Sure, everyone who comes to London’s aware of the fact you can catch the capital’s sights from on high thanks to the London Eye on the South Bank, but let’s be honest, *everyone* goes there and does that. What about the less clichéd vantage points for some truly distinguished, unforgettable cityscape panoramas? Don’t worry, there’s a good number of them – here are six of the best…
(32 London Bridge Street SE1 9SG)
With its ludicrously high-up, 360° panorama, ‘The View from The Shard’ (as it officially brands itself) is arguably the big daddy of this list – and thus the obvious starting point.
(Tower Bridge Road SE1 2UP)
This, one of London’s most iconic attractions in itself, offers two fantastic views from just one vantage point – either of the two (indoors) upper walkways accessible via its fascinating exhibition, which also reveals all the inner workings of this mammoth feat of Victorian-era engineering. From the aforementioned vantage point then you can look west towards Westminster, the South Bank and the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, or south towards London Docklands and Canary Wharf. Spectacular.
(20 Fenchurch Street EC3M 3BY)
Don’t be deceived by the exterior of this frankly rather ridiculous-looking (supposedly serious business office) building because the view from the top of the aptly nicknamed ‘Walkie Talkie’ is utterly wonderful, not least because it’s experienced from the environs of a stylish indoor garden that also serves as a rather salubrious restaurant. Best of all, though, entry is free so you can enjoy its panorama for nothing. Quite the inducement then if you’re staying nearby at one of the luxurious hotels City of London.
(Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 3 Thornton Street E20 2ST)
Did you watch any of the 2012 Summer Olympics? If so, do you remember that big, red, twirly monstrosity of a structure that stood right next to the stadium? Well, this it and at its summit is a viewing platform that enables you to cast your eye across the whole Olympic Park (now entirely open to the public and perfect for families) and East London and beyond. Interesting fact: a giant slide has now been added to the structure. Yes, really!
Up at the O2
(Peninsula Square SE10 0DX)
Strictly speaking this is an activity rather than merely a place to visit for an impressive view (although it’s certainly that too), in that you’re obliged to scale the roof of the O2 venue, which was once known as the Millennium Dome. Don’t worry; so long as you’re relatively fit, it’s entirely safe and, by all accounts, good fun. Plus, of course the open-air view all around you when you pause at the top – especially of the nearby Canary Wharf high-rises – is outstanding.
Emirates Air Line
(Unit 1, 2, 3 & 4, Emirates Cable Car Terminal, Edmund Halley Way, London SE10 0FR)
Finally, fancy checking out the London skyline on the move? Why not, right? Well, this newly installed cable car journey that traverses the River Thames to and from the area of The O2 offers you that unique opportunity. Ideal for clear, non-cloudy days and, owing to it being run by the body that oversees the city’s public transport (TfL), it’s extremely affordable should you use the Oyster card electronic travel payment – which is pretty much essential for using the Tube.