The entire time I lived in London, I put off taking the London Eye simply because I was waiting for someone to come visit me to do it.
I find it one of the most tourist attractions in London and despite having lived in London for almost seven years, it’s one of those things you say, but come on, sooner or later I’ll do it. There’s no point in doing it now, sooner or later I’ll go with someone who comes to visit us.
Well, first Covid, then the return to Italy, the fact is that I hadn’t yet get on the most famous wheel in Europe. I would add that it is also the world’s tallest cantilevered wheel in the world, with its 424 meters in circumference and 135 meters in height!
But, a trip to London at the end of August this year finally led me to visit it and in this article I’ll tell you my opinion on whether or not it’s worth investing those £30 each to go up there.
In this article I will also give you advice on how to maximize the cost of the ticket.
What is the London Eye?
London Eye literally means an eye on the world of London.
The height of the London Eye is 135 metres: it is only supported on one side and this is what separated by a wheel. It is called an architectural marvel because of this unique design.
Conceived and designed by husband and wife team David Marks and Julia Barfield in response to a 1993 competition inviting Londoners to build a new landmark to commemorate the new millennium. The competition was actually a flop, without a decisive winner, the idea was born and just had to be put into practice.
The wheel opened on 9 March 2000 – it was originally only supposed to stay open for five years, but it became a permanent London landmark.
Originally called the Millennium Wheel, it was renamed the London Eye in 2011 due to the unique views that the wheel offers.
Why visit the London Eye?
With its 33 cabins, the London Eye has the best panoramic view of Big Ben and Parliament.
It is possible to find other panoramic points in the city (and even free) but none allows you to see Big Ben so close.
We went on the London Eye the first day we arrived in London. Thanks to the good weather, we wanted to immediately take advantage of the blue sky to admire the city! But I also have to say that it was nice to say goodbye to London again after a year, right from here. It is, after all, one of the symbols of London, and one of the experiences to have in life.
My children had always wanted to go up it: when we returned to London, there was no question of us not going up it!
And I admit that seeing Big Ben and the Parliament from such a privileged point is priceless.
You might also be interested in reading: 10 things to know about Big Ben
The experience on board the London Eye
The London Eye rotates at 26 m2 per second: its movement is slow and you don’t notice the movement once inside. We realise that it is turning, because the surrounding landscape changes. Unlike a Ferris wheel, which stops and starts letting people on and off, the London Eye keeps moving. Due to its slow pace you can easily board the capsule.
There are a total of 32 capsules, one for each district of London. The capsules, however, are numbered 1 to 33 as the number 13 was eliminated to preserve good luck. Superstitious!
The capsules can hold up to 25 passengers and the entire London Eye can hold 800 people per ride – equal to the capacity of eleven red double-decker London buses!
What can you admire from the London Eye?
As I said before, depending on how clear the day you find, you can range up to 30 miles away to Windsor Castle!
But even if it is cloudy, you will see many of the main attractions such as:
- Big Ben and Parliament
- Westminster Abbey
- Buckingham Palace
- St James’ Park
- Hyde Park
- St Paul’s cathedral
- Tate Modern
- Millemmium Bridge
- Jubilee Gardens near the London Eye
- The Shard
When is it best to get on the London Eye?
In my humble opinion, the most important thing is that the day is clear: it doesn’t matter whether it’s early in the morning or in the afternoon. We decided to go in the afternoon, at 4pm. There were people and although we hadn’t purchased the fast track ticket (skip the queue) we had to wait just over ten minutes.
And even if on our shift, the cabin was quite full of people, there is time to be able to take photos with Big Ben and the Thames in the background, without anyone around.
Even in the evening it must be fascinating to go up there, you decide when is best based on your itinerary.
How long does a ride on London Eye last?
The London Eye allows you to admire different corners of the city from a rotating perspective that slowly changes over 30 minutes.
You can enjoy every angle, take photos and find time to relax and enjoy the moment, as you can see from the photo above of the Shard.
Useful information for the London Eye: timetables and tickets
It is possible to board the London Eye from 11.00 to 18.00 from Monday to Friday and from 10.00 to 20.30 on Saturday and Sunday.
To get on the London Eye there are two types of tickets. The first is the standard ticket: £30 for adults (£27 if purchased online) and £24 for children and teenagers aged 3 to 15. The second is the fast track ticket, which allows you to skip the queue: £40 for adults (even if purchased online they cost £37) and £34 for children and teenagers aged 3 to 15. Children under 3 years old are free.
Tickets booked online are not open-ended, but allow you to guarantee a place on the date and time you prefer, availability permitting. If you already have clear ideas and want to guarantee a place at a discounted price, I leave you the link below to book them.
However, I recommend purchasing combo tickets with other attractions, such as Madame Tussaud’s, the Hop on Hop off bus tour or the Thames cruise, to optimize the cost.
How to get to the London Eye
The London Eye is located along the South Bank of the River Thames, on the South Bank. The closest stops are Waterloo and Westminster. If it is your first time visiting London, I recommend you read my article on how to get around London, where I also explain whether to use the Oyster and when to get around by public transport.
If you already know how to get around, you might be interested in knowing some curiosities about the trains which Londoners call Tube.
London Eye Tickets / Combo Tickets
I’ll leave you the direct links for the combo tickets:
- Standard and Fast Track Tickets
- Combo ticket covering the London Eye, the Thames cruise and an on-off ticket for the Big Bus.
- Combines the London Eye with the Tower of London and St Paul
- Walking tour of London’s main attractions + London Eye
- Combo London Dungeon and London Eye
What to see near the London eye?
- The first time in London with children
- Where to eat on a budget in London
- How to get around London
- How to save money like a local in London
We were guests of the London Eye who asked us for an honest review which I have expressed in this post.