Best Views of London

Where to get those iconic city snaps and sunset moments

London is an action-packed place for a city break. With so much to see, do, eat and drink you’ll find your weekend bucket list overflowing, but be sure to make time during your stay to get one of the best views of London and snap that iconic cityscape photo.

We’ve gathered the ultimate spots for the best London views, whether it’s up high in a tower, on a roof garden or outside in nature. Find free places for the picture-perfect sunset, as well as sublime bars and hotels with a bonus skyline view from the window.

  1. London Eye
  2. The Bridges
  3. Sky Garden
  4. Oxo Tower
  5. St Paul’s Cathedral
  6. The Tate Modern
  7. The Royal Horseguards Hotel
  8. Sea Containers London
  9. Tree House Hotel London
  10. One New Change
  11. Frank’s Café
  12. Greenwich Observatory
  13. Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath
  14. Primrose Hill
  15. One Tree Hill
  16. Alexandra Palace

1. London Eye

Get one of the best views of London while aboard one of its most iconic attractions – the London Eye. While you’ll definitely want a picture with the Eye in the background, you can get a truly remarkable view from inside one of the pods, gentle cruising through the London sky. Booking ahead is essential.

Price: Standard from £32.50, of Family £26 pp, booking essential.

Best time to go: Daytime or sunset.

2. The Bridges

You won’t take in the whole of the London skyline from the Thames’ bridges but you do get a pretty stunning view of the city. So be a tourist – stop while you’re crossing and really drink it in. Chelsea Bridge, Lambeth Bridge and Waterloo Bridge all offer pretty stunning vistas.

Top tip: the Millennium Bridge has a fantastic view towards St Paul’s.

Best time to go: Avoid morning commute/rush hour.

3. Sky Garden

If you want the Shard in your London skyline, certainly pop up the (free-entry) Sky Garden tower. Not only is the view breath-taking from the panoramic windows, but you’ll also get to witness an urban jungle growing inside a skyscraper. Why not book to spend an evening soaking in the sparkling night-time skyline in one of the bars or restaurants?

Price: Free or with a restaurant/bar booking.

Best time to go: Sunset or night.

4. Oxo Tower

One of the best London views is virtually still a secret (at least in London terms). Take the lift to the 8th floor of the Oxo Tower and stand on the public viewing platform for free – and no booking required either. It’s not the highest view in the city but it is a good angle for a photograph of St Paul’s.

Price: Free, or book into the restaurant and brasserie.

Best time to go: Daytime.

5. St Paul’s Cathedral

A trip into St Paul’s Cathedral is a London staple, as the interior and history are stunning even if you didn’t climb the stairs – but we recommend you do. Climb the dome to get a great view over the roofs of some of the most historic parts of the city, where the storied old architecture mingles with the brand-new buildings.

Price: Advance tickets £18 adult, £7.70 child.

Best time to go: Daytime (last entry is 4 p.m.).

6. The Tate Modern

Head to the Tate Modern for fascinating modern art and one of the top views in London, all completely free. Take a spin around the Turbine Hall gallery to see the current exhibition and then head up the viewing platform for a great panorama over the north side of the river, St Paul’s, Canary Wharf and Wembley.

Price: Free to the collection, Turbine Hall and viewing platform.

Best time to go: Late afternoon (closes 6 p.m.).

7. The Royal Horseguards Hotel

Why not combine your accommodation with one of the best views of London? Nestled between Big Ben, St James’ Park and Trafalgar Square, you’ll feel like you’re rubbing shoulders with royalty at the Royal Horseguards Hotel. The building itself is jaw-dropping inside and out, but the views from the river-view rooms feel like an intimate snapshot of the city’s best side. 

Room with a view: Double/King River View or suites.

Nearby: Victoria Embankment, Horse Guards Parade, Buckingham Palace.

8. Sea Containers London

Sea Containers London is a funky spot with a view that packs a punch. If you can drag your eyes away from the artsy interior, gaze out of the window for a view of the river and beyond. If you don’t manage to snag a river-view room, sip cocktails while drinking in the vista at the 12th Knot rooftop bar and terrace.

Room with a view: Superior, Riverview rooms & studios/suites.

Restaurant with a view: 12th Knot & Lyaness.

9. Tree House Hotel London

Right next to BBC Broadcasting House and steps from the bustling heart of Soho, Tree House Hotel is a green oasis in the city’s core. The interior is unbelievably photogenic and so – as you’d expect from a treehouse – is the view from almost every window. Madera restaurant and The Nest bar offer an unrivalled cityscape from their floor-to-ceiling windows. 

Room with a view: Fort, Lookout or Skyline rooms.

Restaurant with a view: Madera, The Nest.

10. One New Change

Formerly a secret, now not so much, One New Change is still more-than-worth a trip for its exceptional view of St Paul’s Cathedral – so close you could touch it. Enter the shopping centre on the junction of Cheapside and New Change and head to the roof terrace, which is large, free, and open from 6 a.m. until midnight.

Restaurant with a view: Madison's Restaurant and Bar.

Best time: Early morning or night.

11. Frank’s Café

If you’re looking for the hipsters’ top view of London, head right to Frank’s Café, in Peckham, south London. Here, those in the know gather at sunset to see a spectacular London skyline and sip on craft brews in the rooftop beer garden. Because it’s an outdoor venture, it’s only open from May until September for the good weather. 

Opening times: May–Sept, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Best time: Sunset.

12. Greenwich Observatory

London’s parks are not only one of they city’s best, free features, they’re the place to get the best London views with ample space and at no cost. Greenwich Park is home to the observatory and the Prime Meridian – a must-see on your first trip to London – and boasts one of the best lookout points over the glistening towers of Canary Wharf. 

Nearest station: Greenwich (bottom of hill) or Blackheath (overground).

Best time to go: Sunset, but any time really.

13. Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath

Obvious perhaps, but to get the best view of London, you’ll have to climb something. Parliament Hill is a favourite if you’re spending the day in Hampstead. Follow your fellow view-seekers up to the view point for a picnic or to watch the sun go down feeling like you’re out in the countryside with a view of the entire city.

Nearest station: Hampstead Heather/Gospel Oak.

Best time to go: With a picnic lunch.

14. Primrose Hill

If you’re in Camden, it would be almost rude not to sojourn up Primrose Hill for one of London’s most iconic skyline sights. It’s beautiful on a sunny day, first thing in the morning, and at twilight, just after the sun has dropped below the skyscrapers and the city starts to glow.

Nearest station: Camden Town/St John’s Wood/Chalk Farm.

Best time to go: Morning or twilight.

15. One Tree Hill

A little further out of London in Honor Oak (just south of Peckham and with a tube station), you’ll find one of the city’s least-known views. Wind your way up the tree-lined paths to the green vantage point of One Tree Hill, where trees perfectly frame one of the prettiest views of the city centre and Canary Wharf.

Nearest station: Honor Oak Park.

Best time to go: Sunny day.

16. Alexandra Palace

The sprawling expanse of Alexandra Palace Park has been a locals’ favourite for many decades, offering a glorious view over what feels like the entire city whether you’re there in the sunshine or at night when all the lights are twinkling. The beer garden at Phoenix Bar and Kitchen on the South Terrace occupies the best sun-trap spot for summer city-gazing. 

Nearest station: Alexandra Palace (overground) or Bounds Green.

Best time to go: All day, but also sunset.

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