Since 2013, visitors to London have been able to view the city from a completely new vantage point – the tallest building in Western Europe. The Shard, a pyramid-shaped skyscraper in the London borough of Southwark, is the city’s newest landmark. I’ve compiled the most important facts about The Shard, including my tips on buying tickets for the most breathtaking viewing platform in London: The View from The Shard. To me, the view was absolutely amazing!
The Shard in London
The architect Renzo Piano is responsible for designing some of the world’s most famous buildings. One of his latest masterpieces is The Shard in London. Renzo Piano designed The Shard as a vertical city serviced by London Bridge Station and including a shopping mall, offices, restaurants, a hotel, apartments and a viewing platform, The View from The Shard. Construction work began in March 2009, and the opening ceremony took place four years later, on February 1, 2013.
The Shard – where does the name come from?
You only need to glance at the building to understand why it’s called “The Shard” – because it’s shaped like a piece of broken glass. The design is truly remarkable. Over 11,000 panes of glass were used to create the facade. Inside the building, there are 44 elevators that travel at an average speed of around 20 feet per second.
The height of The Shard
Standing at a height of almost 1,004 feet, The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe. For a time, this skyscraper was the tallest tower-block in Europe before being outstripped by the Mercury City Tower in Moscow, which is 1,109 feet high. The Shard offers a magnificent view of many of London’s attractions, including nearby Tower Bridge and the London Eye. From the 800-foot-high observation deck known as The View from The Shard, you can see for a distance of up to 40 miles across London.
The View from The Shard – the viewing platform
The viewing platform known as The View from The Shard is on Levels 68 to 72 of The Shard.
- A good place to start exploring is the Cloudscape exhibition on Level 68. Here you can learn some interesting facts about the various cloud formations floating in the London skies.
- Your next stop is Level 69, which offers a magnificent 360° panoramic view of the UK capital. There are also some digital telescopes with screens up here that allow you to select day or night-time vision. In addition, you can zoom in on the city’s landmarks, and all the important facts about the relevant sites are displayed on the screen.
- The absolute highlight of any trip to The Shard is the breathtaking open-air view from Level 72. Warning: don’t venture up here if you’re afraid of heights! Even a trip to the restroom is an experience not to be missed – thanks to the amazing view!
Our visit to The View from The Shard
We wanted to explore The Shard for ourselves and view London from a very different perspective. We’re still overwhelmed by the breathtaking view!
Tickets for “The View from The Shard”
Glass of champagne
Only adults: £37
Simply print out your ticket and present it at the entrance to the building. You will be allocated the next available visiting slot by a member of staff. The elevator will then take you to Levels 68, 69 and 72 at breakneck speed (20 feet per second!). The View from The Shard is on Level 72.
- Kids under the age of 3 travel free. Tickets are valid for 3 months from the date of purchase.
- If you want to see London from the top of The Shard by night, I would recommend the Day and Night Ticket. That way you can enjoy the view in the morning and then come back in the evening to see the city lights twinkling in the dark. Tickets for adults start at 43 €.
- Important note: In very bad weather, the viewing platform is closed for safety reasons.
Buy tickets online and save up to 5 €!
The cheapest tickets for The Shard
Regular tickets cost £32 per person at the evening ticket booth. Tickets are available on the internet for £27:
Entry controls at The Shard
There are a few things to bear in mind when visiting The Shard. First of all, security checks are carried out, similar to those at airports. Bags and other personal belongings are electronically scanned. Large bags and rucksacks (in excess of 55 x 38 x 20 cm) are prohibited. Unfortunately, camera tripods aren’t allowed either. However, you are allowed to take cameras with you, which is just as well, as you really need to take some shots of the breathtaking view to remember your visit by.
The Shard Restaurants & Bars
There are three exclusive restaurants in The Shard. They’re located on Levels 31 to 33.
- Level 31 is home to Aqua Shard. This restaurant predominantly serves contemporary British cuisine. The spectacular 3-story-high Atrium Bar is also on this level.
- Located on Level 32 is Oblix, an up-market grill restaurant. The menu includes everything fans of grilled food could wish for.
- On Level 33, you can try out the culinary delights at Hutong. This restaurant serves all manner of delicacies from northern China.
The food at the restaurants is very good, and in some cases, the presentation is quite imaginative. In any event, you get excellent value for money here. The main course at Hutong costs an average of £18 (approx. 21 €), and at Oblix a grilled dish costs an average of £30 (approx. 35 €).
You can admire the London skyline from dawn till dusk while enjoying a tasty meal in one of the restaurants or sipping a delicious cocktail in the bar. If you wish to eat at a restaurant, you should definitely book a table in advance. Reservations aren’t usually accepted for the bar – you can simply drop by any time.
Important note: A strict dress code applies in the restaurants, especially for dinner. Sportswear, shorts, and flip-flops are taboo.
The Shard Hotel – Shangri-La
The Shard is home to the luxury hotel Shangri-La. No other hotel has a comparable panoramic view. On entering the lobby of the 5-star hotel on Level 35, you’re confronted with a magnificent view of the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the high-rise city banks. However, the view does come at a price: an overnight stay at this luxury establishment costs 500 € upwards. As a hotel guest, you can cast your eye across London from the comfort of your own bed. In addition to standard rooms, the hotel features suites, bars, and an in-house pool. However, measuring just 36 by 13 feet, the pool isn’t particularly big. The same cannot be said of the neutral-style rooms: on average they measure 452 square feet. The bathrooms feature a few special gadgets, such as heated toilet seats and TVs.
Tours to The View from The Shard
Thames River Cruise Including The View from The Shard
Experience London from the water and from lofty heights. The combination ticket includes an idyllic Thames river cruise, during which you’ll pass London’s major attractions. Afterward, you’ll travel the 1,004 feet to the top of The Shard to admire the fabulous view. Tickets cost 53 € per person, which is a considerable saving!
How to get to The Shard
The Shard is located in the historic London Bridge district. There are lots of stylish bars and classy restaurants in the surrounding area. It’s best to take the subway to London Bridge station (Northern Line and Jubilee Line). You can’t miss the impressive building when you exit the subway station.
The Shard opening hours
- The Shard is open daily from April through October from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Last admission is at 9:30 p.m.
- From November through March The Shard is open Sunday through Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Last admission is at 5:30 p.m.
- Thursday through Saturday the viewing platform is open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The View from The Shard is closed on Christmas Day.