Our recent visit to the Shard was rather spontaneous and possibly only occurred because I thought Duck and Waffle was located in the Shard. Needless to say it is not but during our meal there it had me wanting to check out the view from the Shard too. It was such a gorgeous evening and we had an early booking at Duck and Waffle so now seemed like the perfect time to go. The only thing about rocking up on the day, is it makes ticket prices more expensive. Now I’m beginning to feel some what of an expert of visiting high buildings, having already visited the Duck and Waffle skyscaper that evening and previously the Top of the Rock, the Empire State Building, the CN Tower, the Willis Tower, Marina Bay Sands and Eureka Sky Deck just to name a few… So what did I think of my experience and how does it compare?
My Experience of The View From The Shard
It is very easy to find and access this building just head down to London Bridge station and then follow the signage towards the entrance of the viewing deck. We arrived around 7.30pm on a Monday night and the queue was pretty empty, just a few people infront of us. We were informed there was no queue throughout the building and quickly paid for our tickets. We debated on champagne entry but decided it wasn’t worth the extra £10 each on an already expensive ticket (I was glad I didn’t as the bar was just a little pop up thing). We followed the signs and went through a quick airport security style entrance, had our photo taken (a standard thing at most skyscraper viewing decks) and picked up a free multimedia guide before being set off in the lift to floor 33. There was then a change in lift to take us up to the 68th floor where the viewing experience would begin.
Having just been up another London skyscraper not even an hour before I was a little concerned this wasn’t going to seem as good as it could. I needn’t have worried as I quickly became mesmerised by the view that seemed very different to the one I had just experienced. The sun was lingering low in the sky and begin to cast golden shadows over the BT tower and other buildings in that area. On such a clear evening we could see far into the distance even picking out the arch over Wembley Stadium. We began by wandering around the lower viewing deck and just listening to all the multimedia guide had to offer. Each section (north, south, east and west) had around seven little speech clips about the key landmarks in that area. These were about 30 seconds long, the perfect length to tell me something interesting but not begin to bore me. It was interesting to learn that if you took the width of Tower Bridge and turned it up, it would be the same height as the Shard. This was just one of many quirky facts the guide had to offer and I found myself glad we had picked them up.
Once the learning was over I concentrated more on taking photos and looking out for places I recognised. The lower view deck remained pretty quiet expect for the west side which had some dwellers waiting for sunset to happen. We headed upstairs to the second viewing deck which was open aired, there were plants and flowers lining the bottom of the windows and a few deckchairs for watching the sunset in. I was impressed with how green they had made the place look, this level was busier than the one below, again with dwellers for sunset in the west but neither were as busy as I imagined they would be. We spent nearly an hour wandering around, enjoying the views and ever changing colour of the sky. Before heading down in the lift the member of staff manning the exit asked if we had seen the ‘secret toilets’, I had read about these but after not seeing a sign had assumed they must be down with the restaurants or something. But no, there they were, the toilets with the best view in London and probably the best view I’ve ever had while going to the toilet.
How does the Shard compare?
There are no gimmicks to the Shard like glass floors or boxes that hang over the edge of the buildings.
It is one of the most expensive skyscrapers to visit but the views of London are sublime with nothing obstructing the 360 degree experience.
There are two viewing decks, an outside and inside area, however, the outside area still has glass causing reflections on your photographs – don’t expect to come away with perfect photos because of this. I have experienced a range of views with and without glass but as there was an outside viewing area described I had expected some spaces without glass.
They have the best view from the toilets and this is something I haven’t experienced at any other sky scarper.
There was very little queuing despite being the height of the summer in June – although it was only a Monday night.
Like with most other tall buildings the Shard is cheaper if you book online 24 hours beforehand.
The cost of a ticket for the Shard booked 24 hours prior to visiting is: Adult £25.95 and Student £20.95 the cost if purchased on the day is: Adult £30.95 and Student £25.95.
The nearest train station is London Bridge which is served by national rail and the tube.
The viewing platforms are open from 10am to 10pm in the summer with some restrictions in the winter.