5 Spots for the Best London Views

London From Way Up High

Enjoy spectacular bird’s-eye views from these tip-top aeries.

The Emirates Air Line offers the speediest overviews of the city.
Enjoy 30 minutes of changing views from the London Eye.

By Amy Laughinghouse
1. The View from The Shard
Overlooking the city from 800 feet, this vertiginous perch atop the tallest building in Western Europe is almost twice as high as any other vantage point in London. Peering out from the pinnacle of Renzo Piano’s striking glass skyscraper, you can see up to 40 miles on a clear day. Keep your eyes peeled for landmarks like the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, and Tower Bridge down below.
2. The London Eye
Towering 443 feet over the Thames, a short stroll from the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, the London Eye has become one of London’s most popular attractions since it opened in 2000. Ensconced inside a glass-enclosed pod, you’ll have 30 minutes to enjoy the ever-changing view as the wheel rotates at just over half a mile per hour, roughly twice the speed of a sprinting tortoise. (Yes, that’s an official measurement, although we reckon it depends on just how motivated the tortoise is.)
3. ArcelorMittal Orbit
Rising over East London like the twisted scarlet spiral of a hulking dinosaur’s DNA, this mammoth sculpture offers views from 260 feet high. It’s a great way to “top” your visit to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where visitors can also exercise in venues from the 2012 Olympics, including the velodrome cycling track and the Aquatics Centre.
4. Up at The O2
The most adventurous way to take in London’s striking skyline is to scale the exterior of the O2 arena. It feels like a bit of 007 derring-do, but your guide will ensure that you’re securely strapped into a harness and clipped onto a metal cable before you begin your ascent, which culminates atop a 170-foot high windswept platform.
5. Emirates Air Line
For the speediest overview of London, take this five- to ten-minute cable car lift that runs between the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks. Not only will you see London from 295 feet in the air, but it will also transport you right across the Thames.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit offers views from 260 feet high.