When The Shard was under construction, I would regularly catch the train into London Bridge and look up at the steel and glass monolith with deep suspicion. I couldn’t see how it was going to add to London’s skyline.
For some reason, I didn’t travel in to London Bridge station for a while. When I eventually made my return, I looked up and, bam, there was The Shard, almost completed and looking truly stunning.
Since that day I’d wanted to visit. Every time I’d arrive at London Bridge, step outside the station and look up. Indeed, photographs of The Shard have appeared on this blog more than once (see here and here).
The building hosts The View From The Shard, set 240 metres above the ground it is the highest public viewing platform in the UK. I didn’t have to think too long before accepting an invitation to visit with my daughters.
As we made our way inside, Helen admitted she was a little scared because of the height of the building but her fears thankfully evaporated as soon as we got into one of the high speed lifts. In case you are wondering, yes, my ears did gently pop as we neared the top travelling at six metres a second.
I hadn’t appreciated The View From The Shard is made up of two viewing platforms. There is one at level 72 at which the corners are open to elements. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s perfectly safe, it opens up to the world a little below ceiling level. There’s no chance of you accidentally toppling over the edge (see picture below)!
Helen, Izzy and I picked off the major landmarks we could see; Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, the London Eye and so on. Helen was most taken by the Strata Building because of the three distinctive wind turbines that sit at the top of it.
Two things struck me. First, the perspective The View From The Shard gives you of the River Thames. You can see its winding course through the city and appreciate how much traffic uses the river. Secondly, just how far you can see into the distance.
Looking out in a vaguely northerly direction, I could just make out Alexandra Palace. To the south, the North Downs in Surrey and Sussex were clearly visible on the horizon.
Apparently you can see for 40 miles. That said, we were lucky to visit on a very clear day.
The second level is Level 69. This platform is completely enclosed. Being slightly lower down The Shard’s pinnacle shape, it is also slightly bigger. Needless to say, the views are identical but there is an ‘interactive telescope’ that enables you to see what various street scenes look like at different times of day and at different points in history. Along with the audio guide, this feature kept Helen and Izzy entertained.
In summary The View From The Shard was a great afternoon out for the kids and I. At three years old, Izzy was perfectly happy to come along, but I think she was possibly a little on the small side to appreciate it fully. Being a few years older, Helen could pick out some of the buildings and got more out of the experience.
As for me, I could have spent all day going around and around taking in the various views and taking pictures. If I had been with Mrs Adams I might even have bought a glass of champagne from the champagne bar on Level 72.
The only thing I would add is that this is a premium attraction and ticket prices reflect this. A special offer for children is about to commence (see below) but advance adult tickets cost £25.95 while tickets for children aged between four years and 15 years would cost £19.95.
If you are thinking of visiting The View From The Shard with your family, a half term visit would be well worth considering. Tickets cost £29.95 per adult, but between 22 October and 30 October children between four years of age and 15 years of age go free (two children max per adult ticket). You can book tickets online for entry between 1000hrs and 2100hrs with last entry at 2130hrs.
Access to The View From The Shard was provided for review purposes.