The Best Views of London
Yes, that tall, pointy unfinished-looking building has some of the best views of London. Choice: You can pay to go all the way to the top-ish (the 68th, 69th and 72nd floors) or you can make a reservation at one of the restaurants for a cocktail and/or a meal. I’ve been to Aqua Shard and Oblix for dinner and drinks and can vouch for the a-mazing views and good food. The cocktails are expensive, but at least you’ll have something in your hand while you watch the sun set and the lights go on over the city.
Make reservations. Dress up. Don’t forget to check out the view from the loo in Aqua Shard. The men’s especially (don’t ask me how I know).
Family friendly to a point. Well-behaved children enjoying a meal are warmly welcomed. Children who crawl around the floor and run through the bar are not.
32 London Bridge Street SE1 9SG, nearest station: London Bridge
Treat yourself to an incredible collection of modern art and an afternoon of tea and tarts. Or champagne and lunch. The view from the Tate Modern’s Restaurant over the Thames and St. Paul’s is truly something special.
Dinner is available only on weekends, but the bar is open all day. Reservations advised.
Family friendly? Yes, at least during the day.
Bankside London SE1 9TG, nearest station: London Bridge, Southwark, Blackfriars.
Impressive views from below and above. The Tower Bridge Exhibition tells the history of Tower Bridge and gives you have a peek into the Victorian engine rooms.
The best part of the Tower Bridge visit is the view from the upper walkways and the glass floors installed for your viewing pleasure. Go ahead, lie down on it and take a selfie as the buses roll by underneath you. Everybody does. But not with those annoying selfie sticks. Don’t be that guy.
Book tickets ahead if possible. If you’re lucky, you can coordinate with the bridge opening times.
Family friendly? Even better with kids.
Tower Bridge, nearest station: Tower Hill.
Top of St. Paul’s Cathedral
Those who climb the 500 steps to the top will be rewarded with a beautiful view over the city. You have to pay to enter St. Paul’s, so make sure to wander every inch of the magnificent Cathedral and whisper to each other across the Whispering Gallery (although I still can’t hear anything when I try…) before heading up the winding, stone steps to the top.
Book ahead for tickets and you’ll get a discount. Admission is no longer covered by the London Pass, but you can see the Cathedral for free if you stay and attend a service. Doesn’t include the view, sorry.
Family friendly? Yes, but little legs might get tired climbing the stairs. Or you will.
St. Paul’s Churchyard EC4M 8AD
, nearest station: St. Paul’s.
photo: Swift photography company/Flickr
New Change Place
Yes, it’s a shopping mall adjacent to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The only thing better than the view from St. Paul’s is a view of St. Paul’s from the roof terrace at New Change Place. The terrace is public, so feel free to ride up the glass elevator and take a photo.
Family friendly? Definitely!
1 New Change EC4M 9AF, nearest station: St. Paul’s.
Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street
The newest addition to the “view over London” category, the Sky Garden is located at the top of a building Londoners call the “walkie-talkie” because of its weird shape. There are restaurants and a bar, but no need to shell out for a meal if you just want to enjoy the view. You do, however, have to book free tickets in advance and be prepared to go through an airport-like security check (good news, you can keep your shoes on!). Bookings fill fast, so plan ahead.
Family friendly to a point (there are rules about number of children and pushchairs).
20 Fenchurch Street EC3M 3BY, nearest station: Monument.
Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben)
Only UK residents are allowed to join a tour to climb the Tower and enjoy the magical experience of hearing Big Ben gong the hour overhead. They’re also allowed to stand behind the giant clock faces that loom over London. Can you tell I’m disappointed I’m not allowed to go?
Maybe you can, though. Book here and send me more photos when you return.
Children under 11 not admitted, and clearly, neither am I.
Palace of Westminster SW1A 0AA, nearest station: Westminster.
If you need a break from the city grind, this is the place to go. Pretty Primrose Hill is one of only six protected viewpoints in the city. Shop through the village for picnic supplies and find a spot on the grassy hill overlooking London.
It’s a beautiful way to enjoy the London skyline whilst enjoying an afternoon of kite-flying, sunshine and fresh air. Its proximity to Regent’s Park and the London Zoo makes it a great afternoon escape if you have little people with you.
Primrose Hill NW1 nearest station: Chalk Farm, Camden Town, St. John’s Wood.
This is just a partial list of my favorite views. Have I left your favorite off the list? Let me know in the comments below!
subscribe for email notifications