The scale of London’s sprawling metropolis is sometimes difficult to comprehend. We know about it in theory, but we very rarely get to see it, as we spend nearly all of our time on or close to the ground – looking up from the city towards the skyscrapers, rather than the other way around. There are several spots in London, though, where you can get a good enough view to truly appreciate the scale of the capital city. It’s amazing how a bird’s eye view can completely alter your perception of a place, and London, with its iconic skyline, urban chaos and vast green spaces, is a breathtaking city to view from on high.
An obvious place to start is The Shard. The tallest building in the United Kingdom and European Union, it follows that The View from the Shard, located on levels 69 and 72 of the building, is the highest viewing platform in London. There are actually two platforms: the first is a triple level indoor gallery on Level 69, and the second is a partially outdoor gallery on Level 72. There’s also a gift shop, the Sky Boutique, where you can get a souvenir of your visit. On a clear day, you can see for miles with this view – it’s also a great addition to any trip to The Shard, which is home to some fantastic restaurants and bars.
The London Eye is another of the most popular spots to get a bird’s eye view of London. At 135 metres high, it’s also one of the best, and its 32 constantly rotating capsules are spacey, comfortable and offer panoramic, 360 degree views of many of the city’s most iconic sights, including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the Oxo Tower, and Buckingham Palace. You can also gaze out over several of the city’s Royal Parks; London is unrivalled in major world cities for its expanses of green space. The London Eye is easily accessible from London City Suites, a luxurious property which offers the perfect base from which to explore central London’s attractions.
The o2 Academy has gone through some growing pains since its inauguration as the Millennium Dome in 2000. At the cost of nearly £800 million, it wasn’t the unqualified success that was hoped for, with many visitors left bemused by the exhibits and installations which they found waiting for them inside. Since then, though, it’s become a hugely popular music venue which plays host to performers from across the globe. Now, you can take in a great view from the top, with Up at The o2: an observation platform no less than 52 metres high. It’s a slightly strenuous climb but very much worth it for those fit enough to make it. The Academy has a fantastic central London location, with views taking in Royal Greenwich, the London 2012 Olympic Park, plus Canary Wharf and through to the City of London and central London.