Where to enjoy the best views of London for free (or almost)
London has a beautiful skyline that keeps changing and hunting for the best panoramic view spot is almost a favorite pastime.
It’s almost impossible not to see the skyline while in the city, a simple walk along the Thames offers great glimpses, but here are my favorite places with the best views.
Greenwich has a village vibe and is a nice trip regardless. You can get there by underground (Cutty Sark or Greenwich DLR) from the centre of London, but my favorite way to reach the place is the ferry. Taking a public ferry from Westminster for example to Greenwich Pier is a nice river cruise at an excellent price (8,20 pounds in January 2022).
In Greenwich I recommend a stroll in town and a visit to the market for some shopping and food before you head to the park and the Royal Observatory.
Up on the hill, where the Observatory is located, you can see the famous line of the Prime Meridian and from there you can also enjoy a great view of the Docklands and the rest of the city.
Instead of taking the train (DRL), for a different experience you could go back to Central London through the pedestrian tunnel that runs underneath the Thames and connects Greenwich to the Isle of Dogs, where you can walk to the closest DRL (Island Gardens). I would suggest to walk further more in that area, Canary Wharf is lovely with its skyscrapers and canals.
View of London from the National Portrait Gallery
On the top floor of the National Potrait Gallery there’s the Potrait Restaurant with a beautiful view over Trafalgar Square with Nelson’s statue, the Parliament and the Big Ben.
The NPG itself is worth a visit (entrance is free), I find it funny to see how fashion changed in the centuries!
You can have a drink while enjoying the view or ask if you can just take a look.
Unfortunately though the Gallery is currently closed for works until Spring 2023.
View of London from the London Eye
I have been on the London Eye only once (at the time there was a big discount if you had a Travelcard for public transportation, but I can’t find anything similar now; still, if you book online it’s slightly cheaper than on site, 27 instead of 34 pounds as January 2022).
From up there you get a nice view of the Thames with its bridges and lights, the Parliament and the Big Ben.
It’s the only panoramic view of this list that has a cost, I guess if you are visiting London for the first time it’s a nice experience.
View of London from the Tate Gallery
In the South Bank, my favorite strolling area, there’s the Tate, a gallery with free entrance (excluding some temporary exhibitions).
On top of the building on the right (the Blavatnik Building), there’s a terrace with my favorite view of the city. I love to go there just before sunset and see how the light changes and the sun reflects on the skyscrapers.
There’s an amazing view of St. Peter’s, just across the river. Thank me later.
This place is quite recent. The skyscraper hosting the Sky Garden was designed in 2004 and construction was completed in 2014.
Visit to the Sky Garden is free, but you need to book in advance. Or you can book a table for a drink or meal at the café, which is also a good idea. You’ve got to enter at the time you booked, but you can stay as long as you like.
The highest garden in London, it offers a 360 degree view of the city. A priceless experience that you can enjoy for free.
Unfortunately this is not a great time to travel because some places are closed due to the current Covid situation, so check before you go. I hope this article can still help you if you are planning to visit London in the future.
Because I travel mostly on a budget, I always look for the best things to do at the lowest price, and these views of London might be some of the best experiences you can gift yourself.