5 Places to get the best views in London
There’s no doubt about it, London’s skyline is impressive. The cityscape has changed dramatically over the years and is now filled with iconic landmarks such as The Shard and the Walkie Talkie. If you arrive in the capital by plane then you may be lucky enough to fly right over central London, providing you with a birds-eye view of the city. A flight is an expensive way to get a view, however, so if you’re looking to see the skyline from up high, try one of these five best places to get a London view instead.
The London Eye
The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel that sits on the South Bank of the River Thames (right near the London Aquarium). It opened to the public in March 2000 and has since become the most popular paid tourist attraction in the UK. The structure measures 135 metres tall and was once the highest public viewing point in London until The Shard came along and stole its crown. Still, it’s a really fun way to see the city and a great way to get a view. Visitors enter glass pods that revolve slowly around the large wheel, allowing you to see the capital at its best.
Measuring 310m, The Shard is London’s tallest building and one of its most dramatic. This 95-storey skyscraper is home to offices, three restaurants, ten residential apartments, the five-star Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts and the UK’s highest viewing gallery, The View from The Shard. Located at the top of the building, on floors 68, 69 and 72, the viewing gallery offers incredible 360-degree views for up to 40 miles. Visits are timed and it’s wise to book your tickets in advance, especially if you’re visiting during the holidays. If you’re lucky enough to source a babysitter, then book a date night at GŎNG Bar on level 52 and enjoy drinks with views across the city.
Duck and Waffle
For breakfast (or lunch, or dinner) with a view, head to the Duck and Waffle, a 24-hour restaurant located in the heart London’s financial district. Its signature dish is fried duck leg, and fried duck egg, on a crispy waffle but the menu also serves a wide range of other dishes including everything from big breakfasts and large steaks to grilled cheese sandwiches, beer-braised rabbit and more. But it’s not just the food that you come for here; located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower with floor to ceiling windows, the Duck and Waffle boasts some of the best views in London.
It’s not just sky-high buildings that offer the best views in town, some of London’s parks also offer spectacular views across the capital. In north London, Primrose Hill is a lovely area located on the northern side of Regent’s Park. From the top of the 213ft eponymous hill, you can see across central London as well as Hampstead and Belsize Park to the north. The area was once hunting ground for the royal family and later a place where duels were fought and prize-fights took place. These days, however, it’s one of the city’s most upmarket neighbourhoods, home to the rich and famous.
Another place where you can get a fabulous natural view of London is from Greenwich, located in the south of the capital. Greenwich is a World Heritage Site and Greenwich Park is home to a number of historic buildings including the Royal Naval College, the National Maritime Museum and The Royal Observatory, which was designed by Sir Christopher Wren (who was also the architect behind St. Paul’s Cathedral). Climb to the top of the hill in Greenwich Park and, outside the observatory, you will be rewarded with stunning views of London. Afterwards, head to the Trafalgar Tavern on the waterside, one of the most historic pubs in the area where Charles Dickens once used to drink!
Katja Gaskell is a travel writer recently returned to London, U.K. after 12 years of living abroad in Australia, India and Mexico. She's the co-founder of globetotting.com and is a firm believer that you can - and should! - take your kids everywhere. Katja has written across a range of titles for Lonely Planet guidebooks, tested luxury hotels for Mr & Mrs Smith and has contributed to publications including BBC Food, Hotelier International and The Australian.