See the city in style: Top 10 skyscrapers in London

London is world-famous for its eclectic historical past, brimming with monuments, museums and buildings that have stood for centuries. While the old still holds an important place in the hearts of city-dwellers and tourists alike, it’s skyscrapers that are redefining London’s skyline.

In this blog, we’ve listed 10 of the most famous skyscrapers in London, including their heights and a guide to what you can find inside them.

1. The Shard (310m)

The ShardCompleted in 2012, the Shard is a soaring 72-story skyscraper that has become an international symbol for Britain’s capital. Playing host to 25 floors of office space, countless restaurants, a 17-story hotel and a mass of apartments over 13 floors, it’s certainly made its mark on the London skyline. The Shard got its name during the planning process when the mastermind architect likened the development to a shard of glass. Continuing with this concept, the completed tower is crowned with a steel-framed pinnacle, clad with smooth shards that point up into the sky. Visitors can experience the building’s wonders (and its height) first-hand on the open-air viewing platform, located on level 72.

2. 30 St Mary Axe aka The Gherkin (180m)

The Gherkin LondonPossibly one of London’s most famous skyscrapers, 30 St Mary Axe – better known to the rest of us as the Gherkin – is a distinctive architectural masterpiece. The ovular tower was completed in 2003 and opened in the following year, built in a bid to breathe new life into London’s age-old financial district. Since then, it has become a popular site for visitors to the city and even featured in several movies, including Harry Potter and Match Point. Inside, you’ll most likely find a LOT of offices, and the Gherkin is the headquarters of many large companies – including Swiss Re and Sky News.

3 .20 Fenchurch St (160m)

20 Fenchurch St.20 Fenchurch St. (known by some locals as ‘The Walkie Talkie’ because of its distinctive shape) was completed in 2009 and towers at a whopping 160m tall. The neo-futuristic design has been controversial among amateurs and architectural experts, to say the least! In fact, it even won the Carbuncle Cup in 2015 – a prize awarded by Building Design magazine to the worst new building in the UK during the previous year. Despite its solar glare problem and other faults, the Fenchchurch St. tower is certainly unique. Its 36th to 38th storeys are home to an expansive sky garden, offering visitors panoramic views of the city. There’s even a restaurant, perfect for hungry diners delighting in London’s breathtaking horizon.

4. One Canada Square (235m)

One Canada SquareSituated in the heart of Canary Wharf, One Canada Square is the third tallest building in the UK, originally taking the top spot on completion in 1991 before the Shard arrived in 2012. The distinctive tower is recognisable amidst the East London skyline, defined by stainless steel cladding, a pyramid roof and even a flashing aircraft warning light – something you don’t see every day in the UK. Since it’s the central point of London’s booming business district, the inside is mostly made up of office blocks. However, the lower levels of the famous Canary Wharf building are open to the general public, with a delightful restaurant and packed-out mall to explore.

5. Heron Tower (230m)

Heron TowerHeron Tower, recently renamed Salesforce Tower, is one of the tallest skyscrapers in London, located in the bustling financial district of Bishopsgate. While the exterior of this soaring building is certainly distinctive, the inside is arguably most memorable. As well as a beautifully designed reception space, Heron Tower is also home to the largest privately owned aquarium in the UK – containing 60+ varieties of fish and an entirely sustainable ecosystem. Visitors can also visit The Drift, a bar and restaurant space occupying the ground and first floors, plus a sky bar occupied by Sushi Samba and Duck & Waffle. Both are open to the public and can be accessed via scenic lifts for a heart-stopping view of the city.

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6. The Leadenhall Building (224m)

Leadenhall BuildingLondon’s iconic Leadenhall Building soars high at 224m and its design is one of the most distinctive amongst the city’s eclectic collection of skyscrapers. Due to its unique shape, the tower is better known as the Cheesegrater, mainly because it resembles the leaning shape of the popular household utensil. The tapered design was created according to the area’s specific planning requirements, mainly to avoid blocking viewing corridors across the skyline and obstructing the iconic dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Inside, those working in the building can ride panoramic lifts with a complete view of London city, and enjoy the temptations of an expansive retail space attached.

7. 52-54 Lime Street(190)

Lime Street Building LondonIf you’ve passed through Lime Street’s famous financial district, chances are you’ve experienced the looming grandeur of this unique skyscraper. Coined the Scalpel by the Financial Times as a result of its jutting angular design, 52-54 Lime Street is a modern masterpiece in architectural design. The offices inside are home to an array of insurance and banking institutions, and other famed buildings can be found in the vicinity. Take a wander around the area and you’ll see the Gherkin standing tall, as well as the ancient St Andrew Undershaft next door. The Scalpel offers spectacular views across London and provides over 624,000 sq ft of office accommodation, plus shops, bars and restaurants. The public square at the base of the building is also a must-see for visitors, demonstrating how historic and modern design can blend harmoniously.

8. Strata SE1 (147m)

Strata Tower LondonThe Strata skyscraper is a multi-award-winning architectural icon based in the heart of Elephant & Castle. Eventually dubbed Strata SE1 due to its well-placed location, the residential building contains 43 storeys and is home to 408 modern apartments. Keen-eyed viewers will notice the top of the tower, crowned with three integrated wind turbines in a bid to embrace sustainable design and create renewable energy for the residents within. Those lucky enough to secure a spot inside can enjoy expansive views across the city, maximised by floor-to-ceiling windows throughout. Residents can look west for Big Ben and the London Eye, or straight ahead for Tate Modern and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Those with an east-facing view will spot the high-rises of the City of London and Canary Wharf, and south-facers can enjoy the historic Crystal Palace.

9. Twentytwo aka 22 Bishopsgate (278m)

22 Bishopsgate22 Bishopsgate, more commonly known as Twentytwo, is a commercial skyscraper positioned in the City of London’s booming financial district. At 278m tall, the towering structure is the second tallest building in London and plays host to an array of offices – mostly leased by banks, law firms and tech companies. Inside the 62-storey tower, visitors can also discover a fresh food market, gym, wellbeing retreat and spa, plus a curated art gallery and destination restaurant. The skyscraper is also soon to open the highest viewing platform in London, completely free to the public and ideal for those ready to swoon over the city’s unforgettable skyline.

10. Battersea Power Station (113m)

Battersea Power StationFormerly a functioning coal power station decommissioned in the 1970s, Battersea Power Station is now a thriving multi-purpose destination for tourists and locals alike. Built into the historic grade II listed building, this popular spot is almost like a city within a city. As well as apartments for residents and offices for businesses, Battersea Power Station is home to an array of bars, restaurants and cafes for all to enjoy. There’s a cinema, a VR game centre, a theatre and crazy golf, plus so much more to explore. Visitors to the micro-city can even experience views of London from the Power Station’s 109m north-west chimney, but make sure to book ahead if this is on your agenda!

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