London Drum

London Eye – Millennium Observation Wheel

Where? London Eye, Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, Waterloo · Web: Opening times? 11 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun) Visiting hours may change Price? Adults £36.00; Children £32.50 (3-15); Infants free entry (under-3) Entry charges may change Time required? A typical visit is 30-50 mins for the queue, plus 30 mins for the ride Parking: Nearby car parks Buses: 1, 4, 12, 26, 53, 59, 76, 77, 148, 159, 168, 171, 172, 176, 188, 211, 243, 341, 381, 507, 638, RV1, X68 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is Waterloo Bakerloo Jubilee Northern Wat&City Other nearby stations: Embankment and Westminster Train fares

Craig’s review… I can’t help wondering what will happen if one of those flimsy little spokes snap. I mean, look at them – they look like wire coat-hangars. Are we 100% sure that the builders knew what they were doing?

Buying a London Eye ticket

Normally I’d buy my ticket online because I know how huge the queues can be, but I’ve decided to buy one at the gate today so I can describe it. First of all you have to queue up through a snake of ropes inside the ticket office (that took me 25 minutes), then you have to join the actual queue outside (15 minutes so far), and it’s during this second phase that I’m starting to feel like a mountaineer assembling at base camp.

All the different nationalities are standing around me laughing and joking and snapping pictures of the summit and I can almost kid myself that I’m having fun. The wheel is turning at a nice sedentary rate above my head and no one is banging on the windows screaming to get out. So it seems safe. But when I look into my neighbours’ eyes I can see their nerves are building. It’s the way they grip the railing that gives the game away… they’re holding on so tight and vice-like that it’s draining all the blood away from their skin. On the outside they’re happily chatting with their buddies but every few seconds they chance a glance upwards, at the mad mountain above them, watching the human-filled glass globules arching over the top like the hot rocks that get spat out the top of a volcano.

Stepping onboard a pod

When you finally enter the pod you’ll probably have about twenty tourists crowding around the windows, running around, sitting down, standing up, leaning on the glass (I wish they would keep still!). The adults will start claiming some space by a window whilst their kids bounce around shouting “look at that! look at that!” Normally I’m dismissive of all those daft health and safety rules but on the London Eye there should definitely be one that says everybody has to sit down and keep completely still because this pod is very definitely wobbling – it’s wobbling enough to feel it. There’s a very slight wobble as it slides along the track, and then every now and they’ll be a much bigger wobble. Don’t ask me why it wobbles because I haven’t got a clue. It’s like turbulence, I suppose. Or maybe one of the nuts has fallen off, or one of the main chains has snapped – I don’t know. But you soon settle down and start aiming your camera out the window.

View from the London Eye

The first five minutes just lifts you above the river so you can see the people on Hungerford Bridge and the traffic on Waterloo Bridge. Once you’ve risen above the rooftops you can look down on Horse Guards Parade and see Buckingham Palace nestling beyond the trees of St. James’s Park. See if you can spot the top of Nelson’s Column for a bonus point. If you can spot the top of The Monument then you’re doing well.

If I’m being totally honest then I was expecting the view to be a teensy bit better because the dome of St. Paul’s is just a distant thimble and the Tower of London and Tower Bridge are hidden behind some office blocks. In my mind’s eye I had visions of being able to see all the way to the Thames Barrier. I wanted to see the White Cliffs of Dover. I wanted to see the coast of France. I wanted to look back through time to the day I was born. Considering that you can see all the way to the moon just by looking up, I thought we’d be able to see a little bit further than the Circle Line.

View of Big Ben and Parliament

The wobbling will be at its absolute worst when the pod reaches the top, and I must admit that I didn’t like the feeling at all. I actually had to sit down for a few minutes until we started descending down the other side (but I’m a wuss when it comes to heights). It’s at this point that you can enjoy the finest view of Big Ben and Parliament from anywhere in London.

Here’s an important tip: don’t go when it’s raining because you’re basically standing inside a giant goldfish bowl and rivulets of rainwater will come zig-zagging down the glass and mess up all your photos.

And don’t go when the sun is low in the sky either (like early evening, before it gets dark) because you’ll get a bright haze in your lens that will mess up your shots. The best time to ride it is around lunchtime or early afternoon, when the sun is directly overhead.

Worth a visit? Value for money? Good for kids? Easy to get to?

I also recommend… If you enjoy this then try Cable Car (travel from Waterloo to North Greenwich via tube); The Shard (walk it in 30 mins or travel from Waterloo to London Bridge via tube) and Sky Garden (travel from Waterloo to Monument via tube). Other places that give a great view of London’s skyline include the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the balcony at the top of the The Monument and Westminster Cathedral’s bell tower

London Squire bookThe owns and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon

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Your comments and questions

Zoe You should have a nice day with the sun shining because when I went it was raining. I didn't mind the rain, and I still had some amazing views of London, but the rain dripping down the glass meant that my photos didn't turn out too great. But it is good and worth spending your time

Jia Which one would you recommend.. day London Eye or night London Eye? Is it worth to do a river cruise after London Eye? I am planning to have a evening/night London Eye + river cruise. Any cruise recommendation? Thanks

Craig If it was me I'd probably go during the daytime, because the view will be better. Night views are impressive, but I always think it's very hard to pick out individual landmarks because the lights all look the same. But it's still worth doing. Check the timetables for the river cruises because they don't run very late. Maybe you could do an evening dinner cruise with a bit of music -​events/​?p=25162

Paul Loved it

Mario Excellent and down to earth coverage. Many thanks Mario

Kristin Hi, is the London Eye worth the queuing and the time spent?

Craig Hi Kristin, I think it's definitely worth a go. You can buy your tickets in advance if you want to avoid the worst of the queue (you'll still have to queue a little bit with the 'fast track' tickets, but not so much). It should only take up 60-90 minutes of your day - so you've still got plenty of time to do other stuff afterwards. The only downside is that it's a bit pricey.

Myah Hi! I am having to go with my family but I am really afraid of heights! And I mean really afraid, I mean petrified, terrified! I know I am not going to enjoy it but I want to know if I am going to be so scared I will have a panic attack and ruin it for everybody. They say it is not that high and I will be fine. What do you think?

Craig Hi Myah. I'm not a big fan of heights myself and I was fine. It's a bit nervy for the first minute as it starts to rise up but once you've got used to the wobble (it does wobble a bit) then you'll be alright. And they do have a bench in the middle of the pod where you can sit down and stare at the floor if it gets too much. The hardest part for you will probably be plucking up the courage to get on. Once you're past that bit then it might get easier.

Jon How many people in a pod? Is it busy? Do you ever get a pod to yourself

Craig Hi Jon, you're not going to get a pod to yourself because there's always a long queue behind you. The maximum number of people they put inside is 28. You can see in my video how packed they are. There is always room to move around, but you sometimes have to wait a minute or two for someone to vacate the little bit of window that you want

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