During the February half term we visited the View from the Shard. We have always wanted to visit this iconic structure in London so we were all really excited when we got the chance to visit. At 800ft it is the highest viewing platform in London, the UK and Western Europe providing a 360 degree panoramic view of the entire city of London and beyond.
We purchased tickets as a packages from Virgin Experience Days which was really good value, it’s not the cheapest day out but it does give breath taking views over London from its tallest building. The girls were really excited to visit the Shard as they had visited the Spinaker tower in Portsmouth the year before and loved it!
I would recommend that you pre book your tickets for the Shard especially during busy periods such as school holidays. You select a date and time slot to suit and you have a 30 minute time slot to arrive, but once you are in you can stay for as long as you like.
The benefit of pre booking your tickets is that you don’t have to wait in the stand by queue of people waiting to purchase tickets which is also more expensive. The disadvantage of pre booking though is the British weather. We were lucky on our visit that the weather was great and we could see for miles, but if it was a cloudy day then this would affect the experience.
The Shard is located just around the corner from London bridge station so it’s very easy to get to and very well signposted. There are large video screens either side of the entrance.
Upon arrival you enter the lobby which is clean and ultra modern. We collected our tickets and we waited in the short queue going through airport style security screening before we were allowed to go up in the lift.
In the lobby area is also were the toilets are located, and there are no toilets as you go up so it’s a good time to go if you need.
Before going up on the lift to level 33 there is a photographer and green screen where you can get your family photo in front of a London view. The lift is an experience in itself with thematic music and video screens showing you soaring above London landmarks.
When we reached level 33 in the first lift you walk through an area with giant sprawling maps on the walls and floor showing before you enter another speeding lift right up to level 68. The two lift journeys take about a minute and leaving the lift we walked from level 68 onto level 69 which is the main triple height viewing platform
Once at the top the view is simply amazing, it makes London look as if it’s made from tiny Lego pieces, even Big Ben and the London Eye looked like they were toys!
On a clear day you can see 40 miles in every direction and we could see in the distance Canary Wharf, Olympic Park and Wembley stadium along with the skyscrapers such as the iconic Gherkin and the Tower of London.
There are very cool interactive touch screen tablets which highlight specific landmarks dotted around the perimeter of the shard which the girls loved using, and the telescopes to zoom in on the view.
We were told by staff that over 200 London attractions on the telescopes and we found an option to display pre-recorded day and night time views of London.
Even though it was busy when we visited it never felt overcrowded
There is a refreshments area on the 69th floor where you can purchase champagne and snacks. We asked the staff member if the children could have a plastic champagne flute for their water we purchased but were told this was not possible which was a shame.
If the 69th floor was not high enough then you can go even higher, we walked the steps up to the 72nd floor which took you to another viewing level that is 240m above the ground!
The main difference on this floor apart from being slightly higher is that it’s outdoor which makes the experience even more special. The girls loved looking up so they could see the clouds and the very top of the building.
When we had seen enough we travelled back down in the lift and exited via the gift shop which sold branded Shard and London gifts. This shop is also referred to as the highest shop in the UK! As you would expect the shop is very expensive but you can purchase some Shard branded items such as notebooks or pens like we did for the girls at a price that won’t break the bank.
This is also where you collect the photograph if you had it taken before going up in the lift, but these are very overpriced and not worth the money. It’s better to ask the staff members to take a family photo at the top of the shard for free!
Although it is not the cheapest attraction the view from the Shard provides a memorable experience. To view London from such a height was breath taking and one which we really enjoyed and would recommend.
Price: Between £24.95 and £100 per adult. £18.95 for children. Under 4’s go free (no ticket required)
Where to buy: The cheapest price tickets can be bought on this website
Location: Directly outside of London Bridge Station on Joiner Street. The attraction is on bus routes 43, 48, 141, 149 and 21.