Everything you need to know about the London Eye
Updated: Sep 28, 2021
What is London Eye famous for?
Unquestionably one of the "must go" places when visiting London, the London Eye, originally nicknamed the Millennium Wheel, is Europe's tallest cantilevered observation wheel located on the South Bank of the River Thames in London.
Every year, the “big Ferris wheel in London” attracts over 3 million visitors, which makes it the most popular paid tourist attraction in Great Britain. The London Eye used to be the highest public viewing point over London until 2013 when The Shard was inaugurated. Its 72nd floor offered a 245-metre-high (804 ft) observation deck, overtaking the London Eye.
How high off the ground is the London Eye?
Being 135 metres (443 ft) tall, and with a diameter of 120 metres (394 ft), back in 2000 when it opened to the public, the Eye was the world's tallest Ferris wheel, but in 2006 it was surpassed by the Star of Nanchang, located in Nanchang, China.
Currently, it’s the fourth-largest Ferris wheel in the world, although technically, it’s not even a giant rotating Ferris wheel because it’s supported by an A-frame only on one side and its carriages don’t hang low. For science’s sake, it’s a giant cantilevered observation wheel.
What's the history of the London Eye?
In 1993 the Great Britain’s Architecture Foundation and The Sunday Times sponsored a competition for a new London landmark in honour of the new millennium and the so-called “London Ferris wheel” was the entry submitted by Julia Barfield and David Marks of Marks Barfield Architects.
No winner was declared at that time, but this didn’t stop visionaries Barfield and Marks from finding a way to push their bold project onto our capital’s skyline. Said and done. They soon found the perfect site and obtained much of the funding from British Airways.
Construction was initiated in 1998. Few visitors know that the wheel was assembled horizontally over the Thames river, before being pulled in the current vertical position.
Although the official opening ceremony took place on December 31, 1999, it only admitted its first paying passengers on March 9, 2000.
Why 32 capsules? What does the London Eye symbolize?
The 32 ovoid cabins that carry tourists from all over the world are called “capsules,” and their number hints at the 32 boroughs that constitute Greater London, together with the City of London. Each of London Eye's air-conditioned, high-tech glass passenger capsules weighs over 10 tonnes and has a capacity of 25 people. As they rest on motorized mounts, they’re designed to remain upright as the wheel turns.
How long are you on the London Eye for?
If you’re wondering “How long does the London Eye take?,” a complete London Eye rotation takes about 30 minutes. The approx. 0.26 m/s circumferential speed is perfect for giving tourists an ever-changing perspective of London. Since one capsule can accommodate 25 visitors at one time, this means that within an hour, almost 1600 people enjoy this amazing attraction.
Did you know that…?
The London Eye was initially planned to be dismantled after five years, but its massive popularity turned it into a spectacular staple of the London skyline.
The decorative LED lighting system was added in 2006, marking the wheel’s stunning presence even after dark.
The Eye's 32 capsules are numbered from one to 33 to avoid number 13 and skip from 12 straight to 14.
Is the London Eye worth it?
A London Eye ride is completely worth it because it offers unique 360-degree views over Central London and beyond - on a clear day, you can see over 20 miles away, as far as Windsor Castle! Being at the heart of one of the most impressive skylines in the world, London eye is the best place to spot some of the capital's most poignant landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace. You can call it London's equivalent to the Parisian Eiffel Tower.
Is the London Eye scary?
If you’re afraid of heights, airplanes, observation towers, glass elevators, or glass floors, 135 m seems an audacious challenge, but truth be told, once you’re inside a capsule, you feel surprisingly safe like you’re in a glass cocoon. As you start taking in London’s best panoramic views, time flies and you won’t even realize when 30 minutes have just flown by. In a nutshell, London Eye is anything but scary.
Is the London Eye safe?
The London Eye is completely safe, compared to cable cars, sky trams, aerial tramways, ropeways, or aerial trams. Unlike aerial lifts, the wheel moves incredibly slowly —two revolutions per hour— so that passengers boarding or disembarking goes completely smoothly without having to stop its continuous rotation, except for visitors with disabilities.
Why is it called the London Eye?
It’s called the London Eye because it offers a complete 360-degree view of London city. It’s like a big eye up on the London sky.
How much is a ride on the London Eye?
If you turn up on the day and queue, the London eye ticket price for an adult is £30.00 and £24.00 for a child. The most convenient way is to book online, in advance, case in which a standard adult ticket costs £27.00 and a child ticket is £22.00. To skip the queues, choose a fast-track entry ticket (£41.00 on the day, or starting from £34.50 if you book online).
Multi-attraction tickets are also available. They include either a 40-minute circular sightseeing boat cruise along the Thames OR 2 more top London tourist attractions (you can choose from London Dungeon, SEA LIFE London Aquarium, Shrek's Adventure!, Madame Tussauds, and a hop-on-hop-off BIG BUS Tour). Check out your London eye ticket options here.
So is London Eye worth visiting?
Oh, yeah! If you’re after 360° moving views of London right from the heart of the city, the London Eye offers a sensational experience for visitors of all walks of life. And if you’re wondering “What is the best time to go to the London Eye?,” it depends on what you’re looking for: if you’re not a huge fan of crowds, you could try Mon-Fri off-season, as earlier as possible in the morning (the London eye opening time is 11 am).
As for the time of the year, my favourite would be April-May because it’s cherry blossom season and you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking explosion of white cherry tree petals right next to the Jubilee Park & Garden (go to this Insta Reel to see for yourself).
Address: 📍 Riverside Building, County Hall, London SE1 7PB
🚇 The closest London Underground Stations to London Eye are Waterloo (on the Jubilee Line, the Bakerloo Line, and the Northern Line), Embankment (Circle, Northern, District, and Bakerloo lines), Westminster (served by the District, Circle, and Jubilee lines), and Charing Cross (Bakerloo and Northern lines).
📌 Nearby London Attractions:
Sea Life London Aquarium.
Jubilee Park and Garden.
The Graffiti Tunnel.
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