If you are a thrill-seeker and you don't know the fear of heights, on your next trip to London you cannot miss what has become the latest tourist attraction in the city: The View panoramic viewpoint.
Located in The Shard, the tallest building in Western Europe, it is, together with the famous London Eye, the best place to see London from above. Do you want to know how to get tickets? Read on!
The most convenient option to enjoy the best view of London
If you are planning your trip to London and you want to make sure you have time to enjoy the most spectacular viewpoint in Europe, it is best to book your ticket online at the best priceFrom $ 36 at Hellotickets
Keeping in mind that this is a very popular viewpoint in London, the best option to guarantee access on a specific day is to buy tickets for The Shard online and in advance for $ 40. This way you will have direct access and you will also save some money by being a little cheaper than at the box office.
Since it opened its doors in 2012, the modern architecture of this 1,000-feet skyscraper has defined the city's skyline. Even if you haven't visited it yet, if you've strolled through the London Bridge area you've probably been struck by its imposing height and futuristic, pyramidal design that contrasts with the surrounding landscape.
Its glass-covered exterior is a true marvel. When the sunlight reflects on The Shard, it gives the impression that the skyscraper unfolds all its beauty to attract, as if it were a spell, all eyes to its slender and pointed profile and, in passing, all the curious to its interior.
Why I like this option: I am not exaggerating if I say that the viewpoint of The Shard is the one with the most amazing views of the British capital, even more than the London Eye because its height is almost twice that of the famous Ferris wheel.
Recommended if... you feel like visiting this architectural marvel without having to queue for tickets at the door.
The tourist pass that opens the doors to London's top attractions (including The Shard!)
If you plan to visit more than one museum, monument, or attraction in addition to The Shard, you will most likely save money compared to buying each ticket separately.From $ 75 at Hellotickets
This tourist card gives you access to The View from The Shard and more than 80 attractions in the British capital, including admission to the sightseeing bus and the Thames river cruise. The London Pass is highly recommended for those travelers who want to see as many attractions as possible during their trip.
You pay according to the number of days of validity, which, on the one hand, saves money (because you are not paying each ticket individually) and on the other hand, saves time as it gives you fast-track access to the main sites of interest in the city. In addition, it allows you to enjoy special offers in a lot of stores, restaurants, theaters and other entertainment venues in London.
If you want to know more about the London Pass, I advise you to have a look at the article The Best London Tourist Card where you will find all the detailed information.
This tourist card gives you access to The View from The Shard and to more than 80 attractions in the British capital, including entrance to the sightseeing bus and the Thames river cruise.
Why I like this option: The London Pass will give you access not only to The View at The Shard but also to other must-see attractions in London. Do the math, because no matter the kind of trip you're planning, it's probably worth it to buy this card.
Recommended if... you are planning to visit several attractions saving time and money during your trip.
What is The View from The Shard like?
If I had to describe it in a few words, this viewpoint is a must-see and an absolutely thrilling experience. Being up there looking down on London and the Thames from the highest observatory in Western Europe is a blast. It gives the impression that time and the city stand still before our eyes.
It all starts when you reach the entrance to The Shard, in the London Bridge district. When you look up from the ground, you feel like an ant as you see how this colossus seems to have no end.
It gives you an idea of the magnificent views that await you at the top and the excitement builds. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, step by step.
The ultra-fast elevators of The Shards
When it's time to enter The Shard you have to pass a security check like at airports and in just a few minutes the skyscraper's staff guides you to the elevator you need to take to go up to The View. The complex has 44 elevators in total but there are 2 that lead to the spectacular views from the top.
As in other famous observatories such as Top of the Rock or The Edge in New York, The Shard's elevators are also interactive as panoramic images of London are projected on their walls as a preview of what we will see at the observation deck. With these ultra-fast elevators in less than a minute I climbed 68 floors without even noticing. Wow!
Entering The View
Being the highest observatory in the city, without a doubt, The View offers the best aerial view of London.
It is divided into three floors, two of which are enclosed and an open terrace. Number 69 is a glassed-in floor offering a 360-degree panoramic view of the British capital. At such a height, everything can be seen as if it were a toy model: St. Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, River Thames, Town Hall, The Gherkin, London Eye, among many other sites.
The truth is that here you spend a very entertaining time scanning the landscape of the city to identify its tourist attractions one by one.
Also, on this floor are the digital telescopes with touch screens that allow you to see the city both day and night zooming and receiving real-time information of the main attractions of London to understand its past and present.
The View's pinnacle
But, if you ask me, the experience takes on a whole new level when you reach the pinnacle of The View on the 72nd floor of the skyscraper. After ascending a short flight of stairs you'll reach the uncovered observation deck of The Shard from where on a clear day you'll have stunning panoramic views for up to 40 miles around.
The feeling you get here is that of standing on the edge of a cliff as you feel the impact of the air on your face - everything seems small and immense at the same time! Adrenaline rushes and your skin will inevitably crawl if you are afraid of heights. The occasion is worth it, so take advantage of the moment to take all the videos and selfies you want of the visit.
If you like strong emotions, I promise you that seeing London at your feet from The Shard, a thousand feet high, is a very exciting feeling that you will not forget.
The finishing touch to a visit to The View
As it's not every day you get to see a place as spectacular as this, we felt like spending more time at The Shard enjoying the atmosphere and we took advantage of the visit to have a drink at the observation deck bar (there is a bar on the 69th and 72nd floors) as the entrance includes a glass of champagne Moët & Chandon Imperial Brut if you select this option in the reservation.
Since the prices on the menu are not very cheap, I recommend you choose this option if you don't want to pay too much for a drink. Having a drink up there with those wonderful views is an excellent end to the visit, isn't it?
What is the best time of day to visit The Shard?
I would almost say that the experience at The Shard depends more on the weather in London than the time, as on a sunny day you'll see more of the city than on a rainy one, but really the views at The View are mind-blowing at any time of day.
However, my favorite time is at sunset. Watching the sunset over London and the River Thames as the lights of the city slowly illuminate is unparalleled - it's a magical feeling!
One of the most beautiful experiences you will have during your trip and one that I highly recommend.
Isabel's Traveler Tip
On a clear day you will be able to see for 40 miles around. Look closely and you'll even see the Houses of Parliament.
What are the opening hours for The Shard viewpoint?
- Thursday to Saturday open from 10 AM to 10 PM (access until 08:30 PM).
- Sunday to Wednesday open from 10 AM to 7 PM (access until 05:30 PM).
- Closed on December 25.
How long does it take to see The Shard?
The duration of the visit is approximately 1 hour. You can take advantage of the first 45 minutes to enjoy the views from the observation deck and reserve the remaining time to relax at The View bar while sipping a glass of champagne.
Isabel's Traveler Tip
Saturdays and Sundays are the days The Shard gets the most visitors so if you want to check it out on a weekend, I advise you to go early to confirm your preferred visiting hours.
How to get to The Shard?
The Shard is located in the historic district of London Bridge, close to such interesting places as the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, the modern Town Hall, The Borough Market, or the HMS Belfast. In the surrounding area, you will also find many trendy restaurants and bars to stop by after you visit the skyscraper.
There are several ways to get to The Shard:
- Underground: Northern and Jubilee lines at London Bridge Underground Station.
- Bus: Buses 43, 48, 141, 149 and 521.
- Train: Southern and South-Eastern trains at London Bridge Station.
Getting to know The Shard: a bit of history
In 2012, the modern architecture of the prestigious Renzo Piano (designer of the famed Pompidou Centre in Paris together with Richard Rogers) changed the London skyline forever and a few years have been enough for it to become one of the icons of the British capital.
The Shard was born with the idea of being a vertical city where "people could work, live and relax". That is why this 87-story skyscraper has offices (floors 3-28), restaurants (31-33), the Shangri-La Hotel (34-52), several private apartments (53-65), The View (68-72) and the needle (73-87) open at the top through which the building "breathes" and releases the heat generated inside.
The Shard was built with an ecological vocation. No less than 95% of the materials used in its construction are recycled, and the huge glass window that covers the entire skyscraper was designed with photovoltaic panels that make it possible to take advantage of sunlight and reduce energy consumption emissions.
But Renzo Piano's project not only sought to erect the tallest skyscraper in Western Europe but also to regenerate the London Bridge area, one of the city's busiest railroad stations.
Its entrance was renovated and it now houses a retail arcade called The Retail Arcade managed by The Shard. It has a little bit of everything: from clothing, perfume, and cosmetic stores to hairdressers and barbershops, as well as several cafes where you can have a snack.
You can take advantage of the visit to the viewpoint The View from The Shard and then take a stroll through the mall and do some shopping. You might just find the perfect souvenir you've been looking for.
Did you know?
Before Moscow's Mercury City Tower (1,112 feet) was built, The Shard skyscraper (1,017 feet) held the record for the tallest building in Europe.
Other breathtaking views in London...
If you are one of those travelers who love to enjoy London from above, another must-see is The London Eye, which was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world at the beginning of the 21st century until it was overtaken by the Nanchang Star (China) and the Singapore Flyer (Singapore) later on.
The London Eye is a panoramic rotating observatory (360º) and an icon of the British capital. You will find it in the heart of London, in the Riverside Building in County Hall Westminster Bridge Road.
Have your camera on the ready because from here you will take some spectacular pictures of Big Ben, St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, or Buckingham Palace that you can add to your collection of the London skyline that you start at The Shard.
If you want to know how to get on the most famous Ferris wheel in the world, I recommend you take a look at the article Tickets for the London Eye where you will learn how to get the cheapest tickets with priority access.