Since it opened in 2012, The Shard skyscraper has forever transformed the London skyline. Its observatory, The View, is the place to go for breathtaking 360º panoramic views of the city.
In this post I give you a small preview of everything you will see during this experience but nothing compares to seeing London from more than 300 meters high. You will have to see for yourself!
1. The River Thames
From the observatory of the modern skyscraper The Shard you will have one of the most stunning views of the Thames River, one of the longest in Europe with 346 kilometers long.
It runs through the heart of London and is, therefore, one of the most emblematic points. There are many ways to enjoy it, by land, sea and air.
Whether it is a bird's eye view from the viewpoint The View while sipping a glass of champagne or taking a long walk along its banks while discovering monuments such as the Tower of London, Tower Bridge or the London Eye, among others.
Also by boat sailing its waters if you decide to take a cruise on the Thames. It is a plan that I highly recommend because it will give you a unique perspective of the British capital, as well as from the heights.
And if the cruise is at night you will live a magical and romantic experience on the deck of the boat enjoying the views of the London buildings illuminated with colored lights.
2. Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is one of the symbols of London that you can see from the observatory of The Shard and with which you can not miss a photo when you put your feet back on the ground.
With its beautiful Victorian style and the Thames in the background, Tower Bridge is now one of the most photographed tourist attractions in London although in its origins (back in the nineteenth century) was not built for a decorative purpose but for a purely practical reason: to connect the two banks of the river as the city grew in the east.
3. The Tower of London
Another of the most popular tourist attractions that you can see from The View is the Tower of London, an ancient fortress that has been standing for almost a millennium and has witnessed important episodes in the history of the country.
Even if you are only going to spend two days in London or three days in London, it is one of the essential visits that you must include in your agenda. There is so much to see inside! From the crown jewels and the medieval palace to the ramparts and towers that are part of the complex, to name a few things - even crows!
You'll be stunned to hear many of the spooky stories that happened here - be prepared because a visit to the Tower of London won't leave you indifferent!
4. London Bridge
Another of the bridges that you can see from the top of The Shard is London Bridge, which is often confused with Tower Bridge because of its proximity. However, they do not resemble each other in appearance or longevity.
London Bridge is a much more austere bridge with an older history. It was built by the Romans at this point in the first century AD but over time has undergone many modifications and reconstructions so it does not retain the shape of that time.
The one that can be seen from the viewpoint The View was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II of England in the 70s of the twentieth century and raised with the design of John Mowlem.
5. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
If you look west from The Shard observatory you can glimpse Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, which you will recognize by its rounded shape and white color that stands out among the gray buildings of the city.
This theater is not the original one where William Shakespeare performed several of his masterpieces but a replica of it made in the twentieth century thanks to the efforts of the artist Sam Wanamaker who raised funds for its reconstruction.
It currently hosts theatrical performances between the months of May and October, as did the original theater. If your trip coincides with spring in London, summer in London or autumn in London, I recommend that you value the possibility of including a night at the theater in Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and enjoy this art as it was done in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. It is a magical feeling!
6. Big Ben
One of the great symbols of London that you can also see from The View is Big Ben, the huge clock of the Houses of Parliament.
It was inaugurated in the nineteenth century and has always been characterized by its punctuality even in extreme events such as the bombings that the city suffered in World War II or with extreme inclement weather that the city sometimes suffers.
Although foreign tourists can not visit it inside, you can always take a souvenir photo with him.
7. The Palace of Westminster
Also known as the Houses of Parliament, this is one of the most beautiful buildings in London, which you can also see from the observatory of The Shard skyscraper.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, a devastating fire destroyed the palace that had housed the parliament and the royal residence since the sixteenth century and only a few parts of the original building survived as the cloisters and the crypt of St. Stephen's Chapel, Westminster Hall or the Jewel Tower.
The current Palace of Westminster was completed in the mid-nineteenth century with a beautiful Victorian Gothic style. I recommend you to take advantage of a visit to Westminster Abbey to visit it also on a joint guided tour because it is an architectural marvel and you will take some fabulous pictures.
8. The London Eye
Next to The View, the best place to contemplate the London skyline from the heights is the London Eye.
However, from The Shard skyscraper you will have the opportunity to enjoy magnificent views of the popular Ferris wheel as you have never seen it before.
Now, if you are not afraid of vertigo and you are attracted to strong emotions, you cannot leave the city without also riding the London Eye, as it will complete your view of London from the heights. Not to mention that you will take some amazing pictures!
And if after seeing London from the heights at The View you want to complete the experience and see the skyline of the British capital from a river viewpoint, take a look at the post London Eye and Thames cruise because it will be the perfect combination to enjoy this part of the city to the fullest.
9. HMS Belfast
From the viewpoint The View you can also contemplate the silhouette of HMS Belfast, a ship-museum of the British Royal Navy anchored on the banks of the River Thames that was once a destroyer ship that participated in numerous naval operations during World War II and the Korean War.
Seeing the HMS Belfast from the outside is impressive but if after coming down from The Shard skyscraper you have time I recommend you pay her a visit because it is amazing to see such a ship inside.
During the tour you can not only see several exhibits that show what life was like at sea but the most entertaining part is the visit to some of the rooms of the ship where sailors and soldiers spent much of the time: the cabins of the sailors and the captain, the infirmary, the kitchen, the cellar or the control room, among others.
10. The Tate Modern Museum
Another of the sites that you can see from the viewpoint The View is the Tate Modern Museum in London or what is the same, the British National Museum of Modern Art.
You will easily identify it because it is located in a very peculiar building, in the Bankside Power Station. After several renovations, in 2000 it opened as a modern art gallery and the truth is that the original structure is very much in keeping with the theme of the museum.
Inside you can find one of the most complete permanent collections of modern art in the world with works by renowned artists such as Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Edvard Munch, to name a few, although there are also temporary exhibitions of contemporary art designed to showcase the talents of young artists.
If you like this type of art, I advise you to set aside some time during your trip to visit the Tate Modern Museum.
The collections are a marvel and best of all, access to the museum is usually free. Normally you only have to buy a ticket to enter the temporary exhibitions but it is worth it.