When it comes to admiring the city’s architecture, Londoners
are spoilt for choice. Towering skyscrapers sprouting up in every corner of the city offer stunning views of the capital with a price-tag to match – think tourist favourites The Shard and The London Eye. Yet, for those on a budget, the city boasts hidden gems whose panoramas are equally spectacular and better still, free.
Originally coined ‘The People’s Palace’, Ally Pally – as nicknamed by locals – is perhaps the best of all the vista spots for making a day of your trip. It serves as North London’s answer to The Crystal Palace and was first opened to the public in 1873 as a centre of recreation. Located between Muswell Hill and Wood Green, its 196-acre front garden provides a panorama that is as impressive by night as it is by day. Take in the sights with a refreshing beer at the Palace pub or cool off in the famous ice-skating rink. What’s more, visit on a Sunday and enjoy the weekly Farmers Market selling delicious local produce.
Alexandra Palace, Alexandra Palace Way, London, N22 7AY, UK, +020 8365 2121
One New Change
Shopping Mall, Cinema
One New Change
Opened in late 2010, the City of London’s only large shopping centre is still relatively unknown as a sightseeing spot. Situated on Cheapside next to St Paul’s, the building hosts a variety of eateries and staple shops, yet the views are its greatest attraction. French architect Jean Nouvel– responsible for the Copenhagen Concert Hall and recently built Philarmonie de Paris- has created an architectural delight with wall-climber glass lifts that open up to a large rooftop terrace. For optimum views, visit after work and arrive at sunset to watch the city come alive.
One New Change, London, EC4M 9AF, UK, +020 7002 8900
With a view that inspired one of Britain’s finest landscape artists, J.M.W. Turner, it is no surprise that Greenwich Park is a firm favourite for enjoying the London skyline. Home to the Prime Meridian Line, Royal Observatory and Greenwich Maritime World Heritage Site, the historic royal park is the perfect opportunity to escape the congestion of the city. Take a hike up the park hill to reach the statue of General Wolfe for the ultimate viewing gallery for miles. Very well-maintained, the park is also ideal for family days out with the Wilderness Deer Park on hand to entertain the children.
Greenwich Park, London SE10 8QY, UK, + 0300 061 2380
Sitting at the top of the 34-storey ‘Walkie-Talkie’ building, so-called for its distinctive bulbous shape, is the Sky Garden. Designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly, London’s fifth-tallest skyscraper is situated in the historic financial district. Spanning three floors, the beautiful rooftop landscape garden only opened this January and provides uninterrupted views of the city. Dining and drinking in the lavish garden can get pricey, but thankfully the viewing experience is free- just make sure to book in advance to guarantee your chosen time.
Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 3BY, UK, + 033 3772 0020
The list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning this renowned hill, popular with celebrities and London’s trendiest. Located on the northern side of Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill is known for its annual Guy Fawkes firework display and is one of the six protected viewpoints in London. The obstacle-free summit is around 63 metres above sea level and provides guaranteed breath-taking views of the city, Hampstead and Belsize Park. Make the most of the experience on a sunny day and walk down the hill until you reach the canal, following the path all the way to the iconic Camden Market.
Primrose Hill, London, NW1, UK