Image of Tower Bridge and shard at sunset in London

20 Magical Spots to Watch Sunsets in London

This is my guide on where to watch the best sunsets in London and what time the sun sets in London through the year.

Seeing sunsets in London is one of the best ways to experience this great city. It’s impressive enough by day, but at sunset and dusk, it’s something else altogether, spectacular and utterly beguiling.

We’ve selected 20 London sunset locations for you to discover, from riverside walkways to skyscraper rooftops and busy streets to green spaces on hilltops in the suburbs.  

We’ve divided these London sunset locations by area, and also advise the best time of year to seek out each of these sunsets.

Sunsets In London – When Is Best?

Image of sunset in nLondon with the Houses of Parliament and London Eye
The London Eye and Houses of Parliament at dusk

London sunset times vary greatly, from around 4pm in the depths of December to 10pm in the balmy midsummer.

Some sunset spots in London are better in winter, whereas others may be better in summer. I mention when I think is the best time to experience each sunset in the guide below.

I have been photographing London for well over 20 years and would probably say that most of the best London sunsets I have seen have been during the shorter months, from October in mid-autumn through the winter to March and early spring.

Sunsets In London – Bear In Mind

Image of sunset in London with St PAul's CAthedral and Cannon Street Railway Bridge
St Paul’s and Cannon Street Railway Bridge

All of the London sunsets locations we mention offer something of a vista, with plenty of sky visible, and the river Thames is the ideal place.  Many of them also feature some of the most famous buildings in London.  

Most of these London sunset spots are free to visit, while some may require a reservation for the popular sunset time slot (you just pay for your drinks and / or food). Others are paid entry – we’ll flag these up for you as well.

When photographing sunsets in London, don’t just stay until the sun drops below the horizon. Wait 20 minutes or so for dusk, and a little longer for the lights to be turned on, the rich afterglow to develop in the sky and the magic to really begin.

Sunset in London times

MonthSunset 1st MonthSunset 15th Month

Best Sunsets in London – Around Westminster

1. Westminster Bridge

Image of sunset behind the Houses of Parliament London
Sunset behing the unmistakable Houses of Parliament
Image of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament at dusk London England UK
Big Ben and Parliament half an hour after the shot above
Image of the blurred lights of a red London bius and Big BEn Houses of Parliament at dusk
Big Ben and a bus at dusk

The area around Westminster Bridge, with the stunning silhouette of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, is one of the best places to head for London sunsets. The silhouette shot shown was taken around County Hall, across the river close to the London Eye.

I also shot the later dusk view from the same area, with the sunset afterglow behind Big Ben. I was very lucky to get this, as a member of the Tripod Police asked me to desist. I managed to fire off two or three frames before being apologetically ushered on my way, and a good few years later they still move people on.

The view from Westminster Bridge at dusk is also great –   with a long exposure, the red buses whoosh by regularly, leaving a dynamic trail across your image.

Best time for this sunset: Autumn, winter or early spring (October to March)

2. London Eye

Image of sunset in London with the Houses of Parliament and London Eye
The London Eye and Houses of Parliament at dusk

A great place to experience sunsets in London is high above the river aboard the London Eye. The ferris wheel is one of the most famous London landmarks, and takes you 500 feet above the city and river.

The London Eye is very close to the Houses of Parliament, and it’s worth the price of the ticket to see this alone.  If you plan on trying to capture a sunset from the London Eye, you usually (but not always) have to book in advance, so you’ll need to check your London sunset time in advance and plan around that.

I have only ‘flown’ on the London Eye in the daytime, and recall that the best shots were from the lower parts of the circuit. At the apex of the wheel, you’re a long way above the city, and amazing though the view is, it doesn’t make for particularly good photographs.

I would also look to try to book your flight for just after the sunset. The lights will be on the buildings and along the streets at dusk, and you’ll get far more detail than if you shoot as the sun is still going down.

Best time for this sunset: Autumn, winter or early spring

3. Albert Embankment

Image of the Houses of Parliament from the Albert Embankment at sunset
Sunset from the Albert Embankment

The Albert Embankment runs along the River Thames between Westminster Bridge and Lambeth Bridge, a few hundred metres upstream, with the Houses of Parliament facing you most of the way.

The Kinks singer Ray Davies spent a long time in St Thomas’ Hospital just back from the river, and this view later inspired his song Waterloo Sunset, which is probably the closest thing London has to a city anthem.

Best time for this sunset: all year

4. Trafalgar Square

Image of Whitehall and Big Ben at sunset from Trafalgar Square London
Big Ben and Whitehall from Trafalgar Square

The monumental centre of London is one of the best places to be at sunset time in London. There are so many famous London landmarks to see there, with Nelson’s Column, the domed National Gallery, St Martin in the Fields church, the fountains and view down Whitehall to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

Not to mention the constant flow of traffic, with red double decker buses and black cabs, and Underground subway signs everywhere.

As the sunset fills the sky with colour, the Square looks amazing for half an hour or so. And the beauty of it is it looks great at sunset throughout the year.

5. St James’s Park

This wonderful Royal Park is one of the best places for sunsets in London away from the river. The late afternoon light shines on the grand domed Foreign Office building on Whitehall, and the sun then slips slowly behind the lake and Buckingham Palace.

Best time for this sunset: March to April or September to October

Sunsets In London – Around South Bank and Bankside

1. Waterloo Bridge

Image of Big Ben and the London Eye at sunset
A wonderful view of Big Ben from the approach to Waterloo Bridge
Image of Houses of Parliament at sunset from Waterloo Bridge London
Sunset from Waterloo Bridge

Waterloo Bridge connects the Waterloo station area with Somerset House and The Strand, and is prime London sunset territory. It is the vantage point for one of the most famous sunsets in London, looking up the river to the Houses of Parliament.

There are actually several London sunsets to see from Waterloo Bridge. The obvious one is from the centre of the bridge, looking over the Hungerford and Golden Jubilee Bridges to Big Ben and Parliament, with the London Eye off to the left.

Another Waterloo Bridge sunset is from the approach to the Bridge from the Waterloo side. It passes above a side road in the South Bank complex, and from there Big Ben and the London Eye are framed by buildings either side.  These shots look best in late autumn and winter, when you may get lucky with a warm red London sunset sky.

If you cross the bridge you can see the City of London skyline and, in the distance, the skyscrapers of the Canary Wharf financial district. The sun shining on these towers at the end of the day can look amazing, and this shot works in the longer days of spring and summer.

Best time for this sunset – November to February for the view to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, April to September for the City skyline and Canary Wharf view

2. OXO Tower Restaurant and Bar

Image of the City of London and St PAul's at dusk from the Oxo Tower BAr
St Paul’s and the City from the Oxo Tower Bar
Image of St PAul's CAthedral London at sunset
Dramatic sunset light on St Paul’s from below the Oxo Tower

This famous Bankside venue, below the landmark OXO Tower, is a restaurant and bar with outdoor seating and a brilliant view over the River Thames and the City of London.

You can dine inside or try to snag a table on the balcony, with a superb view over the Thames, Blackfriars Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and much of the City of London.

The sunsets behind or to the left of the bar for much of the year, but it’s a great place to watch the rich warm light on St Paul’s and the City, and the first twinkling of the night lights on the river at dusk.

Tip: The views of St Paul’s at ground level are great as well

Best Sunset Spots in London – Around St Paul’s Cathedral

1. Millennium Bridge

Image of St Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge at sunset
St Paul’s and the Millennium Bridge – a classic summer London sunset
Image of Tower Bridge and Southwark Bridge at sunset London UK
Tower Bridge at sunset from Millennium Bridge

If you’re at a loose end on a London summer evening, one of the best places to enjoy the sunset is from the Millennium Bridge, looking towards St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Millennium Bridge offers one of London’s best  – and formerly wobbliest – vistas, an uninterrupted axis from St Paul’s in the north to Tate Modern in the south, and you can take advantage of the later sunset times in London if conditions are good.

The sunset – and dusk – from the southern (Tate Modern) end of the Bridge looks great from on the Bridge itself or from the side, which gives a view of part of the Bridge as well as the Cathedral.

Best time for this sunset: the longer months of spring and summer- April to August

Tips: there’s a good shot of several of the bridges in London as you stand in the middle of the Millennium Bridge just as the sun goes down – from there you see Southwark Bridge, London Bridge and Tower Bridge to the east.

The roof terrace of the Blavatnik Building at Tate Modern also offers outstanding views, but it has been closed for over a year following an incident there.

2. One New Change

Image of St Paul's Cathedral at sunset from One New Change rooftop bar
St Paul’s at sunset from One New Change

This shopping centre on Cheapside is across the street from the east end of St Paul’s Cathedral, and offers up a sublime view of Sir Christopher Wren’s mighty dome, which has dominated this part of the City of London skyline for over 300 years.

Take the elevator up to the rooftop, where you can buy a drink and head towards the prime viewing spot near the edge of the roof. If you’re lucky enough to get a clear sky like we did, I could go orange and pink like we had. 

St Paul’s dominates the view to the east, so much so that you don’t see much else, except for the London Eye off to the left. However, if you turn towards the Shard, you get a great London dusk view across the river, with the skyscraper soaring seven or eight times higher than the tower of Southwark Cathedral below.

Best time of year for sunset: all year – our shot was done in March     

3. Fleet Street

Image of Fleet Street London at sunset
Sunset from Fleet Street

I haven’t included many famous streets in London as sunset locations as most of them simply don’t ‘line up’ at any time of year. One that does offer some potential for sunsets in London is Fleet Street, the former home of many of the UK’s newspapers and magazines.

You don’t get a full-on sunset from Fleet Street but the late, low light does make things interesting. I’ve always liked the view above, which is from close to the famous Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese pub.

You can also see the tower of St Dunstan in the West church and the spires of the Royal Courts of Justice just beyond.

Also watch for the late light on the famous ‘wedding cake’ tower of St Bride’s Church Fleet Street, one of the most intriguing churches in London. Turn eastwards and you’ll see the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, a few minutes’ walk away up Ludgate Hill. The views of the Cathedral open out as you walk up the hill towards it.

Best time for this sunset: these shots were made in March – September would give similar light conditions.

Sunsets in London: Around Tower Bridge

1. Thames Path Near St Katharine’s Dock

Image of the Shard and Tower Bridge at sunset London UK
The Shard and Tower Bridge at sunset

The title shot of this article is one of my personal favourite spots to watch sunsets in London.  It takes a bit of seeking out, but a short walk from tower Bridge takes you to St Katharine’s Dock, and then the riverfront. was there.

I sought out the Thames Path and found it very quickly. The Path briefly joins St Katharine’s Way before returning to the river next to the Tower Bridge Wharf Building.

Next to this, an open platform offers a superb view past the HMS President Naval Base and its jetties to Tower Bridge, with the Shard to its left. I didn’t photograph the sunset itself- the afterglow was the reason Iwas there.

Best time of year for this sunset:  I shot it in November, but it would also work well into some of the longer months

Additional tip: One of the most popular places to photograph tower Bridge is from outside the tower Hotel. The Girl With A Dolphin sculpture and fountain outside the Hotel has drawn photographers ever since its installation in the early 1970s. You may get lucky with pink clouds in the sky behind it, but keep an eye out for the tripod police!

2. Tower Bridge

Image of the City of London at sunset from Tower Bridge
The City skyline from Tower Bridge

Iconic Tower Bridge makes a great London sunset viewpoint as well as subject.  Walk around halfway along for a view back to the tower of London and the modern City of London skyline, Gherkin, Walkie Talkie, Cheese Grater et al. this looks best after sunset, at dusk when the lights give full effect.

Best time for this sunset: the longer months of spring and summer – April to September

3. London Bridge

Image of St Paul's Cathedral at sunset from London Bridge London
St Paul’s at sunset from London Bridge

London Bridge is a great vantage point for both sunrise and sunset in London. As you look west upriver at sunset, Cannon Street Railway Bridge is in front of you, with splendid St Paul’s Cathedral off to the right. 

This is one of the more exposed and windier sections of the river, but if you’re lucky with a gentle breeze and a good sky, this can be one of the better London sunsets.

Best time of year for sunset – ours was shot in summer (June), but this would look great any time of year

4. Sky Garden

The Sky Garden is a great vantage point over London no matter what time of day you visit, but the sunset time slot is possibly the best – and most coveted time to visit.

The Sky Garden is a free garden on the upper floors of the Walkie Talkie building. You normally have to book in advance – when we were last in London there were no sunset slots for around five weeks, but at the time of writing some slots are available two to three weeks in advance.

Walk-in tickets are occasionally available on weekdays, but don’t count on them being available.

Entry to the Sky Garden is free but it’s pot luck as to whether or not you chance upon a sunset. The view – through quite reflective glass – over the City skyline and river is superb.

Best time for this sunset: October through to February, when the sun sets before weekday closing time (6pm) – otherwise it’s open until 9 pm on weekends.

5. The Shard

Image of Southwark Cathedral and The Shard skyscraper at night London England

The View from the Shard has become one of the most popular London attractions since opening almost a decade ago. It’s twice the height of any other viewpoint in London, and you can see as far as 40 miles – 64 km – away on a clear day.

The enormous height doesn’t necessarily yield the best photographs as you are so far above the city that everything looks tiny. But it’s still an amazing experience, and sunset and dusk are the prime times to visit.

Sunsets In London – West London

1. The West End

London's Theatre District
Image of theatre signs along Shaftesbury Avenue London

The West End is at its best in the evenings, when the lights of the many theatres, cinemas, restaurants and clubs come on and the streets are busy with crowds enjoying a night on the town. You get a hint of a sunset sky along some of the streets, especially Shaftesbury Avenue, which looks great with all the theatre signs illuminated.

Piccadilly Circus is the biggest open space in the area and you often get sunset colours in the sky there. There’s not a great deal to do there other than soak in and capture the buzz of the bright lights at the end of the day.

Best time for this sunset – spring and summer are best for Piccadilly Circus

2. Albert Bridge, Chelsea

Image of the Albert Bridge Chelsea London at sunset
The glittering Albert Bridge at dusk
Image of Chelsea Bridge London at night
Chelsea Bridge at dusk at low tide

The Albert Bridge in Chelsea is my nomination for the most beautiful bridge in London. I’ve seen it countless times at night, as my coach from Cardiff would pass it as I made the weekly journey to Victoria to see my wife-to-be.

But sentiment aside, it’s a wonderful, elegant bridge, especially just after sunset when its thousands of lights are turned on.

There are several angles for an Albert Bridge sunset. If you walk along the Battersea Park side of the river, roughly halfway between the Albert and Chelsea Bridges, turn back towards the Albert Bridge for the orange and red glowing sky.

Stay around until dusk, when the shimmering lights of the Albert Bridge make a magical scene.

Tips: Even though this is quite a long way inland, the Thames tide makes a big difference to your shots of the Albert Bridge. At low tide, a large extent of muddy riverbed is revealed, so check your Thames tide times here.

The tower blocks of the World’s End estate also come into play, depending on how far along Battersea Park you walk. The Chelsea Bridge also makes a great subject at night.

Best time for this sunset: Most times of year

3. The Riverside Pubs In Barnes

Image of the White Hart pub and River Thames in London England UK
A summer eveing beside the river outside Ye White Hart in Barnes

One of the best places to sit back and enjoy sunsets in London is at one of the riverside pubs in Barnes, in West London. This one is for the warm evenings of spring or summer, sitting al fresco at the tables of the White Hart or on the balcony of the nearby Watermans Arms with a pint or glass of wine. One of the best things to do in West London.

Best time for this sunset: May to September

Sunsets In London – North London

1. Primrose Hill

Primrose Hill is a short walk from Camden Town and Chalk Farm, a small hill with a great vantage point over much of the London skyline. It’s a wonderful place to head on a warm evening with a picnic, takeaway and drinks to watch the light change on the landmarks of Central London, from the BT Tower to the City and Shard.

The sunset view from Primrose Hill – over Belsize Park – isn’t particularly special. Very few people look that way, as the sun sinks towards the horizon everyone is watching the rich light changing on the famous buildings of London, and the sky turns shades of pink, orange and red.

2. Hampstead Heath

Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath is the highest hill in London, 98 metres (322 feet) above sea level. Much of what we’ve said about Primrose Hill can also be said about Parliament Hill, in that the view of London from there is superb, and you visit at sunset to watch the changing light on the city below, and the colours of the sky warming up, as opposed to the sun setting behind some trees.

As with Primrose Hill it’s a wonderful place to bring some food and drink at the end of the day and watch it draw to a spectacular close.

Sunsets In London – Final Words

I hope you have enjoyed my guide to where to see the sunset in London, and that you can put some of my tips to use soon.

Having lived in London and visited countless times, I have also written numerous other London guides which you may wish to look through. Don’t miss my companion guide to the best places to watch the sunrise in London.

Check out my guide to visiting Westminster Abbey before you go. Along with St Paul’s Cathedral, it’s one of the main London sights. If you can, make time to explore more amazing churches in London while you’re there.

I have written other themed articles on London. Find out the best famous London landmarks to spot on your sightseeing around the city. And if you’re travelling along the Thames, perhaps on a boat trip, take a look at my guide to the best bridges in London beforehand. Some of them also feature in this sunrise in London article.

Don’t miss my guides to the most famous streets in London, and the best old streets in London to visit. And take a look at my guide to 50 famous buildings in London too. I’m sure you’ll get to see quite a few of them as you travel around the city!

If you ever get the chance to head ‘out west’, then check out my guide to the best things to do in West London. This covers a wide area, from the theatres of the West End to Richmond Park and the leafy outer suburbs of southwest London.

And finally, you’re going to need to sleep at some point. See my guide to the best areas to stay in London for tips on where to rest your weary head for the night.

You can find more places to visit in our England travel guide.

Check out more of our European sunset guides here:

Image of David Angel found of Delve into Europe Travel Blog / Website

David Angel is a British photographer, writer and historian. He is a European travel expert with over 30 years’ experience exploring Europe. He has a degree in History from Manchester University, and his work is regularly featured in global media including the BBC, Condé Nast Traveler, The Guardian, The Times, and The Sunday Times.  David is fluent in French and Welsh, and can also converse in Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech and Polish.