When many people visit London, they’re so busy staring at the beauty and grandeur around them at eye level that they don’t contemplate what the city might look like from above.

And trust us, that is a mistake - because London from on high is quite marvellous.

Historically, our city didn’t have the kind of skyscrapers that New York City was famous for but all that’s changed in the last few decades. As London’s become ever more buzzy and modern, it’s embraced glass buildings, viewing platforms and elevators that will whiz you up to dizzying heights in the blink of an eye.

Best of all, many of these views won’t cost you a penny. All you need to do is plan ahead and bring your camera!

Here are seven London views we really think are worth checking out, when you’re next in the British capital…

1. London Eye

The London Eye gained iconic status since it was formally opened on 31st December 1999 to mark the New Millenium. Since then, this famous ferris wheel has attracted millions of tourists from around the world, who’ll often stand in long queues in order to hop on one of the 32 pods that will take you high up and afford you views that - on a clear day - stretch as far as Windsor Castle to the west and Crystal Palace to the south.

Yes, the London Eye, at 135 metres high, offers visitors panoramic views of up to 40 km in each direction! And whilst you might expect to see it spinning, you won’t - in fact, you can barely feel it moving. The wheel completes a full rotation in about half an hour but the experience you have - well, this you’ll remember for years to come! Book ahead to avoid disappointment and afterward take a stroll along the South Bank, where you can look up and see how grand it is for yourself.

2. The Tate Modern - Blavatnik Building Viewing Platform

The Tate Modern is another one of those ‘millennial gifts’ that London received - once a disused power station, it underwent extensive renovations and was transformed into a museum of modern art which opened to the public in May 2000. On the banks of the River Thames, close to Blackfriars Bridge and Borough Market, today it’s one of the city’s most popular attractions.

For fabulous views, take the elevator in the Blavatnik Building (behind the main building) to the Viewing Platform on Level Ten, where there you’ll find a fantastic viewing platform. From it, you’ll have sight of all kinds of famous landmarks, including the Shard, the Cheesegrater and the Canary Wharf skyline. There’s also a great little coffee bar where you can get drinks and snacks!

3. Sky Garden

London’s Sky Garden definitely makes this list, as a much loved - high level’ urban viewing experience. Housed in the Fenchurch Building (also known as the ‘walkie talkie building’ because of its unique shape) it’s popular not just because of its great views (360 degrees and panoramic) but because there’s a lush garden up top too!

Yes, you can stroll through green landscaped gardens before you arrive at the observation decks and open-air terrace. There’s also a restaurant at the Sky Garden, which makes it the perfect place for an early morning breakfast, a casual lunch or a romantic date by night! Entry is free but don’t forget to book in advance.

However, if you don’t have a reservation ahead of time, don’t despair because there are a limited number of walk-in tickets up for grabs (released Monday to Friday - call ahead for details).

4. St. Paul’s Cathedral

This one’s for those with stamina - St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s oldest and most famous landmarks. In the heart of the city, after being burned to the ground in the Great Fire of London in 1666, it was rebuilt by renowned architect Sir Christopher Wren and is instantly recognisable, on the city skyline. Why? Because of its distinctive ‘nested domes’ - a hemispherical outer dome (dominating the skyline), a steeper inner dome and a hidden middle dome.

For a unique view of the surrounding area, climb the 259 steps up to the Whispering Gallery - it’s 30 metres high and its name is derived from the fact that sound here travels along a curved surface, allowing whispers to be heard from one side of the dome to the other. Entrance to the cathedral It’s not free but a ticket will give you access to the entire building, which is well worth exploring - this is one of London’s most beautiful churches and it’s hard not to feel moved as you walk through what is a true national treasure.

5. The Shard

Located a stone's throw from London Bridge, and shaped like a fragment of glass (which accounts for the name), the Shard soars high above London. Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, and standing at 210 metres, this skyscraper has 72 floors, three floors of restaurants and a viewing deck, all of which give it the honour of being the tallest building in London and the seventh tallest building in Europe.

The indoor viewing platform is on level 69 but those feeling brave can venture up three more floors to the 72nd floor, where there's an open-air deck at which you can walk out and gaze at the city. At almost twice the height of any other viewing platform in London, you’ll have unparalleled 360 degree views for up to 65 kms. And with two bars there, order a cocktail, a glass of champagne, a soft drink or anything else you might fancy, and enjoy yourself!

6. Horizon 22

The new kid on the block, Horizon 22 is London’s highest free viewing platform in the city and affords spectacular views with its floor to ceiling views.

Located in the City of London, on Bishopsgate, its elevator will - at an incredible speed - whisk you up 58 floors (the only thing you might feel is your ears popping!) where you’ll be treated to fantastic views.

Horizon 22’s viewing platform will let you look down on the NatWest Tower, the Gherkin and the nearby Sky Garden and on a clear day you’ll be able to see Wembley and Tottenham Hotspurs Stadiums, as well as the QE2 Conference and Emirates Air Line. Ideally you should book in advance but it is possible to get in without a reservation with the QR code at the entrance, if there are spaces available.

7. Monument

Finally, let’s not forget the humble Monument, which many overlook and quite a few have never heard of. It is, in fact, a Monument built to commemorate the Great Fire of London and stands at the junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill in the City of London (not far from the famous Bank of England). Built between 1671 and 1677, its design is in the shape of a doric column and at 61 metres high, is the exact distance between there and Pudding Lane (where the fire originated).

Inside the Monument, you will find a cantilevered stone staircase, which has 311 steps! Just as with St, Pauls, you’ll have to climb up but it's worth it - you’ll have a fine view once you reach the top.

It’s open daily, and you can just buy a ticket on the door - adults pay just over a fiver to get in, which makes it good bang for your buck. Finally, don’t forget to look up - atop the column is a gilded urn of fire. That’s London for you - history at every turn!

Finally, if you’re planning on staying in London and looking for a place to rest your weary head, feel free to get in touch with us - our comfortable, family-owned and family-run guest accommodation is perfectly located and we guarantee you a warm welcome and a wonderful Italian breakfast cappuccino!

If you’re coming to visit the British capital and looking for a place to stay, we'd love to host you at La Gaffe Hotel HampsteadWe also offer a continental breakfast with fabulous breakfast cappuccinos and because we’re only three minutes walk from the Hampstead tube, you can be in the centre of the city in just 15 minutes by London Underground.

For more information about our rooms and to make a reservation directly with us, contact us by phone or email - we’re looking forward to seeing you!