Most of the time when we're moving around London, we're either making our way through the streets on foot, sitting on a crawling bus or travelling on a noisy train many metres below the surface. I guess I should add "or dodging pedestrians on one of Boris's bikes" to the list now.
Occasionally it's fun to make a special effort to rise above the melee and take in the big picture. By getting high in the sky, you can appreciate what a beautiful city London really is, with its resplendent parks, historic buildings and winding river laid out before you like a sprawling model village.
So here are a few ideas for getting that spectacular view:
Tower 42 – London's newest skyscraper, situated in the heart of the City of London, is home to Vertigo 42, a bar/restaurant 182 metres up. It's the place to go for the newest view in town.
The London Eye – 135 metres high and taking 40 minutes to do a single rotation, this, the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, offers a smooth, comfortable ride, as well as dazzling views of central London and beyond.
St. Paul's Cathedral – it requires a bit of legwork and isn't recommended for those of a claustrophobic nature, but the views from the top are special if you do take it on. And as you plod up each of the 530 steps to the Golden Gallery 85 metres up, take a moment to wallow in the fact that you're climbing more than 300 years of London history.
The Monument – the Monument (to the Great Fire of London in 1666) reopened last year after a lengthy £4.5m restoration project and so is now spicker and spanner than ever, so to speak. The restoration project didn't, however, involve building a lift to the top – so the ol' legs will have to be put to use again to tackle the 311 steps. It's 61.5 metres high, situated 61.5 metres from where the Great Fire of London started, in Pudding Lane.
Tate Modern – if you prefer your views accompanied by some top nosh and a glass of wine, then the Tate Modern Restaurant on Level 7 of the popular art gallery is the place to go. Pleasant views of the Thames, the Millennium Bridge and St. Paul's are sure to add a bit of magic to your meal.
Parliament Hill – this is a lovely spot on Hampstead Heath. The hill is popular with kite fliers, walkers and lovers of good views. The centre of London looks a long way away, but many landmarks are clearly visible, including St. Paul's, the London Eye, the BT Tower, the Gherkin, and Canary Wharf. There's an explanation board at the viewpoint naming the landmarks that you can see.
Primrose Hill – closer to the centre than Parliament Hill, Primrose Hill is a lovely sloping park just north of Regent's Park. At 63 metres above sea level at its highest point, you'll see London Zoo in the foreground with many recognisable landmarks in the distance.
Tower Bridge – at 44 metres, it's not the highest viewpoint in London but it is right on top of the River Thames (being a bridge 'n all) and so provides a unique perspective compared to the others in this list.
London Hilton on Park Lane – Galvin at Windows is a swish bar/restaurant on the 28th floor of the London Hilton, offering spectacular wraparound views of the capital. Just make sure you get a table by the window.
Balloon trip – if you'd prefer something altogether more gentler (bar the landing) than a helicopter ride, consider going up in a hot air balloon. Float high above the city and admire the breathtaking scenery from an enviable vantage point.
BT Tower – this place is on the wish list of those who love a lovely view. There was talk last year of a restaurant reopening at the top of the tower, though we're still waiting. It'd be London's only revolving restaurant, and provide 360 degree views - without having to leave your seat!