Alternative ways to see London

Alternative ways to see London

Discover a new side of the city this summer

No matter how much time you spend exploring London, it’s always possible to discover something new and even the obvious tourist sights can be seen from a new angle with a bit of imagination. Whether it’s tucking into afternoon tea on an iconic Routemaster bus tour or experiencing a bird’s-eye view of the city from a tropical garden in the sky, here’s how to get a new perspective on the capital this summer.

Contact our Attractions team to book any of the experiences below ►

The View From The ShardSurvey London’s skyline at the top of the Shard

A high-speed lift whisks you from ground level to the 68th floor of Europe’s tallest skyscraper in just under one minute. Perched high above the capital, the views from the semi-open-air platform stretch 40 miles in every direction on a clear day and are just as dramatic at night, when London twinkles below. Contact us to arrange a sunset visit, when the facades of the west-facing buildings glow a brilliant orange. You will enjoy 20% off the standard ticket price.

London Helicopter Sightseeing Tour, Virgin Experience DaysCut through the clouds

Viewing the London skyline from the top of a skyscraper is one thing, but nothing beats the bird’s-eye perspective you get from the cockpit of a chopper. Taking off in Hertfordshire, you’ll be whisked cityward to race above the Thames before looping over Canary Wharf and heading back over the City, Soho, Chelsea and beyond. The pilot will point out all the major attractions and you’ll be amazed at how green the city is from above as you pinpoint tiny-looking people relaxing in Hyde Park. This sky-high experience can be booked through Virgin Experience Days, meaning you can enjoy 20% off.

Selfie while cycling in LondonPedal through the back streets

With heavy investment in the city’s cycle infrastructure planned over the coming years, the future is looking bright for cyclists in London. However, hopping onto a bike and tackling the city’s busy roads is still a daunting prospect for many, so we suggest taking things at a gentler and safer pace with a guided bike tour. Led by a local, you will peddle a British-made Pashley along quiet backstreets, stopping at iconic landmarks, famous houses, cosy pubs and hidden corners of the capital. There are a number of itineraries to choose from depending on your interests, so contact us to discuss in more detail ►

B Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus TourSip tea on the top deck

The red London bus may be iconic, but it’s not something you’d associate with a sophisticated pastime like afternoon tea. However, Covent Garden family bakers, B Bakery, have refurbished a 1960s Routemaster complete with tables laid with vintage crockery, flowers and stacks of freshly made cakes and steaming pots of tea. The 90-minute journey takes you past Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace via Notting Hill and Kensington but the beautiful baked creations may well distract you from the city views. If only all bus rides were this decadent.

Bateaux LondonCruise the Thames in style

Naturally, our members tend to think of heading high for a great view of the capital, but with a dining cruise on board one of Bateaux London’s three boats you can enjoy excellent food and a new perspective on the city. The flagship boat, Symphony, is an all-glass Parisian barge with 360-degree views of the riverside landmarks as it travels from Westminster to Tower Bridge. The premium afternoon tea package guarantees a window table and the menu covers all the classics, with towers of finger sandwiches and cakes served alongside a glass of champagne.

Thames Barrier Rocket Speed Boat Voyage, Virgin Experience DaysRocket down the Thames at speed

If this all sounds a little too leisurely, book onto an eye-wateringly fast journey along the river aboard a 400-horsepower RIB (rigid inflatable boat). Racing at speeds of up to 35 knots, the 80-minute voyage takes you past the London Eye, under Tower Bridge and alongside Canary Wharf, all the way to the Thames Barrier before you race back. If the captain is in the mood for showing off – which they usually are – you can expect some fast-paced boat manoeuvres that’ll make you glad you’re strapped in tight. Book through us to make the most of your 20% discount.

Also pictured top

Sky GardenHead to the garden in the sky

It may not be the tallest skyscraper in London, but the views from the atrium on top of the Walkie Talkie are still phenomenal and certainly unique. Up on the 35th floor, you’re surrounded by three storeys of landscaped gardens filled with lush plants from South Africa and the Mediterranean. There’s a series of observation decks, an open-air terrace, two restaurants and a bar dotted between the flora and although the experience is free, it is ticketed entry which books up well in advance. Thankfully, we can secure guest list access for up to four people – contact us to arrange entry ►

The Slide at The ArcelorMittal Orbit, Virgin Experience DaysSlide down the London Orbit

Anish Kapoor’s twisted steel installation divided opinion when it was erected for the London Olympic Games; but love it or loathe it there’s no denying that the views from the top are some of the capital’s best. Offering a new perspective looking west past Canary Wharf to the city centre, it’s a must-do if you’re visiting the Olympic Park for any of the summer events or simply fancy a jaunt east. Once you’ve taken in the view you can bypass the stairs on the way down by slipping down the super-fast helter-skelter slide – book through us to enjoy a 20% discount on the ticket price.

Last updated on 5 July 2017


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