What comes to mind when you think of London? Images of Big Ben and the famous London Eye? Perhaps grey skies and bustling city streets? Though London does get its fair share of rain, the old adage ‘April showers bring May flowers’ holds true.
Despite dreary, grey images that many that have never been to London may hold, the city is actually quite picturesque. From lush parks and hidden gardens to charming neighborhoods and colorful street art, London is thriving with character and charm.
We’ve got the scoop on the most beautiful spots in London, many of which fly under the radar for even experienced locals. Our diverse list contains something for every taste or mood and will certainly provide plenty of scenic backdrops for your vacation scrapbook. Take a peek at our favorite scenic spots!
It’s not hard to figure out why this iconic bridge is considered London’s most scenic spot to view a sunset. Waterloo handles road and foot traffic across the famous River Thames and provides picturesque views of the London Eye, Southbank, Westminster, Canary Wharf, and more. Centrally located, spend a day perusing the east side of the city and then scout out a spot on the bridge before dusk to witness a truly spectacular sunset.
Crossness Pumping Station
A pumping station certainly doesn’t sound like the most glamorous place for a scenic view – but hear us out. Constructed in the 1800’s, the pumping station has been described as “a masterpiece of engineering” and “a Victorian cathedral of ironwork.” The building was listed as a historic landmark in 1970 and a restoration project took place afterward to transform the space into a destination to showcase the beautiful building elements. Crossness Pumping Station proudly features the most impressive collection of ornamental Victorian cast ironwork in the world and is a truly unique architectural experience.
A true hidden gem, the Little Venice neighborhood of London flies under the radar for many visitors. Nestled among several scenic canals along the Paddington Basin, Little Venice is truly reminiscent of the famous waterfront city in Italy. The walkways are lined with quirky, colorful houseboats, which provide a distinct charm that can’t be found anywhere else in London. The neighborhood also offers plenty of entertainment and authentic dining to enjoy while you take in the sights and sounds of the city.
The British Museum Great Court
As if the contents of The British Museum weren’t impressive enough, visitors that take the time to appreciate the beautiful backdrop that hosts the millions of artifacts will not be disappointed. The Great Court, in particular, is an absolutely breathtaking venue. The court is spread across two whole acres and is covered in over 3,000 glass panels that are arranged in a unique pattern that creates a spiral illusion. A trip to The British Museum is a great way to take in the history and uniqueness of our beautiful city.
Made famous by the 1999 romantic comedy that shares the same name as the neighborhood, Notting Hill is nothing short of breathtaking. The neighborhood itself features several famous filming spots that also make spectacular backdrops for your traveling pictures, the most notable of which is Portobello Road. Lined with pastel-colored homes and charming cafes, Portobello Road is home to a world-famous open-air market and attracts visitors and photographers from all over to take in the bustling, colorful scenery.
St. Dunstan was originally constructed in 1100 as a local church. The building experienced several renovations and expansions over the centuries, though it did eventually endure severe damage in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and then again in the WWII Blitz of 1941. Since then, the church has been patched up and now serves as a public garden space for visitors and locals. The modern-day space is truly serene with much of the original architecture still intact.
Visitors seeking a traditional old English village feel will love the charming, authentic feel of Hampstead. A small, quiet community located north of central London, Hampstead is known for its thriving arts and music scene and for its beautiful, expansive park, Hampstead Heath. The neighborhood homes present classic English charm with rustic brick exteriors, charming stoops, and sprawling greenery and gardens.
God’s Own Junkyard
If classic English architecture and sprawling gardens aren’t your style, you’re in luck. As a cultural melting pot, London offers a diverse array of neighborhoods and attractions for any taste. For an eccentric experience, visit God’s Own Junkyard, an impressive, glowing display of neon signs. Owned and operated by Chris Bracey, a local artist, the illuminated museum has grown to become Europe’s largest collection of its type. This unique attraction is quirky and truly beautiful in its own special way.
Located in the heart of London, Leadenhall Market is an often-underappreciated venue that flies under the radar. But, through the bustling crowds that are busy shopping and dining along the popular market lies ornate architecture and a truly stunning backdrop. Built in the 1400’s, the market is a gathering place for elegant city shopping and dining. The grand design is incredibly detailed and is unmatched by any other structure in the city. In fact, Diagon Alley scenes in Harry Potter were filmed in this very market! When visiting London, take the time to slow down and take in the scenery at this popular venue.
Explore London’s beautiful cultural side with a visit to Shoreditch. A lively, eclectic district, Shoreditch is known for hosting several exciting bars, nightclubs, and live music venues. Aside from a booming nightlife, Shoreditch also enjoys an artsy side with several galleries, museums, and amazing local art. Perhaps the most impressive and surprising element of the neighborhood is the street art. Buildings in Shoreditch are covered with vibrant murals and are unlike anything else in London. Shoreditch presents a truly amazing side of the city that’s not to be missed!
Though the city offers a wide array of beautiful gardens to explore, Kew Gardens is the crown jewel of London. As the most expansive and meticulously maintained botanical gardens in the city, the grounds of Kew are simply stunning. Offering more than 300 acres of lush greenery and educational space, Kew is home to several distinct attractions, including the bamboo gardens, the arboretum, the Japanese garden, and the Kew Palace. Kew Gardens is truly one of London’s most beautiful spots and provides a serene retreat for visitors of all ages.
Architecture enthusiasts will love the vibrant real estate in Primrose Hill. Situated on a literal hill along the northern end of Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill is the perfect spot for a leisurely afternoon stroll. The charming neighborhood is comprised of colorful row homes adorned with classic Victorian elements like rod iron balconies and ornate columns. Take in the brilliant scenery and then enjoy a stroll through the local park or enjoy a bite at a local neighborhood cafe.
St. James’ Park
Nestled in the quiet Westminster neighborhood, St. James’ Park often flies under the radar of London visitors. But, as one of London’s most beautiful parks, it is a must for your visitors seeking picturesque scenery. The park offers 57 undisturbed acres of lush green space, ponds, colorful walkways, gardens, playgrounds, picnic areas, and much more. Every inch of St. James’ Park is bursting with color and energy, which makes it an easy choice for our list of beautiful destinations.
St. Martin’s Window, Trafalgar Square
A quirky find, the famous window at St. Martin’s is a recent addition to the historic church. Designed by Iranian artist Shirazeh Houshiary and installed in 2008, the window was inspired by the way water warps the perception of objects. A true piece of art, the window creates an interesting juxtaposition between the classic architecture and the artist’s contemporary interpretation of a modern cross. Curious visitors can view the spectacular window from Trafalgar Square or from inside the church during visitors hours.
City Views At The Shard
One of the most beautiful spots in London is actually a view of the city itself! For the absolute best views of London, make the trek to The Shard, a stunning skyscraper that enjoys the title of the tallest building in the city. This multi-use space offers a luxury hotel, retail and office space, and several trendy restaurants, among other things. For the best experience, book a table at dusk for Gong, the penthouse restaurant located on the 52nd floors, which offers dramatic panoramic vistas. Or, for a quick daytime trip, you can book tickets to visit the viewing platform, which start at only £24.50 per person.
Which scenic spot are you most looking forward to visiting during your stay in London?