The London Eye, Europe’s tallest Ferris Wheel, was built in the year 2000 to celebrate the millennium. It’s a massive structure (by London standards) that stands 443 feet tall and is made up of 32 pods which each represent one of the bureaus in London. The Eye was originally meant to be temporary; however, it was such an attraction that they ended up keeping it around. While the London Eye has proven to be quite a touristic draw, many still wonder whether a trip to the London Eye is worth the cost.
The first thing to know about the London Eye is that there are a ton of different types of packages. The standard adult admission ticket — which requires you to select a certain time slot — is £19.35 per adult.
From there the prices go up depending on whether you’d like a fast track and/or flexi ticket. The fast track ticket will have you waiting in no more than a 15 minute line (we only waited about 3 minutes) and considering how long the line can get during peak hours, I’d recommend the fast track for you if you’re at all on a time crunch. The flexi option can allow you to show up at any time during a designated day or if you pay a little more, you can show up at any time on any day during the week of your choice. The more flexibility you desire, the higher the price will be. These special tickets range from £24-37.
Tip: If you can’t decide whether you want to visit during the day or during the night, consider the pass that grants you access to both for about £24.
The London Eye offers a ton of specialty packages that you can look into if you’re in the mood of splurging (these range from £28-50 per person). Some of these include glasses of champagne, chocolate and wine tasting, and even whiskey tours. You can also book your own private capsule tour so you can experience the view all to your lonesome with romantic additions of champagne and truffles but that’s a pretty pricey option at £360. Personally, I don’t think it would be worth spending that much money for a mere 30 minutes of privacy but if you could afford to do so, you probably wouldn’t be questioning whether such an experience would be worth the money to begin with.
The London Eye Experience
If you go with the standard tickets, it takes thirty minutes for one rotation, thus you’ll have thirty minutes to take in the views, which is plenty of time. In fact, after about 20 minutes into it, you’ll likely feel like you’ve “seen it all.”
I think they stick about 20-25 people in each capsule which may sound like a lot but the capsules are pretty spacious and I think there’s enough room for you to comfortably enjoy your experience. I didn’t realize it but the London Eye never stops rotating even when they load and unload the occupants. It moves so slowly and smoothly, however, that it’s not an issue. (Note: if you are disabled they will stop it momentarily so that there’s no issues loading you on and off.)
The entire ride up and down is pretty smooth as well. From the time you step into the clear capsules, it’s only a matter of minutes before you ascend over the River Thames and have the birds eye view of London. A few more minutes and you’re approximately 440 feet in the air and can see the skyscrapers upstream on the River Thames, including The Shard. If you look really closely with a zoom lenses or binoculars you can see the Tower of London and even, Tower Bridge. On a clear day, you can see as far as Wembley Stadium.
There’s a couple of tablets in each capsule that will help you point out the buildings that you’re looking at which makes it a bit more interesting of a ride. I’d done a lot of research so I knew what most of the buildings were that we were looking at but it was still pretty helpful to give it a glance here and there.
From time to time as the London Eye gains elevation, you can feel an occasional shift in the capsule as the rotating mechanisms change but nothing that should startle you too bad. In fact, you may not even feel anything at all. The capsules are all outfitted with air conditioning but if the sun is hitting your windows directly, it can get a little warm as ours did so you may need to ditch the jacket or sweater once you get in.
One of the best views in London
The view from the London Eye is, in my opinion, one of the best in London. Sure, the Shard is higher and offers a more far-reaching view. However, the Shard is much further upstream along the River Thames so you’re not offered that “money shot” with Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster right in front of you. To me that’s the quintessential London shot and one of the reasons I feel like it was worth the cost.
I do kind of wish we would have timed our visit about an hour later when the sun was setting. We got in the London Eye around 7:15 pm and the Sun was still sitting pretty high considering it is late May. However, I think capturing the sunset from the Eye would’ve added a lot of drama to the photographs and it also would’ve been nice to see London lit up at twilight. The glares in the windows aren’t too bad but you’ll likely have to work around them depending on the lighting conditions. Also, unless something has changed, no tripods are allowed on the London Eye, so keep that mind if you’re thinking about getting some night shots.
Overall, it’s a bit pricey of an experience but when you factor in the great views that the London Eye offers I think that it’s worth the money for the majority of people who will go to experience it, especially if you double dip with the day and night experience.