There are many great ways to explore a city, guided tour, public transportation and wandering through neighborhoods are some, but another, and maybe my favorite is the view from above. Whether you’re visiting a city for the first time, or the 10th, there’s nothing quite like seeing it spread out before you.
London has a number of view opportunities, at varying heights, and while we haven’t checked them all off our list, over the years we’ve visited quite a few.
The Monument, located in The City of London, was built in 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London. Unfortunately many modern buildings have been built up around it, but there are still lovely views to be had from the top. You’ll receive a certificate upon completing the 311 step climb. The entrance fee is cash only.
The Tate Modern
The Tate Modern is not only a fabulous museum with ever changing exhibits, but it’s also free, which means there’s no excuse not to pop in for a quick look around. The Turbine Hall exhibitions are always a big hit with our group, and we were delighted to discover the 10th floor viewing platform in the new wing, which provides sweeping views of the river and city. Entrance to the platform is free.
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St. Paul’s Cathedral
In my generation St. Paul’s Cathedral is probably most famous for having been the location where Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer, but there has been a cathedral dedicated to St. Paul in its current spot for 1,400 years. There are many things to see and discover inside St. Paul’s, however, if you’re up for it, I recommend climbing the 528 steps to the Golden Gallery where you’ll be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views. Sightseers are permitted between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm.
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The Tower Bridge
A visit to Tower Bridge will give you stunning views of the city from a unique perspective. You’ll be snapping your photos from the bridge’s picture windows and through the glass floor high above the River Thames. Beyond the views, you’ll learn all about the architecture and inner workings of the world famous bridge.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London is my must not miss pick for all of London. It has something for everyone and is very family friendly. Although it’s now been dwarfed by other much taller buildings the city views from atop The Tower are really quite something.
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The London Eye
The London Eye, located on the South Bank of the River Thames, is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom. Your ride in the 20 person heated capsule will take you 443 feet above the Thames and offers a fabulous birds eye view of not only the river, but The Houses of Parliament as well.
Our first visit was in 2006, before we learned to book tickets ahead, thereby avoiding the ridiculously long queues, and apparently before I had a proper camera. Planning ahead will ensure that the experience and view are worthwhile, and while we did go back for another spin in 2012, we’ve since satisfied ourselves with seeing the London Eye from the ground.
Birds Eye View
If you run out of time before getting the chance to visit any of the above attractions you’ll still have one more chance… the bird’s eye view. I’m referring to your airplane window of course.
As I mentioned above we still have a few London view spots to visit, The Shard and The Sky Garden are two. Have you seen London from above? Visited any of these spots? Have I missed some? Let me know in the comments below.