Did you know that there’s such a thing as a protected view in London? The law protects certain views of important sights or historic buildings, and you can’t construct tall buildings in the sight line of places like St. Paul’s Cathedral. That means there are plenty of places where you can get beautiful views of London’s skyline. You don’t always have to climb up a load of stairs or take a lift 30 floors up to see the city. Sometimes all you need to do is head to a park, and you’ll get a view of the London Eye, Big Ben and St. Paul’s.
Even if you’re a London local, there’s bound to be a city view that you haven’t seen before. If you’re just visiting, book a hotel south of the Thames to make the most of this list, and start exploring London.
The Horniman Museum is in Forest Hill just south of Brixton. It’s been open since 1901, and it’s free to enter. The museum itself is an homage to taxidermy and interesting artefacts from old explorers’ travels, but the gardens boast the gorgeous view.
With 16 acres to explore, the gardens at the Horniman are huge. From the very top of the gardens you’ll find you’re in the perfect place look down over London and its skyline.
It’s a great view, and it’s available for free!
Last New Year’s Eve we headed out to Brockwell Park in Herne Hill to watch the fireworks, and it was the best decision ever. Not only did we not have to pay, but we had the entire park to ourselves.From there, we could see the fireworks going off in all directions.
At the top of the hill in Brockwell Park, you can see the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament, so you can see why it was great for spotting the fireworks.
On first sight, you wouldn’t expect Ruskin Park to have great views of London’s skyline, but it does. It’s similar to the one at Brockwell Park but from a slightly different angle.
The park is also great to explore, with a paddling pool for children, a bandstand, tennis courts, and a small botanical garden of sorts.
Surely everyone knows of the beautiful view from London’s Southbank? Simply strolling along the Southbank will give you views of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and the London Eye.
If you feel you must climb some stairs, then pop into The Tate and head to their rooftop balcony for an even better view.
An old favourite for North Londoners, the hill in Hampstead Heath is one place that has benefited from the protected view rule. It’s a surprisingly steep walk from Kentish Town to the top of the hill, but it’s well worth it.
From the top, you’ll see a panorama of central London with nothing in the way of your view. Even the trees are deliberately kept low so they don’t obstruct your view.
The Sky Garden
The Shard might be taller, but that doesn’t mean the view is much better there than it is at the Sky Garden.
The Sky Garden offers free entrance, and from here you can gaze down on St. Paul’s, look out over to the Shard, and spot people on the London Eye and Tower Bridge.
Alexandra Palace, or Ally Pally, is a popular place for festivals. It also has a great farmers market and panoramic vistas out over London.
Buy an ice cream, settle down on the grass, and lap up the London views. Where’s your favourite view of London?