Thanks to years of growth, the London skyline is pockmarked with incredible shapes and features. The diverse landscape is thanks to years of building and rebuilding, as well as the protection of heritage sites, some of which have withstood the test of more than a thousand years. With rivers, forests and characterful districts, just watching over the city is a treat in and of itself for guests of Hyde Park accommodation.
There’s a specific time of day that really lets London’s features shine, and that’s at the setting of the sun. Whilst this blog may be written in January, a time when the sun sets around 5pm, visitors can still enjoy the stunning spectacle from viewpoints spread across the city. There’s nothing quite like the sight of the red light breaking out from behind skyscrapers like the Shard and Big Ben. Whether you’re staying at the Grand Royale Hyde Park afternoon tea hotel with your partner or with friends, you can enjoy this spectacle too from various viewpoints across the city. Below are some of our favourites.
Tourist Attractions For Stunning Views
Many of London’s best tourist attractions are actually deceptively tall, or at least have spires, staircases or viewpoints that are high up. Whether it’s a rainy day or a holiday, these indoor spots will get you out of the cold but make you feel like you’re flying above the city.
Formerly known as Big Ben, Elizabeth Tower was renamed for Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee. The large clocktower faces the Thames and acts as a symbol of the adjoining Houses of Parliament, where MPs and cabinet ministers meet to pass laws.
Elizabeth Tower, though stands on its own two feet as a tourist attraction. Guests of hotels near Bayswater Station and other accommodation in London who are residents of the UK can book guided tours of Elizabeth Tower for free. With hundreds of steps and no lift access, these tours aren’t suitable for those with health or mobility issues. For those who are able and willing to brave the near-endless flights of stairs, Elizabeth Tower’s views from 80 metres above ground level are unforgettable. Just don’t stand under the bell when it chimes!
To visit the 30th-52nd floors of the Shard’s premium restaurants and bars, you’ll need to book a table in advance, but for those who like their fine dining combined with the finest of views, the Shard’s restaurants, which include Aqua Shard, OBLIX, Hutong and GONG are the best of the best. Based about halfway up the tallest skyscraper in the UK, the panoramic views over London are stunning. It’s staggering to think that there are actually 92 floors to the Shard, with only 72 of them being living or office space.
The London Eye
Of course, you’ll have to time this one well which is why it might be worth purchasing the London Pass for queue jumping the line at the London Eye. The South Bank based Ferris wheel was introduced to the city as an ushering in of the new millennium, but has stuck around for 23 years now as the London Eye, renamed from the Millenium Wheel. With 32 capsules symbolising each borough of the city, if you manage to catch the sunset from aboard this half hour journey, you’ll be drinking in London in all of its glory.
Another striking tourist attraction-come-skyscraper, the Sky Garden is situated within the quirky Walkie Talkie Building, or 20 Fenchurch Street. Located on the top three floors of the tower block, the indoor rockery, plantation and restaurant bar comes equipped with an observation deck and plat lined walkways. Built as part of the planning permission deal which ordered architects to include some public space in the building, much of the rest of it is cut off due to its use as offices. Once you’re past the commuters and suits, the upper floors are teeming with tourists and locals looking to drink in the beauty of London’s skyline. If you’re planning your stay at the Grand Royale London Hyde Park, consider booking your trip to the Sky GArden in advance, tickets move fast!
If it’s fresh air you’re after, the many open spaces of London offer some of the best viewpoints in the city, and what’s more, they’re free to visit!
Located in Regent’s Park to the north side of the green, Primrose Hill is famous for its 63 metre mound that in the summer attracts picnickers and photographers, especially at sunset. The beautiful hill gives a clear view over the London cityscape and offers a welcome kicker at the end of a day visiting nearby attractions such as London Zoo and Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.
Keeping north, Parliament Hill is situated on the city-facing side of Hampstead Heath and is alleged to be the spot at which Guy Fawkes planned to watch the destruction of the Houses of Parliament in 1605. Thankfully his assassination attempt was thwarted, and you can still see much of the city of London from atop this 98 metre high slope.
Another famous viewpoint, this attracts double the attention due to it being the starting point for the Line of Greenwich Meridian, a maritime navigation and astronomical marker that is the point from which Greenwich Meantime is kept. Time your visit right and you’ll be able to see clear views over the River Thames and the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf.
If it’s a quieter view you’re after, Point Hill is just a 15 minute walk from Greenwich Observatory and offers a beautiful, arguably more immediate view over the Thames and the Isle of Dogs. A large square lined by trees, this local park is one of Southeast London’s best kept secrets.
Another small park with a big panorama, Telegraph Hill is located in the Nunhead district of Peckham. Young crowds flock here from the local pubs to see the sunsets, and with such serene surroundings, Telegraph Hill has grown to become another South London gem.