5 Of The Best Free Viewpoints in London

by | Jan 20, 2020

5 of the best free viewpoints in London you’ll want to photograph from

There’s nothing like photographing London’s stunning skyline to help you fall in love with the city every time you visit. Luckily for us photographers, London is blessed with numerous impressive vantage points, and many of them are absolutely free to get to. Here are just 5 of the best viewpoints in London taken from the PhotoHound Guide to Photographing London curated by Jon Reid, Mathew Browne and Jules Renahan.

View of Greenwich Park and Royal Naval Colleges

Mathew Browne

Royal Greenwich Observatory Lookout 

This location is one of the highest natural points of elevation within the city limits. It offers excellent views of the classical Greenwich Naval Colleges designed by Christopher Wren (who also designed St Paul’s Cathedral) . With modern Canary Wharf in the background, this is one of the finest examples of architectural contrast in the city. To the west (pictured below) is a view of the City of London with its numerous skyscrapers. The site is also significant as the point of origin of the Greenwich Meridian Line. 

View of city of London to the west

Jon Reid

OXO Tower Viewing Platform

The restaurant at the top of the well-known OXO Tower serves excellent food and provides the best views, but there is also a free, public viewpoint which can be accessed via the restaurant. Take the lift to the 8th floor and ask to walk through to the viewing balcony.

From here you’ll have great views across the River Thames; the most impressive view is of Blackfriars Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral, but it is also interesting to look towards the London Southbank. The best time to go is around sunset and into twilight as the viewing platform is not open at sunrise.  It’s nice to enjoy a drink in the bar afterwards – this has to be one of our favourite sip ‘n shoot spots!

View from the OXO Tower

Jules Renahan

Point Hill Viewpoint

A short climb up to Point Hill above Greenwich provides a wonderful vista across central London and all the way towards Canary Wharf to the east. The view is is best photographed at sunset and beyond, as the city lights shine bright. New Year’s Eve is the best time to be here but arrive early as the park fills up from 8pm onwards to view the fireworks in Central London.

View from Point Hill

Mathew Browne

The Sky Garden

The Sky Garden in London’s ‘Walkie Talkie’ building provides one of only a few high views over London from a skyscraper that does not require an entry fee. It provides almost a 360 degree view of London and as it is located in the City of London, the views are spectacular. There is no entry fee to visit the Sky Garden, but tickets need to be pre booked online. If you show up without a booking, you will not be able to enter.

Facing towards the Thames, you are rewarded with an incredible view of the Shard. To the right is the City of London and St Paul’s Cathedral. Directly behind you is the iconic St Mary Axe (the Gherkin). To the left is the Tower of London and Canary Wharf, the financial district. Besides these sweeping views, areas in the interior can make for interesting architectural shots. Look out for the play of light and shadow. Sunset is the busiest but best time to visit. Winter is a good season to go as the sunset happens whilst most people are still at work.

View from the Sky Garden 

Mathew Browne

Primrose Hill

This is possibly one of the finest viewpoints in all of London, especially as it’s one of the capital’s 13 protected vistas (spots where the view must remain untouched by development). Primrose Hill rises 65 metres above the city to the north, offering wonderful views at all times of day.
A telephoto lens is essential for picking out distant details and foreshortening the scene. A wide angle shot will result in a lot of dead space in the sky and foreground – you can crop a wide angle shot to form a panorama, or stitch together multiple telephoto shots to form a panorama.

View from Primrose Hill

Mathew Browne

Thanks so much for reading – Find more details of how to reach all of these incredible spots in PhotoHound’s Guide to Photographing London and why not share some of your own favourites with the community?