Introduction

 

The London Eye is also known as the Millennium Wheel and is an iconic attraction that holds a major importance in the city of London. It’s popular with the tourists and is a testament to its unique appeal. Here are some key points to highlight its significance and popularity.

Iconic Landmark: The London Eye is not just an attraction, it’s a symbol of London. At just 135 metres tall, it stands proud to be British, and its position being above the river Thames makes the London Eye that extra special. The London Eye is easily recognisable worldwide, no other countries can compete with its towering height and structure. It was inaugurated on December 31, 1999, to commemorate the onset of the new millennium under the leadership of former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Originally conceived as a temporary installation, its status was later transformed to a permanent landmark with the council’s approval.

Unparalleled Views: What immediately springs to mind is London Eye’s unmatched panoramic views of London. From the capsules, visitors can gaze out at the city’s famous landmarks, including Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the River Thames and a glimpse of the Shard from afar.

New Year’s Eve: The London Eye serves as a prime location for the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacle, just moments before the clock strikes midnight.

Tourist Attraction: The London Eye has become a must-visit attraction for tourists from around the globe and it’s one of London’s Top 10 attractions to visit. It offers a unique and memorable perspective of the city, and many visitors include it as a top item on their London itinerary.

Cultural Significance: Over the years, the London Eye has been featured in numerous films, TV shows, and documentaries, further cementing its place in popular culture and global awareness.

Ride Experience: The 30-minute ride on the London Eye provides an immersive experience, complete with audio commentary that educates visitors about the city’s history and landmarks while they enjoy the breathtaking views.

Popularity Among Celebrities: The London Eye is not just beloved by tourists but also by celebrities and public figures who often make visits, further enhancing its reputation.

Photographic Gem: For photographers and Instagram enthusiasts, the London Eye offers a treasure trove of photo opportunities. The changing light conditions throughout the day make it a versatile subject.

Special Events: The London Eye hosts special events and themed rotations during holidays and significant occasions, drawing even more visitors to experience its charm.

Accessibility: The London Eye is easily accessible, located in the heart of central London along the South Bank of the River Thames. Its proximity to other attractions and public transportation makes it a convenient stop for tourists exploring the city.

Getting There

You can easily reach the London Eye from several major transportation hubs in London, including Charing Cross, London Bridge, Westminster Tube Station, and Waterloo Station, by using buses and the London Underground (Tube). Here’s how to get there from each of these locations:

From Charing Cross:

  1. Take the Northern Line (Black Line) southbound from Charing Cross Underground Station to Embankment Underground Station.
  2. Exit Embankment Station and walk to Westminster Bridge.
  3. Cross Westminster Bridge to reach the Southbank area, and you’ll see the London Eye.

From London Bridge:

  1. Take the Jubilee Line (Grey Line) westbound from London Bridge Underground Station to Westminster Underground Station.
  2. Exit Westminster Station and follow signs for the Southbank and the London Eye.

From Westminster Tube Station:

  1. If you’re already at Westminster Tube Station, simply follow the signs for the Southbank or the London Eye. It’s a short walk from the station to the attraction.

From Waterloo Station:

  1. Waterloo Station is the closest major railway station to the London Eye.
  2. You can take a leisurely walk from Waterloo Station to the London Eye in just a few minutes. Exit the station, head towards the River Thames, and you’ll easily spot the attraction on the Southbank.

Alternatively, if you prefer to take a bus from any of these locations, you can check the Transport for London (TfL) website or use a navigation app like CityMapper to find the most suitable bus route. Buses that stop near the London Eye include the 211, 77, and 381, among others.

Using either the Tube or buses, you’ll have convenient and accessible options to reach the London Eye from Charing Cross, London Bridge, Westminster Tube Station, or Waterloo Station, making it easy to enjoy this iconic London attraction.

London Eye
The London Eye

How much does the London Eye cost?

The cost of admission to the London Eye can vary depending on where and how you purchase it. If you’re considering whether to include it in your London itinerary, there are a few factors to keep in mind.

The London Eye is not part of the London Pass, and its cost may not always align with a budget traveler’s plans. The expense largely depends on the number of attractions you intend to visit on a given day. Even when combining tickets with other attractions to secure a discount, the overall cost can still be relatively high.

It’s worth noting that a single adult ticket for a 30-minute ride on the London Eye can range up to £30, whether you purchase it at the ticket booth or online. Therefore, it’s advisable not to purchase just a single London Eye ticket.

For those looking to make the most of their budget while exploring London’s attractions, consider bundled packages that include visits to other popular destinations like the Sea Life London Aquarium, the London Dungeon, Shrek’s Adventure, and Madame Tussauds. These package deals typically cost around £60 and can be obtained at one of the attractions’ reception areas on the South Bank. While this may still seem pricey for budget travellers, it represents significant savings compared to purchasing individual tickets for each attraction.

Ultimately, the decision to include the London Eye in your plans depends on your budget and the duration of your stay in London. To potentially reduce costs further, you can explore options like 2-for-1 tickets with National Express train or check lastminute.com for any available last-minute deals. This way, you can make the most of your London experience without breaking the bank, regardless of the duration of your visit.

Inside the capsule

As you step inside the spacious capsule of the London Eye, you’ll immediately notice that you’re not alone. There are other people sharing this remarkable experience with you. Surprisingly, despite the presence of around twenty-five individuals in the capsule, it doesn’t feel cramped or claustrophobic at all. There’s ample room for everyone to move around comfortably.

The capsule starts to move slowly, and if you happen to have a fear of heights, you’ll find solace in the London Eye’s gentle and secure ride. As you ascend, any initial apprehension dissipates, and by the time you reach the peak, any fear you had is replaced by sheer enjoyment.

Looking out through the capsule’s large windows, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking view of London’s most iconic tourist attractions. The city sprawls out beneath you, resembling a scene straight out of Legoland. It’s a sight to behold and a memorable experience for all.

Inside the capsule, you’ll find seating arranged to comfortably accommodate between 6 to 10 people. There’s also a designated photo spot, perfect for capturing the stunning views to share with your family and friends. It’s an opportunity to create lasting memories.

A quarter of the way up

A quarter of the way up, you’ll begin to feel that you’re already at a considerable height, offering you a fantastic initial view of London. It’s hard to imagine just how spectacular it will be once you reach the very top. The first two major attractions that will catch your eye are Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. 

Looking down, you’ll notice the bustling South Bank area, where pedestrians, including children playing in the playground, move about like tiny ants below you. Keep in mind that London is a city with a significant industrial presence, so as you ascend the wheel, it’s quite common to spot at least one construction site and ongoing roadworks scattered throughout the cityscape.

At the top of the London Eye

When you’re on the London Eye, your perspective will offer unique views of certain attractions. As you ascend, your gaze will be drawn to the prominent landmarks of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the River Thames. However, it’s essential to manage your expectations, as some buildings may be partially concealed by foliage.

While many have claimed that you can see all of London from the top, it’s worth noting that the view is somewhat limited. From your vantage point, you’ll have a clear line of sight to Buckingham Palace and its surrounding green spaces. However, other iconic landmarks like Tower Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral may only be partially visible due to the presence of tall trees.

As your gradual descent begins, your journey on the London Eye will come to a close, leaving you with a sense of relief upon returning to solid ground. The experience offers a unique perspective of London, but it’s important to understand that not all attractions will be fully revealed, making it an opportunity to appreciate the city’s beauty from a distinct angle.

The reality of visiting the London Eye

 

While the London Eye is a popular and iconic attraction, there are some cons and limitations to consider:

Limited Visibility of Some Attractions: As you mentioned, the London Eye provides great views of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the River Thames. However, it’s important to note that due to its location, some other famous landmarks and areas of London may not be as visible or may be obstructed by buildings or geography. If your goal is to see a wide range of London’s attractions in one go, you might be disappointed.

Weather-Dependent Experience: The quality of the view from the London Eye can be greatly affected by the weather. On a cloudy or rainy day, visibility may be reduced, and you may not get the clear, picturesque views you were hoping for.

Limited Time on the Eye: The rotation of the London Eye takes approximately 30 minutes. While this provides a decent amount of time to enjoy the view, some visitors might feel that it’s not enough to take in everything fully, especially if the weather is not ideal.

Cost Considerations: The London Eye can be relatively expensive, especially if you opt for the Fast Track ticket or if you are traveling with a family. Some visitors might feel that the cost is not justified, considering the limited number of attractions you can see.

Potential for Crowds: Even with Fast Track tickets, there can be lines and crowds, particularly during peak tourist seasons. If you prefer a quieter experience, this could be a drawback.

Lack of In-Depth Information: While the London Eye does provide audio commentary during the ride, it may not offer the same level of in-depth information about the city’s history and attractions as you would get from a guided tour or a visit to a dedicated museum or historic site.

Not Suitable for Those with a Fear of Heights: The London Eye’s height and the fact that it’s a rotating structure can be intimidating for some visitors, especially those who have a fear of heights.

Urban landscape: Amidst London’s bustling urban landscape, where construction and roadworks are commonplace, the London Eye provides a unique vantage point to catch sight of some of the city’s major attractions within a mere half-hour span. While not all landmarks can be seen in full detail, the experience offers a captivating “Lego-size” view of London’s highlights.

In conclusion, while the London Eye offers fantastic views and a unique experience, it’s essential to be aware of its limitations and consider your expectations and preferences when deciding whether to include it in your London itinerary. Depending on your interests and the type of experience you’re looking for, you may find other ways to explore and enjoy the city’s attractions that better suit your needs.

 

Is a visit to the London Eye worth your time and money?

 

The answer is a bit nuanced, depending on your priorities and preferences.

If you’re traveling on a budget, the London Eye’s relatively high cost for a 30-minute ride might give you pause. Additionally, the queues can be quite lengthy, which might lead you to consider purchasing a Fast Track ticket for a more streamlined experience. However, it’s important to note that the London Eye consistently ranks among the top 10 attractions to visit in London, thanks to its status as an iconic symbol of the city.

In terms of the view, it’s worth managing your expectations. While you’ll have a clear line of sight to major London landmarks such as Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, the overall daytime view can appear somewhat industrial, with many attractions obscured by trees and bushes. The River Thames flows below, providing a dynamic backdrop with stationary boats, moving vessels, and the occasional toot of a horn. You’ll also observe boat tours passing by, alongside the ever-present sights of cranes and ongoing road and building works.

However, the London Eye truly comes alive when the sun sets and the city lights up. The nighttime view is nothing short of spectacular, with twinkling lights adorning buildings and reflecting on the River Thames. Major attractions become illuminated in the dark, and the headlights from vehicles resemble red laser torches in motion.

So, the decision to visit the London Eye ultimately rests on your personal preferences. Are you drawn to its iconic status and the opportunity to see certain landmarks from a unique perspective? Or are you inclined to skip it in favor of other activities? For more information about the London Eye and other things to do in the South Bank area, you can reach out on Facebook or explore the nearby river Thames walkways. If you’re a fan of walking, you can also check out my post on recommended walks around London.

Either way, you’ll enjoy the view from outside and you can say you’ve seen it with your own eyes even without breaking the bank.

If you’re interested in visiting other attractions that’s included with the London Pass, I am a part of an affiliate part of an affiliate program with Go City – London Pass, a part of the London Pass group where you get great discount packages on major London attractions. If you book through me, I can offer your a 5% discount code AFFGOALL so you’ll save MORE money. BOOK NOW and unlock access to top attractions, skip-the-line privileges, and exclusive savings.

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In addition, I am able to recommend and advise on your travel plans before you book your travel holidays (vacation as the Americans call it). Contact me on Facebook if you want to tweak your itinerary to suit your taste.

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