/ Travel & Leisure

The Shard: sky high views at sky high prices

The Shard in London

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?

Comments
Member

I am interested, mainly because it might help to conquer my long standing fear of heights. I like the fact that the visit time is not restricted other than by the opening hours.

Now that cinema has descended into noisy action films full of gratuitous violence, being able to stand and watch the world go round has a lot of appeal. On the other hand, a visit to the countryside is enjoyable and avoids the need to go to London.

Member
Jason Flynn says:
4 February 2013

I was due to go last Saturday But my plans changed so I couldn’t go.
They will not under any circumstances agree to change the tickets to another dates unless you have notified them 14 days or more in advance, Sorry forgets any last minute problems.
If you then wish to alter the tickets to somebody else this costs an additional £15.
Various excuses were used however they feel that there queueing system Is a huge improvements over other similar buildings around the world and they can therefore justify the charges.
That was a direct quote from them.

Member
Linda M says:
5 February 2013

I went up the Shard on Friday – the first public day. Plenty of space for everyone to move around on both viewing levels, and no one rushing visitors up and down. It was a clear day and the view all round is spectacular.
To me it seems obvious that if it was easy to cancel/ change the tickets on grey days that is what a lot of people would do.

Member

I’d like to go up, but that price just seems far too high – I can’t imagine myself forking that out when for the same price I could get last minute tickets to a show, or visit a couple of special exhibitions.

If you live in London there are plenty of opportunities to head up high buildings and get fantastic views (the annual Open House weekend lets you go up the Gherkin), or you could befriend a city type and see if they’ll invite you for coffee in their offices (my sister used to work for a firm in one of the big skyscrapers, and I went up a couple of times to have coffee in their cafe). I appreciate these things might not be possible for tourists, though, so how about this? For three quid you can climb to the top of the Monument (although there are plenty of stairs to contend with). I know none of these things will be quite as high as the Shard, but for value for money they can’t be beaten!

Member

I agree, it is too much, particularly when you compare it not just with other views (St Paul’s is also worth a trip – it’s only £13 and you get to see the cathedral) but with other cities.

The Sydney Tower Eye, for example, is $18.20, that’s about £12 or half the price of the Shard. In Melbourne their tower experience has a 3m glass cube that sticks out so you can see down – assuming you fancy that. And the Eiffel Tower is only €14, so I’m finding it hard to see how the Shard is good value.

I think I will be following Nikki’s tips and waiting for the Open House weekends to get views from London’s towers.

Member

We shall probably try to get there the next time we are up in London. Although we have enjoyed the London Eye three times, the time goes quickly and you are only up high enough for a few minutes to take in the whole panorama. Linda has hit the nail on the head with regard to ticket cancellations. Is there also a ‘turn-up-and-go-up’ facility?

Member

Yes there are 200 tickets available for each slot online, but they keep a few back for walk-ins (they told me they have the capacity for up to 400 people at a time, but they don’t intend to run it at capacity). However, it’s more expensive if you just turn up – £29.95 for adults and £23.95 for children.

Member
Deirdre G says:
5 February 2013

I really recommend going to the Shard, having been there. It did not give me vertigo, eventhough I expected it would, because it felt very stable and safe inside looking out at London skyline. I think that there should be a much lower price for adults and children, something similar to the Empire State building ticket prices which is $25 for an adult and $6 for a child. I would suspect that they won’t get many tourists if they keep their prices that high.