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London Skyline

London’s skyline stars – and how to enjoy them

The UK’s capital city has one of the world’s most recognisable city skylines. It may not have as many skyscrapers as New York or Dubai, but they’re steadily increasing with each year – and many of its older structures are undeniably unique in design.

It’s impossible to name all of them, of course, unless we were to make this article extremely, EXTREMELY long. So below we’ve selected a few of our favourites; all of which can form part of a fun day out, too. 

Put it this way: If you’re watching a film that’s set in London, you’ll almost see most of these at some point, if not all of them. And they’re all within a short hop of each other...

Tower Bridge

WHERE IS IT? Southwark / Tower Hamlets.

WHAT IS IT? Built between 1886 and 1894, Tower Bridge is a combined suspension bridge and bascule which crosses the River Thames. It’s been one of the capital’s most recognisable landmarks for over a century; and its current colour scheme – of red, white and blue – was applied in 1977 for Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee.

WHAT CAN YOU DO THERE? It’s a great way to cross the Thames while simultaneously admiring a great structure and enjoying the view – but there’s also a great-value exhibition. For only £9 (£8 online; and £3.50 for children), you can learn about the bridge’s history, see its engine rooms and walk on a glass floor. That’s one of the best sightseeing deals in London.

MORE ABOUT TOWER BRIDGE >

St Paul’s Cathedral

WHERE IS IT? City of London.

WHAT IS IT? Visible from all over the capital, this beautiful baroque Anglican cathedral was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built in the late 17th century. It has one of the world’s highest domes and until 1967 was the tallest building in the city.

WHAT CAN YOU DO THERE? Explore the main cathedral, the crypt and three galleries – including climbing the famous dome. Unless you’re a worshipper, there’s a fee for sightseeing to help maintain the building and control visitor numbers – which is understandable and very worthwhile.

MORE ABOUT ST PAUL’S >

The Shard

WHERE IS IT? Southwark.

WHAT IS IT? This 95-storey skyscraper is the tallest in the UK, the fourth-tallest in Europe and 105th-tallest in the world. Famed for its dramatic angular shape, it opened to the public in 2013 and contains offices and a hotel.

WHAT CAN YOU DO THERE? If you’re not working or staying, you can eat or drink in one of six restaurants and bars, with a superb view over London. There’s also a spectacular viewing platform with 360-degree sights stretching 40 miles – which is even available for private hire.

MORE ABOUT THE SHARD >

Big Ben

WHERE IS IT? Westminster.

WHAT IS IT? ‘Big Ben’ is actually the nickname of the Great Bell in the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster, which weighs more than 13 tons – but the name is also commonly used to refer to the clock tower. Standing 315 feet high, the structure is officially called The Elizabeth Tower and was built in the Gothic Revival style. It was opened in 1859 and has four clock faces, so the time can be seen from all directions. 

WHAT CAN YOU DO THERE? External sightseeing is the main activity here, as the tower isn’t technically open to the public – but visits can be arranged by writing to local MPs. Plus, you can enjoy a tour of the Houses of Parliament beside Big Ben, which are equally captivating in design.

MORE ABOUT BIG BEN >

London Eye

WHERE IS IT? South Bank.

WHAT IS IT? This giant Ferris wheel became part of the capital’s skyline in 1999, in preparation for millennium celebrations in 2000. Before The Shard, it was the highest public viewing point in London and is still the largest wheel of its type in Europe. 

WHAT CAN YOU DO THERE? Climb into one of the structure’s large capsules and enjoy views over the city – after a bit of queueing time, of course (unless you’ve upgraded to a fast-track ticket). Capsules are also available for private hire, whether for romantic evenings, parties, meals or even wine tasting. 

MORE ABOUT THE LONDON EYE >

 

Make your approach to London fantastic, too

Planning a minibreak to London? In that case, travel and arrive in comfort, so you can start enjoying yourself straight away. MegabusGold offers a sleeper service with cosy individual bunks, free wi-fi and great staff, so you can make the most of your waking hours at your destination. 

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