London is not characterised by soaring skyscrapers in the same way that some other modern cities are, with a few notable exceptions: the Shard is the tallest building in the European Union, and the London Eye is one of the world’s tallest Ferris wheels. But London’s uncluttered skyline, and the relative shortness of its buildings, means there are several places from which you can get a great view of the capital. Here are a few of them.
St. Paul’s Cathedral: Despite pre-dating London’s modern skyscrapers by many hundreds of years – St. Paul’s was finished by Sir Christopher Wren in 1708 – it provides a fantastic spot from which to gaze over the capital. It remained London’s tallest building until it was overtaken in 1962 by the BT Tower, which puts into focus the cathedral’s vastness when it was first constructed. It is also located on Ludgate Hill, the highest point of the City of London, which gives it an unrivalled central location. The view from the world-famous dome’s Whispering Gallery over the interior of the church is impressive enough, but it’s well worth winding your way up even further to the Stone and Golden Galleries on the exterior of the tower, where you can take in breathtaking views of central London.
The Shard: London’s tallest building since its opening in 2010, indeed the tallest in the entire European Union, is unsurprisingly a great spot from which to view the city. The View from the Shard, the official viewing platform, was opened in 2013 by Mayor of London Boris Johnson, and includes viewing galleries on Levels 69 and 72 – the former is a triple-level indoor gallery, and the latter is partially outdoors. The View from the Shard reaches as high as 244m – 800ft – and its views stretch for forty miles. It is twice as high as any other vantage point in the city, and is the only place from which it is possible to view the entirety of London at one time. The gift shop the Sky Boutique, on Level 68, is the highest shop in London. The Shard is located in London Bridge, just a stone’s throw from London City Suites by Montcalm, a luxurious property with an enviable City location which ranks among the premier accommodation in London.
The London Eye: Since its opening in 2000 as part of London’s millennium celebrations, the London Eye has become the capital’s most popular paid-for tourist attraction. At 443ft tall, one of its 32 glass-walled cars is a fantastic place to take in views of the Thames and the city beyond. Its brilliant location on the banks of the Thames allows for unprecedented views over world-famous sights such as the Houses of Parliament, which can be seen in their entirety – unlike from ground level where only the exterior can be seen. The wheel turns very slowly and steadily, so those who are afraid of heights are assured of a gentle ride. Over 3 million people visit the Eye every year, to take in sights such as St. Paul’s, the Gherkin, the Oxo Tower, Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London, among many others.