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Great London Views - Five Cheaper Alternatives to the Shard

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Published July 7th 2012
When it opened in July 2012, the Shard became the tallest building in Europe. With an observation deck at the top of the 310-metre high structure, views from the Shard are guaranteed to be dramatic and stunning night or day. However, at 25, the price of a ticket to the top may strike some as being as steep as the sides of the building itself.


The good news is that there are alternatives cheaper alternatives to the Shard. The panoramas on offer may not be from such a high point, but they're no less impressive, and getting to the top of some of them can be fun in itself (though you'll need plenty of energy).

So without further ado, here's WeekendNotes' best five alternative views, all costing less than the Shard's 25 ticket.

1. The London Eye (Adult 18.90; Child 9.90) This giant wheel, which has been turning since 2000, has become the UK's most popular tourist attraction so there can be a bit of a queue if you arrive without a pre-booked ticket.

The Eye works on so many levels for a start, it's a fun ride, with sweeping views of London unfolding ever so gradually as the wheel slowly turns, taking you to the top, 135 metres up.

The pods are spacious, bright and airy, and so big that you can walk about and see in all directions. One of the great things about the Eye is its position on the south bank of the Thames, just across from the Houses of Parliament.

You can see for miles around, with great views of a bunch of famous London landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Battersea Power Station and even Wembley Stadium.


2. St. Paul's Cathedral (Adult 15; Child 6; Concession 14) There's a real sense of achievement when you reach the top of this magnificent structure because you have to get there all by yourself. That's right, there are no lifts here to whisk you effortlessly to the top; it's steps all the way.

Just think of it as a simple staircase you're climbing (albeit a very long one) and you should be able to reach the roof, 85 metres up, with little difficulty.

Be sure to take your time, take a break when you need to, and be aware that there are a few tight spots to negotiate the higher you go (you're actually walking inside the sloping dome at one point).

The outdoor Golden Gallery provides breathtaking views of the City and beyond. Well worth the effort.

st. pauls london views

3. The Monument (Adult 3; Child 1.50; Concession 2) The Monument has been standing in this spot since 1677, built to commemorate the 1666 Great Fire of London.

Restoration has been carried out every hundred years or so, the latest taking place just a couple of years ago. Unfortunately for those who like to do things the easy way, none of the improvement projects have involved installing a lift.

So as with St. Paul's Cathedral, steps are the only way to reach the 61-metre-high viewing gallery. Sure, you're not going to have your head in the clouds at that height, but you're still a good way up, and will be treated to a superb vista, with sights such as Tower Bridge and the Gherkin easily viewable.

monument london views

4. Tower Bridge (Adult 8; Child 3.40) A beautiful structure in its own right, few people seem to know that you can also walk across the top and enjoy the scenery up and down the Thames.

You'll be happy to hear you can get to the top in a lift, so you won't need to break a sweat with this one.

Again, it's not high compared to the Shard, but at 44 metres, and positioned directly over the Thames, you get to see London and its famous waterway from a unique perspective.


5. Primrose Hill (free) Besides being one of London's loveliest parks, Primrose Hill offers visitors a great view of the capital too.

At its highest point, the park is 63 metres above sea level, so make your way to the top for the best view.

You have Regent's Park's London Zoo straight ahead of you, while further in the distance you'll be able to see London's taller landmarks, such as the BT Tower and, of course, the Shard.

[Images, from top: Christopher David Black; Trev M; Jedyooo; Monument website; Trev M]
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Why? Because the Shard's a bit pricey.
Where: Various locations throughout London.
Cost: See article for details.
Your Comment
Two more -
One New Change, a new building behind St Pauls has a lift up to their viewing platform. OK, not quite as high as St Paul's, but it's free.
In Victoria, Westminster Cathedral also has a lift up to the top of their tower - 5 so, bearing in mind their lift, a real bargain.
by sianr (score: 0|5) 1235 days ago
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