With nearly 310 meters, The Shard close to the South Bank of River Thames is the tallest building of the United Kingdom. Opened on 1st February 2013, it is not only an architectural icon of London nowadays, but also a popular tourist attraction of the capital city. I was curious about how good the views are from there, when I visited the Observation Deck on a clear day in January 2020. The attraction is sold as The View From The Shard
The View from The Shard – Location & Admission
The Shard is located on the South Bank of the Thames, right at London Bridge train station. The train station and an underground mall offer some shopping attractions. The tower itself features a Shangri-La Hotel in the medium floors. You will typically reach it by rail or Underground. The entrance is at the buttom of the bulding.
There are various admission packages. Around the time of writing this posting, they had different kinds of pre-opening rebates (The Shard is scheduled to open after Covid-19 on 1st August 2020). I entered the attraction with an online ticket broker, which gave me an admission price around 15 GBP. If you fancy having a bubbly one or other freaky options, you easily end up around 40 to 50 GBP. The Shard opens its doors, daily, from 10:00 hrs. In summer, the attraction closes at 22:00 hrs, in winter already three hours earlier. One way to pay more for tickets is to opt for flex tickets instead of timed ones. An adult flex ticket, which allows you to pass the queues was 34 GBP pre-Covid-19. There is a weather policy in case of low visibility.
The View from The Shard – The Visit
When you visit The View From The Shard, you in fact visit three levels. You step out on level 68. Level 69 is the main view level. Everything is covered, you got the major bar there as well. The bar is also serving people at tables, which looks comparably bothering. After you may be tired of that view, you may also go up to the 72th floor. This one is just partially covered and thus quite windy and chilly. On the other hand, you are now on 244 meters (801 feet) – that is the highest point you can reach during your visit. What I completely missed were guide maps or any kinds of signage of info boxes which point your view to the key attractions you might spot from this almost-a-quarter-of-a-kilometer or one of the levels below. Before your visit, you have to pass a security control incl. luggage checks)
Views from The Shard
Due to the different levels, I circled around the views multiple times during my visit – so excuse me if some poctures may feel repetitive. One key issue, especially on the upper level, is that the glass is not vertical. This may look fancy from below – but leads to a hell of reflections. This strongly reminded me of the Dubai Frame, where the architectural concept also inevitably leads to reflections on the pictures from above.
In general, you have quite a nice view from up there. I enjoyed to watch the London Bridge rail traffic, but also the Thames Clippers and the H.M.S. Belfast from above. Attractions like St. Paul’s or The Tower are of course also cool to watch. Unfortunately, that’s about it as well. The London architecture is not that fortunate for tall building. The views to many other sights are simply blocked by other tall buildings.
The View from The Shard – Services
The key way to make you pay more money on your The View From The Shard experience is to give you the feeling that this is an outstanding moment of your life, which simply deserves a champagne or at least a nice cocktail. The prices at the bars are surprisingly balanced – I was definitely expecting a bloody rip-off. Of course a souvenir store is also a great option to spent some funds – the key one is next to the ticket counter, so that you can do sensible things while waiting for the time slot of your ticket.
The View from The Shard – My View
The Shard is such an impressive piece of architecture – and thus, it is not that surprising that The View from The Shard feels to be one of the new must-do attractions in London. I have to say that there are better options, for example the (free) Sky Garden or the (okay, very often damned full) London Eye. The view is just limited, the diagonal glass really has a high potential for frustration. All the places I listed above have limitations as well. If you are around and have a chance to get a cheap ticket, you might still go for it (the queues were really short during my visit…) – otherwise, there are so many alternative wonderful ways to spent time in the British capital.
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