With towering sky-scrapers, world-famous museums, and tourist attractions and landmarks which allow visitors to see for miles and miles, London is a city loaded with places offering some of the best views of the city.
But unfortunately some of these places charge an arm and a leg just to give visitors a one-time glimpse of London's spectacular skyline, and unless you have the funds to pay the £30 admission fee for The View From The Shard, or the £28 ride to go around The London Eye, this could put a huge strain on your London travel budget.
If you're on a tight budget and still want to see the most astounding views of London, or even if you're hoping to have a picnic in a charming London park while gazing out at the city skyline, here are some of the best places to enjoy views of London for literally no cost at all:
1. Primrose Hill
Primrose Hill became a household name during the 1990s thanks to a famous group of Londoners like Kate Moss, Ewan McGregor, Sadie Frost and Jude Law, (now collectively known as the "Primrose Hill Set"), but Primrose Hill was a popular spot for enjoying the London views long before Alfie or Trainspotting came along. As a matter of fact, the views from Primrose Hill are so famous, city officials have purposely kept the trees low just so visitors can enjoy the stunning views!
From 63 metres above sea level, Primrose Hill offers stunning views of The Shard, The Gherkin, The BT Tower and The London Eye from six different viewpoints, and during the winter months you could even see as far as Hampstead to the northeast; (on a clear day, of course).
How to get to Primrose Hill: From the Chalk Farm Tube Station, follow the signs along Adelaide and then turn left at the lights; (Primrose Hill is about an eight-minute walk from the station). You can also reach Primrose Hill by bus via routes 1, 13, 18, 27, 30, 31, 74, 82,113, 139, 159, 189, 274, C11 and C2.
2. Sky Garden
Opening times: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Monday to Friday), 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Weekends)
Commonly known as the "Walkie-Talkie" building (and once you see it, you'll understand why), the 34th floor of this massive building is what draws visitors to it from all over the world. It's here at Sky Garden where visitors can enjoy unspoiled views of the famous landmarks in the City of London and south of the River Thames from 155 metres above, and it comes at no cost at all.
In order to secure a viewing spot at Sky Garden, you will need to book your tickets in advance by clicking here, and then head to the building at least an hour before your selected arrival time (as queues can last for up to an hour or more during busier periods). A word of warning, however: Booking a spot can be pretty tricky as there are a limited number of tickets available which are only sold on specific days.
Once entering the building, all visitors will have to go through two "airport-style" security machines, and then take the lift up to the 34th floor. Once there, you can sit down on any of the plastic chairs and enjoy 360-degree views of the city on all sides, and spot everything from St. Paul's Cathedral, the HMS Belfast and more.
If you feel like splurging a little after you enjoy some dazzlingly free views of the London skyline, you can also head up the steps to the top level and enjoy a drink in the seated area; (be prepared to spend quite a few pounds on a cocktail though!)
How to get to Sky Garden: The nearest station to Sky Garden (located at 20 Fenchurch Street) is Monument, which is a few minute's walk away. You can also get to Sky Garden by bus via route 40.
3. Tate Modern
Opening times: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Sunday to Thursday), 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Fridays and Saturdays)
In case you've been living under a rock and you're not already aware, Tate Modern (much like many other museums and art galleries in London) has free entry for visitors. But a common rookie mistake for first-time Tate visitors is to wander around and gawk at everything from artwork by Salvador Dalí to Picasso without even heading to the Tate Modern's viewing terrace, which is located on the top floor of the Blavatnik Building and boasts breathtaking 360-degree views of London's skyline.
From the viewing platform, visitors should be able spot everything from St. Paul's Cathedral, Millennium Bridge, The Shard, Canary Wharf, Wembley Stadium and of course the lavish flats next door.
How to get to the Tate Modern: Southwark station is an eight-minute walk away, but you can also get there by bus via routes 45, 63, 100, RV1, 381 and 344. Then, head to the Blavatnik Building and take the stairs or lift from Level 0.
For a more detailed map of Tate Modern click here.
4. Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath
Hampstead Heath is one of the best kept secrets among Londoners, (it does claim to be one of London's most popular open spaces, after all), but the real cherry on top when it comes to a visit to Hampstead Heath is the remarkable views from the top of Parliament Hill (which is located near the south-eastern edge of the park).
Located six miles from the City of London, Parliament Hill summit is one of three viewing locations around Hampstead Heath, which collectively boast astonishing views of places from as far away as The Shard, St. Paul's Cathedral, The Gherkin, and even the Palace of Westminster. Apparently on a clear day you can even see as far as the East End, the Crystal Palace to the south-east, and the hills of North Downs to the south!
How to get to Parliament Hill: The Tufnell Park tube station is a 12-minute walk away, but you can also get there from the Kentish Town Railway Station (a 16-minute walk away).
For a more detailed map of Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill click here.
5. Alexandra Park, Alexandra Palace
Opening times: Only during specific times/dates (check this website for more info)
Alexandra Palace may be famously known for hosting countless concerts and exhibitions throughout the year, but it's Alexandra Park which attracts London skyline lovers from all over the world.
Managed by the Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust, Alexandra Park boasts 196 acres of Grade II-listed English Heritage parkland, which was designed by the famed landscape architect Alexander McKenzie.
The park offers impressive panoramic views of London's most famous buildings and areas like the Canary Wharf, The Shard, St. Paul's Cathedral and much, much more. Not only that, you can explore the Palace's rose garden and deer enclosure while you're there, or even have some fun on the pitch and putt course, or boat around the lake before or after your visit.
How to get to Alexandra Palace: Take the tube to Wood Green, and once exiting the station go to bus stop A and take the W3 bus directly to the palace. If you plan on attending an event at Alexandra Palace, the venue usually provides a shuttle bus service to customers; (more information is given on specific event pages via their official website).