The Shard: sky high views at sky high prices
Towering 310m over London, the Shard is London’s newest, and certainly tallest, tourist attraction. But is it worth the £25 price tag? Today I took a trip up the Shard to find out.
I’ve just returned from a trip up the newly-opened Shard and I can confirm that the view from the top is indeed spectacular.
In fact, I’d say it’s unequaled elsewhere in London, with a 360º panorama featuring Canary Wharf to the east, the Gherkin directly north, St Pauls and Wembley stretching off to the West and miles of expanse to the southern coast. Looking directly below you London’s buildings look like little toys, the London Eye like a miniature fairground ride and London’s trains and buses like tiny insects.
It’s difficult to feel overawed by London’s size and complexity as you hurry about your daily business at ground level, but the View from the Shard really does put it all in perspective. However, at £25 for an adult ticket and £19 for a child, this is a very expensive family day out. Are you tempted?
The View from the Shard
I was once lucky enough to get a similar view while flying in to London City airport over Tower Bridge. But even then the view was only fleeting, and from just one perspective. The best thing about the View from the Shard is that there’s no time limit – you can wander at your leisure and even spend the whole day up there if you like, taking in the panorama in all of its majesty.
And the interactive telescopes – the first of their kind in Europe or so I’m told – give a fascinating close up of the Olympic Park out in the distance, or the boats on the river below, or even into people’s houses if you so wish (or maybe not). And there wasn’t even a queue to use these during my visit.
Last year my colleague Lorna Cowan asked for your thoughts on the best views in London. Millbank Tower, the Royal Observatory and Shooter’s Hill were all suggested. While I can’t claim to have visited them all, I can tell you that the Shard is twice the height of any other London viewing platform, and it’s so centrally located that I just don’t think it can be beaten.
Is the Shard worth the ticket price?
But is it worth it? For a family with two children, the cost is nearly £90 and that’s without shelling out for any souvenirs in the gift shop. Then there’s the inevitable, but annoying, insistence on taking a group photo and superimposing it on to the view – yours for an additional £30.
We also found a problem with the booking process. The website appears to show that there are only eight tickets remaining at all times. When we asked, we were told that this just means you can only book eight tickets in one transaction, so don’t feel hurried into booking. We’ve made the Shard aware of this quirk.
Of course, I was also lucky with the weather today. On a clear day you can see up to 40 miles in every direction, but add too much cloud that the experience would certainly be diminished. So are you planning to take in the View from the Shard? Or do you think that £25 is too much to pay?
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