View from the Shard vs London Eye – Which is Better?
Published 17 January 2013
Now that the View from the Shard tourist attraction has opened, which one should you go for as a London tourist? After all, no visit to London would be complete without having a panoramic view of London above the skyline of buildings.
The View from the Shard is a new viewing gallery in The Shard, which at 244m above ground will be the highest point in all of Europe. The View from the Shard wins easily here when compared to the London Eye, which only stretches to 135m high at its maximum. So you will definitely be able to see more of London from the Shard – apparently, you can see up to 40 miles of London in every direction on a clear and sunny day… we don’t get many of those days in a year in London though! So in terms of height, the View from the Shard definitely wins hands down.
Both attractions offer 360 degree views around. Although I have to say that the View from the Shard is probably the better one, having floor to ceiling windows that is flat, versus the curved glass on the London Eye that has metal supports running at regular intervals.
While both the London Eye and View from the Shard are “indoors” and protected from the elements, there is an extra viewing gallery on the 72nd floor of the Shard that is somewhat exposed and outdoors, although the windows are still more or less floor to ceiling height. So not truly exposed – but if you go on a cloudy day, you might find yourself surrounded by clouds all around!
The main point of both attractions is the view that you get. With the View from the Shard, you do get a little bit extra – there’s some really funny artwork in the lobby just after you go through x-ray and security scanning. There are these giant pieces of London art with humorous pictures of famous Londoners interacting together:
When you board the lift to go up, make sure to look at the ceiling – there are 4 massive TV panels there, and you will be treated to a audiovisual show to entertain you on the otherwise boring lift ride up. Disappointingly, they didn’t build the lifts on the outside of the building with glass panels, so no views of London from within the lifts!
When you reach the intermediary stage, at floor 33, there’s an all-enveloping graffiti word map of London on the floor and walls. Fun stuff to pass the time with while waiting for the next – and final – lift to bring you up to floor 68.
Walk up the short flight of steps, and you’re at floor 69, the main viewing gallery with panoramic views of London. For the kids, there are some interactive binoculars, called Tell:scopes, that allows you to point at a particular part or building of London to get a zoomed in view and some information about important landmarks in London.
Another quirky advantage of the View from the Shard over the London Eye are the bathroom facilities – not only are their hotel style with your own sink and mirror in each cubicle, but check out the floor to ceiling glass wall in the cubicle! You can do your business while gazing out over all of London. Just hope that no-one is peering back with a pair of binoculars!
In terms of opening hours, the View from the Shard is open from 9am to 10pm daily, while the London eye is only open from 10am to 9:30pm latest – so both will give you either day or night views, depending on your preference. My preference will be to either go London Eye or Shard during the day, as I think London’s a lot more interesting than the night shot because we don’t have lots of tall skyscrapers like New York or Tokyo.
Pricewise, there’s quite a big difference here. If you book in advance, the London Eye costs £17.28 while the View from the Shard costs £24.95 for adults. Prices on the day without advanced booking are more expensive. And the key advantage of the View from the Shard is that you can stay as long as you like at the top – while on the London Eye, you’ll spend a max of 30 minutes on the wheel for the ride, and only really a few minutes right at the top of the rotation.
However, if you’re a savvy Londoner or tourist, you can get 2-for-1 or half price tickets for the London Eye very easily – just do a Google search and there are lots of National Rail and Day’s Out offers, to name just a few.
So which is the better option, London Eye or View from the Shard? It’s a no brainer if you don’t take cost into consideration – View from the Shard is the clear winner. But if you can get 2 for 1 or half price on the London Eye – I think that still beats the Shard marginally.