Among London 's most famous attractions is an observation wheel known as the London Eye. Another name for it is the Millennium Wheel. It was opened in 2000 and for several years was the largest Ferris wheel in the world.
Although it is no longer the largest, it is still visited by millions of people every year. The views from the London Eye are very varied, when you go up one of its glass cabins you can see the river Thames, buildings and emblematic areas of the whole city. Here I will tell you about what you can see from this great wheel.
1. The River Thames is the first thing to catch the eye
When the Ferris wheel starts to turn, the first thing you see is the great river Thames, the most important river in England. Also, you have the opportunity to see how the different kinds of boats sail on it and you can even book a cruise on the Thames and in fact you can even buy tickets that combine a ride on the London Eye with a cruise on the Thames.
There are over 90 species of wild birds on the River Thames, why do I mention this? Because of the close proximity between the river and the London Eye, it is likely that while you are in one of the booths you will have the opportunity to see some, or even several, of these species.
When you're at the top of the wheel you'll see a lot of the city's buildings, find out what they are and spot them in the cityscape. If the day is clear, you can see up to 40 metres away, so it's best to take advantage of this panoramic view.
2. Don't forget to look out for the Westminster Bridge
This bridge is one of the oldest and most recognisable in England and is very close to the Millennium Wheel. Because of how close it is, it's one of the first things you see as you start to rise into the Ferris wheel. It is easy to see as it is 353 metres long and has 7 iron arches.
Westminster Bridge was built in 1862 and from the London Eye you get an excellent view of it. In addition to vehicles, you see people walking, from citizens to tourists who want to take a picture.
3. The Palace of Westminster from above
Very close to the Bridge and the River Thames is the Palace of Westminster, you can't miss it when you're in one of the wheel cabins. As you go up you are able to see the imposing structure of this Victorian Gothic style building.
The Palace is also known as the Houses of Parliament, as it houses the British Parliament and, therefore, the two Houses of Parliament. For a few years, this palace served as the residence of British royalty, but in 1834, much of the building was destroyed in a great fire.
Due to the fire, the structure you see today is only a small part of the original construction. From the London Eye you can see the lavish façade of the Palace of Westminster and how sections of it are reflected in the River Thames. If you've already got your tickets for Westminster Abbey, you'll know that it's just a short walk from the Palace of Westminster.
4. One of the world's most famous clock towers
What comes to mind when you hear or talk about London? Perhaps you think of it being one of the countries with a royal family or of Big Ben. The clock is located next to the Palace of Westminster and is one of the most famous symbols, not only of the city, but of England. You have the chance to see it when you buy tickets to go up the London Eye.
The tower is 106 metres high and large clocks are installed on all sides. Inside this construction there is also a bell that weighs approximately 14 tons. The clocks have a diameter of 7 metres, so from the Millennium Wheel cabin you can see the time in the city.
5. See one of London's most iconic landmarks
St. Paul's Churchyard is home to St London St Paul's Cathedral Tickets: how to buy and prices Paul's Cathedral, originally built between 1087 and 1314. Its structure is in the shape of a cross. Right in the middle of the cross is the dome of this religious building, which can be seen from the London Eye.
The original Cathedral was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666. After this disaster, which affected the entire population and a large number of buildings in the city, it was rebuilt. From then on, the dome became an icon of London and remains so today.
From the Ferris wheel you can see the great dome, which is second only to St Peter's Basilica (Rome) in size. St Paul's Cathedral in London also has elaborate stone sculptures.
6. Get a great view of a modern building
Once the cabin has climbed high enough, it is possible to see one of the most modern buildings in the city. The Shard observation deck was opened in 2012 and has since made its mark on the city with its innovative design. The building's height is an impressive 310 metres, and its 87 floors include restaurants, flats, the observation deck and a hotel.
The Shard is covered in approximately 11,000 panes of glass, so on days when the sun is strongest, it is likely that the glare of the light will not allow you to admire it in detail. Don't worry, you'll still be able to see its pointed shape in the London cityscape.
7. Admire the city's financial district
Among the sights from the London Eye is London's Financial District, better known as The City. Thirty per cent of the buildings in one of London' s major neighbourhoods have been built in recent years. Therefore, from the Millennium Wheel you see the modern buildings, many of which are covered in glass.
The most emblematic buildings in The City are: the Gherkin Building, Lloyd's of London, Leadenhall Building and Tower 42. Something interesting about the Financial District is that its futuristic-looking buildings contrast with ancient elements, such as churches, a Roman amphitheatre and Smithfield Market.
8. A building shaped like a Walkie Talkie
The Fenchurch Building, designed by Rafael Viñoly, has a peculiar shape; as its height increases, its structure widens. This has caused many Londoners and tourists to nickname the building "Walkie Talkie".
Although you may not see the same shape, you will surely recognise it when you are on the heights of the London Eye, as it is easy to differentiate it from the other buildings. One recommendation I give you to find it is to look for the building that reflects the most sunlight. Its shape allows the light to be channelled more than other structures in London.
Inside Fenchurch is located the botanical garden: Sky Garden. There are also restaurants, a bar and a café in the building. When enjoying the view from the London Eye, don't forget to check out the Walkie Talkie shaped building.
9. A building opened in 2000
Like the London Eye, the last bridge built over the River Thames was also opened at the turn of the millennium. It is called the Millennium Bridge and is a pedestrian suspension bridge. It is 325 metres long and although it was designed more than 20 years ago, its appearance is characteristically modern.
The Millennium Wheel is close to the River Thames, so you have the opportunity to see the Millennium Bridge even when the day is not clear.
10. The residence of the Royal Family
Allowing you to have a panoramic view at a height of 135 metres, from the London Eye you can see Buckingham Palace. It is located about 2 kilometres from the Millennium Wheel, so it is possible to see the large structure where the Queen of England lives.
The Palace was built in 1703 and has a neoclassical design, from the heights you not only see this iconic building, but also the green areas near it. Now that you know which views from the London Eye stand out the most, I'll tell you some other important facts about this London attraction.
The London Eye cabins
The most common question that people have when they go on the Millennium Wheel for the first time is: What to expect? What are the booths like? Obviously, they are safe, but not only that, but every aspect of their design contributes to an optimal experience for every person who goes on the ride.
The cabins are acclimatised and have a capacity of 25 people, but currently that number does not go up because of the measures implemented by Covid 19. Even with 25 people in each cabin, it is still possible to move around and enjoy the view to the fullest.
Inside, there are seats for those who prefer not to stand for the whole ride. In addition, there are touch screens that inform you about the buildings around you and can be seen from the London Eye. On the other hand, so that you have a tangible souvenir of your visit, it is possible to take photographs from the booths, but don't disturb other people.
Is it possible to go on the London Eye at night?
Yes, during the summer in London, the London Eye's timetable allows you to get on the London Eye after the sun has gone down. Most of the year, the London Eye closes at 18:00, so you can't see the city at night. However, in June, July and August it is open from 10:00 until 20:30.
What do you see from the Millennium Wheel at night? The buildings that can be seen at night are the following:
- The Shard: when it gets dark, the skyscraper lights up, one of the highlights of the views from the London Eye at night is the tip of this building, as it is the most illuminated part of the structure.
- The Houses of Parliament: the palace has lights all around it that illuminate its façade and allow it to be visible from above.
- Big Ben: like the Houses of Parliament, the tower structure is illuminated at night, but not only that. All faces of the clock are illuminated, helping those nearby and those climbing the London Eye to see the time clearly.
- The dome of St Paul's Cathedral: although its illumination is not as outstanding as the previous buildings, it is still possible to see this dome if you ride the London Ferris wheel at night.
- Waterloo Bridge: another of the bridges that crosses the River Thames and is close to the London Eye is Waterloo Bridge. This is also illuminated at night and can be seen when you get into a London Eye booth.
The buildings named above are not the only ones that stand out in the London nightscape. The London Eye is one of the brightest spots in the capital, so if you go up at night, it 's normal for the wheel to be lit up, usually in red.
The information I have given you in this article will be useful when planning your visit to this attraction. I hope you enjoy your trip to London and the views from the London Eye.