Where is the Best View of London?

By Shing Lin Yoong, The Culture Map

Paris has the Eiffel tower, Reykjavik has Hallgrímskirkja, New York has the Empire State, Rome has Palatine Hill, but what does London have?

The Shard? London Eye? Primrose Hill? Waterloo Bridge?

It appears London has many, so which one is the best?

Although they all do the job there is another one which is more than just a view: it’s a story.

The view of London that gives me great pleasure is the one which can be found when reaching the top of Greenwich Park, under the statue of James Wolfe. It’s so peaceful here, especially when no one is around but a few squirrels and joggers. Oh, and if you manage to make it at sunset then you’ll go to sleep feeling pretty darn happy.

Greenwich park, London (The Culture Map)
Greenwich park, London (The Culture Map)

Get here at midday on a Saturday or Sunday and you’ll discover this viewpoint gets busy, so try taking a trip through the week if you can, or in the late afternoon or early evening during the weekend if those are the only days you have free.

Even though Greenwich can be busy on a weekend, it’s a stella place for people watching.

Begin your journey in Greenwich Market, breathe in the different aromas and good-luck deciding which stall deserves your money – the choice isn’t easy.

Begin your journey in Greenwich Market, breathe in the different aromas and good-luck deciding which stall deserves your money – the choice isn’t easy.

After you have eaten more than you intended, and feel like a fatter version of your original self, it’s time to visit the park, see it as some gentle exercise to compensate for your uncontrollable behaviour at the food market.

Breenwich food market (The Culture Map)
Breenwich food market (The Culture Map)

Once you reach the top, you’ll instantly know what I’m talking about when I say this view comes with a story. First your eyes fall across the park directly to Maritime Greenwich, a collection of old Palladian buildings that include the Queen’s House. Behind this historical view you are then brought to the new part, where the skyline is dominated by the new part of London, a striking composition that is broken up by the river Thames.

Sunset over Greenwich, London (The Culture Map)
Sunset over Greenwich, London (The Culture Map)

It’s this contrast of old and new, one lined in front of the other, that makes this view so interesting and something I really never tire of seeing. It’s so easy to get swept up in mega-rush of London, where nobody seems to stop to enjoy the small things, but being in Greenwich just takes you out of it for a while.

This view tells a story of how London has grown into the metropolis it is today. It’s difficult to believe that at one point, the most built up part of London was south of the river, and there was nothing but miles and miles of grassland north of the river. If you don’t believe me you can go inside the Queen’s House (which is now a gallery) and see paintings depicting such scenes. The Queen’s House is the white building in the centre of the above photo, along with the other Palladian buildings, it has UNESCO status.

Once you’re at the top, sit down, relax, breath in, and repeat.

Greenwich park might not be the highest viewpoint, and it might not show off London’s complete skyline but I think it’s the most beautiful, and it’s free, something which can’t be said for the Shard or London Eye.

Copyright © 2014 by The Culture Map. This article was written by Shing Lin Yoong and originally published at The Culture Map

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