If you want to appreciate the London city skyline, there are several spots which offer some of the best views you ever saw. You can gaze in wonder at the stunning scenery without parting with a single penny (if you want to, that is possible as well). It is not uncommon here to purchase tickets to the top of an edifice, spend time sipping a cocktail at one of the terrace bars in London, all just to be able to clap eyes on the loveliest skyline views the city has to offer.
One Tree Hill
This hill with its tall trees offers breathtaking views of the city to the north. It stands between Brockley and Forest Hill, and if you were wondering, is not the inspiration for the naming of the US teen TV show. At the top of this hill in London, the cityscape appears framed by hybrid black poplar trees and London planes is waiting for you. Ascend to the summit, and you are standing above one of the biggest underground reservoirs, plus there are the remnants of a gun emplacement just around the corner, both of which give more thrills to you.
The Tate Modern Switch House
The Switch House is an extension to the art gallery in London, and was opened in 2016. It has a rooftop terrace that boasts spectacular panoramic views of the city skyline. Tate Modern is free to visit for just about everyone, including those on London guided tours. In addition to looking at its amazing artworks, visitors can also enjoy free 360-degree vistas from the viewing level of the museum. On a bright and sunny day, you can also see the Wembley Stadium from here.
Lots of galleries in the UK capital have great views you can enjoy from their penthouse restaurants, and you would not need to spend money except on the optional cup of coffee to actually be at most of these places. Many are free to visit unless you want to take part in a special exhibition, or maybe even act as an unofficial but knowledgeable London tour guide to a disabled visitor.
When the Crystal Palace burnt down in 1936, a number of its festivals and events were relocated to its north London cousin nicknamed “Ally Pally”. The views from the palace in North London are free to one and all, and are spectacular on all counts, showcasing the city under your feet. That makes sense, since this place is thought of as North London’s answer to the South London palace, which shares its name with the English Premier League team that has Roy Hodgson as its manager.
One New Change
Designed by renowned architect Jean Nouvel, the retail development “One New Change” is located right next to St Paul’s Cathedral. This shopping mall has a roof terrace which offers sublime views, particularly of St Paul’s. It is free to access, and there is even an elevator in line with the cathedral. Take this glass elevator up to the mall’s terrace, in true 007-style, and you would see a bar-cum-restaurant which is popular among city slickers. If you are on an evening date, head to the viewing area which is closer to the Christopher Wren-designed masterpiece. Go with a bag of crisps and take a long steady look at the cathedral, when the sun is going down behind it.
The sight of the capital city from the summit of this hill is also great. Therefore, it is one of London’s protected vistas – one of the places where the view has to legally remain untouched by development. In the past, the 213-foot hill was infamously used for dueling. Nowadays, upper class people come here to fly kites. Come here in the evening and stand on the hill for a view of the cityscapes far away. Lights in between the trees and on the grass banks come on at this time, and that too is a sight to behold.
King Henry’s Mound
This hill rises out of the surroundings of Richmond Park. It is rumored to be where King Henry VIII once stood waiting to see a rocket blast off to signal that the Queen of England, Anne Boleyn, had been executed. Whether or not that part is true the view certainly has been protected since 1710. Legions of gardeners have managed to keep it free of foliage over the centuries, Which means that from here, you get to see the River Thames in all its glory.
The “Walkie Talkie” skyscraper has an observation deck complete with plants and a bar. It looks like one of those majestic sets from the movie, “Blade Runner 2049”, and a little corner of the Middle East in London.
From the viewing gallery, you get stunning vistas including those up and down London’s most famous river. The place is free to enter, though you need to reserve entry first. The upmarket food and drinks served here are expensive for sure, so you might want to just take in the views at a free seat near the glass façade.