London is one the world’s busiest, most exciting megacities which manages to combine 21st century modernity with a respect for history and tradition. To get a real sense of it all, you’ll need to go high above to get a bird’s eye view of its world-famous skyline.
The good news is that now you’ll be able to see London from higher than ever before from The Shard – the tallest building in Western Europe. To celebrate the opening of The Shard, we’re taking a look at where else you can get some of the best views of London’s amazing skyline.
Our favourite London views
If you’re planning on visiting London this year, you can’t miss out on seeing the breath-taking views from The Shard, which on a clear day stretch up to 40 miles across the city. Designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano, it stands at an impressive 1016 feet and is set to join the Barbican Centre and the Gherkin as one of London’s most iconic modern buildings.
High speed lifts race far above any of London’s other viewing points to the upper floors, where you’ll enjoy 360° views over London. The viewing platform is open right up until 10pm, so you can choose to see London in the light of day or enjoy its twinkling lights later on at night, when the city takes on a completely different (and even more romantic) feel.
- The London Eye
The London Eye is one of the more recent additions to London’s skyline but has become an internationally recognisable landmark, offering great views from a central point in the city.
Why not make an event of it and hire your very own private capsule, complete with a glass of bubbly, canapés or luxury chocolates which will let you take in the panoramic views in the company of your own party?
The London Eye looks great lit up at night, especially from the terrace of the Royal Horseguards Hotel – one of the most secluded spots to take London in from.
- The Tower Hotel
The Tower hotel boasts one of the very best views in London – which is no mean feat considering the competition. So you’ll be able to spy St Katherine Docks, the River Thames, Tower of London and the famous Tower Bridge right from the comfort of your luxury hotel suite if you stay with us.
Tower Bridge has played an important role in London’s history, and was a huge triumph for modern engineering when it was first built in the 19th century. These days it sees 40,000 people pass over the bridge every day and plays a starring role in London’s most important events, like the London Olympics in 2012.
We’re very lucky to be neighbours with London’s most iconic landmark, which you can drink in while having a meal at our Brassiere Restaurant or a leisurely tipple at our stylish XI Bar and Lounge. There is no better way to see London, in our opinion.
- The view from St Pauls Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral sits in a prime location on top of Ludgate Hill and is one of London’s oldest viewing spots. Designed by Christopher Wren in the baroque style, it was part of London’s regenesis after the Great Fire of London. The magnificent dome at St Paul’s has continued to dominate London’s skyline and the city has gone to great lengths to make sure nothing shrouds the view of it.
As you make your way to the top, be sure to stop off at the famous Whispering Gallery, so called because if you whisper into a wall, the unique acoustics of the gallery will allow somebody to hear your words at the opposite end.
Higher up at the Golden Gallery, 528 steps above ground, you’ll be wowed by views over central London (look out for the River Thames, the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre) as well as a close-up peak of the imposing dome. You’ll want to take your camera along to capture it all.
- Primrose Hill
One of the most enjoyable things to do in London is to climb up one of its very manageable hills, like Primrose Hill. Stop off for a picnic mid-way and make your way to the top, where you’ll be rewarded with views right cross the city. You’ll be able to pick out landmarks like the BT Tower, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Gherkin and even the Houses of Parliament.
- The National Gallery
The view over Westminster from the rooftop of the National Gallery is one of London’s best kept secrets. Ben Johnson, an artist who captures city panoramas beautifully, has been known to use the viewing space on the National Gallery’s roof as inspiration for his work. And with views of London’s most famous structures like Big Ben and the London Eye, it’s not hard to see why he loves coming here so much.
Share your favourite view
We’d love to know your favourite London view. So leave us a comment or tweet us telling us where you think the best views of London can be found.