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 are bound to be some London viewpoints 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.
Best views of London
Looking to get a view of London scenery? Take a look at these top spots in London for fantastic views. Most of them offer free views of London which is great if you’re travelling to London on a budget.
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 London skyline view, and it’s available for free!
One 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 and had a great view of the London skyline at night.
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.
The view from the London Eye
I took a ride on the London Eye for what must’ve been my 11th birthday and remember getting great views of the city on a cold winter’s day. It’s still a fantastic place to see the city of London from.
The London eye is along Southbank (see below) which is one of my favourite places in the entire city – maybe that’s why I love the views from the London Eye so much!
View this post on Instagram
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 a view of 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.
View this post on Instagram
This is definitely a different way to get an incredible view of London!
Cross The Thames in a cable car from Greenwich and take in the sights of The O2 Centre, ExCel London, The Crystal, and Canary Wharf.
Tickets cost £4.50 for one way or £3.50 if you have an Oyster Card.
An old favourite for North Londoners, Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath is one place that has benefited from the protected view rule so you can get a great London city view. 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 London panorama with nothing in the way of your view. Even the trees are deliberately kept low so they don’t obstruct your view making it one of the most amazing places in London.
Primrose Hill is just north of Regent’s Park (where London Zoo is). It’s a very popular place to get some of the best views in London at night. It’s also extremely popular on New Year’s Eve as a place to watch the fireworks from.
Primrose Hill London views are free and pretty much panoramic too!
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 what’s probably one of the best free views in London (but make sure you reserve in advance). 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.
This is one of the best views of London and it’s all for free! The London night view from here is something pretty special too.
If you’re going to enjoy the view from The Shard in London you may as well book a table at one of the best restaurants in London with a view. Sure they can be expensive but it’s a bit cheaper if you opt for brunch or breakfast with a view of London rather than dinner with a view.
Alexandra Palace, or Ally Pally, is a popular place for festivals. It also has a great farmers market and some of the best views in London.
Buy an ice cream, settle down on the grass, and lap up the panoramic views of London.
Where’s your favourite view of London?