London has a beautiful skyline and luckily it can be seen from many places. Some are free, some you have to pay for. As with everything else in London there’s a variety of options including free parks, museums, galleries, restaurant pop-ups and upscale hotels.
The popular RooftopsThere are a few places that are known for their views. They can get busy, but it’s usually worth it!
- The Shard: there are indoor and outdoor viewing platforms as well as several bars, restaurants and hotels. You have to pay and book in advance, but there are several options to choose from including a family experience with activities for children and a day and night experience that allows you to see the sunset.
- One New Change: free outdoor terrace open 7 days a week, there are benches to sit down and also a restaurant on site.
- Sky Garden: includes two bars, a brasserie, two restaurants and an open terrace. The terrace is free to visit but has to be booked online ahead of time, the bars and restaurant don’t need to be booked but it’s better to do it to avoid disappointment as they are extremely popular.
- The London Eye: probably the most popular way of seeing London’s skyline. The queues are long, but the views are worth it. And there are several ticket options, including a wedding pass that allows you to get married in one of the capsules!
Rooftop and ParksSeveral parks in London are located on hills and offer beautiful views for free. Most have cafes if you fancy something to eat and drink, and playgrounds for those with children.
- Alexandra Park: part of Alexandra Palace, it has a restaurant, cafes, a boating lake and even a pitch-and-putt course if you fancy trying some golf.
- Greenwich Park: one of the most popular parks in London. It includes the Royal Observatory and it’s part of the UNESCO Greenwich Maritime World Heritage Site. There’s a lot of climbing to be done, so if you prefer going down rather than up you should enter the park through the Blackheath end.
- Primrose Hill: it’s located right next to Regent’s Park. There isn’t much too do in the park as it’s a grassy hill with no amenities, but the views are some of the best in all of London and the trees are always trimmed so there’s a 360° panorama.
Churches and Cathedrals RooftopsMany churches and cathedrals have domes or rooftops that can be visited, most for free or for a very low fee. The two most popular ones are:
- Westminster Cathedral: you have to pay a small fee, but there’s no time limit and it includes access to an exhibition about the cathedral’s history.
- St. Paul’s Cathedral: you can climb to the top of the dome. You can buy tickets at the door or online and save a bit of money.
For those who want more than just viewsIf you would like to experience London’s skyline views but also do something else at the same time, these are the best options:
- The Monument: a beautiful 360° view of London. There’s a net so you won’t be able to take many photos, but the experience of climbing up the steps more than makes up for it. You can buy combined tickets for The Monument and the Tower Bridge Exhibition and make a day out of it.
- Emirates Air Line: London’s own cable car that connects the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks. The trip takes about 10 minutes, and even though it is a bit on the pricey side you can buy discounted tickets online and a variety of combined tickets. Night trips are longer and last about 15 minutes.
- Skylight: ice-skating during winter, petanque and croquet during summer. There’s a range of food and drink vendors.
- Berkeley Hotel Health Club and Spa: the spa offers views of London from Knightsbridge. It is only accessible to members or day spa guests. Prices are high, starting at £265 for a half-day spa access but the spa is considered one of the best in the city.
- Dalston Roof Park: a rooftop park with a bar, and regular activities including outdoor cinema, live music and community events. It sits on top of an old car park which has been turned into a community-focused development with local craftspeople, workspaces and meeting rooms.
- South Bank Centre: the SBC is famous for their year-round events for all kinds of interests and ages, but people often forget that the terraces offer more than cafes and restaurants and they can be accessed for views of London across the Thames. Go through the back of the building and the less popular steps on the sides and you will be able to access almost empty terraces.
- Tate Modern: the museum has several bars, cafes and restaurants on levels 1, 6 and 9, they range from affordable coffees to expensive fine dinning. And they all have views overlooking the Thames.
- Lyric: theatre and activity centre with a focus on modern art and youth culture. The top level is a restaurant and cafe that can be visited at any time.
- Roof East: similar to Dalston Roof Park but you have to buy all drink and food from their vendors. Activities include rollerblading, mini golf, and cinema.
Restaurants and bars Rooftop in LondonIf you are interested in having a beautiful view while you have some food or a drink then you are spoilt for choice. There are many restaurants, bars and pubs all over London with rooftop locations and beautiful views of the city. Some of the most popular ones are:
- Aqua Spirit – Soho
- Aviary – Shoreditch
- Bar Elba – Waterloo
- Big Chill House – St. Pancras
- Bird of Smithfield (summer only) – Farringdon
- Boundary Rooftop – Shoreditch
- Coq d’Argent – Mansion House
- The Culpeper Rooftop Greenhouse – Whitechapel
- Faltering Fullback – Finsbury Park
- Frank’s Café (summer only) – Peckham
- Gaucho (covered and heated in Winter) – Mayfair
- Golden Bee (fire-pits in Winter) – Shoreditch
- Madison Bar – St. Paul’s
- Netil 360 (open April to December only) – Hackney
- Pergola on the Roof (summer only) – White City
- Proud Camden (live music) – Primrose Hill
- Queen of Hoxton (pub and club) – Shoreditch
- Radio Rooftop Bar – Temple
- Rumpus Room (live DJs) – Southbank
- Skylounge (resident DJ)– Tower of London
- Sushisamba – Bishopsgate
- The Magic Roundabout (live music and themed parties) – Old St.
- Tom’s Kitchen Terrace – Temple