Visitors to the city often find it a surprising fact that amongst the grey city scape, is an oasis of lush greenery. Whether you discover it by visiting one of London’s eight Royal parks, or decide to pay for the privilege, the city will astound you with its stunning beauty that sharply contrasts the harsh commercialism so often associated with it.
The London Eye Experience
If a special occasion is the reason for your visit to the city, then a trip on the London Eye will make for unforgettable memories that you’ll enjoy re-telling over and over. Standing in a glass capsule whilst you are smoothly glided to the top of the wheel will give you incredible birds eye views of the city for miles around. And, since the capsule is glass, those views are uninhibited too, so will make for perfect photo opportunities. However, at £21.00, and that’s the online saver rate that need’s booking in advance, it’s not the most cost effective way to take in London’s views.
London’s Sky Garden
This tower with a difference is free if you book your 90-minute slot online, however, your visit needs to be wrapped up by 6pm when the bars become a bit more exclusive, allowing entry only to those who are planning to sip cocktails whilst taking in the city scape. Again, if you’re celebrating something ultra-special, then it’s a nice touch, and the venue can even be hired out for private functions, but for standard viewing of London, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. You will be able to get a bird’s eye view of the city of sorts, but it might be a tad obstructed by the straight edge of the shard (another of London’s towering attractions) The pull to visit the sky garden though, is in the name, it’s a garden that it is in the sky- or at least hundreds of feet above ground level.
The gardens inside are well placed and are meant to mimic a sloping mountain side, however, they aren’t quite unkempt enough to portray it believingly so. However, this takes nothing away from the fact that the man made gardens are quite simply beautiful, and the fact that it’s so different to any of London’s other gardens automatically gives the Sky garden bonus points, making it a must see for green-fingered visitors.
Kensington Rooftop gardens
The Kensington Rooftop gardens are a great place to visit if you’re staying close by, The Park Grand Paddington hotel, for example, is just a short tube or bus ride away from this spectacularly well-hidden retreat. This trip can be made easier still by using a travel Oyster card to pay for your fare, that way you won’t even need to worry about carrying cash around either.
Upstairs of 99 Kensington Road, there’s an acre and a half of gardens to explore, including a huge lake that’s decorated with livestock including flamingos and ducks. Not only is it a fantastic place for green-fingered adults, but children will adore spotting the gorgeous pink birds and the many species of colourful flowers too.
Situated in Regent’s Park, one of London’s Royal parks, is Primrose Hill which boasts breath-taking panoramic views of the city completely free of charge. Again, it’s an ideal place to visit with children, as there’s a playground there too, making it the ideal destination for a good old British family picnic. Bring along a picnic rug, some of your family’s favourite snacks and drinks and maybe even a rounders’ set or a football for a great day out that costs very little. Who said entertaining the kids in London had to cost a small fortune?
For some of the best night time views of the city, a visit to the shard is completely unforgettable. The Oblix restaurant on the 32nd floor is the perfect setting in which to celebrate a special occasion- a milestone birthday perhaps, or maybe even a proposal? With its sophisticated décor and unbeatable views of the lit up city scape, it poses as the perfect backdrop for an intimate date too.
London Duck Tours
This one is a tour with a difference, and though you won’t get any birds eye views of the city, you’ll certainly see the city’s sights in all its splendour regardless. And, unlike the famous red London tour buses, this yellow bus with a unique personality all of its own transforms into a boat the minute it hits the water- so that you can admire London from both water and land. Whilst the greenery might be a little less than the other views mentioned, you’ll still be able to observe many of London’s famous landmarks, ensuring that you don’t miss out on any must-see buildings during your trip.
For those who prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground, the walking tours of London are not to be missed, depending on which tour you’re thinking of joining will depend upon where they meet, but usually the tour ends at a well-loved pub or bakery where you can reward yourself for all of those steps taken. Not only will walking tours show off the city sights, but they are also a fantastic networking opportunity for those who have travelled to the city alone.
If you do get chatting to someone new, that’s brilliant, but do remember to be cautious. Never go off with someone you’ve just met, even if they seem pretty harmless. Just because you’re away from home, don’t compromise your safety by dismissing your common sense, so if you arrange another meet up or get together, schedule it for a public place during daylight hours.