I don’t know about you, but I love finding the highest point of a city when I travel, from where I can enjoy the best views from, especially around sunset. London has been until a few years ago quite a short city, with only a few skyscrapers in the City, and the financial district in Canary Wharf. However, due to the heavy construction that has been going on in the capital lately, there are now many more places from where you can admire the skyline panorama of London and enjoy the best views the city has to offer.
The view from the Shard
Probably the most famous viewpoint of London, the view from the Shard is also the highest you can get from a building in Western Europe. The Shard it is after all the tallest building in London. The viewing platform has panoramic windows from where you
can admire a spectacular 360 panorama of the city. On a clear day, from the top of the Shard you can view up to 40 miles around London. Depending on the weather, there is also an open-air viewing platform open to the public.
Recently the Shard has introduced the “World’s Highest Virtual Reality Slide”, where you can experience sliding down the building at 100mph through virtual reality.
The ticket to the Shard is not cheap, but you can save a few quid and buy a flexible ticket without a time slot from here.
The Sky Garden
The Sky Garden is a unique concept of a tropical botanical garden at the top floor of the Walkie Talkie skyscraper, in the City of London. It has been created and designed as a space for relaxation in the concrete jungle of the city below.
The Sky Garden has panoramic views and giant floor to ceiling windows from where you can admire the most famous London landmarks such as Tower Bridge, The Shard and London Eye. If you get hungry or thirsty, you can always step into one of the restaurants at Sky Garden or grab a drink with a view at the Sky Pod bar.
The Sky Garden is free to visit but you must book a time slot in advance here. For the best light, as always, I recommend finding out when the sunset is and book your visit at least for half an hour before.
Home of two fantastic restaurants, Sushi Samba and Duck and Waffle, The Heron Tower is another great place from where you can admire skyline views of London. Take the panoramic elevator to the 38th floor of the sky scraper and enter a world of “orange”, the color of the décor at Sushi Samba – the Brazilian – Japanese fusion restaurant spread on two top floors at Heron Tower.
Grab a cocktail from their signature menu and step outside on the outdoor sky-high terrace to enjoy it whilst looking at the city lights. The views are fantastic and the orange tree in the middle of the terrace will surely impress you.
You do need a booking if you want to go to the Duck and Waffle, but for the bar at Sushi Samba is not necessary.
Tate Modern Blavatnik Building Viewing Level
In 2016 Tate Modern finished the construction to its newest extension which was designed to have a viewing platform on the top. Standing at the 10th floor of the building, the viewing platform is a 360 panoramic walkway that goes alongside the four walls of the tower. As it is not that tall, from here you can observe great views over St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge, The Shard and river Thames.
If you are an architecture lover, on your way down, take the stairs instead of the lifts. The design of the building is spectacular! Climbing to the Tate Modern Blavatnik Building Viewing Level is free of charge.
Aerial views from a helicopter
For the ultimate best views of London experience definitely book a helicopter tour experience. During the 35 minutes flight you will enjoy incredible birds-eye views over all the iconic landmarks the capital has to offer such as Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, The Parliament, Hyde Park, the financial district, and many more.
A helicopter tour is a great way to discover a different side of London in the intimacy of your family or friends. Not to mention, what a better other way to propose to your girlfriend than up in the clouds, at sunset, when the city is covered in a warm, romantic light?
The terrace at One New Change
Probably one of the most “hidden in plain sight” views is the one from the rooftop of One New Change shopping centre. Located across the street from St. Paul’s Cathedral, the design of this modern shopping centre and its glass sharp angles provide perfect photo opportunities both on the ground and on the rooftop.
The access to the terrace is free, just take the elevator to the top floor and prepare for wonderful close-up views of St. Paul’s Cathedral. On a clear day, from here, you can see all the way to Croydon when you look towards the South.
A bit out of the touristic path, ArcelorMittal Orbit is a fantastic intricate sculpture hosting the world’s tallest and longest slide, with a drop of 178 meters! Definitely a challenge for all adrenaline seekers. If you plan to experience the slide definitely book in advance here, as the slots are very limited and sell quite a few months ahead.
Because of its location outside of the city centre, in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, from the top of the ArcelorMittal Orbit you can see up to 20 miles over west London.
Few tourists know that at the top floor of the Oxo Tower there is a restaurant with a viewing platform. I didn’t know either until I took a best views of London tour led by the very talented skyline photographer Michal Thomas.
Keep in mind that this is a restaurant and always ask if you can go to the terrace to snap some photos and admire the view if you are not here to eat.
Emirates Air Line cable car
The best aerial views over The O2 Arena and the financial district is from the Emirates Air Line cable car, which connects Royal Victoria to North Greenwich tube stations.
The cable car crosses the river Thames and is a great way to observe the city lights, especially after sunset. You can easily use it by tapping your Oyster card, same as you do on the tube or train. The cost of the journey is £3.40.
A one way trip usually lasts about 10 minutes but you can book special experiences like a 360 degree tour which comes with a one day hop-on hop-off river boat ticket as well.
Disclaimer: This post has been written in collaboration with High Flying Helicopter.
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