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Free Rooftops, Platforms, and Views of London

Updated: February 1, 2024
 By Margaret

If you’re looking to take in one of the best free views of London… well, we’ve got you covered!

Here is our handy guide on how to get some spectacular views of our gorgeous city without spending a single cent.

As a local tour guide and resident of London who has visited the city’s observation decks, I relied on my first-hand knowledge to write this post.

I've also included some opinions from members of our popular London Travel Tips Facebook group.

The group has over 160k members and is made up of locals, frequent travelers to the UK, and first-time visitors to London.

You don't need to become a member to read the posts, comments, and recommendations.

So, check out our group once you've finished reading this post!

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 attraction passes.

Read about them below.


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.

Sky Garden

One of the top free viewing platforms is Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street.

Known to locals and tourists as the “Walkie-Talkie” 20 Fenchurch is a glass building with a unique shape, spreading out the higher up the building stretches.

The curved glass led to a reflection so strong…it melted a car! Read more about the Walkie-Talke here.

London Skygarden Free London Observation Deck

At the top of this London landmark is Sky Garden, 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 Sky Garden website.

Tickets are released every Monday morning (excluding bank holidays) three weeks in advance for the whole week.

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. 

Horizon 22

On the 58th floor of 22 Bishopsgate, Horizon 22 is the tallest free viewing platform in Europe. 

At 254 metres tall, it is 10 metres taller than The Shard but that viewing platform is not free.

Just a few of the highlights of the view include St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Palace of Westminster, Big Ben and Tower Bridge.

Note that here unlike other viewing platforms, there is virtually nowhere to sit, no gift shop, and only one small food kiosk. But you don't come for the food or souvenirs!

While it is free to visit, advanced booking is advised, as only a small number of walk-ups will be available each day. Book on the Horizon 22 website.

Nearest Underground Station: Bank or Liverpool Street.

View from the Tate Modern

Another good way to get an excellent view of St. Paul’s Cathedral is a visit to the Tate Modern Museum.

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.  

Read our post How to Visit the Tate Modern Museum.

Nearest Underground Station: Southwark, Blackfriars, and London Bridge

The Garden at 120

On the 15th floor of the building at 120 Fenchurch Street is an open-air rooftop garden surrounded by glass panelling.

While not the tallest viewing platform on our list, The Garden has superb 360-degree views and is free to visit.

A few landmarks you can see are Tower Bridge, the Gherkin, The Shard, and Leadenhall Market.

One great thing about The Garden is that Monday to Friday, from April through 30 September, The Garden is open until 21:00 (9 pm).

Imagine a night view of London for free!

You don't need to reserve free tickets, rather you can simply show up. Note that the Garden has a capacity of 200 people, so you may have a short wait to go up.

Be sure to read the Visitor Information at The Garden at 120 before you visit to learn about security measures when you enter the building as well as the restrictions on what you can bring.

  • Nearest Underground Station: Tower Hill, Aldgate, Monument
  • Nearest Overground Station (Closest): Fenchurch Street

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

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.

The Royal Observatory at Greenwich Park can be visited by the public – for a fee – but the park is free to explore.

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 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 southwestern 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.

The highest point in the park is known as King Henry’s Mound and there is an impressive unobstructed view 10 miles into the distance.

It’s to be seen to be believed as guests can 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


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 attraction 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!

Prices: Adult - £6.00 | Concession - £3.00 | Family - £12.00

Nearest Underground Station: Victoria

The Monument

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!

london monument to the great fire of 1666

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!  

Read our full post on the Monument.

Prices: Adult - £4.00 | Children Under 16 - £2.00

Nearest Underground Station: Monument

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 
  • Purchase tickets here

Nearest Underground Station: St. Paul's

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!

Prices: Adult - £11.40 | Children - £5.70

Emirates Cable Car

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 save up to 50% on each ticket making it a near-free experience to enjoy.

Nearest underground station: Canning Town/North Greenwich (Jubilee Line).

The Shard Restaurants

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 the 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 be cheaper than the full observation deck ticket price at the Shard.

Nearest underground station: London Bridge Station.

London Eye

The London Eye is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe. 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 save up to 50% or more on each ticket!

Nearest underground station: Waterloo

The Shard (paid ticket)

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, only 10 metres shorter than Horizon 22, and nearly 90 meters (295 ft) higher than the Sky Garden,

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.

You can save 50% or more on tickets to the Shard by using either the Go City London Explorer Pass or the London Turbo Pass. It's a great way to save a lot on one of the best London attractions.

Nearest underground station: London Bridge Station.

The Dare at Skywalk

The Dare Skywalk is an adrenaline-pumping attraction at Tottenham Spurs Stadium.

This activity gives you a 360-degree view of London. But you’ll have to climb onto the stadium roof -- if you dare!

You’ll be strapped into a snug-fitting safety harness and climb up metal stairs to reach the roof for your first glimpse of the city skyline. 

Then walk around the outside of the stadium before reaching a glass roof above the stadium’s south stand. You can look down onto the massive pitch.

Next, you slowly edge along a skinny glass walkway around the Spurs' famous golden cockerel (rooster). At the highest point, you will be 46.8 metres above the ground!

This journey is not for the faint of heart. It is, however, very safe. So safe that you can even sip a glass of Prosecco at the top (an additional purchase).

Note that this attraction is free with a purchase of the London Pass or other tourist attraction passes.

Nearest Overground Station: White Hart Lane

O2 Walk

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.

Highlights are highlighting the Olympic Park, Thames Barrier, Greenwich, Canary Wharf, and even the City, showing the Shard and the “Walkie Talkie” (the building that melted a car!).

Tourist attraction passes offer an attractive 50% off the ticket prices making it the next best thing to free!

Nearest underground station: North Greenwich.


With so many choices for free and paid viewing platforms, we thought you would find it helpful to see what the members of our London Travel Tips group on Facebook had to say.

You don't have to join the group to read posts and comments. You can search for advice on just about any London topic.

So when you are done reading this post why not have a look? Perhaps even ask some questions yourself!

Questions about going to The Sky Garden when you are unable to book tickets in advance come up often.

As for solutions when you don't get advance tickets, here are tips from Kay and Annie on the best times to go as a walk-in.

Here’s a marvelous idea, especially for those who are feeling a bit peckish!

For those who have the same concern about getting free tickets for Horizon 22, Eugenia and Lindsay offer these tips.

Tami and Sharon have fantastic advice on what to do when you miss out on free tickets for both!

Over and over, visitors to London want to know whether they should go to the London Eye or Sky Garden. Here are a handful of opinions.

Kelly has a lot of knowledge to share while Patricia and Frances have been to both and explain what they liked about each.

If you can, do both.

And if you can swing it, by all means, do both AND The Shard!


About The Author


An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 16 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries. Read More...
Updated: February 1st, 2024
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