Seeing the sights of London on a family day out at the London Eye

Seeing the sights of London on a family day out at the London Eye

Unlike the nearby SEALife London Aquarium, Shrek’s Adventure and London Dungeon, the London Eye is a simple attraction. After standing in a queue (made a little shorter by our Big London Cluster tickets from Attraction Tickets Direct), you walk on board a large, moving pod. As the pod flows gracefully through the air, you might be forgiven for thinking the London Eye is standing still. But the pod creeps stealthily round, higher and higher – until, all of a sudden, you’re out on top of the world, with an unparalleled view of the UK capital.

London Eye

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, with Millbank Tower in the distance.

Even on an overcast day – like this weekend, when we visited – the big sights of London are clearly visible. With an eight- and a six-year old, it’s a chance to point out some of the places that are too far for little legs to visit in one day. And, at half an hour, the London Eye ‘flight’ was long enough for us to have a meaningful discussion about one or two of the places we spotted through the pod’s large, floor-to-ceiling windows.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace, just visible through the trees.

Gwen took great delight in playing with the pod’s monitors, which take you on a virtual tour inside some of the landmark buildings. I managed to dag her attention away from the screen by pointing out Buckingham Palace, which only properly emerges from the trees when the pod is higher up.  The Houses of Parliament, on the other hand, were always clearly visible – unsurprising, considering they’re just across the river. With them right in front of us, it was a good chance to talk to Austin and Gwen about what happens inside, although the concept of democracy was a bit difficult to explain from a slightly wibbly pod, with people milling around us, taking selfies. But Big Ben’s tower, all trussed up with scaffolding – that was an easy one for them to grasp. The bell was on a break, and it just needed a bit of buffing-up.

Houses of Parliament

Gwen was excited when she saw St Mary Axe. The building – also known as ‘the Gherkin’ – had featured in a book her teacher had read to her class. We also had fun spotting St Paul’s Cathedal, which still stood out in the citiscape, even though it’s now surrounded by many other, much taller buildings.

London

St Paul’s Cathedral, in the centre of the picture.

I’ve been on the London Eye a few times since it was built for London’s Millennium celebrations in 2000. A new feature this time round was the free 4D experience, inside the ticket hall. At only four minutes long, the film is short. But the whole thing is infused with the merry, multicultural spirit of London that the city’s long-term residents know well. As spectators stand on platforms in front of the screen, watching an image of the London Eye, a seagull soars high above the river. The 3D goggles make him look close enough to touch. A colourful dragon from Chinese New Year roars in your face, children blow bubbles that pop when they reach you (you can actually feel them), and at the end, ‘real’ snow begins to fall.

London Eye

Waiting for the 4D experience at the London Eye

The 4D experience is a fun way to begin or end the flight on the London Eye. Unfortunately, if you arrive later on in the day, the queues can be very long, so any excitement built up by the 4D experience may have worn off by the time you reach the London Eye itself. My top tip would be to book through a Cluster ticket, like ours, and choose a time slot soon after the attraction opens, when they queues are likely to be a fraction of their normal size.

London

The London Eye is a minute or two away from Shrek’s Adventure, the London Dungeon and London SEALife Aquarium, in County Hall on the left.

What’s in the area, and how to get there

The London Eye is a good place to start if you want a family day out in London that doesn’t involve too much walking. It’s literally a couple of minutes away from Shrek’s Adventure, the London Dungeon and London SEALife Aquarium. There are fast-food eateries inside County Hall, as well as more family-friendly restaurants, like Wagamama and Giraffe, further along the southbank, by the Royal Festival Hall. The Houses of Parliament are within easy reach, and even Buckingham Palace isn’t more than a half-hour walk away.

The London Eye is located within easy walking distance from several London Underground stations: Waterloo, Embankment, Charing Cross and Westminster. Waterloo is the closest tube station. It’s about a five minute walk away. Embankment and Charing Cross stations are a ten-fifteen minute walk away, across Hungerford Bridge. You can find more details on the London Eye or the Transport for London website.

Tickets

Attraction Tickets Direct invited us to visit London attractions on their Big London cluster tickets. At £54 for adults and £44 for children aged between three and 15, the tickets save around 50% of the cost of walk-up entry to the attractions. As well as the London Eye, the cluster tickets give you entry to SEALife London, Madame Tussauds and Shrek’s Adventure at any time over 90 days. You need to visit Madame Tussauds first to activate your ticket.

  • Shrek's Adventure
    Searching for ogres at Shrek's Adventure

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London Eye

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19 Comments

  1. May 15, 2018 / 7:36 am

    I’ve been on the London Eye twice so far and it’s always such a great experience. The view is just so stunning!!! #CityTripping

    • Nell
      Author
      May 16, 2018 / 8:55 pm

      You really can see for miles, can’t you.

  2. May 15, 2018 / 10:25 am

    I’ve been to London Eye once few years ago. Surprisingly, we didn’t have to wait long to get in. The views were great! I enjoyed them a lot. #CityTripping

    • Nell
      Author
      May 16, 2018 / 8:58 pm

      I think it completely depends on the time of day you visit, and the day of the week. Weekends and school holidays are always popular.

  3. May 15, 2018 / 3:54 pm

    I’ve still yet to go on the Eye with my daughter-it always amazes me that places aren’t quite where I expect thanks to the river so he screens do sound useful, and the 4D experience is a nice bonus. The ticket sounds ideal for shrinking queues as well. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • Nell
      Author
      May 16, 2018 / 9:06 pm

      We did like the 4D experience. It was a nice little touch – a bit of fun.

  4. May 15, 2018 / 5:26 pm

    I visited London back in 2002 when I had just finished Uni…unfortunately I never got to go on the London Eye, I was too poor, haha. It sounds like such a fun thing to do, so hopefully I will make it in the future with my kids! Thanks for all of your tips #citytrippping

    • Nell
      Author
      May 16, 2018 / 9:06 pm

      London can be expensive!

  5. May 15, 2018 / 9:08 pm

    I love the London Eye, people say it’s touristy but it’s the best view of London! I’ve been on it a couple of times, and enjoyed it each time. I definitely pre-bought tickets each time, waiting in that line would be horrible!

    • Nell
      Author
      May 16, 2018 / 9:14 pm

      Yes, it can put a real dampener on what is otherwise a fabulous experience.

  6. May 15, 2018 / 9:23 pm

    I’ve never been on the London eye but I would love to go – top of my bucket list #citytripping

    • Nell
      Author
      May 16, 2018 / 9:14 pm

      You definitely should!

  7. May 16, 2018 / 8:56 am

    I still haven’t done the London eye! Recently did the one in Singapore which was brilliant
    #citytripping

    • Nell
      Author
      May 16, 2018 / 9:29 pm

      They do have them in a lot of places now. Unsurprising – it’s such a good way to see a city.

    • Nell
      Author
      May 16, 2018 / 9:31 pm

      Indeed!

  8. May 16, 2018 / 7:52 pm

    I’m really hoping to take my girls to London soon and I can tell you we will defintitely be doing the London Eye. A half hour is actually a pretty long time! I love how much of the city you can see from up there and it’s a great way to orient the kids as well I’m sure. #citytripping

    • Nell
      Author
      May 16, 2018 / 9:32 pm

      I’d say it’s a good thing to do as soon as you can after arriving here. It gives you a good sense of perspective on all the key landmarks in the city.

  9. May 17, 2018 / 11:47 am

    I love the Eye, can’t wait to take my girls on it soon. The 4D experience sounds great too!
    Nat.x

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