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London is known for its iconic landmarks and offers an abundance of breath-taking views that can be experienced from rooftop vantage points. You might assume that views like this would come at a price, however, during our time living in London we found a handful for free (or very affordable) options. In this post we’ll share the best photo spots for your Instagram shots, without breaking the bank!
1. The Garden at 120
The Garden at 120 is a lesser-known hidden gem located on the 15th floor of Fen Court in the heart of London. Once you reach the top, you’re treated to incredible 360 views of London and a serene rooftop garden, with lush greenery, vibrant flowers and seating areas. From this viewpoint you can spot some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, such as Tower Bridge, The Shard, St Pauls & so many more.
The best part is that entry to The Garden at 120 is completely free, making it an ideal spot for budget-conscious visitors. Not only that, its extended opening hours until 9pm during summer and 6:30pm in winter make it the perfect rooftop for sunset and night photography! Trust us, this spot is incredible at sunset, with the whole city painted in colourful orange and red hues. At blue hour, the city lights take over and you can capture some Insta-worthy shots of London at night.
Another advantage with this spot is that it’s typically less crowded than some of the more well-known rooftops, so it’s great for a relaxed and peaceful environment. You don’t have to book this spot, so you can just turn up at 120 Fenchurch Street and go straight up!
2. Madison Roof Terrace at One New Change
St Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most iconic buildings, and this hidden gem of a rooftop has one of the best views of St Pauls in all of London. Situated atop One New Change shopping centre, Madison Roof Terrace looks directly onto St Pauls, and London’s Skyline. In the distance you can spot other landmarks such as the London Eye and The Shard. With the rooftop open until late, it’s another photo-worthy sunset spot, with the sun setting perfectly behind the city.
Photo by Matteo Angeloni
This roof terrace is also free of charge, but it can get busy during evenings and the weekend, as there are rooftop restaurants and bars, so we recommend visiting on a weekday. You don’t need any booking to access the rooftop, as it’s located at the top of the One New Change Shopping Centre, just take the lift up to the top floor.
3. Tate Modern
Perched on the tenth floor of the iconic Tate Modern art museum, the viewing terrace offers a unique view of London’s Skyline. This is another favourite of ours, and is undoubtedly ranking among the best on the South Bank of London.
What sets this rooftop apart is its unique vantage point, being situated on the opposite side of the River Thames and giving you a different view of London. The rooftop has 360 views over the whole city, including the South Bank, the Thames and the North Bank.
Photo by Matthew Waring
The viewing level, along with the museum, is completely free to enter; so it’s worth having a wander around the museum before heading up to see the beautiful view! There’s no booking required, and this spot doesn’t get too busy so any time of day is great for visiting.
4. Sky Garden
Set on top of the impressive “Walkie Talkie” building in the heart of London, Sky Garden takes the crown as one of the most renowned rooftop destinations in the city. With its magnificent glass dome and lush greenery, it offers a unique rooftop garden experience. The space is covered in vibrant tropical gardens, making it feel as though you’re in a rainforest and not a skyscraper!
Photo by Joseph Hwang
But the real highlight of Sky Garden lies in its unparalleled 360-degree views of London. The Sky Garden is the tallest free rooftop view over London, from this vantage point, you can spot iconic landmarks such as the Tower Bridge, the Shard, the Gherkin and so much more. The Garden is open until 6pm weekdays and 9pm on weekends, so it’s another great spot for sunset photos of the city!
The best part is entry to Sky Garden is absolutely free, however, it does get very busy and you’ll need to book a spot in advance. We’d recommend looking 1-2 weeks before, as it can get booked up for weeks in advance.
5. Monument Tower
The Monument, officially known as the Monument to the Great Fire of London, was built between 1671 and 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire, and celebrate the rebuilding of the city. It’s a much-less known viewpoint over the city, giving you great views of London’s skyline and the bustling streets below.
Standing for nearly 350 years, the building boasts a challenging yet rewarding ascent, a spiral staircase comprising 311 steps leading you to the panoramic viewpoint. Though it may test your leg muscles, the views that await at the top make it unquestionably worthwhile. Tickets are priced at £6, with discounted rates available for students and seniors.
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6. IFS Cloud Cable Car
If you’re looking for unique views over London, then head over to Greenwich to take the IFS Cloud Cable Car. Connecting the Greenwich Peninsula with the Royal Docks, this aerial ride offers breath-taking views of the O2, Greenwich and Canary Wharf.
Photo by Kate Olfans
This is also an amazing spot for photographing sunset, with cable cars running after 7pm so you can watch the sun go down and the city light up. Tickets cost £6 and can be bought online or at the station with contactless or an oyster card.
7. Greenwich Observatory
Situated in the picturesque Greenwich Park, the Royal Observatory offers spectacular views of London. Although it’s not technically a rooftop, it’s still one of the best lesser-known viewpoints looking over the city.
As you make your way up the hill, the skyline will come into view and you’ll be able to see the skyscrapers lining the city with the River Thames winding through. Being situated in Greenwich Park, this viewpoint is a great photo spot for sunrise or sunset. The Royal Observatory, along with its viewpoint is free to enter.
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