There’s no doubt about it, London’s skyline is impressive. The cityscape has changed dramatically over the years and is now filled with iconic landmarks such as The Shard and the Walkie Talkie.
If you arrive in the capital by plane then you may be lucky enough to fly right over central London, providing you with a birds-eye view of the city.
A flight is an expensive way to get a view, however, so if you’re looking to see the skyline from up high, there are other options! This list of the best views in London combines viewing levels, parks, rooftop bars and free vantage points for amazing views of the city.
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The London Eye
The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel that sits on the South Bank of the River Thames (right near the London Aquarium). It opened to the public in March 2000 and has since become the most popular paid tourist attraction in the UK.
The structure measures 135 metres tall and was once the highest viewpoint in London until The Shard cme along and stole its crown. Still, it’s a really fun way to see the city does offer some of the best views of London. Visitors enter glass pods that revolve slowly around the large wheel, granting you panoramic views of London.
Location: Riverside Building, County Hall, South Bank, London SE1 7PB. Nearest underground stations: Waterloo, Embankment, Charing Cross and Westminster
Can you take the kids? Children aged 15 years or younger must be accompanied onto the London Eye by an adult aged 18 years or older. Children aged 2 and under can board the London Eye free of charge, however must have a ticket for entry, which can be collected from the Ticket Office located opposite the London Eye. There’s also a great playground right near the Eye.
London’s most famous bridge is also a popular spot to catch a view of the London skyline. The high-level Walkway affords panoramic views of the city, including The Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral, London Bridge and even Wembley if it’s a clear day. The Walkway also has a Glass Floor, a unique London viewpoint that allows you to see life travelling cross the Bridge and boats sailing underneath it from above. Given that some 40,000 people cross Tower Bridge every day, there’s a lot to see!
Location: Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP. Nearest underground stations: Tower Hill and London Bridge
Can you take the kids? Tower Bridge is a great thing to do in London with kids. Tower Bridge is fully accessible for buggiest with lift access to all levels.
There is a Tower Bridge Trail for Little Explorers and regular free family activities are offered. Interactive family tours are available during school holidays.
Measuring 310m, The Shard is London’s tallest building and one of its most dramatic. This 95-storey skyscraper is home to offices, three restaurants, ten residential apartments, the five-star Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts and the UK’s highest viewing gallery, The View from The Shard.
Located at the top of the building, on floors 68, 69 and 72, the viewing gallery offers incredible views for up to 40 miles. Visits are timed and it’s wise to book your tickets in advance, especially if you’re visiting during the holidays. If you can source a babysitter, then book a date night at GŎNG Bar on level 52 and enjoy drinks with views across the city. Aqua Shard, on level 31, serves an excellent afternoon tea.
Location: 32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG. Nearest underground stations: London Bridge Station. Pop into Borough Market while you are here.
Can you take the kids? Yes, Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Children under 3 are free.
The London Abseil with Wire & Sky
For spectacular views of London with an adrenaline rush while dangling from the ArcelorMittal Orbit, 80 metres above the ground. This is the UK’s highest freefall abseil from the UK’s tallest sculpture.
Trained professional instructors are on hand to take you through the experience (and full safety briefings are given!). Visitors are escorted to the upper viewing platform at the ArcelorMittal Orbit (a 114.5-metre-high sculpture and observation tower in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford). From there you begin your descent to the ground taking in the most incredible views across London along the way. On a clear day you can see for 20 miles and spot landmarks including The Gherkin, St. Paul’s, Canary Wharf and Wembley Stadium.
Location: The nearest tube station is Stratford. From there its a 15 minute walk through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (home to one of London’s best playgrounds) to the base of the ArcelorMittal Orbit.
Can you take the kids? Abseiling at the ArcelorMittal Orbit is for those aged 14 and over. Young people aged 14 – 17 will need to complete a Parental Consent Form before booking their abseil.
The Dare Skywalk
Another fun way to see the London skyline is on the Skywalk along the roof of Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium. The 90-minute Dare Skywalk adventure takes you to the top of London’s newest and largest club stadium to a glass walkway 46.8 metres above the pitch. Look down and you’ll see the penalty spot directly below you, look around you and you’ll experience a unique panorama of the north London skyline.
Location: The Dare Skywalk is at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, see here for transport details.
Can you take the kids? Children between the ages of 8-17 (and a minimum height of 1.2 metres) can take part in the Dare Skywalk.
The roof of the O2 Arena
You can see great views of London from the O2 dome – when you walk over the rooftop! This is a really fun experience and provides some of the best view of the London skyline.
Various experiences are offered; a daytime climb, a sunset climb or a twilight climb. All are rewarded with a 360-degree panoramic views across the capital. On a clear day you can see landmarks up to 15 miles away. It’s also a great way to see a different side of London including Historic Greenwich, The Olympic Park and Canary Wharf.
Location: The O2 Dome is located in North Greenwich. You can reach the O2 by Uber Boat by Thames Clippers or on the Jubilee Line to North Greenwich station.
Can you take the kids? Children must be 8 years or older and a minimum height of 1.2m.
Some of the best places for views of London are at ground level. The area around Westminster Bridge, for example, is the perfect place for seeing some of London’s most famous sights. Stand on Westminster Bridge itself and upstream of the Thames river you’ll have views of the London Eye, the London Aquarium (the Sea Life Centre) and along the Embankment and South Bank.
Look downstream you are faced with some of the city’s most important landmarks including the Houses of Parliament (officially known as the Palace of Westminster) and Big Ben, which has just been given a facelift.
Location: Westminster Bridge links Westminster on the west side and Lambeth on the east side. The closest underground station is Westminster.
Can you take the kids? Of course! Just be aware that this is a busy road-and-foot-traffic bridge.
Tate Modern viewing platform
The Tate Modern is one of London’s most famous museums but it’s worth a visit for more than the art. The Tate Modern Viewing Platform is located on the 10th floor of the Blavatnik Building and offers 360-degree-views of London’s skyline. From here you can see some of London’s most iconic sights including Millennium Bridge, Canary Wharf, St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard. On clear days you can even see as far as Wembley Stadium in north London.
There is also a bar on the Tate Modern Viewing Platform, which is perfect for sunny afternoons and summer evenings. Access to the viewing platform is free.
Location: Level 10, Tate Modern, Bankside, SE1 9TG. Nearest underground stations: Southwark and Blackfriars
Can you take the kids? Yes! The Tate Modern also regularly run activities for families too.
St Paul’s Cathedral
There’s been a Cathedral dedicated to St Paul in London since 604 AD. The first three cathedrals were destroyed and the one that you see today was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. The foundation stone was laid in 1675 and St Paul’s Cathedral was finished in 1711. It’s located on Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the city.
For truly stunning views over London climb the 530 steps to the Golden Gallery. This observation platform sits atop the dome of the cathedral and is a great place to look out over the modern skyline – a just reward after climbing all those steps!
As a side note, St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the stops on this excellent Harry Potter walking tour.
Location: St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD Nearest underground stations: St Paul’s Underground Station, Mansion House or Blackfriars
Can you take the kids? Yes. If you buy a sightseeing ticket to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral you can turn it into an annual pass by using Gift Aid. This means that you can return for a whole calendar year.
There are family trails to help kids discover the Cathedral at their own pace and activities are often held during school holidays.
Monument to the Great Fire of London
Another building designed by Sir Christopher Wren is the Monument to the Great Fire of London. Built in 1671, the monument is located just 61metres from where the Great Fire first started in 1666. During the fire, which started in a baker’s shop on Pudding Lane and lasted for five days, some 70,000 homes were destroyed. Amazingly, however, there were only six verified deaths.
Today, you can climb 311 steps to the top of this historic landmark and enjoy a view of London.
Location: The closest underground station is Monument.
Can you take the kids? Yes, although owing to the nature of the Monument it’s not accessible to buggies.
Duck and Waffle in the Heron Tower
For breakfast (or lunch, or dinner) with an amazing view, head to the Duck and Waffle, a 24-hour restaurant located in the heart of the city of London’s financial district. Its signature dish is fried duck leg with fried duck egg on a crispy waffle, but the menu also serves a wide range of other dishes including everything from big breakfasts and large steaks to grilled cheese sandwiches, beer-braised rabbit and more.
But it’s not just the food that you come for; located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower with floor to ceiling windows, the Duck and Waffle is the perfect place to see London’s skyline.
Location: 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY. Nearest underground stations: Liverpool Street
Can you take the kids? Yes, although it’s better for brunch or lunch with children. Evenings are a more grown up affair.
SushiSamba in the Heron Tower
Located on floors 38 and 39, two floors below Duck and Waffle, is SushiSamba, home to the highest outdoor dining terrace in Europe, offering some of the best views in London. The menu is just as impressive as the view blending Peruvian, Japanese and Brazilian cuisine but what you really want to come here for is a cocktail at sunset when the killer views can’t be beat.
Kids – and adults – love the two panoramic glass elevators that transport guests from the ground floor to the 39th floor in no time at all.
Location: 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY. Nearest underground stations: Liverpool Street
Can you take the kids? Children are welcome in the main dining room at all times. The only age restrictions are for the bar and lounge areas, where guests under 18 are not permitted.
It’s not just sky-high buildings that offer the best views in town, some of London’s parks also offer spectacular vistas across the capital. In the north, Primrose Hill is a lovely London neighbourhood located on the northern side of Regent’s Park. From the top of the 213ft eponymous hill, you can see across central London as well as Hampstead and Belsize Park to the north.
The area was once hunting ground for the royal family and later a place where duels were fought and prize-fights took place. These days, however, it’s one of the city’s most upmarket neighbourhoods, home to the rich and famous.
Another great park for views is Alexandra Palace (and Alexandra Park) near Muswell Hill in North London. On a clear day you can see the cityscape for miles. Hampstead Heath is another great spot. Walk up to Parliament Hill for free views of London.
Location: The nearest underground station is Chalk Farm.
Can you take the kids? Definitely, this is a lovely park for families.
Another great park for views is Alexandra Palace (and Alexandra Park) in between Wood Green and Muswell Hill in North London. ‘Ally Pally’ as its affectionally called by locals is best known for its Grade II listed palace that first opened in 1873 but was soon after destroyed by a fire.
“The People’s Palace” (the building was designed as a public centre for recreation and entertainment) was later rebuilt. It’s had something of a tumultuous history since then but has served to this day and is now home to an ice skating rink, a beautiful theatre and an events hall. It also boasts beautiful panoramic views of central London.
Location: Wood Green is the nearest underground station on the Piccadilly Line. From here take the W3 bus up the hill to Ally Pally. Alexandra Palace train station is another option.
Can you take the kids? Absolutely. Ally Pally is a great spot for families. In addition to the views, there’s a pond with pedal boats for hire, a playground and a skate park.
During the summer months there’s often a drive-in cinema in one of the palace’s car parks.
The OXO Tower
For dinner, drinks or even afternoon tea with a view head to the OXO Tower. Located on the South Bank, this London landmark was once owned by the makers of the OXO brand and has had a colourful history. These days, it welcomes guests to the eighth floor where the restaurant, bar and brasserie all offer uninterrupted views of the River Thames and the London cityscape.
Location: 8th floor, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London SE1 9PH. Nearest underground stations: Southwark, Blackfriars and Waterloo
Can you take the kids? Yes and there’s a kids’ menu too (see here for other family-friendly London restaurants).
King Henry’s Mound in Richmond Park
For something a little different, head to London’s Richmond Park where you’ll find a prehistoric burial chamber from the Bronze Age. This, the highest point in the park, was later used as a viewpoint for hunting including by King Henry VIII. This is also where, according to legend, King Henry stood and waited for a signal from the Tower of London that his second wife, Anne Boleyn, had lost her head.
Today a telescope stands on King Henry’s Mound offering brilliant panoramic views of the Thames Valley to the west and a distant view of St Paul’s Cathedral to the east. The view is now a historically protected sightline meaning that no buildings can be built to obstruct the view.
Location: Richmond Station is serviced by National Rail and the District Line. From here, catch the 371 or 65 buses to the pedestrian gate at Petersham. To access the mound enter Richmond Park from Richmond Gate in the north west and walk down Queens Road.
Can you take the kids? Yes, Richmond Park is a great place to visit with kids.
Another place where you can find some of the best views of London is from Greenwich. Located to the south of the city, Greenwich is a World Heritage Site. Greenwich Park is home to a number of historic buildings including the Royal Naval College, the National Maritime Museum and The Royal Observatory. The latter was designed by Sir Christopher Wren (who was also the architect behind St. Paul’s Cathedral).
Climb to the top of the hill in Greenwich Park and, outside the observatory, you will be rewarded with stunning views of London. Afterwards, head to the Trafalgar Tavern on the waterside, one of the most historic pubs in the area where Charles Dickens once used to drink!
Location: Greenwich, London SE10 8QY Nearest underground stations: North Greenwich Tube Station.
Can you take the kids? Greenwich is a lot of fun with children. Make sure to visit the Cutty Sark while here, once the world’s fastest tea clipper.
One New Change
One New Change is a shopping centre home to a spectacular Roof Terrace offering spectacular views over London’s skyline. Located a short walk from St. Paul’s Cathedral, the rooftop terrace is a great place to snap a photo of the popular tourist attraction. Look the other way and you’ll have a fine view of The Shard.
Madison’s Restaurant and Bar is located on the rooftop for lunch or drinks with a view (the roof terrace is open daily from 6am – midnight). Events are also regularly held here, including free screenings of Wimbledon during the summer months.
Location: New Change, London EC4M 9AF. Mansion House and St Paul’s are the nearest underground stations.
Can you bring the kids? This isn’t the most family-friendly of venues but do pop up for the views.
The Sky Garden
For a drink with a view that doesn’t come with a hefty price tag head to the Sky Garden. Known as the Walkie Talkie due to its unique shape, the Sky Garden is London’s highest public garden with 360-degree views over the city. It’s also home to two restaurants, two bars and an outdoor terrace. The terraces are filled with Mediterranean and South African plans including Bird of Paradise and African Lily.
Visits to the Sky Garden are free but you do have to book in advance and weekend tickets do tend to sell out quickly. Tickets can be booked up to three weeks in advance. You can book your tickets here for the best free views of London.
This post has more ideas on free things to do in London with kids.
Location: 20 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 8AF Nearest underground stations: Monument
Can you bring the kids? Yes but children under 16 are not able to enter Sky Garden after 6pm on weekdays and 9pm on weekends.
If you are dining in Darwin Brasserie or Fenchurch Restaurant, parties with guests under 16 are asked to make their way directly to the restaurant. Children aged 16-17 will need to be accompanied by an adult 18+ years old.
One adult may bring a maximum of 3 children with them.
Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath
The vast green expanse of Hampstead Heath in North London is well loved by locals. The heath is popular for weekend walks, Kenwood House, picnics during summer months and its swimming ponds. There are there swimming ponds: the Mixed Bathing Pond, the Men’s Bathing Pond and the Kenwood Ladies’ Bathing Pond. All there are open year-round (and are a great free activity to do in London!).
The other reason to come to Hampstead Heath, however, are the views from Parliament Hill. On clear days you can see all of London spread out before you. A handy viewing guide points out famous landmarks including The Shard, the Palace of Westminster, the Gherkin, St Paul’s Cathedral and more. This is one of the best places to combine a walk with views of London.
Location: Nearest underground stations: Tufnell Park and Kentish Town
Can you bring the kids? Yes, this is a hugely popular spot for families.
Emirates Air Line Cable Car
A fun way to see the London skyline is to soar above the Thames in the Emirates Air Line cable car. The 10-minute journey links the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks offering aerial views of the city, including the O2 arena. If 10 minutes is too short then there are other flight options available including hiring a private cabin for a round-trip journey.
Location: You can catch the Emirates Air Line cable cars from either North Greenwich or the Royal Victoria side of the river.
Can you take the kids? Yes! The Emirates Air Line Cable Cars welcome buggies and pushchairs on board. Fares for adults are £4 one-way and £2 for children aged 5-15 one-way. Children under 5 are free with a fare paying adult.
London is not short on bridges with spectacular views but none can quite compete with Waterloo Bridge. Thanks to its location at a bend in the river, this is the only bridge in London where you can see some of the city’s best sights to both the east and the west.
Look east and you’ll spy the former riverside palace of Somerset House along with The Shard and the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf in the distance. Glance west and you’ll be rewarded with the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament. Visit after sunset and you’ll discover one of the best views in London at night.
Location: Waterloo Bridge is located between Blackfriars Bridge and Hungerford Bridge & Golden Jubilee Bridges. Waterloo underground station is your closest tube station.
Can you take the kids? Yes, just be aware of the traffic.
Although it might not be as well-known Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral is home to one of London’s best views. Located near Victoria station, all you have to do is climb the steps (or take the elevator) to the top of St Edmund’s Tower. At 94 metres high, it affords unobstructed views over some of the city’s most famous buildings including The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and the BT Tower.
Location: Victoria Street London SW1P 1LT. Nearest train and tube station is Victoria.
Can you take the kids? Children are very welcome, just remember to be quiet as mice during services.
One Tree Hill
Located in Honor Oak, South London, One Tree Hill is a 7-hectare public park that’s among the oldest of London’s nature reserves. It was named after the Oak of Honour, which once marked the boundary of the ancient Honor of Gloucester in Norman times. Apparently Elizabeth I once had a picnic under the tree way back in 1602.
One Tree Hill is also home to a fantastic London view which, was described by English poet, writer, and broadcaster John Betjeman as “better than that from Parliament Hill”. On a clear day you can see London’s skyline including the Walkie Talkie, Heron Tower, The Shard and The Gherkin.
Location: The Honor Oak Park station is the closest train station.
Can you take the kids? Yes, this is a popular park for families.
The Garden Museum
The Garden Museum is one of London’s best hidden gems, a lovely museum hidden within an old church. The church is the burial place of John Tradescant, who is widely accepted to be the first British Gardener, and the museum explores the art, designs and history of British Gardens. It covers all aspects gardens and gardening from royal designs to more modest London backyards.
Unbeknownst to many, however, the Garden Museum is also home to some of the best views of the River Thames in London. Climb the 131 steps to the top of the old medieval tower and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views across the city.
Location: Vauxhall, Westminster and Lambeth North are the nearest underground stations.
Can you take the kids? Yes, but be aware that you’ll need to climb 131 steps to get to the top of the tower. Be aware that the tower closes one hour before the Museum’s closing time and that the tower may be closed for safety reasons during inclement weather.
Caledonian Park Clock tower
Better known as the Cally Clock Tower, this structure was built as the centre piece to the Metropolitan Cattle Market that opened in 1855 as London’s meat market. Today the clock tower can be found in Caledonian Park in one of Islington’s largest green spaces.
Having been refurbished in 2018, the Clock Tower is now open on selected days for tours to the top. If you can make it up the 170 steps you’ll be rewarded with incredible 360 degree views of London as well as a close up look of the turret clock in action.
Tours are free but tickets must be booked in advance and often sell out quickly.
Location: The nearest tube station is Caledonian Road on the Piccadilly Line.
Can you take the kids? Yes, but the steps are not accessible to buggies and be aware that there are a lot of steps!
A Thames River Cruise
Once you’ve seen the city from up high it’s time to see the skyline from the River Thames, which runs through the heart of the city. There are lots of different river cruise options including hop-on-hop-off cruises that give you the freedom to jump on board whenever you like. Another option is a 24-hour or 72-hour travel pass.
City Cruises offer a River Pass (their hop-on-hop-off ticket) with four stops between Westminster and Greenwich. This route sails past some of London’s most popular places including the Tower of London and the Houses of Parliament. You finish near the Cutty Sark.
Uber Boat by Thames Clippers is a commuter boat that also offers a day ticket giving you unlimited hop-on-hop-off travel for one day.
Other sightseeing cruises include the Thames River Service, and the Circular Loop Cruises, which takes in St. Paul’s cathedral and Big Ben too. The Tate to Tate by Thames Clippers takes visitors between the two Tate Museums.