Let’s face it, we’re all obsessed with views. And rightly so! London has one of the most impressive skylines in Europe. Of course, if you have extra money to spend, feel free to spend 20 quid on going up the Shard or paying for a costly meal at Duck & Waffle or Sushi Samba. But for those of us, who want the views but not the costs, I have written down my Top 6 FREE viewing spots. It doesn’t matter if you’re in this amazing city for a couple of days or if you live here. These views are always worth a visit.
Tate Modern Switch House
360° view of the London Skyline
Tate Modern, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG
A visit to the Tate Modern is a MUST on any London trip. After all, they have amazing modern art from famous artist such as Picasso, Miró, Magritte, Richter and many, many more on display. And, believe it or not, the entry is for FREE! After you have spent hours looking at all of the artistic masterpieces, you should make you’re way to the “Switch House” – the latest addition to the museum. The “Switch House” is an extension to the “Boiler House” and was opened to the public in 2016. Besides more amazing art, the “Switch House” has an open viewing terrace on the 10th floor.
As the terrace wraps around the museum, you can get a full 360° view of the city. You can see the River Thames, the skyscrapers of the City & Canary Wharf, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Wembly Stadium. The terrace can be accessed through a dedicated lift on Level 0, however, if you don’t want to queue for the lift and you feel super-sporty, you can take the stairs to the 10th floor. Wow! Combining art, sports & views in one visit? Only at the Tate Modern 😉
For Opening Times & further information:
View the City from a Skyscraper
20 Fenchurch Street, London, EC1 3M
20 Fenchurch Street is a skyscraper in the City of London, more commonly known as the „Walkie Talkie“. The building is the 6th tallest in the City. Being 160m/525ft tall. It first made headlines a few years ago, when, due to it’s unique shape and the sun reflection in the summer, it melted cars parked across the street. The “Sky Garden” opened in 2015 and occupies storeys 34-37. It is marketed as “Londons highest public park”.
Sky Garden includes a large viewing area, a terrace, a bar and two restaurants. It is accessible by two express lifts. When I visited, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of plants – don’t get me wrong, of course there are SOME and I know, the plants are not the reason for people to visit, but in my humble opinion there’s not enough plants to call this a “garden”. Anyway. Even though entry is free, you have to register online beforehand. If you’re planning a visit to Sky garden, you should register well in advance (3-4 weeks before your visit). Also, be aware that you will be searched like at the airport before you’re given access to the lifts.
For Opening Times, Registration & further information:
2 in 1 – Nature & views
Overground: Hampstead Heath Station; Tube (Northern): Hampstead Station
Hampstead Heath is one of Londons most popular parks and covers 320 hectares. It is also one of the highest points in the city by being 134m/440ft above sea level. Besides a popular viewing spot for visitors, the park is an important refuge for wildlife such as foxes, grass snakes, squirrels and frogs. There is also a zoo, an education centre, an athletics track and children’s facilities. In the summer three swimming ponds and a Lido.
Spectacular view over the City & Canary Wharf
DLR: Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich
Greenwich Park used to be a hunting ground and is one of the largest green spaces in south-east London. The park is located in Maritime Greenwich – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On top of the parks hill and outside the Royal Observatory you can enjoy amazing views over the River Thames, City of London and Isle of Dogs (Canary Wharf). No worries, this will be easy to find – the viewing point outside of the Royal Observatory is one of London’s most popular – just follow other visitors.
Besides seeing some London’s most famous buildings, you’ll have a great view of the beautiful architecture of Greenwich – the symmetry of the buildings of the Royal Museums and the Old Royal Navy College. J.M.W. Turner got so inspired by the view over Greenwich that he immortalised it in one of his paintings!
Londoners favourite Park for City-Views & Celebrity Sightings
Tube (Northern): Chalk Farm
Primrose Hill is located on the northern side of Regent’s Park and is 65m/213ft above sea level. From the hill visitors enjoy a clear view of central London. Primrose Hill is ranked 52th of 1602 top things to do on TripAdvisor and has been named one of the most Instagram worthy places by several blogs.
The area surrounding the hill is one of the most expensive and exclusive residential areas in London. If you’re lucky, you can spot some of the many famous residents such as supermodel Kate Moss, Libertines Band member Carl Barat, lifestyle-queen Gwyneth Paltrow, James Bond Daniel Craig and heartthrob Harry Styles.
Crystal Palace/Westow Hill
Where London looks like a toy city
Overground: Crystal Palace; Train: Gypsy Hill
No, if you’re just in town for a few days, I won’t tell you to travel all the way to zone 4. However, if you’ve already seen all of the touristy centre attractions or you live in London – Crystal Palace is worth a visit. You get the best view from one of the side streets of Westow Hill – you can see all of the famous city skyscrapers in miniature format. It’s almost as if you’re looking down on a toy city!
As you probably won’t spend hours and hours standing around on the streets of Crystal Palace, you should explore the area a bit. Crystal Palace park is the largest park in the area and perfect for a picnic on a sunny day. The park is also home to the first dinosaur sculptures in the world, which are pre-dating Charles Darwins publications – they were unveiled in 1854. Hungry after a long day of dinosaur-watching and London-views? No problem, Crystal Palace offers a variety of different restaurants and pubs to fulfil your cravings.