London’s best views

London is a cornucopia of great landmarks, icons, sights and vistas - but as the city is so expansive you sometimes struggle to fit it all in; well this is where we show you London's best views...

London Focus

You may have noticed that London is becoming more and more like New York - just look at the number of diners and burger joints that have opened in the last couple of years. The city is also becoming home to a large amount of skyscrapers. Whether you embrace the new vertical city or are filled with chagrin at the thought of St. Paul’s Cathedral sharing airspace with the “erotic gherkin”, it can’t be denied there there’s something magical about having a bird’s eye view of the beautiful city. But where can you get the best one?

Primrose Hill
An ideal picnic spot, from the top of Primrose Hill one can spy the Shard, the BT Tower, Canary Wharf and the London Eye. It’s particularly popular in the summer months when people turn up just to watch the sun rise, but the sunsets are equally romantic.
Pros: It’s one of London’s natural wonders, and it’s free.
Cons: The closer to the summit you are the chillier it gets. It also gets very busy in the summer, day and night.

The Shard
At 306 metres tall, the Shard is officially the tallest building in the European Union. The viewing gallery is on the 68th, 69th and 72nd floors, offering 360 degree views for up to 40 miles around.
Pros: As the tallest building in London, the views reach the furthest, as far as Wembley Stadium to the north and the Crystal Palace transmitter to the south.
Cons: It’s a whopping £30 per person (£25 if you book in advance), and you have to book a specific time slot of 30 minutes.

The London Eye
One of the capital’s favourite attractions, the London Eye’s capsules take passengers on a 30 minute voyage taking in scenery that includes the Palace of Westminster, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and even Windsor Castle in the distance. Each capsule has space for 25 people.
Pros: It’s fun watching different parts of the city come into view as the wheel rotates.
Cons: At £30 a ticket it’s very pricey (£25 for advance tickets). If you don’t buy tickets in advance the queues can be very lengthy, especially during holidays and at weekends.
\n\nSt. Paul’s Cathedral
It’s hard to believe this used to be London’s tallest building (for over 200 years, till 1962 to be precise). It’s 111 metres high, and from here you can see Tower Bridge, the Olympic Stadium and Buckingham Palace.
Pros: This was London’s original vantage point, centuries before the skyscrapers arrived.
Cons: You’ll need a fair bit of energy to climb up the almost 300 steps to the top.

Emirates Air Line
Not a plane, but London’s very own cable car. It runs from the Royal Docks to North Greenwich and flies over the river, in close proximity to the o2 and the City’s skyscrapers, taking in the Docklands’ industrial landscape. The journey takes around ten minutes.
Pros: It’s a fun way to commute and you can use your Oyster card.
Cons: It’s a very short ride, and in terms of day to day travel only useful if you need to get from North Greenwich to the Docklands and vice versa.

Beckton Alps
Despite the glamorous name, Beckton Alps is essentially a hill on a pile of rubbish left over from the old gas works. But fear not, it’s covered in grass so you won’t be walking over a heap of toxic waste. Plans to build an indoor ski slope have been abandoned due to lack of funding, so instead you can walk up and peer over the A13 and the surrounding wasteland.
Pros: It’s a view that not many people know about, and offers a great look at the areas of the Docklands that are still largely industrial.
Cons: It’s fairly grim, unless you like that sort of scenery.
\n\nForest Hill
From the top of Forest Hill it’s possible to see Canary Wharf and other components of the City’s vertical skyline, even the Kent downs are visible from here.
Pros: Benefit from being in a quiet, peaceful part of London in a beautiful park.
Cons: Steer clear if you don’t like havens for yummy mummies.

King’s Cross viewing platform
The area around King’s Cross station has been undergoing a huge amount of regeneration in the last few years. Among the new arrivals are Central Saint Martins in a Victorian grain storage warehouse, the plush St. Pancras Renaissance hotel next to the station, and Granary Square with its beautiful water feature. The viewing platform overlooks all the new developments, plus the Shard can be seen clearly in the distance.
Pros: A chance to see a perfect example of urban redevelopment.
Cons: If you’re looking for picturesque scenery, there are better places.

Heron Tower
Both Sushisamba and Duck & Waffle, two restaurants that occupy the top floors of the Heron Tower, have great views over the City. Duck & Waffle in particular is open 24 hours a day and has floor to ceiling windows. Going up in the lift to the 40th floor at 5 mph is an experience in itself.
Pros: Fantastic views of the Gherkin and other City skyscrapers from dusk till dawn.
Cons: You’ll need to sit down for a meal.

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