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Thoughts on the London Eye?

Hi everybody,

It looks like I'll be in London for a couple of days in mid-December. I'm thinking about doing the Eye and was curious about other people's experiences. During past visits I've written it off as kitschy and expensive--but to go in winter and see the city after dark, and with Christmas lights, has me reconsidering. Thoughts?

Thanks!
Caroline

Posted by
8061 posts

It seems just a ferris wheel in a big city. (Try the one in Chicago on the Pier on lake Michigan probably a better skyline and only costs $16).

Posted by
8871 posts

Better plan take a bus that goes along Regent or Oxford streets. Sit upstairs. Lovely Christmas lights. Much cheaper than the Eye.

And if you want colorful Neon lights and Christmas spirit stroll through the free Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.

You can also find Igloos along the Thames path by the National Theatre.

Posted by
993 posts

I have been on the London Eye, once when it first opened and years later when I was by myself and a family had an extra ticket and asked me if I wanted it. While I enjoyed the view both times, it was not something for me that was worth the price (except of course for the free ticket:).

My husband and I are going to London in mid-December as well and we plan to visit some of the Christmas markets. The one on SouthBank seems to have a great view of the Thames and the Eye. Here is the link to some of the top Christmas markets: https://handluggageonly.co.uk/2018/10/03/8-of-the-best-london-christmas-markets-in-2018/,

Have a great trip,
Sandy

Posted by
420 posts

It’s an over priced attraction. I only did it because my young daughter really wanted to do it. And we didn’t really do any other big ticket things.

However, the Eiffel Tower completely exceeded expectations. That was a blast.

Posted by
534 posts

Kitschy? A gondola ride in Venice or getting your picture taken with a Gladiator at the Colosseum...now that would be kitschy (neither of which we've done by the way). We did the Eye after dark on a late September evening and it was a great view of the city lights. At Christmas it would be even better. Go.

Posted by
6788 posts

I did it only because my spouse really wanted to, otherwise I would have probably skipped it. The view was OK, but I thought the experience was not worth the cost. Did it once, so now I don't have to do it again on future visits (I hope). But if someone in your party has their heart set on it, shrug and go along, and be happy that they enjoy it.

Posted by
6373 posts

We did it on our Best of London tour; it was fun, but the price was included in the tour cost. And if I recall correctly, alcohol was involved...

I wouldn't spend money on it, and see no reason to do it again.

Posted by
301 posts

Thanks all! I'll play it by ear, but the bus is a great tip, thanks! For some reason, I always forget about the bus in London.

Caroline

Posted by
534 posts

Search in Google Images for "View from London Eye at Night". See if you like the view.

Posted by
8871 posts

Caroline to be able to get on of those seats up top avoid rush hour. Go after 8pm.

As usual Timeout has info on the best spots to see Christmas lights. https://www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/christmas-lights-in-london

Safe journey and if you want some mirth try to
See a SANTA Run or the Covent Garden Pudding Race.

Last year I was with a friend who had a meeting in a neighborhood of London I’d not visited, Victoria Park, so I tagged along. While they attended their meeting I strolled into Victoria Park and started to watch a soccer match until I heard some loud whistles and yelling and turned around to see hundreds of Santas running by me. Broke out into a huge smile.

Looks like this year’s is scheduled for 12/2. All the SANTA Runs are for charity and there’s nothing quite like walking into a pub and enjoying a pint surrounded by Santas of all ages.

Happy Christmas

Posted by
920 posts

I agree with Claudia, take the bus along Oxford Street after rush hour. The lights on the big stores are fantastic (John Lewis or one of the others had a magnificent waterfall effect last year) but you will be essentially sitting still if you go during rush. I took a bus from Bond Street to Shepherds Bush road during the height of evening rush and about got off and walked. Other than that a great view!

Posted by
2455 posts

When I was in London in 2015, the London Eye was illuminated with red lights, at least late at night, quite spectacular, and the best part of the London Eye experience. Going around on it, not so much.

Posted by
32265 posts

If you haven't yet been on the London Eye, it's worthwhile to try it at least once. Hopefully it will be quiet in mid-December and you won't have too much of a queue.

Posted by
661 posts

The main concentration of xmas lights is Oxford Street, Regent Street areas... i don’t think you would see anything extra from the Eye.

Posted by
5423 posts

You get a better view from the plane when landing at Heathrow.

Personally I wouldn't bother. Seems rather expensive for what it is.

Posted by
1317 posts

Hi Caroline -

I'm not sure what the opening hours are when you are there but the Skyegarden at 20 Fenchurch Street (the 'Walkie-Talkie' building) is better than the Eye in my view, although it's a couple of years since I visited it.

It requires pre booking and has airport style security on entering, but has the plus points that it's free (I'm assuming it's still free), you aren't restricted to how long you are up there and there's restaurants and a bar area.

On a clear day you get more elevated views over London and the surrounding area through 360 degrees. In my view rather better than the Eye, but both are, of course, weather dependent!

Have a great trip!

Ian

Posted by
1317 posts

PS. The Christmas lights are better viewed from lower down, i.e. From the top deck of a bus!

Posted by
3941 posts

We did it on our first trip - it was interesting, I'm glad we did it, but not something I'd do again. I was searching thru the replies to see if someone mentioned the SkyGarden - and there it is! We did that this year and the views were lovely...plus, it's free! (Other than having to book in advance of course).

If someone was asking me now about one vs the other, I'd recommend SkyGarden, just for the sheer cost savings. Also - there is a bar there, so if you want to have a tipple whilst enjoying the view, have at 'er.

Posted by
6806 posts

We went because my daughter wanted to ride it. Yes, it is expensive, but I’m not sorry we rode it. One does get a great view. When finished, then go see Regent, Oxford, and Carnaby streets for the lights. And as others have said, the winter wonderland in Hyde Park.

Posted by
2017 posts

I rode it on it twice while visiting London with different people. While expensive, it has some nice views of the city and goes slow enough that you can take some lovely pictures. Personally, it's like the Eiffel Tower, everyone should go up once.

Posted by
315 posts

I second (or third) the idea about sitting upstairs on a bus to get the best view of the Christmas lights. I have some fantastic pictures. I didn't even mind rush hour – yes, the bus is very slow, but it gives you a chance to see all the window displays, watch the hordes of people on the street (from above the fray), etc. Very festive! And you can hop out at, say, Selfridges if you feel like it.

Edit: We did do the London Eye when our boys were small (like 8 & 10), and they loved it. But as people have said, there are great views to be had elsewhere unless someone in your party is set on the Eye. We haven't done it yet, but we've heard the view of St Paul's (& London) from a nearby building, One New Change, is fantastic – and free.

Posted by
369 posts

I was in London with my daughters (13 and 9) in May and June and we did the Eye. We all enjoyed it. Luckily, it was a cloudy day, so there was almost no line. The visibility was great and we got some really nice pictures. It was worth doing, although I wouldn't have wanted to stand in a long line for it.

Posted by
944 posts

I thought it was a very fun experience: Pink Floyd - "Welcome to the Machine" - running through my head. Just get there around 10am on a week day. :)

Posted by
12 posts

A friend suggested going to the top of The Shard as an alternative to the London Eye. Has any of you tried that? There's a restaurant up there, which got me wondering about dining there.

Posted by
1340 posts

I've been to the shard. The view is amazing, but not cheap.

I don't remember a restaurant (but it is some years ago) but there was a bar.

Posted by
274 posts

I thought the London Eye needed some maps in the pods, so we'd be able to know what we were looking at, some were able to find Buckingham Palace and all, but I found it took me farther away from the sights. We went at night, the glass roof of Waterloo station was lit up, that was nice.

But really I would wonder if that new Sky Garden on the other side of the river would have a better view of the xmas lights and also perhaps have some xmas lights in the garden itself too? Hm, I'd better look that up...
Have fun!
-Alison

Posted by
970 posts

I've always been put off by the wait at the Eye but the queues might not be too long in mid-December.

Posted by
1136 posts

I’ve done it twice. Did it on my first trip to London because I just wanted to and also took my kids when I brought them to London for their first visit because I wanted to share the experience with them. I was able to get 2 for 1 tickets then so I saved £. Look around on TimeOut.com or this may qualify for 2 for 1 if you buy a train ticket. I think it’s a cool way to see London. Not kitschy at all. I’ve also done the Sky Garden and agree that it’s the best deal since it’s free! Plus food and drinks are available to enjoy while gazing at the view.