unsplash).

London Eye

Though nowhere near as tall as The Shard, the London Eye at 135 m (443 ft) still offers great views due to its prime location on the South Bank, opposite the Houses of Parliament. The views definitely vary throughout the day so try the ‘Day and Night Experience’ by booking a time for your day visit and your evening return is flexible. If you’re a real night owl you’ll be pleased to hear the London Eye is running until midnight on Fridays until 9 August. You can enjoy a glass of Pimm’s or Champagne while you see the sights and if you need some privacy for a special moment private capsule hire is available.

best london viewpoints
View from the London Eye (image by P.Martinez/Unsplash)

Waterloo Bridge

A popular London viewpoint for locals and visitors alike, Waterloo Bridge has fabulous views of Westminster, The City and much more. Positioned on a curve along the River Thames you can see the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament in one direction and St Paul’s Cathedral and Canary Wharf when looking the other way. Stand on the south-west side of the bridge and there’s a fun photo opportunity where you can position Big Ben inside the London Eye. If you can, time your visit to walk from south to north at sunrise or sunset. If you are here in the evening do stop at Somerset House for a cold drink at the River Terrace in the summer or a hot drink by the ice rink during the winter months.

Waterloo Bridge (image: © Laura Porter)
Waterloo Bridge (image: © Laura Porter)

London Cable Car

The London cable car crosses the Thames at North Greenwich. It links the Royal Docks, Excel London (a large conference and exhibition space on the north side of the river) and The O2, Europe’s largest entertainment centre. But even with these two major attractions many just want to sit in a cable car and take in the view of this part of town. It’s hard to believe but the cable car is considered public transport and not an attraction but try telling that to the smiling visitors moving silently 90 m (295 ft) over the Thames.

Views from the Emirates Air Line.
Views from the London cable car

There are many more fantastic London viewpoints including the Sky Garden in the ‘Walkie Talkie’ tower and the Oxo Tower viewing platform, but these certainly are my favourites.

best london views
Views from the Sky Garden (image by J.Hwang/Unsplash)

Guest post by Laura Porter.

Read other Velvet Escape posts about London

12 Responses

  • What a lovely post!! Also try the Sky Gardens. Tickets are free although you have to reserve in advance online. There are great views over the River Thames and South London

  • The London Eye is a huge favourite of mine! During our first visit to London 4 years ago, my fiance proposed in this very spot and, needless to say, this was the spotlight of the whole week we spent there. As for the Shard, I haven’t been inside but it looks pretty amazing, especially in the shot above. Truth be told, London manages to surprise you at any step, it’s always a pleasure to visit.

  • Great post! I’ve been to London 7 years ago, but didn’t get to go on the London Eye. I think that’s an excuse for me to go back 😀

  • The view from the Monument to the Great Fire of London is really good and it’s much cheaper than some of the other more famous viewing platforms. It’s smack bang in the centre of the city and you can see all the skyscrapers up close, and along the river…

  • Very nice article. London is a city that I adore. I saw once again want to see.

  • It all seems so modern and trendy, it’ time to get back to london!

  • Also try Greenwich park hill. It’s free and has an amazing view of the city from the outside looking in. Or primrose hill, also free. Hampstead Heath park is pretty good view too.

  • I think London is magical when you are on the Thames or at a high vantage point overlooking the city. I heard there are places that you can walk along the waterfront for many miles but haven’t done this yet.

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