London is a city that never fails to impress. London is a city full of filled with extraordinary landmarks and high places that offer spectacular panoramic views for both tourists and residents. With its rich history, culture, and architecture, there are countless landmarks, buildings, monuments to enjoy.
A fantastic strategy to get to know a city is to find the highest spot you can or take in the breadth of a panoramic view. From the iconic renowned London Eye to lesser-known spots areas like Hampstead Pergola and Hill Garden, there is no shortage of vantage points from which to see the city in all its splendour.
Many of these landmarks and buildings have played significant roles in the city’s past and continue to be important cultural and architectural symbols today. While some of a few of these spots may require admission fees or advance bookings, many provide free entry, making them accessible available to all. Whether you’re looking for a bird’s eye view of the city, a tranquil retreat, or a bustling observation deck, these views will take your breath away.
The London Eye
One of London’s most iconic landmarks, the London Eye provides magnificent view of the city. Since its opening at the start of the millennium, the London Eye has itself become a notable landmark on the London skyline.
Located on the South Bank of the River Thames, the London Eye is a cantilevered Ferris wheel that takes visitors 135 meters above the ground. Different times of the day will reveal different views, with early evening showing off the city in lights.
From the top, you can see all the major sights of the city, including the Elizabeth Tower which holds Big Ben, the South Bank, Tate Modern, the Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Shard, among others.
The Shard is the tallest in Western Europe and the second-tallest free-standing structure in the UK. It is itself one of the most recognisable structures on the London skyline. The Shard is glass clad skyscraper with a pyramidal shape that seems to pierce the sky.
Located in the heart of London, the Shard offers breath-taking views of the city from its privately-run observation deck on the 72nd floor. From here, you can see all the major landmarks, including the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the Gherkin, and the London Eye. The viewing platform is open-air, and visitors can see up to 40 miles in all directions. It’s one of the best places to view the city and take in the spectacular architecture of London.
The Sky Garden
Located in the Walkie Talkie building, a commercial building in Fenchurch Street, the Sky Garden is a unique public space that offers amazing 360-degree views of London from high above the city.
The name of the building, a nickname, is due to its shape which is said to resemble an old two-way radio. The garden situated at the top of the building and is three stories high. This part of the building has a distinctive shape and appears to push upwards and outwards into the horizon.
The garden also features a restaurant and bar. From here, you can see most of the major landmarks of the city, including Tower Bridge, the Shard, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
The Sky Gardens are the highest public gardens in London, and free access tickets for 90-minute slots are released every Monday.
Primrose Hill is a picturesque park located overlooking the London Zoo and Regents Park in North London that offers stunning views of the city.
The hill is 78 meters high and provides a panoramic view of the city skyline, including the Shard, the BT Tower, and the London Eye.
It’s a popular spot for picnics, sunsets, and viewing the fireworks on New Year’s Eve.
An interesting fact about Primrose Hill is that it was once a site famous for duelling.
Located on Hampstead Heath, Parliament Hill is another popular spot for panoramic and breath-taking views of the city.
The hill, sited on open parkland, is 98 meters high and offers stunning views of the London skyline, including views of the Shard, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the BT Tower.
It’s a popular spot for joggers, dog walkers, and families.
The Houses of Parliament which are 10km away can be viewed from the summit of the hill. The Hill was thought to be a Bronze Age burial mound. During the English Civil War in the 1600s, the hill was assigned the name, Traitor’s Hill as it was alleged to be the site from where Guy Fawkes planned to watch the destruction of Parliament in the Gunpowder Plot. Fortunately, this plot was unsuccessful and the Palace of Westminster still stands: and this remains a great spot for viewing fireworks!
Greenwich Park is among London’s oldest royal parks and offers magnificent vistas of the city.
From the top of the hill, you overlook the expansive park to see all the major London landmarks, including the Shard, the O2 Arena, and the Canary Wharf.
The park is also home to the Royal Observatory and the Prime Meridian Line. Travel to Greenwich via river boat for an extra special perspective of London from the River Thames.
Tower Bridge is one of the most famous landmarks in London.
Visitors can climb to the top of the bridge and delight in panoramic views of the River Thames and the surrounding area. From here, the Bridge offers fantastic views of the city. You can see significant landmarks, including, among others, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Monument, Tate Modern, the Tower of London, the old City Hall, the Walkie Talkie building and the Shard. The high rises of Canary Wharf are also visible.
The latticed walkway including its transparent glass floors offers an unusual and unique perspective of the Thames, the city and its skyline.
IFS Cable Car
The IFS Cloud Cable Car is a distinct way to see London from above.
At its highest, the cable car is 90m above the river, and crosses the Thames between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks.
The cable car takes visitors on a 10-minute ride across the River Thames, offering stunning views of the city. From the cable car ride spanning over 1km, you can see significant landmarks, including consisting of the O2 Arena, the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the Thames Barrier, Maritime Greenwich, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Gherkin.
St Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral is among the most renowned landmarks in London and offers spectacular views of the city from its Golden Gallery, situated at the very top of the dome.
From this vantage point viewpoint, visitors can admire the panorama of London’s skyline, taking in famous landmarks such as the Shard, the London Eye, and the Houses of Parliament.
In addition to the Golden Gallery, consisting of the Stone Gallery and the Whispering Gallery, visitors to St. Paul’s Cathedral can also enjoy in take pleasure in other awesome views from different points within the building. The view from the Golden Gallery is truly amazing, as it offers a 360-degree of view of the city.
On a clear day, visitors can see for miles in every direction, and the sight of the bustling city below is nothing short of mesmerizing.
From this perspective, keep an eye out to see the Thames River snaking its way through the city, a sight that has inspired countless artists and writers over the years.
St. Paul’s Cathedral has played an important role in London’s history. During the Second World War, the cathedral was one of the few buildings in the city to remain standing after the Blitz, and it became a symbol of resilience, strength and hope for the people of London.
Today, it remains a popular tourist destination and a beloved icon of the city’s skyline.
The Tate Modern is one of London’s most popular art museums and offers incredible views of the city looking north.
Whilst visitors can not currently visit the museum’s viewing platform on the 10th floor, the windows of the galleries (and the members’ room) offer panoramic views of the River Thames and the surrounding area. From here, you can see major landmarks, including The Millennium Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Shard.
Hampstead Pergola and Hill Garden
The Hampstead Pergola and Hill Garden is a surprise gem in North London that offers a gorgeous view of the surrounding area and further afield. The garden features a beautiful pergola covered in vines and flowers, which leads to a hilltop garden with panoramic the surrounding area. From here, you can see all the major significant landmarks, including of the Shard, the London Eye, and the O2 Arena.
In the City of London. standing at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill, the Monument is a 202-foot-tall high column that was constructed to commemorate the Great Fire of London in 1666.
Visitors can climb up the 311 steps to the top of the column and enjoy panoramic views of the city. From here, you can see many significant landmarks, including of the Tower of London and the Shard.
From the top, visitors have a 360-degree view. Built between 1671 and 1677, the Monument memorialises the Great Fire and celebrates the rebuilding of the City of London. For many, it is an enduring symbol of resilience.
The Salesforce Tower
The Salesforce Tower, previously known as the Heron Tower, is a skyscraper in the City of London that offers spectacular views of the city. Its observation deck, called the 38th Floor, is a popular spot for visitors to take in the awesome views. It stands 230 metres (755ft) tall and including a mask, is now the second highest building in the financial district and the fifth highest in London.
From here, you can see all the major landmarks, including Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Shard. Like many of London’s skyscrapers, the Salesforce Tower is a relatively recent build in London’s long history with construction beginning in 2007 and finished in 2011.
Richmond Hill is a beautiful spot in West London that offers spectacular views of the River Thames and the surrounding area.
The hill is a popular spot for picnics and walks, and visitors can delight in breath-taking views of the city skyline. From here, you can see major landmarks, including the Shard, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the London Eye.
The park with this view is a perfect place for a summer’s day or a romantic afternoon.
The view of the city is protected by law. Historically, the mound was said to be used for communication during Tudor times because of its unencumbered view from Hill to City.
Alexandra Palace is a historic sports and entertainment venue in North London that offers panoramic views of the city.
Visitors can climb the top of the palace and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding area. From here, you can see all the major landmarks, including of the Shard, the Gherkin, and the O2 Arena.
The palace was intended to be a ‘people’s palace’ as a centre for entertainment, recreation, and education. It was opened in 1873. However, it was destroyed by a fire two weeks after it opened but was soon rebuilt.
Battersea Park is a beautiful park in South London that offers stunning views of the River Thames and the surrounding area.
Prior to becoming a public park in 1846, it was known as Battersea fields and was a notorious spot of duelling. Indeed, the Duke of Wellington and Earl of Winchilsea met on the fields to settle a matter of honour. Both aimed wide and survived, honour and bodies intact.
The park is now home to an art gallery – The Pump House Gallery, a boating lake, a bandstand, a small children’s zoo and extensive sporting facilities including tennis courts, tracks and cricket and football pitches.
There is also the remarkable London Peace Pagoda which was erected in 1985, and maintained on a daily basis by a Buddhist monk.
Along the eastern edge of the park is a small strip which is designated a nature area and is an established woodland.
For wider vistas, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the horizon from the park’s numerous walking paths and open spaces. From here, you can see all the major landmarks, including the Shard, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the London Eye.
Get all the latest London visitor guides