Since opening 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'll give you a small preview of everything you'll see during this experience but nothing compares to seeing London from over 300 metres above. You'll 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 River Thames, one of the longest rivers in Europe at 346 kilometres long.
It runs through the heart of London and is therefore one of its most iconic landmarks. There are many ways to enjoy it, by land, sea and air.
Whether it's a bird's eye view from The View over a glass of champagne or a long walk along its banks while discovering monuments such as the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and the London Eye, among others.
You can also take a boat trip 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 London's buildings illuminated with coloured lights.
2. Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is one of the symbols of London that you can see from the observatory of The Shard and you can't miss a photo of it when you set foot on the ground again.
With its beautiful Victorian style and the Thames as a backdrop, Tower Bridge is now one of London's most photographed tourist attractions, although it was originally built in the 19th century not for decorative purposes but for a purely practical reason - to link the two sides of the river as the city grew to the east.
3. The Tower of London
Another of the most popular tourist attractions you can see from The View is the Tower of London, an ancient fortress that has stood for almost a millennium and has witnessed important episodes in the country's history.
Even if you're only in London for two days or three days, it's a must-see and there's so much to see inside! From the crown jewels and the medieval palace to the ramparts and towers that form part of the complex, to name but a few things - even crows!
You'll be amazed to hear many of the spooky stories that took place here, so be prepared for a visit to the Tower of London that won't leave you indifferent!
4. London Bridge
Another of the bridges 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 look nothing alike 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 1st century AD but has undergone many alterations and reconstructions over the years and so does not retain its original form.
The one that can be seen from The View today was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II of England in the 1970s and was built to a design by John Mowlem.
5. Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
If you look west from The Shard observatory you'll catch a glimpse of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, recognisable by its rounded, white shape that stands out against the city's grey buildings.
This theatre is not the original theatre where William Shakespeare performed several of his masterpieces but a replica of it made in the 20th century thanks to the efforts of artist Sam Wanamaker who raised funds for its reconstruction.
It now hosts plays between May and October, as did the original theatre. If your trip coincides with spring in London, summer in London or autumn in London, I recommend that you consider the possibility of including a night at the theatre at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and enjoy this art as it was done in the 16th and 17th 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.
Itwas inaugurated in the 19th century and has always been characterised by its punctuality, even in extreme events such as the bombings that the city suffered in World War II or the extreme weather conditions that the city sometimes suffers.
Although foreign tourists are not allowed to visit the inside, you can always take a souvenir photo with it.
7. 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 19th century, a devastating fire destroyed the palace that had housed the parliament and royal residence since the 16th century and only a few parts of the original building survived, such as the cloisters and the crypt of St. Stephen's Chapel, Westminster Hall or the Jewel Tower.
The current Palace of Westminster was completed around the middle of the 19th century in a beautiful Victorian Gothic style. I recommend you take advantage of a visit to Westminster Abbey to visit it on a joint guided tour because it is an architectural marvel and you will take some fabulous photos.
8. The London Eye
Next to The View, the best place to see the London skyline from above is the London Eye.
However, from The Shard skyscraper, you'll have the chance to enjoy a magnificent view of the popular Ferris wheel like you've never seen it before.
However, if you're not afraid of vertigo and you're a thrill-seeker, you can't leave the city without also riding the London Eye, as it will complete your view of London from above - not to mention taking 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 View you can also see the silhouette of HMS Belfast, a British Royal Navy museum ship anchored on the banks of the River Thames, which was once a destroyer ship that took part in numerous naval operations during the Second World War and the Korean War.
Seeing the HMS Belfast from the outside is impressive but if you have time after coming down from The Shard skyscraper I recommend you pay her a visit because it is amazing to see a ship like this on the inside.
During the tour you can not only see various exhibits that show what life was like on the high seas, but the most entertaining part is the visit to some of the ship's rooms where the sailors and soldiers spent most of their time: the sailors' and captain's cabins, the infirmary, the galley, the hold and the control room, among others.
10. The Tate Modern Museum
Another of the sites you can see from The View is the Tate Modern Museum in London or, in other words, 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, it opened in 2000 as a modern art gallery, and the truth is that the original structure is very much in keeping with the museum's theme.
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 Dalí, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Edvard Munch, to name but 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 recommend you set aside some time during your trip to pay a visit to the Tate Modern Museum.
The collections are a marvel and best of all, access to the museum is usually free. You usually only have to buy a ticket to enter the temporary exhibitions but it's well worth it.