Enjoying a view of London is an unforgettable experience for many. From the iconic landmarks such as the Tower Bridge and the London Eye to the famous skyscrapers of the financial district, the city skyline is simply beautiful.
Whether you're watching the sunrise or sunset, viewing the city during day or night, there are numerous views of London for all to enjoy. Although many places offering views of London require booking, and some may require payment, today we'll be looking at three places that offer free views in London without the need for booking.
No matter where you are in the city, taking in the panoramic view of London is a must-do activity, and one that may become a highlight of your time in London.
Planning on exploring the UK by train or coach? Buy your tickets in advance to save time and money.
1. The stunning and lesser-known Garden at 120 with views of Tower Bridge, the Shard, 30 St Mary Axe (and more!)
The Garden at 120 is a stunning rooftop garden located in the heart of London and is London's first publicly accessible rooftop garden. Situated 65 metres up atop the 15-storey Fen Court building, the rooftop garden offers spectacular 360 degree views of the city, including iconic landmarks such as The Shard, Tower Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral and many more!
The garden has been open since 2019, is free to enter and requires no booking. It features a variety of plants, including wisteria, daffodils, and roses, as well as a water feature that's best experienced during the spring and summer months. There are also seating areas where visitors can relax while taking in the views of London. In addition, the building is home to a restaurant and bar where visitors can enjoy a meal or a drink while admiring the scenery (more on that soon!)
One of the unique features of the Garden at 120 is its commitment to sustainability. The garden is designed to be environmentally friendly, with features such as a rainwater harvesting system and a green roof that helps to regulate the building's temperature.
The Garden at 120 is often overlooked in favour of the more famous viewing platforms such as Sky Garden (located at the top of the "Walkie-Talkie" building), 30 St Mary Axe (also known as the Gherkin), and The Shard.
In our opinion, the Garden at 120 is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the beauty of London for free from a unique and peaceful vantage point without the need to book tickets, or plan your day around a ticketed activity.
Our rating of the view from The Garden at 120: 10/10. Nothing can beat the free 360 degree views of London in our opinion.
Name: The Garden at 120
Address: 120 Fenchurch St, London EC3M 5BA, United Kingdom
The Garden at 120 open hours: Click to check the open hours
Not convinced? You can buy tickets for London's other top viewing platforms below.
Tickets for the Shard observation deck
2. Enjoy lunch or a drink at 14 Hills - A restaurant with one of the best views of London
14 Hills is located in the financial district at 120 Fenchurch Street in London. It sits one floor below the rooftop garden mentioned above, and therefore offers some fantastic views of London. The restaurant's interior is elegantly designed with neutral tones, leafy green plants, and a mix of natural materials such as marble and wood, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.
The menu at 14 Hills is a celebration of modern British cuisine, with a focus on using seasonal ingredients. Dishes are creatively crafted and beautifully presented, showcasing the talents of the kitchen team.
The restaurant also offers an extensive wine list featuring a selection of international wines and champagnes, and an amazing cocktail list. The attentive and knowledgeable staff provide excellent service and know the menu well.
Overall, 14 Hills offers a delightful dining experience with stunning views, excellent food, and exceptional service, making it a perfect destination for a special occasion.
Note: I didn't need a reservation at the day and time of my visit, however, if visiting during the lunch or dinner rush, or on a weekend (and to avoid disappointment), making a reservation may be a good idea. Also, I did mention that these locations offer free views of London, however, you will need to make a purchase of a menu item if you'd like to enjoy the free view from 14 Hills.
Our rating of the view from 14 Hills: 8/10. If you're seated at the back of the restaurant you may not have the best view of London, but with it's huge windows overlooking the Thames and Tower Bridge, it's still a winner in our books!
Name: 14 Hills
Address: 14th floor, 120 Fenchurch St, London EC3M 5AL, United Kingdom
Garden at 120 open hours: Click to check the open hours
Already know what attractions you plan to visit in London? Save time and money with a GoCity Explorer Pass.
3. Walk across Waterloo Bridge for a fantastic view of London's top sights
Waterloo Bridge is one of London's most iconic landmarks and a popular destination for tourists looking for a view of the city. The bridge spans the River Thames, connecting the areas of Southwark and Westminster, and offers stunning views of the London's skyline.
I can honestly say that the view from Waterloo Bridge in London is simply breathtaking. From the bridge, visitors can take in panoramic views over the River Thames, including landmarks such as the London Eye, The Shard, St. Paul's Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower (which many people refer to as Big Ben).
The view can be enjoyed day or night, however, the skyline is particularly beautiful at sunset, with the sky changing colour as the sun goes down. My suggestion is to arrive just before sunset which ensures you can enjoy both the daytime and nighttime views from Waterloo Bridge. Many people come specifically to take photos of the stunning view, and it's easy to see why. The view from Waterloo Bridge is one of the top ways to experience the beauty of London, and best of all, it's free!
Note: The view from Waterloo Bridge is much more beautiful than the photos taken on my phone! Don't let my photos deceive you!
Our rating of the view from Waterloo Bridge: 9/10. The bridge is not located super close to any of the famous London landmarks, but rather in the middle of them. As such, while the view is great from both sides of the bridge, don't expect to be super close to any landmarks.
Name: Waterloo Bridge
Address: Located within WC2R 2PP postcode. Click here to see the location on Google Maps
Waterloo Bridge open hours: Open 24 hours
Over to you...
Where is the best free view of London in your opinion? Have you visited any of the locations listed above? If so, what did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
If you're looking for more UK content (or hoping to escape London for a day), be sure to take a look at our one day itinerary for Liverpool.