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5 places to see incredible views of the London skyline, including Primrose Hill

Plan a walk to one of these sweet vantage points in London and maybe you’ll actually feel something for once

Rhian Daly
Written by
Nick Thompson
Rhian Daly

There’s no denying that London is a looker. Staggering glossy skyscrapers and ancient domes on the city skyline combine old and new and make the capital look pretty swish all year round. Sure you can get a decent eyeful of the city via sun-dappled evenings spent drinking slush cocktails at rooftop bars, but you’ll catch London from its most photo-ready angles at one of these lofty, leafy hills overlooking London. Plan a walk to feature one of these grassy vantage points and you’re sure to get a chance to use your camera phone’s panoramic setting. Best of all? Unlike the lovely views of the city you can see from bars and tourist attractions, these are all completely free.

Where to find the best views in London

1. One Tree Hill

Almost certainly not the inspiration for the glossy US teen TV drama, One Tree Hill stands between Forest Hill and Brockley, and offers an unexpectedly breathtaking view of London to the north. Climb the steps to the summit and the cityscape is framed by hybrid black poplars and London plane trees. Don’t just focus on what’s ahead – beneath your feet is Europe’s largest reservoir, while nearby, you’ll find the remains of a WWI anti-aircraft gun emplacement – two bonus additions to the splendid vista. Honor Oak, SE23. Honor Oak Park rail.

  • Things to do
  • Cultural centres
  • Alexandra Palace

Ally Pally was conceived as north London’s answer to the Crystal Palace, and – as befits ‘The People’s Palace’ – its socially democratic views are free to all and stunningThe non-existent price tag doesn’t mean compromising on quality panoramas, either – you’ll be in awe of the city as you gaze over it from this peak. Combine skyline spectating at this spot with a gig inside the palace or a visit to the regular farmer’s market for the ultimate Ally Pally day out. South Terrace, N22. 

  • Things to do
  • Primrose Hill

Yes, it’s a cliché, but the sight of London from the top of Primrose Hill really is a classic. As a result, this 213-foot hill is one of the capital’s 13 protected vistas: spots where the view must remain untouched by development, so you’re guaranteed a good outlook regardless of how the city changes around it. Back in the day, the hill was used for duelling, but these days you’re more in danger from poshos flying kites. Primrose Hill Rd, NW1. 

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Richmond Park

Legend has it that this Richmond Park hill is said to be where Henry VIII stood, heart in mouth, waiting to spot a rocket let off from the Tower of London to signal that his missus Anne Boleyn had been beheaded. That's probably bollocks, but the King would have had a killer vantage point if it were true – the view here has been protected since 1710. Generations of gardeners in the centuries since have kept it foliage-free, so you can gaze all the way down the Thames to the City of London. Glorious. Richmond Park, TW10. 


5. The Point

The view of London from beside the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park is immense, so it’s inevitably swamped by a sea of tourists beneath a waving canopy of selfie sticks. Beat the crowds by heading ten minutes up the road to The Point, which offers almost as great a vista, with the bonus of being enjoyed in virtual seclusion. Take a bottle of something and some plastic cups, colonise one of the two romantic benches, and watch the sun descend in the west. Another plus point – unlike Greenwich Park, there’s no chucking-out time up here. Point Hill, SE10. 

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