if you’re looking to take in one of the best free views of London… well, we’ve got a list for you!
Here is our handy guide on how to get some spectacular views of our gorgeous city without spending a single cent.
TIP: Some locations with great views, such as Tower Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Monument, have costs but are included for free with a purchase of the London Pass or other tourist discount passes.
LONDON'S BEST FREE CITY VIEWS
Here are the best rooftops, terraces, and lookout points you can easily access in London for free!
They all have great views of London's iconic buildings and skyline.
And make sure you also check out our guide on bars and restaurants in London that come with amazing views.
One of the newest skyscrapers to appear on London’s skyline is 20 Fenchurch Street (read our full post) – otherwise known to locals and tourists as the “Walkie-Talkie.”
This is a glass building with a unique shape, spreading out the further up the building stretches, whose curved glass led to a reflection so strong…it melted a car!
At the top of this new London landmark is an enlarged glass dome that houses three floors of landscaped gardens including observation decks and an open-air terrace.
This is the highest public garden in London and best of all…it’s FREE!
NOTE: Although free, tickets must be booked in advance through the SkyGarden website.
One New Change Rooftop
A modern glass and steel construction sitting next door to St. Paul’s Cathedral, the New Change building holds offices, shops, and restaurants.
But the best part of the New Change building is the public roof garden on top!
The word “garden” here could be a bit misleading as there is no greenery, but there are amazing views throughout London – spanning east to west - as well as a face-to-face meeting with St. Paul’s Cathedral.
This is an incredible place for photographs and during the summer months, keep an eye out for screens on display here showing international sporting events.
View from the Tate Modern
You’ll also have an incredible view of the Millennium Bridge (aka the “wobbly bridge”, aka the “Harry Potter Bridge”) spanning the river from the Tate to the Cathedral.
All of London is stretched out in front of you, as the Tate is right in the middle of town.
The view here is worth the effort even for those who may not be interested in visiting the museum itself.
Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath
Hampstead Heath is a 791-acre parkland sitting in the hills of North London.
Parliament Hill is one of the best-known locations by locals to get excellent views over London.
The vista from here is sweeping over the entirety of London and the parkland that surrounds it is a great place for picnics, for children to play, for walking dogs…or just going for a wander!
You’ll be surprised how high up you are when you look down over all the city has to offer.
It also made our list of the best parks in London.
- Nearest Underground Station: Hampstead
- Nearest Overground Station (Closer): Hampstead Heath
Primrose Hill sits on the edge of Camden, in the luxurious Primrose Hill district which is home to the famous and wealthy.
Just across from Regent’s Park and London Zoo, Primrose Hill does take a fair amount of energy to climb!
The paths are paved and the incline is gradual, but get ready to work for your view.
Atop the hill is one of the truly quiet places in London and the views are stunning…over the rolling hills and tree-lined lanes of Regent’s Park into the West End with the towering BT Tower near the right then the Shard and the Walkie-Talkie in the distance to the left.
There are a few benches at the top to sit and admire one of the finest views in town.
- Nearest Underground Station: Camden Town or St. John’s Wood
Greenwich Park, Royal Observatory
The view of London from Greenwich Park is legally protected by statutes that state no buildings can be constructed that would obstruct the view of the City of London from this point.
Once you’ve climbed to the highest point of the park, you’ll be rewarded with perfect views of east London – think the O2 dome, Canary Wharf, the Gherkin, and The Shard.
You’ll also get a perfect view of Christopher Wren’s Greenwich Naval College and the 17th-century Queen’s House.
On sunny days, the sparkling waters of the Thames are visible and this park can actually be accessed by taking a boat through town – a suggestion we’d personally make.
You might consider taking our self-guided tour of Greenwich.
- Nearest Underground Station: Greenwich
- Nearest Overground / DLR Station: Greenwich
King Henry’s Mound, Richmond
Richmond is a wealthy leafy suburb on the South-western fringes of London.
Sprawling Richmond Park used to be a hunting ground for King Henry VIII in the 16th century and today is a popular place for picnics and deer watching.
It’s to be seen to be believed as guests can actually spot St. Paul’s Cathedral, in the heart of the city, all the way from this far-flung bit of forest.
The view here is so impressive that a law was passed in 1710 stating that NOTHING can be constructed to obscure it!
- Nearest Underground Station: Richmond
ALMOST-FREE VIEWS OF THE CITY
The following locations are not free, however, if you are already planning on paying to enter, you will have the opportunity for great views of London already included in the price.
Most of these are included for free with the purchase of one or more tourist discount passes.
Westminster Cathedral Viewing Tower
A Victorian construction, Westminster Cathedral is the largest Catholic church in London.
Standing just beside the cathedral is a 210ft (64m) tall viewing tower.
The viewing gallery at the top gives unparalleled views of the Westminster area, including Westminster Abby, Big Ben and Parliament, Buckingham Place, Hyde Park… and more!
There is also a lovely art gallery displaying depictions of the cathedral itself. Although not free - it’s pretty close!
- Adult - £6.00
- Concession - £3.00
- Family - £12.00
Designed by Christopher Wren to commemorate the Great Fire of London in 1666, The Monument was first opened as a viewing gallery to the public in the year 1677 - making it one of the oldest tourist attractions in town!
311 steps to the top lead guests to a platform with 360-degree views of London, including the River Thames, Tate Modern, and the Square Mile!
Best of all, as you descend, you’ll be given a special certificate to congratulate you on your successful climb!
- Adult - £4.00
- Children Under 16 - £2.00
St Paul’s Cathedral
Once you’ve bought your ticket to St. Paul’s Cathedral you have access to climb to the top of the dome - the second-largest church dome in the world!
The views from up here are commanding and guests can walk all 360 degrees around.
Since the church is located at the top of Legate Hill, the view places you high above most other buildings in the western part of town - and eye level to some of the more modern glass and steel structures in the east.
A fabulous view that is well worth the tricky and long climb up the stairs to get there!
If you are not interested in the view here, then read our post on how to get into St. Paul's Cathedral for free.
- Adult - £18.00 at the door / £16.00
- Child - £8.00 at the door / £7.00
- Family - £44.00 at the door / £39.00
The Tower Bridge Exhibition
It’s free to walk across Tower Bridge, but there is a museum hidden inside one of its’ iconic towers!
A ticket to the museum also gives you access to walk across the newly refurbished walkway on the top of the structure.
Glass floors give you a somewhat shocking view down to the bridge below, and looking out the windows at 42 metres (138 feet) high provides stunning views of the River Thames, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Square Mile, and beyond.
Not free, but the ticket includes a visit to the exhibition and all the time in the walkway you would like!
- Adult - £11.40
- Children - £5.70
The Emirates Air Line is the first urban cable car in the United Kingdom and soars above the River Thames between the O2 Arena at Greenwich and the Royal Docks in the docklands area of East London.
The views from the Air Line are amazing, giving riders a glimpse of the City skyline along with Canary Wharf, the Thames Barrier and even as far up as the new Olympic Park.
The only cable car in London, the Air Line boasts “360 views of the city, ninety meters high.”
With the Oyster card, you can get discount up to 50% on each ticket making it a near free experience to enjoy.
To reach here, nearest underground station is Canning Town/ North Greenwich (Jubilee Line).
The Shard is a 72-storey skyscraper in Southwark, London, that forms part of The Shard Quarter development.
Standing 309.6 metres high, it is the tallest building in the United Kingdom.
Did you know you can see London from the Shard without paying to visit the observation deck?
Shard has several restaurants and bars which offer best view of London from above. If you’re planning on a special dinner with your significant other, this is a great option.
And if you just want to grab a drink at some restaurants, it could actually be cheaper than the full observation deck ticket price at the Shard.
Nearest tube station to reach here is London Bridge Station.
The London Eye is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe. In fact, when it was constructed in 1999 it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world!
The wheel rotates extremely slowly; 26cm (10in) per second – which is about 0.6 miles per hour.
Visitors ride the Eye in one of 32 (one for every London Borough) capsules that are specially designed to remain in the same position as the wheel revolves.
Each capsule, capable of holding up to 28 people, is sealed and air-conditioned so it remains comfortable inside regardless of the weather.
With several tourist passes, you can get a discount up to 50% or more on each ticket making it a near free ride to enjoy.
If you want to get here by tube, Waterloo station is just 5 minutes walk away.
The Shard is a 72-story skyscraper that is a part of the Shard Quarter development in Southwark, London.
It is the tallest structure in the UK, standing at 309.6 metres.
The top observation deck of the Shard is approximately 244 meters (800 ft) high, nearly 90 meters (295 ft) higher than the Sky Garden - previously the highest public accessible viewing gallery in London.
On a day with good weather, it's possible to see up to 40 miles away.
If you want to explore further, make your way up to the open-air Skydeck on Level 72. This is a spectacular space that is open to the elements.
Nearest tube station to reach here is London Bridge Station.
The Up at the O2 attraction is for those who are looking to do something memorable and different in London, and those who want to take on the challenge of climbing up 52 meters to a beautiful view of the landmarks in this historic city.
Visitors traverse along a 190m (623ft) long fabric walkway, 53m (174ft) above the ground, from one side of the Dome to the other.
In the centre of the roof, guests can stop at a central platform that provides 360-degree views of London, highlighting the Olympic Park, Thames Barrier, Greenwich, Canary Wharf, and even into the city, showing the Shard and the “Walkie Talkie” (the building that melted a car!).
Discount passes can offer an attractive discount up to 50% on the ticket prices making it almost free!
Nearest tube to reach here is North Greenwich.