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Just imagine hovering above the London landscape hundreds of feet into the air, and looking down to enjoy a breathtaking perspective of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, and all of the city's top landmarks. This experience is waiting at the London Eye - one of the most visible attractions along the Thames, and a favorite destination for any visitor who appreciates an absolutely unparalleled view.
Built to coincide with the millennium celebrations, the London Eye was formally opened on New Year’s Eve 1999 by then Prime Minister Tony Blair, and later opened its doors to the public in March of 2000. Modeled in part after the Great Wheel, which was a favorite feature of the 1895 Empire of India Exhibition at London’s Earls Court, this new model was heralded as the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, until that record was surpassed by the Star of Nanchang in 2006, the Singapore Flyer in 2008, and the High Roller (in Las Vegas) in 2014.
Nevertheless, the London Eye remains Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK, with more than 3.75 million visitors every year. Outfitted with colored LED lights that shine in the evening hours, the London Eye continues to steal the scene in its central locale next to Westminster Bridge and Westminster Palace.
The London Eye is nearly 400’ feet (or 120 meters) wide, and 443’ feet (or 135 meters) high. This expansive height means that on a clear day, sightseers can enjoy views that extend up to 25 miles away.
The London Eye features 32 sealed and air conditioned compartments, which represent each of the Boroughs in London. Each compartment can hold up to 28 people, and are intricately designed not to sway or rock as the London Eye slow ascends and descends in regular cycles. The movement is at a gradual pace, as the wheel spins at approximately .6 miles per hour, or about 10 inches per second. Renovated and refurbished in 2009, the capsules within the London Eye are comfortable and relaxing, so that visitors can just lean back and take in the sprawling views.
The London Eye operates daily, except for Christmas day. The hours are seasonal, and generally range from 11:45 until 4:45 in the winter months, to 10:45 until 7:45 in the summer months. Tickets can be purchased in advance online, and visitors also have the option to reserve Fast Track or “special” trips such as a Champagne Experience. In addition, tickets can also be purchased at the window at the base of the London Eye.
The London Eye is wonderfully close to a host of attractions in the heart of London. From this site, visitors can cross Westminster Bridge to visit Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, or can stroll along the Thames on The Queen’s Walk to enjoy the Jubilee Gardens Park or the Sea Life London Aquarium. A number of river cruises also depart from the adjacent Westminster Pier, which makes the London Eye a fine launching point for lengthier, on-the-river adventures.
London Eye is located on the banks of the Thames, just across the bridge from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. As such, it’s in the heart of central London, and is nicely close to a wide array of attractions.
The closest station to the London Eye is Waterloo Underground, which is located on the Northern or black line.
Additional stations that are an easy walk away include Lambeth North (also located on the Northern / black line), and Westminster, which is located on the Circle (yellow) and District (green) line.
With impressive vistas that encompass up to 25 miles, it’s no wonder that the London Eye has rapidly become one of the city’s top attractions. Enjoy a slow-paced ride where the outstanding views come complimentary with every trip, and see all the sights of the city on a single and exhilarating visit.
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