The London Eye was conceived and designed by David Marks and Julia Barfield to celebrate the millennium, using a design that represents the turning of the century. It was initially erected as a temporary structure but has been so popular it remains today, and likely will for many more years to come. Sir Richard Rogers sums up the London Eye like this-

The Eye has done for London what the Eiffel Tower did for Paris, which is to give it a symbol and to let people climb above the city and look back down on it. Not just specialists or rich people, but everybody. That’s the beauty of it: it is public and accessible, and it is in a great position in the heart of London.”

London Eye: Guide to Riding the World's Original Giant Observation Wheel || www.onetripatatime.com

It took seven years and a team of hundreds of people from five European countries to complete the vision of the designers. Once it was built it then took over a week to lift the Eye upright from a horizontal position across the Thames using a procedure previously only attempted in oil-rigging operations.

London Eye: Guide to Riding the World's Original Giant Observation Wheel || www.onetripatatime.com

Read More: One Day in London Itinerary

The 30-minute revolution takes passengers on a slow, gentle ride up and around with great views of the whole city that even those who hate heights might not find so hard to handle. Each of the 32 pod-like capsules can hold 25 people, is air-conditioned, and has benches for seating. Because the capsules are secured on the outside of the wheel (rather than hung from it, as they would be on Ferris Wheel) the views through the large glass windows are completely unobstructed. The capsules are kept level by a motorized motion stability system so even with many people walking around in them they are safe, stable, and don’t really feel like they are moving – except you can see that you are. 

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London Eye: Guide to Riding the World's Original Giant Observation Wheel || www.onetripatatime.com

The wheel is in constant motion, revolving at a quarter of the average walking speed which enables you to walk straight on and off the moving capsules. This feature helps keep the lines (which can get quite long, especially in the summer) moving at a reasonable pace. For additional safety, each of the capsules is in touch with the crew on the ground via cameras and radio links. 

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Once inside you’ll be hard-pressed to know where to look first! Starting with nearby landmarks, like the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey that are just across the river, once at the top you can see out 25 miles (40 km) on a clear day! To the south you can see North Down Hills, the east brings views of the Elizabeth II Bridge,  to the west is Windsor Castle – and the numerous famous buildings and landmarks in between. Inside the pods are tablets to give you interactive information about the buildings and landmarks you’ll see. The London Eye is an excellent option to give you a bird’s-eye view introduction to the city. Definitely, make sure your camera is charged and ready to go!

London Eye: Guide to Riding the World's Original Giant Observation Wheel || www.onetripatatime.com

DON’T MISS

  • The 4D cinema experience (which you can do before or after the ride) that “flies” you over London and includes special effects such as wind, sound, snow, water, and bubbles. 
  • Adults can enjoy the Pommery Champagne Bar located at the foot of the Eye overlooking the River Thames
  • Private and “Cupid’s” capsules are available for private groups or even romantic proposals!
  • The Day & Night combo ticket option which lets you ride twice in the same day- once by day and then in the evening to see the city all lit up. 

PLAN YOUR VISIT

  • Standard tickets start at £26.00 for adults and £21.00 for children (3-15 years old) but there is a discount if purchased online. There are also several other options available from Fast-Track tickets (to skip the regular queue), flexible time tickets, and combo packages with other London attractions. For another money-saving option, the London Eye is an option for a 2FOR1 London if you’ll be using the National Rail. 
  • The London Eye is open every day except Christmas Day (25 December) and it is best to refer to their website for opening times as they do vary throughout the year. 

MAKE IT A DAY

Looking for ideas for a whole day out in London after your visit to the London Eye? Here are some suggestions~

Also in the Area

  • More than 3,000 forms of marine life (including sharks!) are housed over three floors in the former County Hall which makes Sea Life London Aquarium one of Europe’s largest aquariums. It’s divided into 14 zones such as Reefs and Corals, and the Indian Ocean exhibits. Kids no doubt will love a visit here. 
  • Hidden away in the vaults beneath London Bridge railway station, the London Dungeon features grisly stories and scenes of some of the most horrific events in British history. From the Great Fire of London, tales of Jack the Ripper, to the Great Plague – it’s all there in great gory detail. 
  • Visit the final resting places of kings, queens, writers and scientists at Westminster Abbey and then enjoy the neo-Gothic architecture of the Palace of Westminster while learning all about the parliamentary system of government.

Great Views of London

  • Take in the view of all of London from the Shard from either of floors 68,69, or 72. 
  • Tower Bridge offers wonderful views of the city, including straight down to the road and river below through the glass floor!
  • Inside the enlarged glass dome of 20 Fenchurch Street is London’s highest public garden – the Sky Garden. Best part…it’s free! Just be sure to reserve your entrance in advance.
  • Westminster Cathedral (not Westminster Abbey) is a striking cathedral with an 83 m tall bell tower and a striped pattern of red brick and white stone. For a few £ you can take a lift to the top of the bell tower for views of Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Nelson’s Column.

London Eye: Guide to Riding the World's Original Giant Observation Wheel || www.onetripatatime.com

 

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