The best views of London – Where to find the best panoramic views of the city

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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

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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

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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.

 

Heron Tower

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

ArcelorMittal Orbit

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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.

 

Oxo Tower

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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

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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.

Some of the links one this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

54 Comments

  1. I need to do something like this and just have a weekend getaway and visit all these places, my problem is usually how crowdy London is but I just have to live with it and enjoy the places, views and scenery.

  2. I went to London last year but too bad I did not Shard to check out the whole skyline of London. But Shard is such a modern icon in London too and could see it when I was doing the cruise.

  3. So i guess my London panoramic spots are sorted from this article. I know where to head out to when am In London to get a glimpse of these amazing aerial views of the city.

  4. I usually don’t look for the tallest buildings, but now I think I’m going to! You got some amazing shots! And doing a helicopter tour of London sounds incredible!

  5. Wow, this is indeed such a great compilations and who would not want to visit this awesome places! I will definitely be taking note of all of this.

  6. The only way to get a great panoramic view of a city is on a sky scraper. I haven’t been to Europe, but when I do, I will make sure to see these views my self.

  7. Wow, your photos are just so beautiful! I am still yet to travel to London, and hope to change this soon 🙂 Thank you for the inspiration!

  8. omg this is such a beautiful list of places to get the best views of London. I have bookmarked this page because london is something which i have always wanted to visit.Thanks for sharing

  9. Oh My! I wish I’d found this article before my trip to London last year! We did manage to get a glorious view from atop the London Eye!! We just had to queue for a while first haha.

  10. I’m happy to report, I’ve seen the views from nearly all of these places! I’ve not yet done the ArcelorMittal Orbit, but I’m not sure I’ll be brave enough lol. I really love the views from the Tate Modern; it’s a little underrated I think.

  11. Nothing beats getting to the top of a building or hill and taking a look at the incredible views they have to offer. I’ve personally seen a few of these panoramic views when spending time in London but definitely need to visit some more of the places you have mentioned.

  12. I’ve done a fair few of these but I really want to go up the shard and a helicopter ride would be amazing! I recently went up the Sky Garden which is so amazing especially as it’s free! The Emirates Cable Cars were fun too! xo

  13. Great new perspective of London! 😅 I would LOVE to do a helicopter tour someday. What a dream!! Will have to try finding so e of these spots next time I’m in London!

  14. I always research the best views when I travel to a city (rooftop bars and high viewpoints). This list is fantastic for London! When I traveled there last I stayed at The Trafalgar Hotel and it had an amazing view of Trafalgar Square

  15. Wow! Loved this post and I love London. This will surely make easy for us traveler to find a great panoramic view of the city.

  16. Hello girl! Such a beautiful collection of photos. In my bucket list I have “visiting Paris, London, France…”. Thank you for this post. I appreciate it a lot.

  17. These are all gorgeous pictures! I have never been to London but I have always wanted to visit there. I’ll definitely have to check these places out if I ever make it there. Thanks for sharing!

  18. You missed out The Gherkin and the BT Tower – both offer great views, especially when you’re eating in the BT Tower and it starts revolving during the dessert course 😀 love all your pics though, well captured skylines x

  19. I’m preparing my next visit to London and this article has been so helpful! I’m trying to get good pics for my Instagram while visiting as well!

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