Where to find a good view across London

view from the top of Monument

view from the top of Monument

This week I was in the City of London and on impulse decided to climb to the top of Monument. Monument was built to remember the great fire of London.  It was the handiwork of Sir Christopher Wren and stands on the site of the first Church to burn down in the fire.

For £4 you can climb up 311 narrow, circular steps to get to the view at the top.  It’s quite a climb and a little claustrophobic.

They had a spate of suicides in the 1800s and after that they put up a wire cage to contain any of us who feel like jumping, and this does ruin the view somewhat.

A hard climb (luckily it wasn't so hot when I went) and it isn't the greatest view ever...

A hard climb (luckily it wasn’t so hot when I went). There’s not a lot of space when you get up there and there’s a metal cage to keep you in (I poked my iPhone through the wire for this pic).

It’s not the greatest view of London. The Shard is better, but at £26 it’s a lot more expensive. You can save money by going to the Shangri-La hotel for a drink and seeing the same view for the price of a drink, albeit a few floors lower down. However you have to book in advance and, as always in London, weather is an issue. When I went it was misty and you couldn’t see much.

If you have £15 to spare you can climb the ArcelorMittal Orbit in Stratford, which is the highest sculpture in the world. It’s worth looking around for deals if you want to do this, as they frequently run price reductions or 2:1 offers.

They're planning to add a shelter skelter next year.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit: they’re planning to add a helter skelter next year, but when I went I walked down the stairs (there is a lift).

The staff are all very enthusiastic, but they can’t change the view, which does still resemble a building site. Once there you can use interactive screens to see the view by day or night and read about what it is exactly you’re looking at.

view from the top

view from the top

Or you can appreciate the mirrors designed by Anish Kapoor (of Turner prize fame) and look at the view upside down.




Yes it was winter when I did this


If you want to be a real cheapskate though, good free views of the city are available at Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath.

Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath, as seen in many films and TV shows.  My favourite free view of London.

Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath, as seen in many films and TV shows. My favourite free view of London.

the top floor of the Tate Modern, Alexandra Park and Crystal Palace and Primrose Hill  also provide good free views.

2 replies »

  1. Hi Sarah
    Thanks for this. I need to get up to Hampstead Heath as a few people have told me about the views and about the crepes there lol. Got to get my priorities right. The Shard is on my list but hey guess where I am going tomorrow? Sea Life and the London Eye! My friend is down from Stoke and she works for Alton Towers and has free tickets; how bonkers (well not really, this is my life) is that. I will give you a wave from the Eye! Take care x

    • Well I hope you have tickets to the bit you don’t have to queue 3 hours for.
      Hampstead is nice. Don’t know about crepes but I know some good pubs there. Keats house and Freud’s too, but you have to pay for all that. View’s free. x

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