Whenever I visit London I like to see some of my old favourites and I like to experience new things. Luckily, there’s no shortage of new places and new experiences in London. When I saw everyone (by everyone I mean travel bloggers) raving about the new free views of London I knew I had to see it for myself on my next trip to London. Three years passed between my last two trips to London in the meantime. When I booked my flights for London four months ago I also investigated how to experience the best free views of London by visiting the Sky Garden.
About Sky Garden
The Sky Garden is located in one of the newest skyscrapers in City of London built in 2004. The address is 20 Fenchurch Street and the skyscraper has been lovingly nicknamed Walkie-Talkie. It’s 155 meters tall and the Sky Garden spans three storeys and offers 360° views of London. You can admire the views of London from several observation decks and from an open-air terrace where the use of a selfie-stick is prohibited. Sky Garden rightfully holds the claim of the highest public garden. If you get thirsty or hungry go to Sky Pod Bar or to City Garden Bar. There are also two restaurants: Fenchurch restaurant and Darwin Brasserie. If you want to have a meal at those restaurants then you should book in advance and you use a separate lift from the tourists who are just visiting the Sky Garden.
How to reach Sky Garden
The nearest tube station is the Monument. From there walk for a couple of minutes.
How to visit Sky Garden
Even though the visit is free you need to book it in advance. You can usually do it up to two-three weeks in advance of your planned visit and you need to print out your booking confirmation and bring it with you for your visit. Also, you need to have your ID or your passport with you for your visit. Arrive around 10 minutes before your scheduled visit and wait in queue. Then you’ll walk through airport-like security and be prepared to have your bag searched. After that you’ll enter the express lift with the rest of the people and be at the Sky Garden in a matter of seconds. When you leave the lift, you have all the time you need to admire the views of London and maybe have a drink or eat something. There are also toilets. There are several guards who control whether visitors obey the rules eg. no food or drinks at the open air terrace and no selfie-sticks.
I have read so many blog posts about the Sky garden before my visit. I was really looking forward to seeing London from above especially since I won’t have to pay anything for it! I like the City of London and I like London’s ever changing cityscape so I knew I’d enjoy my visit to the Sky Garden. After seeing the Paddington bear at the Paddington station I took the train to the Monument station. I didn’t look up when I left the tube station so I went down the wrong street and I had to backtrack my steps. You can’t really miss the Walkie Talkie skyscraper with is glassed dome but you only have to look up! Anyway, I quickly found the entrance, went through the security and I was soon in the Sky Garden. First impressions: it is huge. And there’s so much light! And so many plants! I walked straight to the open air terrace and took many photographs. However, it was sunny but not really clear so my photos aren’t that good and they definitely don’t do justice to the magnificent views. Since you’re high above the City of London the best views you get are the views of the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge and the Shard and St Paul’s and the rest of the City of London. You can see all the way to the Canary Wharf and the London Eye but you only get a glimpse of Big Ben. Since I love seeing the Houses of the Parliament and Big Ben from the London Eye I was slightly disappointed that those can’t be seen well from the Sky Garden. But you can’t see the Tower Bridge from the London Eye too. The glass fence at the open air terrace also gets in the way of making good photos but it has to be there for security reasons. I went inside and wandered around the Sky Pod Bar area with its tables and sofas. Then I climbed up to the next level (on the left side) and went passed the plants to see the view from the other side. You are really close to the Gherkin and the other skyscrapers on this side. There’s City Garden Bar area. I went down the stairs on the right side and saw Canary Wharf in the distance. Then I went out to the terrace again. After a while I decided to have a drink and chose a tasty berry smoothie in Sky Pod Bar. After my drink I went out to the terrace one last time and finished my visit to the Sky Garden. I’m not sure how much time I spent at Sky Garden but it was probably around an hour or a bit more. My booking was for 10 AM and there weren’t a lot of people.
I enjoyed visiting the Sky Garden and admiring the free views of London. BUT somehow I wasn’t as exhilarated as I should have been. Maybe because I saw so many photos prior to my visit and read so many impressions from other people. I did the view from the Monument (it’s still the cheapest in London among the ticket buying views) and the view from St Paul’s years ago. So I didn’t find the views from the Sky Garden to be so different from what I had seen before-you’re only higher (and you can see up to Canary Wharf). Also, I really like looking down on Big Ben and you can only do that from the London Eye. Don’t get me wrong, the views from the Sky Garden are SPECTACULAR and they’re FREE. I guess reading too much about it has spoilt the experience for me a bit and here I am doing the same thing to someone else. Sorry!
Do I recommend visit to Sky Garden? YES!!!
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What’s your best free view of London?
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