Renzo Piano’s Shard has divided opinion with its 309 meters (1,000 feet) of spiky glass construction and jagged top. But there’s no denying its sensational views. Access them by booking a meal at contemporary-British restaurant Aqua on the 41st floor, or head up to the viewing platform on the 68th floor for a fascinating bird’s-eye glimpse over the train lines threading out from London Bridge station across the river and into the city beyond.

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Sunset at The View

The View from The Shard opened in early February 2013 and is located in the tallest building in Western Europe. Plan your visit and purchase tickets ahead of time online. Check an almanac and schedule your trip up to Level 72 around sunset for the best views of London. You’ll see the sun glinting off the Thames, Parliament and London Bridge. (Added bonus, there is free wifi throughout the whole journey so you can post from the top!)

See London from Above, at Twilight

The Shard’s not the cheapest outing in London—a family ticket will set you back £90 for four people—but you can’t deny that it’s a pretty special experience. I’ve been up when it’s misty and rainy, and still enjoyed it thoroughly (after all, we Brits are used to seeing London look grey). But at twilight, when the lights of the city are just beginning to blink on, the Shard really does earn its corn. The Thames, winding its way casually around the base of the building, twinkles with bridges—Tower bridge is an especially lovely sight—and you get an amazing sense of just what it is that makes London special. This city doesn’t revel in high rises like Manhattan does, but there are so many different kinds of architecture that you just can’t stop looking.

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