London is a beautiful city. It’s ever-evolving skyline is filled with historical landmarks, incredible architecture and eye-catching skyscrapers. With so much to see and so much variety, sometimes the best views are from above! Luckily there are many vantage points in London with incredible views of the city, both free and public to beautiful restaurants with a stunning London backdrop. I’ve rounded up some of the best London views I’ve found – despite my fear of heights, I love a great view!
The Best London Views
Searcy’s at The Gherkin
30 St Mary Axe, London EC3A 8EP
Cost: Drinks run £6-15
Don’t let the fact that a view from The Gherkin means you won’t get this iconic London skyscraper in your view, the view and windows at Searcy’s at The Gherkin more than make up for that.
The Iris Bar is set in the very top of The Gherkin on Level 40, and offers stunning panoramic views through the its iconic domed windows. Bookings are essential as it’s not open every day of the week and often closes for private events.
Time your visit for sunset, grab a drink and look over London in the rosy glow of golden hour. This is my favorite place to take in London views – it is just beautiful up there.
20 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 8AF
We love Sky Garden. It is awesome! We take almost all of our visitors up here to scope out the view over coffee before we get down to business hitting up London’s best tourist spots. Located on the 35th, 36th and 37th floors of 20 Fenchurch Street, or the “Walkie Talkie” as its known, it offers great views over the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Shard and beyond.
It’s views and free price point as well as the lovely garden make this one of the best views in London. Tickets are released each Monday for the following week. Booking is essential – you can try to walk in, but that’s risky as the tickets go really fast.
Booking hack – if you want to book further in advance or they’re out of tickets, try booking Sky Pod Bar instead. We do this often and take our visitors up for breakfast. It will require your credit card information to discourage no-shows, but the reservation is free and you’ll have a spot to sit while you take in views over coffee or a drink.
Also Sky Garden is really cool at night! The pictures don’t come out so great, but it’s worth stopping by at night, too, if that’s what works best for your visit to London.
The View From The Shard
Joiner Street, London SE1 9QU
A dizzying 70 floors up above London, The View from the Shard is London’s highest viewpoint and absolutely one of the best views in London. Floors 68 and 69 are enclosed, with a bar serving up Möet & Chandon. Floor 72 is the open air observation deck, located at the bottom of the “shards” you can see at the top of this structure.
Book your tickets ahead of time if you can as times can sell out, but check the weather before you book. I’ve been to The Shard where it’s been too foggy to see the city below from the 35th floor – let alone the 72nd!
To be honest, I probably would never have gone up there if visitors hadn’t suggested it. I’m so glad we did, though! Seeing London from so high up was thrilling and it is so cool to look up at it and think, hey, I’ve been all the way up there!
We got the tickets that included the “Champagne Experience” (because #girlstrip) and it was so fun to watch the winter sun set over London from 800 feet.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD
Booking recommended in high season
Obviously, St Paul’s rooftop view is a bit different from the others, as it is a place of worship. Access to the dome is included in admission to St Paul’s, which is open for touring Mondays through Saturdays. The space was not built for delivering views, so it’s not exactly a spot where you can linger for any length of time. The cathedral is gorgeous and the audio tour is well worth your while, so go for the tour and to learn more about St Pauls, and consider the view a wonderful bonus.
A warning for those with a fear of heights, like me – walking around the dome definitely set mine off. It was terrifying, but beautiful. It offers a different perspective on the city than the skyscrapers and is worth the visit for many reasons!
GONG at The Shard
31 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9QU
Cost: Cocktails are £20, afternoon tea is £52
Located on the 52nd floor of the Shard, GONG is a bar and restaurant with stunning views. Your view will depend on where you can get a table and bookings are essential during peak periods. The 52nd floor is high, but not too high to see detail below. It is a truly fabulous view, one of the best views in London.
It is not cheap to get drinks or afternoon tea up there, but as I posted about their afternoon tea here, it is a lovely experience!
Bankside, London SE1 9TG
No bookings required
The deck is located at the top of the Blavatnik Building and closes 30 minutes before the museum’s closing. While you’re there, don’t forget to save time to check out the Tate Modern’s collections.
Galvin at Windows
22 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1BE
Cost: Cocktails start at £16
For a different view, that isn’t along the Thames or in The City, head to Mayfair to the London Hilton Park Lane. On the 28th floor sits Galvin at Windows, looking over Hyde Park on one side and London’s skyline landmarks on the other.
Hampstead, London, NW5 1QR
No bookings required
Hampstead Heath is not, of course, a skyscraper or building, but it is still a great place to catch views over London.
I posted about our visit to Hampstead Heath here. It is a gorgeous park that is well worth the short journey from central London. You’ll forget that you’re even in the city and it is perfect for a picnic.
What am I missing?
Besides the obvious omissions included here where I haven’t been, like the London Eye, Wellington Arch and Radio Rooftop – have you experienced any excellent views in London I should check out? Please let me know in the comments below or on Instagram @jenn_sands!