Shard and the Skies of London

If you’ve been to these parts before, you might remember my rather scathing post regards the pricing of the Shard for a ride up its elevator, the Shark of Glass. If you’ve been reading my blog for long enough, you might have guessed that eventually my contempt would wilt and I’d cough up. I do like going up things, whether it’s a tower, a monument, a mountain or anything else that offers a view.


So what’s the ride up the Shard’s elevator like? It’s as ear-popping as the price is eye-popping. It’s a two lift ride that climbs into the sky at 14 miles per hour. It’s a slickly organised ride as well, I might add, with an attractive foyer and well managed queues. Before you know it, you’re climbing a few wooden steps and out onto an enclosed gallery with 360 degree panoramic views across London.


But the best view is yet to come. There’s another staircase that leads on to a higher viewing gallery, which is partly open to the atmosphere. It was a nice day, not too much wind. But at this height, the winds are that much more fierce, and it’s quite a noise. The video I took, which is below, was shot from a compact camera. So noise is easily picked up. But don’t be fooled into thinking what you can hear is just down to cheap mics. It really does blow a right racket up there.

So. Was it worth £25? It’s a tough call. I don’t think it offers value for money, that’s for sure. But they do seem to be selling plenty of tickets easily enough, for the moment at least. I guess it just comes down to how much you want to see that view. It is a very special view. Unique. On a nice day, perhaps it’s just about worth the entrance fee if you’ve got plenty of time to spare and have seen everything else you wanted to see. I pity those who book well ahead and get nothing but a view of the clouds that regularly inhabit this capital city extraordinaire.


If you don’t want to pony up quite that much money? There’s always the London Eye. I did that this weekend too. Or St Paul’s Cathedral. Oh yes, I really did treat myself. Thank you Auroras Encore. The London Eye isn’t much cheaper at about £18, and you only get half an hour in a capsule, once you’ve battled through the queues. Although we got an hour long ride this weekend, because we’re special it broke down. Whilst we were at the top. Bonus.


St Paul’s Cathedral is the shortest building in this trio, but still offers a fairly lofty perch to shoot a photo or two from. Of the three it is the only one where you don’t have to shoot through tinted glass, which helps. Although truth be told, the view from St Paul’s isn’t quite as dramatic. Not least because it’s the one place where you can’t see the most beautiful building in the whole of the city….St Paul’s. But you can’t have it all.


Rather disappointingly, photography is no longer allowed inside the cathedral, due to crowds gathering under the dome to get their snaps. That’s such a shame. It’d be nice if they’d operate a more friendly photography policy. Perhaps allow people to shoot on weekdays when it’s not so busy. Or place a charge for photography, like many European venues do. I’d have paid a few pounds extra. It;s a win-win situation, for both the visitor and the treasurer.

I did however, take a whole bunch of photos from the three venues. Some of the shots are just so-so. Others are a bit meh. But it’s tough shooting through tinted glass at full zoom to pick out distant objects like Wembley Stadium. Still, the Shard photos are here, the London Eye photos here and the Cathedral photos are here.


8 thoughts on “Shard and the Skies of London

  1. Andean says:

    Nothing “so-so” or “meh” I could detect… The view from the Shard, and your photographic technique, together, are quite complimentary. Thanks for the grand view of London.


  2. Kim G says:

    So you finally broke down, eh? Nice pics, and the building itself looks pretty impressive. Looks like they don’t have any problem whatsoever getting the 25 quid.

    The shot from St. Pauls reminds me that my friend, A, lives behind the Old Globe Theatre. I really need to go stay with her before she moves to Boston again.

    Hope you are well.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we’ve worked in various skyscrapers with fantastic views, but have yet to pay up to go to an observation deck.


    • I am weak, Kim. So weak. I suspect they’ll continue to extract £25 for the privilege of the view for some time to come.

      You might not have paid to get to the observation deck of a skyscraper, but you have parted with a few pesos for a couple of panoramic views before now. The Obregon Monument and the roof of the Metropolitan Cathedral in DF spring to mind!


      • Kim G says:

        Oh, I’ve paid up for views. Just not in Boston.

        I’ve coughed up the 17 quid or so that it was in the early 2000’s to ride the Millennium Wheel, have paid up to go up in The Monument, as well as having paid (the eminently reasonable) amount to see the top of the Torre Latinoamericana, among other places I’ve paid for the viewing pleasure.


        • The monument is a true bargain. Three quid, and you even get a certificate. True, it is rather crowded out by skyscrapers surrounding it, but still..

          Torre Latinoamericana has my favourite views of them all. I’ve been up to the viewing platform, but most of the time we just went to the bar/restaurant beneath it. Access to that is free 🙂


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