Skip to main content

The Shard is the work of Italian architect Renzo Piano, known for The Centre Pompidou in Paris and The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Piano’s fortress in London is forged by eight sloping glass facades – the shards. The name “The Shard” comes from the architect’s description of the development as a “shard of glass” when it was being planned.

The building was opened to tenants in 2013 and was taller than Canary Wharf’s One Canada Square, Frankfurt’s Commerzbank and the Ostankino television tower in Moscow. At the time it was the tallest building in Europe, now it’s fourth but still among the 100 highest structures in the world and definitely one of the most recognisable skyscrapers.

London in miniature

There are two viewing decks, an outside and inside area. From more than 200 metres up in the air, the city of nine million people looks like a model village. The London Eye becomes a fairground attraction and HMS Belfast a model boat.

Not far from it there are the toy-town landmarks of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament. The twin stadiums – Olympic and Wembley – feel within touching distance. Trains inch along like millipedes into London Bridge station, while to the east the Thames curves out to the sea.

Loo with a view

The bird’s-eye views of London are sublime with nothing obstructing the 360-degree skyline. And it’s not just a nice view out the window, inside it’s very elegant with modern sculptures, a grand piano and champagne bar with seating.

The highlight for us was the toilets. Private cubicles with floor-to-ceiling glass windows for you to admire the incredible view …while doing your business. It’s high up enough that you still have good privacy but there is an automatic electric blind to get full privacy.

Race to the top

The View from The Shard isn’t the cheapest observation deck with adult tickets starting at £28.50 per person, and there are cheaper alternatives such as the newly opened Horizon 22 which is completely free. However, nothing beats the iconic building of The Shard and it’s by far the tallest observation deck view from south of the river so the view is quite unique. Despite the competition and 11 years later, tickets sell fast and it can get very busy at times.

View guarantee

One of the perks of The Shard is the View Guarantee. If you cannot see at least three of the following five landmarks – London Eye, The Walkie Talkie, Tower Bridge, One Canada Square & St Paul’s Cathedral – due to low visibility during the time of your visit, you will be given a complimentary return voucher, valid for at least three months, which will allow you to book a return standard ticket, for free.

Unlimited time at the top

Since you’re allowed to spend an unlimited time on top, we advise you to book a ticket for one hour before the sunset to get the daylight view, the sunset and later the night view. London looks twice as magical at night.

The Shard is located above London Bridge Station and the observation deck entrance is on the west side of the building on London Bridge St. More information and bookings can be found here.


Image credits: © The View from The Shard