The Eye was erected in 1999 as the Millennium Wheel, and like many temporary vantage points, it became such a sensation—and a money-spinner—that it was made permanent. It rises above everything in this part of the city—at 135m/443 ft. high, it’s 1 1/2 times taller than the Statue of Liberty. The 30-min. ride above the Thames affords an unmatched and unobstructed perspective on the prime tourist territory; there’s no narration, but six tablets elucidate what’s before you. On a clear day, you can see to Windsor, but even on an average day, the entire West End bows down before you. That’s why you should either go as soon as you arrive in the city, to orient yourself, or on your last day in town (my choice), when you can appreciate what you’ve seen. The whirl is adulterated by a lame “4D Experience” movie (a camera flies over London while a fan and bubbles blow in your face—it’s Orlandofied twaddle) but it’s included in the price and you can skip that if you want. Each of the 32 enclosed capsules, which accommodate up to 28 people, is climate-controlled and rotates so gradually that it’s easy to forget you’re moving—which means this ride will upset only the desperately heightaverse. By the time you summit, you’ll have true 360-degree views unobstructed by the support frame. The ticket queue often looks positively wicked (book ahead if possible), but it moves quickly, chewing through 15,000 riders a day, 800 per revolution. The Shard is much taller (but costs much more). Tip: Booking online saves waiting in the first queue, but you will be bewildered by the ticket options. Basically, a Standard timed ticket will do, although you can pay up to £37 to go anytime you want (“Flexi”) rather than stick to a reservation or to wait in a shorter line (“Fast Track”).
Riverside Building, County Hall, SE1.
Our Rating Hours Apr–June 10am–9pm; July–August 10am–9:30pm; Jan–Mar and Sept–Dec 10am–8:30pm. Transportation Tube: Waterloo or Westminster. Prices Advance purchase prices for standard ticket: £23 adults, £19 children 4–15, free for children 3 and under; prices go up as capacity decreases, so book ahead. Walk-up prices 10% higher. Web site London Eye
MapRiverside Building, County Hall, SE1. London
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.