Occupying levels 68, 69 and 72 of the tallest building in the UK, the View from the Shard offers the best views of London and beyond with the floor to celling glass walls all the way around.
After wanting to visit since it started being built back in 2009, I finally went last week!
What to expect from a visit to ‘The View from the Shard’
When arriving at the entrance to The Shard on Joiner Street, right next to London Bridge Station, you are confronted by several queue lines outside the main doors.
By far the longest queue is the main queue for tickets, however if you have booked a time slot in advance you can use the much smaller queue on the left.
There’s also a Fastrack queue, however in our experience it doesn’t seem necessary to spend extra on Fastrack.
When arriving at The Shard, staff check the pre-booked tickets, then allow you in to the lobby where the airport-style security check takes place. This was a very quick process and only took a couple of minutes on our visit.
Once through security, you have a photo taken in front of a green-screen, which you can view later on at the gift shop.
Once you’ve had your photos taken, you continue towards the lifts which take you half way up the tower to level 33 at 6 meters per second.
Once at level 33, you walk around the corner and board a second lift taking you up the rest of the way, to level 68, where the doors open to reveal the panoramic views across the city.
The lower of the 3 levels (68) is the first you see of the panoramic view of London, with stairs and an additional smaller lift allowing access to the 2 main levels above.
The middle level (69) is the indoor and largest viewing gallery, featuring huge windows, a bar and cafe, and some indoor seating.
This indoor viewing gallery is extremely crowded and cramped due to the poorly positioned bar/cafe against one of the walls, disapointingly blocking the view from one side of the building.
The upper level (72) is the highest publicly accessible floor in the shard, and is open-air with no roof.
This, in my opinion, is the best of the 3 levels, offering outdoor seating, more space to move about due to the lack of bar/cafe, and views straight up to the sky past the ‘shards of glass’ above.
The indoor and outdoor levels of The Shard offer floor to ceiling glass walls, with the best views of London, and even some views of the structure of The Shard itself.
There is a railing around the edge of the building, with some gaps allowing you to stand right against the glass for views down to the ground!
^ The view over to the Walkie Talkie building at Fenchurch Street – that one’s free to go up.
Check out my review of the London Sky Garden if you’re interested!
^ There are plenty of opportunities for some arty photos for better photographers than me!
On the top, open-air, floor, it’s just as impressive looking up as it is looking down!
Getting back down to ground level is the same as coming up, just in reverse.
The lift from level 68 takes you down to 33, where you change and continue down to the ground.
At the exit of the lift, you of course exit through the gift shop, and have the chance to view your photos taken during the queue. (These can also be viewed online later using the QR code and key given to you when the photo was taken.)
How to get to The Shard
The Shard is really easy to find – it’s right above London Bridge Station, on Joiner Street, just slightly along the river from Tower Bridge.
For the View from the Shard observation deck, head in to London Bridge Station and look for the signs for The Shard, you can’t miss them.
My tips for visiting The Shard
- Book in advance to make sure you get a time slot ticket, and so you don’t have to queue. On the date of our visit the queue for tickets was enormous (I’d guess well over an hour), so we were vary grateful to have our tickets / time slot already booked!
- Arrive on time or early. When we visited, we found our way to the Shard over 30 minutes before our time slot began. This wasn’t a problem however, and we were allowed to head straight in.
- The upper level is outdoors, so depending on the weather it might be chilly. Bring a coat or jumper on colder days, it’s pretty windy all the way up there!
- Use the toilets at the top before you take the lift back down to ground level. There aren’t any toilets at the bottom, and you’ll also get to experience a loo with a view, with clear glass in the bathrooms allowing a unique view from the toilets and urinals!
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