There are cities around the world that you’ll visit and feel confident that you know them well. Maybe you’ve visited several times and can navigate the city without a map. Maybe you’ve discovered a few hidden gems and can make recommendations for the best restaurants in town. But then there are cities that will take you a lifetime to explore.
Blurring the lines between old and new, I will have to visit London a few times before I can start to feel like I’ve scratched the surface. During my second trip to the U.K. after flying into London I spent a few days exploring the capital before heading to the countryside.
Despite the urge to buy an oyster card and visit multiple London districts, I decided to spend the day getting to know one area intimately on foot.
Since I love viewpoints and my hotel was near the Thames River in the City of London (a city and county in central London), I started to search for the best places nearby where I could admire the London skyline.
Where could I see the iconic landmarks like St Paul’s Cathedral and The Shard?
Near the City of London I found 5 vantage points where you can take in panoramic views of London’s skyline. And if you’re on a budget I have some good news for you – many of these spots are free!
5 Places To Admire London’s Skyline
Near the City of London
One New Change
One of the best views in London is absolutely free. For irresistible views of the London skyline and St Paul’s Cathedral, head over to the rooftop of One New Change, a high-end shopping plaza in London.
Open 7 days a week from 6 a.m. to midnight, take the glass elevators to the 6th-floor rooftop terrace. Have a seat on a bench and let the awe-inspiring views sink in. You can also grab a bite to eat here or enjoy a cocktail and chill out at the trendy Madison’s Restaurant and Bar.
The Millennium Bridge is one of my favorite bridges in London.
With dramatic angles and a sleek design, this steel bridge connects the Bankside to the City of London. Crossing the River Thames, it leads straight to St Paul’s Cathedral and offers panoramic views of the London skyline.
Some of the best photos I’ve taken of St Paul’s Cathedral were from the Millennium Bridge.
From the bridge, you also have clear views of the Shard, the London Bridge, and the Tower Bridge.
At night, the Millennium Bridge is a romantic place in town to see the city studded with lights.
Prepare to break a sweat at the Monument to the Great Fire of London.
After climbing 311 spiral steps, reward yourself with a cool breeze and 360-degree views of the City of London at the small viewing platform. Although this view is obstructed, you’ll get to scope out some of London’s iconic landmarks like the Tower Bridge and the Shard.
Built in 1677, the Monument is one of the most historic vantage points in London. It’s also the tallest stone column in the world and it celebrates the rebuilding of the city after the Great Fire of London. The Great Fire of London fire destroyed thousands of homes, public buildings, churches and even parts of the St Paul’s Cathedral. The Monument is a great reminder that great things can rise from ashes.
Helpful Tip: Book an advanced adult ticket combining the Tower Bridge Exhibit and the Monument to save £5.
Tower Bridge Exhibition
Afraid of heights? Well don’t forget to look down when you are at the Tower Bridge!
The Tower Bridge offers unique views of River Thames and the London skyline. From inside the historic steel bridge, cross the 140 feet glass walkway and underneath your feet, watch pedestrians, cars and small cruise ships down below.
Trinity Square Gardens
The Trinity Square Gardens is a memorial garden which commemorates the Merchant Navy who died at sea in both of the world wars. The garden is enclosed by large black panels with names of the fallen heroes. The First World War section pays tribute to 12,000 men and woman and the Second World War section honors 24,000.
On a sunny day, the garden is a great place to meet friends, sunbathe on the lawn or marvel at the grandeur of the Tower of London.
At the edge of Trinity Square Gardens, you can also visit the original Roman wall. Dating back to AD 200, this wall was once 2.5 miles long and encompassed the city of Londinium.
Although you can’t see the London skyline here, it’s still nice to see an important piece of London’s history standing tall in the 21st century.
Where to Stay
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Tower of London is a 4-star contemporary hotel right in the center of the City of London. At $183 USD per night (average $144-$404 USD), breakfast was complimentary. I also had access to the rooftop SkyLounge which offered phenomenal views of the London skyline and a 24-hour gym.
Conveniently located within walking distance from the Tower Hill tube station (1-minute walk) and sights like the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London (5-minutes walk), this is a great place to start and end your day exploring London’s historic district.
In the future I’m looking forward to visiting other viewpoints in London like Primose Hill, Sky Garden, Greenwhich Park and the Westminster Cathedral Viewing Tower.
What are your favorite viewpoints in London?