London is arguably one of the greatest cities in the world. I am lucky enough to currently be living in London and get to explore the city in my free time. I’m from a smallish town in New Zealand, no skyscrapers, less than 50,000 people, pretty nice but severely different from the big smoke of London town. Coming from a small town and having a strong need to be in nature, I thought I’d like the city but didn’t know if I’d love it. Spoiler alert: I do LOVE it! London is such a freaking awesome city, so much happening, so many people, crazy amounts of buildings, double-decker buses and black taxis everywhere. I love walking around the central city, grinning like a dork because I’m just so stoked to be in amongst the greatest city in the world. Pinch me!
One of the coolest things about cities is the skyline. All cities have a unique skyline; Paris is pretty flat then has a big pointy thing in the middle, Rome is reasonably flat too with interspersed domes, Vienna has large white and pastel Austrian buildings. Every place is special and London is no different.
Although I can’t yet call myself a Londoner, I’m going to write about the city anyway. So, I’ve gone ahead and compiled a list of places to go, to get different views of the London skyline for FREE.
Firstly, because I love London. Secondly, I may live in London, but I’m cheap.
So, enjoy the view and save your pennies for more important things…..like beer.
The Sky Garden is a beautiful 3-storey area of gardens, cafes and restaurants at the top of the “Walkie Talkie” building at 20 Fenchurch Street. It’s pretty easy to identify and is in the central business district of London.
The gardens are on the 34-37 floors and give a 360′ view of London’s central city. The main viewing terrace looks out across the Thames river to the Shard.
I must say that elevator to the top was one of the best I’ve ever been in. Super smooth, efficient and it didn’t feel like we were even moving.
The main downside to the Sky Garden is that you are completely enclosed with glass so it’s difficult to get a good photo without reflection.
It’s a lovely environment in the Sky Garden. You’re surrounded by trees and plants while looking out at the London skyline and CBD. Super cool!
In the Sky Garden area, there is a cafe and some restaurants and bars. You may need to pre-book book tables for the restaurants, which can be done online.
The Sky Garden is a free experience, you do need to pre-book your tickets. This is easily done on the Sky Garden website: https://skygarden.london/
Tate Modern Museum
The Tate Modern Museum is primarily an art gallery full of interesting and unusual pieces of art. It is located on the south side of the Thames, a few blocks down from the Globe Theatre and Borough markets.
Not only does the Tate Modern have lots of art, it has a pretty neat viewing platform of the city.
If you enter through the River side entrance, you need to walk through the middle to the Blavantik building.
If you enter the Turbine Hall entrance, you turn right into the Blavantik building. And if you enter from the Blavantik building entrance, well you’re already there. Once you’re in the Blavantik building, take the elevator to the top (10th) floor.
As you walk out of the elevator: BOOM! There’s St Paul’s Cathedral across the Thames and Millenium Bridge.
You do get a 360′ view of London city. Looking back towards the CBD, you can see the cheese grater, the Walkie-Talkie and also the Shard.
The viewing platform area is outside on a balcony, so it’s pretty windy and cold. So suck it up or bring a coat.
There is a small cafe on this level too. This is a great place for a view without window reflections and is easily accessed through the Modern Art Museum. Bonus: culture yourself with some crazy modern art or play on the swing exhibit, if you’re that way inclined.
New Change Mall
The New Change Building, at 1 New Change, is easily accessible from St Paul’s underground station. It’s a mall with a few shopping levels.
When you’re in the centre of the mall take the elevator up to the 6th floor. Firstly, the view from the elevator is pretty sick. You look directly at St Paul’s as you rise through the levels.
Once you’re on the roof, spin around and St Paul’s Cathedral is right there! It’s an amazing view, it feels so close you could almost touch it.
Of course being a rooftop area, there is a restaurant and cocktail bar at the top for a sneaky drink, if you’re game.
The main downside to this viewing area is you can’t look back towards the buildings of the CBD, as the restaurant and bar are in the way.
You can look still see the Shard across the Thames and the Tate Modern building.
Greenwich Park is one of the Royal Parks. Greenwich is easily accessed by Docklands Light Railway and Overground train. Then you follow the signs up to the observatory.
We walked up the hill to the Royal Greenwich Observatory and sat on the fence and just looked at the view.
The view from there is pretty neat. Looking down to the National Maritime Museum, across the Thames to the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf.
I’ve left the best until last. This one is my personal favourite. Primrose Hill is by Regent Park, another Royal Park, located in north-west London.
This hill has an amazing view of London’s skyline. Canary Wharf, the Walkie Talkie, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard and even across to the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament.
It’s also a beautiful place to watch the sun set.
There you have it! A cheap guide to checking out the London Skyline. I hope you get to check some of these out while you’re in London or just enjoyed some pictures of London’s lovely skyline.