One thousand years of history at over 800 feet. That’s what you can expect on a visit to the viewing platform at The Shard. Opened in 2013, this impressive new addition to the London skyline is the tallest building in the EU, and at nearly twice the height of the next highest viewing platform in the city, it offers unparalleled views over London.
Two high-speed lifts whisk you up to the 68th floor. From the moment you exit the lift you’re greeted by a spectacular panorama of the city. From nearly 800 feet in the air the entire city of London looks like a model town beneath your feet.
You’re free to stay up here as long as you like, so take your time. Whether you’re new to London or are a regular visitor, there’s plenty to see from this height. From up here you can witness 1,000 years of London’s history before you, from the medieval Tower of London to the glittering glass Gherkin and everything in between.
Spot the distinctive London Eye, unmistakable St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the deep green of Regent’s Park. Looking east you can see the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and the Olympic Stadium. Kids will love the observation deck’s telescopic viewfinders. Integrated with software, these interactive devices are free to use and will help you locate and identify London’s most notable buildings and landmarks. As a visitor, it’s great fun to spot all the places you’ve been or everywhere you plan to go.
After soaking in the scenery from the first two levels, climb the stairs to the open-air viewing platform on the 72nd floor. This is the true top of The Shard and stands at a staggering 802 feet above the ground. Less crowded than the lower floors, it’s the best spot for panoramic photos and the obligatory selfie. If you’re not the selfie type, The Shard’s friendly staff is more than happy to take pictures for you.
As with most attractions in London, it’s a good idea to secure tickets to The Shard in advance, especially if you plan on visiting on a holiday, weekend or Friday night. One concern a lot of visitors have is the weather. Let’s face it: London doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to clear skies. Luckily, if the weather doesn’t cooperate during your visit and visibility is limited, you’re welcome to come back for free. How brilliant is that?
In the Area
There’s plenty to see and do after descending back down to the ground. Borough Market, London’s most renowned foodie destination, is just down the road. History buffs and boys of all ages will love a visit to the nearby HMS Belfast, a former WWII Royal Navy ship. Stroll west along the river’s edge to visit the Golden Hinde II, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and bustling Southbank to make a whole day London experience.
Cheylene Thongkham is a writer, travel blogger and American transplant in London. You can read more about her life as an expat and adventures around the world at: www.girlinlondon.com
(Image Credits: All images by the Author)