London’s skyline is densely packed with many buildings, landmarks, and skyscrapers that offer the city a loathsome view. The structures have played as backgrounds to many iconic movies for years. An example is the Tower Bridge, depicted in recent blockbusters like Spiderman: Far from Home & Hellboy.
London is home to the 310-meter tall skyscraper, the Shard, and the uniquely recognizable bullet-shaped Gherkin. The city also houses the Big Ben Clock and the London Eye, easily known London landmarks that attract millions of tourists each year.
Many London hotels have made their wealth from offering impeccable views of the London skyline with its structures and activities.
Read on to learn of the most iconic skyscrapers and landmarks in London and where to go to have unobstructed panoramic views of the entire region.
Top Iconic London Skyscrapers
Have you ever wondered what the London skyline buildings are called? Skyscrapers like the Gherkin are easily known by how they look, but very few people know their actual names, let alone their locations. Here is a quick breakdown of the best skyscrapers to watch out for in London:
1. The Shard
- Address: 31 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9QU
- Height: 6 meters
The Shard is the tallest building in the United Kingdom, standing at a whopping 95-storeys that tower over all the structures in the city. You have a clear view of major landmarks and buildings from this height, a perk that the Shangri-La hotel in the Shard takes full advantage of.
It was designed by Renzo Piano, an Italian architect, to resemble a tall pyramid-shaped building covered in nothing but glass. The shiny exterior reflects London’s skyline, creating an immersive marvel at the heart of the city.
The Shard opened in 2013. Many visitors enter the gorgeous structure to take pictures of the city from its observation deck, which you must do when visiting – the breathtaking view is unmatched.
2. 22 Bishopsgate
- Address: 22 Bishopsgate, London EC2N
- Height: 278 meters
Referred to many as TwentyTwo, this giant with 62 storeys stands as the second tallest United Kingdom skyscraper. It is a recent addition to the London skyline, with construction ending in 2020. Its launch could have been earlier, but the Great Recession led to construction suspension in 2012.
It is an office space in the financial district with a buzzing food space called the Market. Here is where you want to go to enjoy great views of London from the building’s great heights. Grab some food in the collection of food kiosks or chill with a drink in the outdoor bar.
3. One Canada Square
- Address: One Canada Square, London E14 5AB
- Height: 235 meters
One Canada Square was completed in 1991, making it the tallest London building at the time. Today, the 50-storey building is United Kingdom’s third tallest building featuring a well-known pyramid-pointy top and stainless steel clad.
It is also distinctive due to the aircraft warning light at the top, which you do not see in most buildings. Sadly, if you are looking for a tall building with an observation area, then One Canada Square is not the London skyscraper to visit.
4. Heron Tower – Salesforce Tower, 110 Bishopsgate
- Address: 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY
- Height: 230 meters
The commercial building in the financial district is the second tallest London skyscraper when you consider its huge 28-meter mast. Heron Tower is famously known for its 70,000-liter aquarium located in the lobby section. Visit the magnificent splash of green to feast your eyes on the hundreds of fishes swimming all day.
Construction began in 2002, but London almost lost this incredible behemoth due to a dispute filed by St Paul’s Cathedral. They argued that Heron Tower would hinder the view of the cathedral from Waterloo Bridge, but luckily the deputy prime minister later ruled in favour of the tower.
5. The Cheesegrater – 122 Leadenhall Street
- Address: 122 Leadenhall Street, London EC3V 4AB
- Height: 225 Meters
What a quirky name, huh? You may be intrigued to know where the fourth tallest building in London got its name. As you may tell, St Paul’s Cathedral is a beloved landmark and tall skyscraper whose view couldn’t be obstructed at any cost.
Since 122 Leadenhall Street obstructed this view to some extent, it was commissioned to have a wedge shape on one side to solve the problem, hence the cheese grater design. Not only was the problem solved, but the building ended up having one of the most unique designs to ever grace the architectural world.
The 48 floors of the building serve mainly as office space for some of the leading companies in the real estate and insurance industry. The only access visitors have to the 30-meter-high atrium, surrounded by restaurants and cafes offering panoramic views of London’s skyline.
6. The Gherkin – 30 St Mary Axe
- Address: 30 Street Mary Axe, London EC3A 8BF
- Height: 180 meters
30 St Mary Axe, unofficially known as the Gherkin, is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. Its uncanny resemblance to a bullet makes it hard to mistake; however, the management opted to compare its resemblance to the cucumber variety instead of a bullet or cigar shape.
It was opened to the business in 2005, making it an instant winner of the most attractive London building at the time. Sadly, the public cannot access the marvellous skyscraper unless they visit the restaurants or attend special events.
7. The Vase/ The Boomerang – One Blackfriars
- Address: 1-16 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 9GD
- Height: 170 meters
The building is nicknamed the Boomerang due to its boomerang shaped exterior that also vaguely resembles a vase. Unlike most tall London skyscrapers, the structures serve several uses with leisure spaces as well as hotel space, and residential rentals.
8. The Walkie Talkie – 20 Fenchurch Street
- Address: 20 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 8AF
- Height: 160 meters
You do not have to look twice to know why 20 Fenchurch Street was nicknamed the Walkie Talkie. The two-way radio headset resembling the building was opened in 2015, bringing the vision of Rafael Vinoly, an Uruguayan architect, to life.
It is another office building with 38 floors, three of which are dedicated to the ‘sky garden’ park. The park is debatably restricted but offers great views of London with its huge view area, restaurants, and bar.
9. St Paul’s Cathedral
- Address: St Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD
- Height: 111 Meters
Many people do not consider St Paul’s Cathedral a skyscraper in London due to the recent overshadowing of the Shard, the Cheesegrater, and Gherkin. So much, so that it is hard to imagine the cathedral was the tallest London structure just two decades ago, a position it held for hundreds of years.
The 18th Century building is one of the few structures that survived the 1666 Great Fire of London and is widely known for its huge dome. If you want to visit a London skyscraper that has hosted the most historical weddings and funerals, then this is the place to be.
10. The Scalpel
- Address: 52-54 Lime Street, London EC3M 7BS
- Height: 190 meters
Getting its name from the angular shape design, the Scalpel is also commonly referenced to the ‘play’ button due to its shape resemblance. The elusively sharp design blends perfectly with the bright contemporary layout that brings the financial district to life.
Other Buildings & Structures in the London Skyline
Skyscrapers are a huge portion of what the skyline has to offer, but London landmarks are a major contributor to the city’s tourist business.
Some landmarks are only known by many from pictures, videos, or movies. Let us help you identify the top 5 London Landmarks:
11. Tower Bridge
- Address: Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 2UP
The Tower Bridge is a Victorian era London Grade I listed landmark that is located close to the Tower of London. It is often confused with the London Bridge (there are several of them), which is less iconic but also dear to the history of London.
Tower Bridge is distinguished from its sister bridges by the majestic two towers each on either end of the bridge. It is also a bascule bridge.
12. BT Tower
- Address: 60 Cleveland Street, London W1T 4JZ
The BT Tower is a communications tower that is listed as a grade II landmark according to British regulations. Standing at 177 meters high, the tower is visible from most places in London and acts as a great way to find your way around.
It is also among the beautiful London skyline’s signature hallmarks you do not want to miss.
13. Big Ben
- Address: Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
Have you ever seen pictures of a great clock bell in London? That is the Big Ben. It was completed in 1859 and became the biggest and most accurate clock of its time. Located in the Elizabeth Tower of the Palace of Westminster, the iconic Big Ben is also used to refer to the tower plus its clock and bell combination as a whole.
It is a beautiful and historical structure visible from many areas in London, including London Marriott Hotel County Hall, the Royal Horseguards Hotel, and Park Plaza Westminster London.
14. London Eye
- Address: Riverside Building, County Hall, London SE1 7PB
The London Eye on the South Bank of the River Thames is called the Millennium Wheel, which serves as an observation wheel of the London Skyline. It is the most famous paid attraction in the whole United Kingdom, bringing in millions of visitors each year.
At 135-meters, the London Eye has great panoramic views of London and stands as the fourth largest Ferris wheel in the world.
15. Palace of Westminster
- Address: Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA
The Palace of Westminster is the historic centre of most of the United Kingdom’s political escapades. It houses Big Ben and is known for its huge 112 476 square meter area that is home to the House of Lords and the House of Commons.
Top 8 Places With The Best Views of The London Skyline
Now that you know all the great buzzing features of the London skyline, it is time to prepare for your visit to an incredible destination that offers you the best views of most of them, if not all.
1. Sky Garden
- Address: 1, Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF
Sky Garden is a free location for checking out the best of the London skyline’s attractions. Dubbed London’s highest public garden, the garden is open every day of the week from as early as 8 am Tuesday to Sunday and 10 am on Mondays.
Pay absolutely nothing to visit the massive space with your date and check out the breathtaking sunset. The observation deck is a great start to a romantic evening from where you can proceed to check out the lush landscaped gardens and Sky Garden restaurants.
2. Parliament Hill
- Address: Heath Lodge, London NW5 1QR
Tall buildings are great but tall landscapes, and open spaces are much better. Parliament Hill, at 98 meters high, is among the highest points in London, serving the locals and tourists unobstructed panoramic views of London Skyline from St Paul’s Cathedral and beyond.
Visit the open parkland in North West London to take a look at Canary Wharf and London skyline from afar. A pair of binoculars is recommended, and the sunsets in such a huge open area are to die for.
3. King Henry’s Mound at Richmond Park
- Address: Queens’ Road, Richmond TW10 5HX
The Richmond Park of the Royal Parks is a huge public garden where you must go to have gorgeous panoramic views of the London skyline. This is more so if you want unobstructed views not visible from open spaces like Parliament hill.
You can see everything from the St Paul’s Cathedral to the Thames Valley, all the way to the east. Professional landscapers ensure the sight is always preserved to hinder any vegetation growth that can obscure guests’ views.
Also Read: Best Gardens in London
4. Emirates Air Line – Cable Car
- Address: 27 Western Gateway, London E16 1FA
Though not free like most public parks and observatory decks in London, the Emirates Cable Car is one of the most affordable London Skyline tours of all time. It was partly designed by the London transport authority to help navigate River Thames while soaring high up in the sky.
No other tour compares to the Emirates Air Line, and if seeing the London Skyline is a priority, then this is a great form of transport to showcase the best of views in one clean sweep.
5. Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard
- Address: 31 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9QU
Shangri-La is a world-class hotel that won’t give you a great view of the Shard but will serve you panoramic views of London through its floor-to-ceiling windows.
Shangri-Las is the best unobstructed long-range view of the Tower Bridge, panoramic shots of the city of London, views of the River Thames from one end to the other, and binoculars are provided to help guests see further attractions like the London Eye.
Related: Best Hotels in London With A View
6. Corinthia Hotel
- Address: Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2BD
An elegant hotel for the big spenders, Corinthia Hotel is centrally located, convenient for walkers and looking to visit nearby attractions from Covent Garden nightlife & entertainment to The Mall and Playhouse Theater.
The Tower Bridge and London Eye are the closest landmarks to the hotel, and there are very few hotels that offer such amazing proximity shots. Moreover, if you book one of the penthouses with a great view, you can relax in your bed the entire day and yet enjoy the best views in town.
7. Treehouse Hotel London
- Address: 14-15 Langham Place, London W1B 2QS
Treehouse in the Marylebone hotel has penthouses and rooftop terraces that provide unobstructed London skyline views. It capitalizes on the tree-climbing nostalgia while still offering a boutique London hotel experience in a quirky but environmentally conscious environment.
The allure of the bamboo furniture is almost distracting enough to make you forget you can check out the Gherkin, the Shard, and many more London skyscrapers while sipping a cold drink on your room balcony.
8. Sea Containers London – 12th Knot
- Address: 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD
- Views: River Thames, boats in the marina, beautiful sunsets
Sea Containers is a lavish and outlandish hotel with beautiful scenery to take in the London sunset as the yellow rays hit the sparkling gushing water. It is home to the 12th Knot, a gorgeously designed restaurant fitted with huge windows and a high altitude to bring in the panoramic views of London’s most iconic buildings.
It is a perfect place for a romantic date, wedding anniversary or any special occasion. Surround yourself amidst Tom Nixon’s decorations reminiscent of a Disney like venue fit for romance, shoots, and fashion events.
The London skyline is famous, not only for having the most breathtaking shiny views that make you envy the locals, but also its historical monuments that are dear to the hearts of the British folk.
It is the home to some of the greatest historical events and continues to be among the top tourist destinations in the world. Keep this article handy to know where to go for London‘s best skyline views.