Where to find the best free views of London

Where to Stay in London

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Looking for the best free views of London? You’ve come to the right place. I’m a sucker for a freebie…

The London skyline is one of the most iconic in the world. And seeing it from above is an absolute must. Luckily the city is filled with countless towering skyscrapers and fantastic vantage points.

However, some of the most famous viewpoints in London, such as ‘The View from The Shard’, also come with a pretty hefty price tag.

But taking in the best views in London really doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, admiring the city from above can be one of the best free things to do in London.

Below are 10 places where you can find some of the best views of London for free…

1. The Sky Garden

Sky Garden London at night

Sat on the 43rd floor of the skyscraper known as the Walkie-Talkie in the City of London, the Sky Garden is the capital’s highest public garden and one of the most popular free viewpoints in London.

The Sky Garden’s large 3-story atrium is filled with exotic plants and has floor-to-ceiling windows with some best free views of London. There’s also an open-air covered terrace on one side.

While the Sky Garden is completely free to visit, you do need to book a date and time slot in advance. You can book up to 3 weeks ahead of the date you’d like to visit. Tickets are released on a rolling basis, so keep checking back.

There are also a few bars and two restaurants within the Sky Garden where you can stop for dinner or a drink if you do feel like splashing out a little – but this isn’t obligatory when visiting. If you book a table at one of the restaurants in advance, you don’t need a separate booking for the viewpoint.

Address: 20 Fenchurch Street, City of London EC3M 8AF.

Nearest Stations: Monument, Tower Hill, Tower Gateway, Aldgate, Bank & London Fenchurch Street.

Opening Times: Monday – Friday 10am – 6pm. Weekends and Bank Holidays 11am – 9pm.

2. The Lookout

Darwin Brasserie at The Sky Garden
The view of the Shard

While the Sky Garden has long been the iconic free viewpoint in the City of London, late 2023 saw a couple of new free viewing platforms open their doors just a few blocks away – the first of them being The Lookout.

The Lookout is 8 Bishopsgate’s 50th-floor viewing gallery, putting it a few stories higher than the nearby Sky Garden. The large 2,500 sq ft viewing gallery offers amazing uninterrupted views over many of the capital’s most iconic landmarks from its panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows.

The observation platform is completely free to visit. You just need to pre-book a date and time slot online. The viewpoint currently seems to be booking up at least a couple of months in advance, so make sure to book early!

It is worth noting that the Lookout isn’t just a free viewing platform. It’s also bookable as a private event space during the evenings.

So from Tuesday to Thursday and over the weekends, the viewpoint is closed to the public from 5/6pm. If you want to see the city lit up by night (it’s pretty magical!), Mondays and Fridays are the only two days a week the platform is open late – until 9pm.

Address: 8, 150 Bishopsgate, Leadenhall St, London EC2N 4B.

Nearest Stations: London Fenchurch Street, Monument, Bank, Aldgate, Liverpool Street

Opening Times: Mondays & Fridays 12pm – 9pm. Tuesdays to Thursdays 10.30am – 5.30pm. Saturdays 11am – 6pm. Sundays & Bank Holidays 10am – 5pm.

3. Horizon 22

Opening just a couple of months after The Lookout in late 2023, Horizon 22 now completes the trifecta of fantastic free viewpoints in the heart of the City of London.

Located on the 58th floor of 22 Bishopsgate, sitting a whopping 833 feet or 254 metres above the ground, Horizon 22 now takes the top spot as the highest free viewing platform in London, with unbeatable panoramic views over the entire city.

Other accolades awarded to 22 Bishopsgate include the second tallest building in London (after The Shard) and the highest free viewing platform in Europe.

It’s free to visit the viewpoint. But you’ll need to pre-book a slot in advance. Unsurprisingly, the free new London attraction is booking up pretty quickly. However, there will be a few walk-in slots available every day, so it’s worth trying your luck for now!

Much like The Lookout, Horizon 22 becomes a private event space each evening, closing between 4-6pm every day of the week. So as amazing as the observation platform is, if it’s nighttime views you’re after, the Sky Garden is still a must-visit.

Address: 22 Bishopsgate, London EC3V 4QT.

Nearest Stations: Liverpool Street, Bank, Aldgate, Monument, Fenchurch Street

Opening Times: Mondays – Fridays 10am – 6pm. Saturdays 10am – 5pm. Sundays 10am – 4pm.

4. The Garden at 120

The Garden at 120 sits on the 15th floor of 120 Fenchurch Street in the City of London. It may not be as high as the other viewpoints mentioned above, but it still has its own unique charm and advantages.

The pretty rooftop garden features beautiful wisteria-wrapped pergolas and rows of square hedging. You can sit on one of the benches and take in the peaceful garden and views for as long as you’d like.

From the terrace, you get up-close views of the neighbouring skyscrapers including the Walkie-Talkie and Gherkin, as well as 360-degree views down over the streets and buildings of central London.

Plus, one of the major advantages of the viewing platform is that you don’t need to pre-book weeks in advance to visit. You can simply turn up and head inside, making it ideal for a spontaneous visit to the city.

Address: 120 Fenchurch Street, Monument, London EC3M 5BA.

Nearest Stations: Monument, Aldgate, Tower Hill & London Fenchurch Street.

Opening Times: Winter 10am – 6:30pm. Summer 10am – 9pm.

5. Royal Observatory Greenwich

Greenwich Park

The Royal Observatory sits at the top of the hill within Greenwich Park and offers one of the best free views in London.

The views from the Observatory are very different from the viewpoints in central London, featuring the historic buildings of the Queen’s House and Old Royal Naval College then across to the mighty skyscrapers of Canary Wharf on the opposite bank of the River Thames.

Address: Royal Observatory, Blackheath Ave, Greenwich, London SE10 8XJ.

Nearest Stations: Blackheath, Greenwich & Maze Hill.

Opening Times (Greenwich Park): Winter 6am – 6/7pm. Summer 6am – 8/9pm.

6. One New Change

One New Change free London viewpoint

One New Change is a large shopping centre and office complex in the heart of the City of London

As well as many shops and restaurants set out over several floors, One New Change has a large public rooftop terrace which is completely free to visit.

The roof terrace offers amazing up-close views of neighbouring St Pauls Cathedral, plus panoramic views all across the capital from the London Eye in the west to the many city skyscrapers in the east.

Address: One New Change, London EC4M 9AF.

Nearest Stations: St Pauls, Bank & Mansion House.

Opening Times: 7 days a week 6am – midnight.

7. Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill London free viewpoint

Located on the northern edge of the better-known Regents Park, Primrose Hill sits almost 63 meters above sea level and offers some of the best views in London for free.

The lush green hill is a popular spot amongst locals for a summer picnic or evening drinks with friends while watching the sunset over the London skyline.

Primrose Hill is also an easy free viewpoint to fit into any London itinerary, with nearby attractions including ZSL London Zoo and popular Camden Market.

Address: Primrose Hill, Camden, London NW3 3DE.

Nearest Stations: Chalk Farm & Camden Town.

Opening Times: 5am – dusk.

8. Tate Modern

Tate Modern Overlooking Thames London

Another of the best free London viewpoints can be found on the south bank of the River Thames at the Tate Modern – one of the city’s top free modern art galleries.

The top floor of the Tate Modern’s Blavatnik Building is a large open-viewing terrace that can be visited for free by using the dedicated lift on the ground floor of the gallery.

The free viewing terrace lets you see right across the River Thames and London, from close-by St Paul’s Cathedral and even out to Canary Wharf and Wembley Stadium.

Address: Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG.

Nearest Stations: Blackfriars & London Bridge.

Opening Times: Sunday – Thursday 10am – 6pm, Friday – Saturday 10am – 10pm.

9. Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill can be found in the southeast corner of vast Hampstead Heath in north London, close to the upscale neighbourhoods of Highgate and Hamstead.

Sitting 98 meters high, Parliament Hill boasts some of the most fantastic free panoramic views of London from its leafy peak.

Although recent construction in the surrounding area has now restricted some of the views, you can still take in the iconic cityscape down across the Houses of Parliament, St. Pauls Cathedral, the Shard, and more.

Address: Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG.

Nearest Stations: Hamstead, Hamstead Heath & Gospel Oak.

Opening Times: Sunday – Thursday 10am – 6pm, Friday – Saturday 10am – 10pm.

10. Alexandra Palace

Alexandra Park opened in north London back in 1863 as an important Victorian leisure park. And at the summit of the park sits the impressive Alexandra Palace, built for Queen Victoria’s 54th birthday.

Today the Palace is used for exhibitions, concerts, and cultural events, as well as being home to a large ice rink, while the surrounding park is filled with fun things to do including a boating lake and high ropes course.

The terrace of Alexandra Palace is also where you’ll find one of the best free views of London, with stunning panoramic views across the entire London skyline.

Address: Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, London N22 7AY.

Nearest Stations: Alexandra Palace, Wood Green & Muswell Hill.

Opening Times: 24/7 all year round.

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London City Calling

Emily is a born and raised London girl, starting life in the north of the capital then moving down to Fulham in the southwest. She has a master’s degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from University College London and now works full-time running this blog and as a freelance travel writer, splitting her life between London and travelling the world as a digital nomad.

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