When the clouds clear, London has breathtaking views, unlike any other city on Earth. From popular lookout points and free panoramas to rooftop bars overlooking the Thames, we have gathered the best places to see world-famous landmarks and centuries-old churches between glistening skyscrapers. See red buses and black taxis zigzag along windy streets and over historic bridges. Whether it’s a warm summer’s evening or a chilly winter’s night, we round up the best views of London.
Every year, 3.75 million visitors step board London’s most popular paid-for tourist attraction. Built as a temporary structure to mark the Millennium, the London Eye is now a modern landmark on the banks of the Thames. From your pod, you get unrivalled views of London’s Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace, among others. The slow-moving capsules take you to a height of 443ft, from where you can see up to 25 miles (40km).
Best free views in London
Don’t spend a penny to see some of the finest views in London from its beautiful parks and gardens – often known only to the locals.
Combine a visit to the Cutty Sark and Royal Observatory with a stop at Greenwich Park. Dusk is stunning here when the lights turn on and the city twinkles. Climb up Greenwich Park Hill, outside the Royal Observatory and you’re rewarded with dazzling city views and the curve of the River Thames. There’s also a 17th-century camera obscura nearby in the Meridian Courtyard.
At 95 metres high, Parliament Hill on beautiful Hampstead Heath is a view worth the walk to the top. Grab a coffee and a map, try not to get lost in the woods on the way, and sit at the Heath's peak. See the setting sun reflected in many skyscrapers and for a spectacular evening view. It’s easy to get to by public transport, and there are three swimming ponds and a lido here if you want a dip. Golders Hill Park Zoo is just next door.
See all of North London from the sloping expanse of Alexandra Palace (affectionately known as Ally Pally by locals). Walk under the ancient trees and when you step out, the whole of the city opens out before you. Sit on a bench and enjoy a picnic or come after dark when minimal nearby light pollution means you get some of the best views of London at night.
The Garden at 120
This hidden gem at 120 Fenchurch Street has the best free rooftop views in London. This is the city’s biggest rooftop garden, and it’s completely free to enter. It’s 40 storeys high, so you’re high enough to feel a sense of tranquillity, but close enough to peer into the offices of the Gherkin and Walkie Talkie.
At 309.6 metres, The Shard is the UK's tallest building. Zoom to the top in high-speed lifts to get London’s highest panoramic views. Enjoy vistas stretching up to 40 miles through the floor-to-ceiling windows. You can book ahead, and its bad weather promise means if clouds block the view, you can return when they clear. Weekends get busy at The Shard, so choose instead a quiet mid-week morning to avoid crowds. Opening hours vary, and last entry is an hour before that day’s closing time.
A Drink with a View
Grab a cocktail and a bite to eat at these stylish bars serving the best rooftop views in London.
Radio Rooftop, Covent Garden
This is a prime location, towering above The Strand. Rooftops in London can come with a bit of a chill, but at Radio Rooftop, you get plush seating and cosy blankets to snuggle under. You can sit back and enjoy views of Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard and Southbank as you sip a glass of fizz.
Bōkan, Canary Wharf
Indulge in delicious food at this high-end Canary Wharf bar and restaurant. Bōkan’s rooftop terrace, bar and restaurant are over three floors, with each providing enchanting skyline views of the city from the docks.
Coq d’Argent, Bank
Visit in summer and take advantage of Coq d’Argent’s unrivalled garden rooftop views over South London. If you come in the chillier months, the restaurant has a heated terrace with warm blankets. You don’t need to reserve if you’re popping in for drinks, just head to one of the four terraces with plenty of seating.
Bar Elba, Waterloo
Pop into this Napoleon-themed bar with swoon-worthy views of London’s landmarks, including the London Eye. Bar Elba’s terrace has a roof in winter, with communal tables and a party vibe. It’s large enough to cater to groups, and attentive staff will ensure the drinks keep flowing.
Stay at The Clermont, Victoria or The Clermont, Charing Cross close to some of the best viewpoints in London. We deliver timeless elegance, unparalleled comfort and peerless service. We also have suggestions for London's best winter rooftop bars.