Places that are not Vancouver are all weird and flat, so if you get up really high you can see for miles. There are a number of places you can go for a great view, and seeing as I am now an expert in great views (having seen three in as many days), I thought I’d share my findings with y’all.
Perfect if you:
- Are mildly afraid of heights
- Hate queues
- Don’t trust x-ray machines
- Are on a budget
- Can work an elevator yourself, thank you very much
- Really like St. Paul’s Cathedral and want to admire it from different angles
One New Change Place is free and self-service all the way. It’s also the lowest rooftop terrace I went to, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit. Located directly behind St. Paul’s Cathedral, people are free to take the elevator up to the roof and have a look around. There are a couple of cocktail bars up there if you’re fixing for a sky drink, but you aren’t obligated to purchase anything. Great views of the Tower of London and St. Paul’s can be had here, and if you’re as lucky as I was, you’ll encounter a class of ESL high school students on a field trip to read their essays on London’s notable sights aloud.
Sample views from One New Change Place:
Perfect if you:
- Are FANCY AS FUCK
- Love greenery
- Want to try some fancy cocktails
- Love waiting in line
- Could walk through full body scanners all day long
- Prefer to spend your pounds on the aforementioned fancy cocktails instead of admission
The Sky Garden is another free viewing platform, and a much fancier one than One New Change Place. It does require booking a ticket online in advance, as it gets very busy during the tourist season – I arrived well before my 2pm entry time, but still had to queue up with the masses. There is a security checkpoint to go through with an x-ray scanner for bags, but once you’re through that, you take a fancy elevator some 36 floors up and walk into – wait for it – a garden in the sky. There’s a couple of restaurants and a bar serving snacks, drinks, and fancy (aka expensive) cocktails. Again, you’re not obligated to spend any money while visiting the Sky Garden, but it’s really tempting to get a glass of wine and admire the view while daydreaming up a fabulous backstory for yourself. I highly recommend visiting the Sky Garden if you’re in London, because just look at this place:
I am tempted to return to the Sky Garden in the evening before the end of my trip. It was really cool.
Perfect if you are:
- Proposing to your girlfriend
- An annoying Italian tourist having a very important, very loud conversation
- A rude woman who refused to stop taking pictures of the sunset (on a piece of shit camera, with the fucking flash on) for even half a second so I could get in and grab a shot for myself, even though her husband asked her 4 times to move for me
- In love with heights
- Really into amazing views
The View from the Shard is expensive – £25.95 per adult ticket. However, it’s also the tallest building in Europe, and offers a one-of-a-kind view of London. There are three levels to view from – the 68th, 69th, and 72nd floors – a couple of standard bars offering snacks and champagne, and no limit to how long you spend gazing out the window. The Shard is something I’d always wanted to do on previous trips, but it can be prohibitively expensive if you’re in a group and/or have to choose which things to skip due to time or money. It was the perfect (if a little lonely-panged, especially during the surprise proposal with all of her friends in attendance) thing to do by myself, and I timed my visit so I’d arrive with plenty of pre, during, and post sunset viewing. The views were amazing, the exhibit and audio tour were cool, and the staff was very friendly (one of them brought me a chair when I plopped myself down on the floor so I could stare at the Tower Bridge without being jostled) – but don’t go to the Shard for any of these reasons. Instead, go because of this:
All the bathrooms are on the 68th floor, and along the exterior of the building. They’re each a self-contained unit with toilet, sink, dryer, etc.
I literally took this photo WHILE PEEING.
IT WAS THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD.
There are blinds you can draw, of course, but WHY WOULD YOU. WATCH ME PEE, WORLD! I AM LITERALLY ON THE EDGE!
That bathroom was worth the price of admission alone. I highly recommend it.
There are some good views to be had outside the bathroom, too:
That bathroom, though. So good.
If you prefer your city views to have a little more history behind them, there are two others I know of: you can climb the Monument to the Great Fire of London (£4), or climb the various domes in St. Paul’s (£18). I have not done these – note the use of the word climb; these attractions are stairs-only and I have a heart condition (and also have walked an average of 8 hours a day for the past week and my blisters have blisters), so I’m skipping these. Plus, I’m kind of all viewed out at the moment. You should see the other pictures.
Do you know of any other must-see vantage points in London I should check out while I’m here? And if you ever find yourself at one of these places because of my recommendation, please let me know – I’d love to know what you thought.
Okay, I need to sleep. Tomorrow: museums! Yay!