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Best free viewpoints in London (Zone 1)

January 5th, 2017 Loading Comments...

Hey, welcome to my blog. You probably know me from Instagram ( www.instagram.com/LondonViewpoints ) so you have an idea what my blog will be all about and you got here for a specific reason - you want to know where the best views in London are, free, paid, where to stay in a hotel with a view, go for a meal or drinks with a view, or even where to buy a penthouse with a panoramic vista across the whole of London. There’s a remote chance you also like my photos I share on Instagram, but most likely you’re just here for the info where to go, which places do I recommend if you’re a tourist, where to go next weekend if you’ve just moved to London and want to visit a new place every weekend…yes, all that, you will be able to find and read about here on my blog. So without further adieu …

First off - free viewpoints in Zone 1.

Why just Zone 1 ? Two reasons - if you’re a tourist visiting London, a vast majority of you will never leave Zone 1 as there’s just so much to see, visit and apparently its just a well know London turistm fact that majority just never goes out of Zone 1. Secondly if you start including further zones, this post would be a rather lenghy read. I could recommend you dozens of places, which I will in the future, just not in this first post. This one is going to be pretty simple - free and in Zone 1.

Tate Switch House

Newest free public viewing gallery in London, only opened mid-2016 and not as well known amongst tourists, hence gets a no.1 spot on my recommendtions list. Part of Tate Modern art gallery, situated on the Southbank right in front of the Millennium Bridge. First and foremost it’s an art gallery that’s also worth a visit, but if you want to head straigh for the view, go to the elevators that take you to the top 14th floor, no hussle, no waiting about, you go straight there. 

Notes: No tripod allowed, that includes gorillapods any any other types of mounts, so long exposures of the railing might be a bit tricky. Opens at 10am, so no chance for sunrise, but a great spoot for sunsets, especially between March and October because where the sunset location on the horizon. Good thing is they are open till 10pm Fri & Sat.

Link: http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern/viewing-level


The Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street aka Walkie Talkie

London’s highest free public viewing gallery as well as garden. Absolutely not to be missed when visiting London, a total must-visit, but remember you have to book your free visit in advance though here :

https://skygarden.london

If free spots aren’t available for you chosen day, usually due to not booking in advance enough ( can be fully booked for up to 2-3 weeks in busy periods), you can always book yourself for a breakfast there, they open at 7am and normally aren’t that busy so you can actually just walk in, and order a coffee or a cake for £2-3 or so, which than gives you access to enjoy time there.

Notes: No tripods allowed, no gorillapods or mounts, lately also telescopic lenses are a no-no, but I was told it all depends on their size so it’s not all clear. Using Lenskirts seem to be ok, but it’s worth mentioning the glass is very thick there so at long tele distances image blurs and objects double-up, wide angles lenses without that biggest lenskirt will see reflections back anyway because of the thick double glazing. Also worth mentioning the terrace is not always open, bad weather and it can be closed, otherwise I think opens at 10am at closes earlier than the garden in the evening.



Rooftop terrace at One New Change

No too high, but very central, only an short elevator ride up a shopping centre right next to St Pauls and you’re there. Nice views, great spot for sunsets.

https://onenewchange.com/roof-terrace

Notes: Tripods are a NO. You might be ok with small gorillapods if your quick.


The Roof Gardens 

Right next to High Street Kensington station, on the western side of Zone 1, you can find London’s most famous garden for it’s pink flamingos on site as well as just a very nice rooftop garden, while also there is a bar and a fancy club. The garden however is free public access but checking if there’s no event going on is encouraged. See more at link below:

http://www.virginlimitededition.com/en/the-roof-gardens/the-gardens


Public access terrace at Oxo Tower

7th floor terrace just above the Thames on the Southbank, so while you’re walking from London Eye along the river east towards Tate Modern, why not pop up to this free public part of the terrace at Oxo Tower. Entrance is behind the building, you go into the elevator and go to the top floor restaurant, head towards the restaurant reception and ask to be pointed to the free terrace where you can enjoy views as seen below. However I cannot find on their website any mention of it being free public access, it is but opening hours are limited to the hours of the restaurant and bar, so check more details on their website : http://www.oxotower.co.uk

Notes:  It’s only a small part of the terrace that’s public, the rest is private, so you might be ok with a gorillopd but wouldn’t recommend a tripod. Apart from major events like Lord Mayor’s fireworks happening just outside of there in November, i’ve never seen it get too busy up there anyway.


Other worthy mentions:

Roof garden at John Lewis store on Oxford Street, most of the year has a rooftop bar/space where you can just visit as a store guest and have a look around http://www.johnlewis.com/our-shops/oxford-street/roof-garden

Top floor restaurant at Peter Jones/John Lewis  store in Sloane Square has also nice views of London. On 6th floor of a multi storey shopping store it’s a place for a coffee and cake but if you’ve visiting the are why not have a quick look at the view http://www.johnlewis.com/our-shops/peter-jones/peter-jones-facilities

Piccadilly Circus, top floor of Lilly Whites sports store has a window overlooking this one of London’s most famous touristic junction Get the lift to the top floor of the store ( i think it’s for the Golf equipement department) and head towards the corner of the building where the staircase is and that’s the window http://www.lillywhites.com/stores/lillywhites-piccadilly

Also Waterloo Bridge , London Bridge and Hungerford Bridge are my favourites amongst London bridges for skyline photography. All three seem to be ok with people using tripods, no security ever intervened there.

That’s it for my first post, hopefully you enjoyed reading it and found a place ofr two you didn’t know about.If you know of other cool free public views that I haven’t mentioned in Zone1, please let me know in the comments. Bare in mind a post about restaurants and bars where all you need to enjoy the view is to buy a cup of coffee or a drink is coming soon… while next week’s post will be completely different, my dream list of places I’d love to visit in London and check out the view…

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