Sky Garden vs The Shard – Which London viewing platform is better?

There are several attractions in London offering great views of the skyline, some more obscure than others.

The two best ones, in my opinion at least, have got to be The Shard and the Sky Garden.

But which one’s better? Let’s compare!

The views

Both on the East side of central London, the Sky Garden at Fenchurch Street and the Shard at London Bridge are very close to one another – just over the river from each other – so the landmarks and views are similar.

Both buildings offer great views over central London, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, the River Thames, Canary Wharf, the City of London, as well as distant views of Buckingham Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral.

The overall experience

Each building offers surprisingly different experiences considering they both share much the same view.

First off, both are shaped very differently – The Shard gets narrower as it goes up, leaving little space to wander around at the top, whereas the uniquely shaped Walkie Talkie building gets wider as it goes up, meaning the Sky Garden at the top has a huge amount of space for people to wander. This means space is tight at the top of the Shard, with very few seats and little space to wander, while Sky Garden has multiple cafes and seating areas to enjoy, along with the gardens across several floors.

The Sky Garden is definitely the more relaxing experience of the two, with more space to roam and opportunities to buy (surprisingly reasonably priced) coffee/snacks/drinks etc at the top, and have a sit down to soak up the view.

I’d say that The Shard is more of ‘an experience’ – there’s more fanfare to the ascent to the top, and the ‘reveal’ of the skyline as the lift doors open is perfect. Sky Garden doesn’t quite offer the same flamboyance, but the experience and views are no less impressive.

If you’re interested in reading more, see my full guides on the Sky Garden and The Shard.

The price

Ok so this is a really easy one.

If we’re looking at price alone, the Sky Garden absolutely wipes the floor with nearly all viewing decks I’ve ever been to, as it’s completely free.

Sky GardenThe SHard
FREE£28 per person

The Shard is £28 per ticket, a little pricey, especially compared to the competition just over the river.

So which one’s better?

Both buildings are world class.

Being the tallest building in the UK, Shard is of course extremely impressive, and the views across the capital are incredible.

There’s no ignoring the fact that Sky Garden is FREE however, and for that reason I’d recommend it over the Shard to anyone who’s trying to decide between the two.

Sky Garden really is the best free thing to do in London, and shouldn’t be missed by anyone.



5 Comments Add yours

  1. Timothy says:

    Apparently you can have fancy, but modern afternoon tea in The Shard.

    Like

    1. Matt says:

      You can! 😀 It’s an odd setup though – because the building sort of goes up in to a point, there isn’t a lot of space up there, so there aren’t many tables or places to sit – a bit awkward for the people looking to eat etc!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Timothy says:

        So… you wouldn’t recommend it?

        Like

      2. Matt says:

        It’s definitely something different – I think I would recommend it to someone who doesn’t mind standing 😂

        Like

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