Photography

12 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in London

I started writing this post about one year ago. I was heartbroken and had just returned from a long Summer in China. I quickly bought flights to London, as a way to stay away from my architecture thesis a bit longer. Being an architecture student is no easy task.

That day was sunny- thanks for that London.

My thesis tutor got fired and I knew all the work I had done within the past 7 months would go straight to the bin because the new tutor wouldn’t have the same style as the old one, and so it happened. Architecture is like that, you work on a thoughtfully crafted building which makes one tutor fall in love and which scares to death another one.

I could see the Shard in the distance. It looked stunning.

I had a big list of things I would do after I finished my thesis. More travels was the first. I promised myself I would travel once a month one day. What I didn’t know that day is that the following year I would do just that.

I remember how I went up the elevator and how I couldn’t help smiling when I had the amazing views in front of me. I felt I could do anything. It suddenly came to mind a list of friends I’d travel with, a bunch of destinations, several blog posts, a new format to my architecture guides… That’s the thing with these type of spots, they stimulate our minds and open our eyes, they make us feel happy and empowered. When we travel, it’s up to us to find them and appreciate them.

I hope you visit them all in your next trip to London. My favorite? Number 1, yours?


Check 10 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in Chicago


Virginia Duran Blog-London-Best skyline photography-The Shard by Geoge Wheel

1. The Shard
Location: 32 London Bridge St. (Google)
Best Views: 360-degree views of London
Admission: £25.95 (online purchase)
Opening hours: Mon-Sun (10-22)
Description: Despite being the most expensive view spot in London (especially if you buy it right there), it is the best. The 87-storey skyscraper designed by starchitect Renzo Piano in 2013 offers 360º views that are breathtaking. You can stay here as long as you want, therefore, bring your tripod and come here at sunset. Anyways, if you visit it during daytime, don’t miss Legorreta’s museum close by.


Virginia Duran Blog-London-Best skyline photography-One New Change

2. One New Change
Location:  1 New Change (Google)
Best Views: St. Paul’s Cathedral
Admission: Free admission
Opening hours: Mon-Sun (10-00)
Description: What is better than having amazing views of London from St. Paul’s Cathedral? Well…having amazing views of London AND of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Although St. Paul’s has amazing views from the top, crowds of people queue to go in and the opening hour schedule is very limited. On the other hand, One New Change is not so popular as Christopher Wren’s cathedral and it opens till late at night. This spot is especially great in Summer, when staying in the open air terrace is very enjoyable. However, during the cold seasons, the Madison cocktail bar will provide great views while enjoying a drink.


Virginia Duran Blog-London-Best skyline photography-London Eye by ee24

3. London Eye
Location: Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road (Google)
Best Views: Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament
Admission£19.35 (online purchase)
Opening hours: Mon-Sun (10-20.30)
Description: Built in 2000 as a giant Ferris wheel, actually the tallest in Europe (120m/394 ft), by the team of David Marks and Julia Barfield. Although lines are very long and this spot offers AMAZING views of London, I wouldn’t recommend buying tickets in advance. If that day at that time is raining, you’ll be surrounded by an angry crowd of umbrellas with an (ahem) cloudy and disappointing view of London. On the other hand, it’s less crowded at night and views are even more spectacular so I’d recommend that time if you want to avoid crowds.


LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: A visitor looks at the view from the Sky Garden terrace at 20 Fenchurch Street on March 12, 2015 in London, England. Number 20 Fenchurch Street is London's newest skyscraper, known locally as The Walkie Talkie. The Sky Garden sits at the top of the 160 metre, 500 million GBP building and is now open to the public. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) ***BESTPIX***4. 20 Fenchurch
Location: 20 Fenchurch St. (Google)
Best Views: The Shard, London City Hall
AdmissionFree Admission (book your tickets online)
Opening hours: Mon-Fri (10-18) Sat-Sun (11-21)
Description: The so-called Walkie-Talkie, designed by Rafael Viñoly in 2014 claims to have the best aerial views of London. The truth is that it doesn’t. However, views of the Shard are actually the best. If you want to get the one million dollar shot of The Shard, come here. Although admission is free, booked tickets in advanced are required. I tried to sneak in twice and it didn’t work. If you are planning a trip to London book them now! Amazing picture by Peter Macdiarmid.


Virginia Duran Blog-London-Best skyline photography-Heron Tower-

5. (Sushi Samba/Duck and Waffle) Heron Tower
Location: 110 Bishopsgate (Google)
Best Views: The Gherkin and Tower Bridge
AdmissionFree Admission
Opening hours: Mon-Sun (11.30-00.30)
Description: I have two favorite rooftops in this area, Sushi Samba (Heron Tower) and Vertigo 42 (Tower 42). Although I like both of them and drink prices are very similar, Heron Tower is a bit better. Why? Because of the glass elevator that takes you to the top. If you want to take a nice video of London from the ground to the sky, this is the spot. However, the most impressive views are those of the Gherkin as you can appreciate. It’s the closest point from which to photograph it.


Virginia Duran Blog-London-Best skyline photography-Tower Bridge

6. Tower Bridge
Location: Tower Bridge Rd (Google)
Best Views:  London City Hall, The Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Tower of London
Admission: £9 (Tickets here)
Opening hours: Mon-Sun (10-17.30)
Description: Built in 1894 as a bridge which was originally the only crossing for the Thames. It took 8 years, 5 major contractors and the relentless labor of 432 construction workers to build Tower Bridge. Its brand new glass floor across the high-level Walkways is pretty impressive. Another favorite bridge is Millennium Bridge by Foster + Partners, I love the way it connects such an old landmark such as St. Paul’s Cathedral with the Tate Modern art gallery. If you have time to visit it, please do!


Virginia Duran Blog-London-Best skyline photography-Monument

7. Monument to the Great Fire of London
Location: Fish St Hill (Google)
Best Views: Tower Bridge, London City Hall
Admission: £4 (Tickets here)
Opening hours: Mon-Sun (9-18)
Description: Built in 1677 as a stone Roman Doric column to commemorate the Great Fire of London. It stands where the Great Fire started on 2 September 1666 and it is the tallest isolated stone column in the world. The top of the Monument is reached by a narrow winding staircase of 311 steps so if you are not in shape…good luck my friend! Similar views (maybe better) can be seen from the top floor bar of the Gherkin. Sadly, it isn’t open to the public, except during Open House Weekend so if you happen to be during that time don’t miss it!


Virginia Duran Blog-London-Best skyline photography-Greenwich

8. Greenwich Hill
Location: Royal Observatory, Blackheath Ave (Google)
Best Views: Canary Wharf Buildings (1 West India Quay by HOK, One Canada Square by Cesar Pelli, 5 Canada Square by SOM, 8 Canada Square by Norman Foster…)
Admission: Free admission
Opening hours: 24h
Description: Known as the location of the prime meridian, Greenwich Hill parks offers amazing skyline views of East London. The best way to reach it is by boat which departs every 15 min. at Embankment (£7). There are plenty of hills in London by the way. Greenwich is my favorite due to the proximity to London’s skyline but Primrose Hill, Parliament Hill, Telegraph Hill and Alexandra Palace are worth a visit too.


England, London, London Eye and Houses of Parliament, dusk

9. Waterloo Bridge
Location: Lambeth, City of Westminster (Google)
Best Views: London Eye, Westminster Bridge, Portcullis House and Westminster Abbey
Admission: Free admission
Opening hours: 24h
Description: Built in 1943, it is the only Thames bridge to have been damaged by German bombers during the Second World War. It is also known by “the Ladies’ Bridge” nickname because the work force was largely female. This is one of London’s most liked bridge by locals. The truth is that the city around the Thames from this spot looks incredible! Around the area is Oxo Tower, one of my favorite rooftops of South London. Few restaurants in London have a better view.


Virginia Duran Blog-London-Best skyline photography-Emirates Air Line

10. O2 Cable Car
Location: Edmund Halley Way (Google)
Best Views: Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks
Admission: Tickets are free
Opening hours: Mon-Sun (7-23)
Description: It’s the only cable car in London and views from here are pretty impressive. The ride across the Thames between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks is quite unique for London. Cabins arrive every 30 seconds and flights usually last 10 minutes. (5 minutes before 9am and between 5pm and 6:30pm).


Virginia Duran Blog-London-Best skyline photography-The Attic

11. (The Attic) Pan Peninsula Tower
Location: Canary Wharf (Google)
Best Views: O2 Arena, Canary Wharf Towers, Greenwich Hill and River Thames
Admission: Free Admission
Opening hours: Tue-Sat (18-00)
Description: Built in 2009 as a residential development by SOM, it consists of two towers. The taller one is 147 meters and 48 storeys. It has private cinema and terraced restaurant (The Attic) on the 48th floor. This spot is so cool because relatively nobody knows about it. Amazing picture by Alexander Kachkaev


Virginia Duran Blog-London-Best skyline photography-Balfron Towers12. Balfron Tower
Location: St. Leonard’s Road (Google)
Best Views: London’s skyline
Admission: Free Admission
Opening hours: 24h
Description: Ok ok, I’m cheating here. This is a private residential building, not a public rooftop. Well, as I always say, photographers aren’t know for their compliance right?😉 Just a quick note, neighbors are aware that people try to sneak in so try asking first cause it may work. This brutalist building from the 60s’ was designed by Ernő Goldfinger and even if you don’t get to the top, it’s worth a visit.


Check these and other amazing buildings of London on the map below or download my Free Architecture Guide of London:

 

46 thoughts on “12 Sites To Take The Best Skyline Pictures in London

    • Not planned yet. Too many things up in the air right now. I forgot to say . . . Number 9 (all the others had the implication of being crowded – your comments about booking early).

      Sometimes big changes work out. I lost my advisor half way through my grad program. I switched from applied material science to doing Finite Element analysis . . . got a job with GM, went on to form my own company, and overall things worked out reasonably well.

      Were I to do it over again . . . I would major in English, write a fantastically great series of novels, and have an even bigger ego than I do now. Nah; I don’t regret becoming an engineer. It served me well.

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      • haha engineers are always proud people😉 Although it’s true that big changes have almost always worked for me, that summer I wasn’t on my best moment emotionally.

        The bad thing about London is crowds. Is not a bunch of people we’re talking here, is infinite crowds with crying babies and annoyingly loud tourists. You wouldn’t like it at all believe me!

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  1. A wonderful round-up, as always ! I’ve still not been to the top of the shard, but my excuse is that I live in london🙂 Two more – and a great way to experience London’s gorgeous green spaces – are Primrose Hill and Parliament Hill (Hampstead Heath), both in North London.

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    • Those are two of my favorites. I mentioned them in Greenwich Park because I couldn’t make the list longer heheh. Primrose Hill, Parliament Hill, Telegraph Hill and Alexandra Palace are worth a visit, especially with good weather. I haven’t been to Alexandra Palace yet though. Have you?

      The Shard is completely worth it😉

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  2. How disillusioning to see your work end up like that! Still, it brought up your trip, some nice views from which we can now share. Not all is lost, hey? Wonderful views – your favourite must be amazing… I’m never going up there unless invited, the idea of contributing to some ultra-fat Qatari pockets brings out the little revolutionary in me😉

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    • That’s a very good point. I normally refuse to pay admission to certain buildings, if you pay attention most of my recommendations are to free buildings and spots. However, this one is completely worth it. I’ll admit that when I paid the entrance fee (which included my sister’s as well, around 76€) I felt bad haha. Have you visited any of the list?

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  3. Thanks for taking the time to create this wonderful resource…..you’ve switched me onto some great new places to explore. A great post….well done.

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