Thursday, 8 August 2019

Is the London Eye worth it!

The London Eye
Is the London Eye fun? Absolutely! At £30 for a standard ticket in 2019, is the London Eye worth the outrageous price? No!!!  But - my advice is do it anyway. Read on for how much fun it is - as well as a few tips on getting it just a little bit cheaper.  And - whether you should pay even more by adding a skip the line ticket to your purchase. For a 30 minute ride the London Eye works out at a pound a minute. Think of it that way and it doesn't sound so bad.

Is the London Eye worth the ticket price?

What do you get? 

You get a 30 minute ride in a gigantic wheel in the sky. Surprisingly it isn't the world's largest wheel in the sky but comes in fourth after the High Roller Observation Wheel in Las Vegas, the Singapore Flyer and the Star of Nanchang in China. When the Ain Dubai opens in 2020 the London Eye will be bumped down the list to fifth.

Depending on the time of day and time of year you go you also get to stand in a line for however long it takes to get to the front of the queue. If you add in those annoying minutes, or perhaps hours, the London Eye begins to look positively cheap!

London Eye

An observation wheel not a ferris wheel.

Technically the London Eye isn't a ferris wheel but a cantilevered observation wheel and you ride in a capsule rather than sitting strapped into a chair. This is a good thing considering how high you are off the ground when you reach the top.

London Eye capsule

Are there seats in the capsules?

Yes - but standing is way better because you can get right up to the glass sides of the capsules. If you want to sit for some or all of the ride there is a bench seat running along the centre of each capsule.

What can you see at the top?

If you take the same advice I gave when I wrote about the View from the Shard and go on a blue sky day with good visibility then the view at the top is fabulous. The Eye looks down on the Thames between Westminster Bridge and Waterloo Bridge with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament being close enough to see well. On a clear day you are supposed to be able to see for 25 miles (40 kms). Your capsule doesn't stay at the very top for long but you can appreciate the view almost as well on the way up and down again.

View from the London Eye

How long does the ride take?

One complete rotation takes 30 minutes. With the 32 capsules travelling at 0.6 mph ( 0.9 km/h) there is no chance of getting dizzy.

Do the capsules stop at the top?

No - Nor do they stop completely at the bottom for loading and unloading. However they can stop if necessary to enable the disabled or those with limited mobility to ride.

London Eye at the bottom

How many people does each capsule hold? 

Each capsule holds up to 25 people. The capsules are large enough that even with a full compliment they don't feel crowded. I had no trouble finding a perfect position next to the edge to take photos.

Can you get a capsule to yourself?

Absolutely! For a mere £450 you can have a private capsule. You can even have dinner in one or entertain your friends and colleagues or propose to your life partner - all of which come at a premium price. In fact the London Eye has outdone itself in thinking up ways to make an expensive experience even more costly! Click here for details.

London Eye
Andrew - trying to get a selfie of himself on the Eye and David standing waiting for us on the ground. It didn't work!

Are skip the line tickets worth it?

At peak times and in high season from June to the second week of September you might want to consider paying an extra £10 for Fast Track tickets. We went in the middle of the day in mid-May and only spent about 20 minutes in the queue. Most of this was because the Eye was stopped for about fifteen minutes - I have no idea why. has a guide to seasons in London and how busy each one is.

Should you ride if you are scared of heights?

No! Especially at the top there isn't much between you and oblivion, and once you are on the Eye you are there for the whole journey. I was convinced, of course, that having stood for more than twenty years this was the day the Eye would go crashing into the Thames trapping me in an inescapable glass bubble rapidly filling with river water. As unlikely as this scenario was it pushed ahead of all logical thinking for those few minutes at the very top.

David, who is also scared of heights but doesn't suffer at all from FOMO (fear of missing out) stayed safely on the ground while I rode the capsule with our 26 year old, totally fearless and annoyingly logical, son Andrew

How much does the London Eye cost - and what are the best value tickets.

A standard adult ticket purchased on the day costs £30 (36 USD/54 AUD) - ouch! Add another £10 (12 USD/18 AUD) to convert this to a Fast Track ticket. Click here for a list of up to date prices.

Follow one or more of my tips below to shave at least a bit off this.

  • Book online to save 10% and bring the cost down to £27 (33 USD/48 AUD).
  • Use a London sightseeing pass. Read my review of the London City Pass Turbopass. If you are planning lots of sightseeing in a week or less this is the best value option. The Turbopass does not include Fast Track entry so try not to go at peak times. 
  • Days Out Guide and National Rail advertise a 2 for 1 ticket offer when you travel by train. Check the link for excluded dates and other conditions. Note: Tickets are sold either as vouchers or pre-booked online tickets. According to the FAQs if you choose a voucher you must be able to print your voucher. Mobile phone vouchers are not accepted.

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  1. While it is expensive, everything in London that is not free is pretty dear. If I were to go back to London, I would do it so I could see all the new buildings that have cropped up over the last decade.

    1. You are right about things in London being expensive but the London Eye is super-expensive. It is odd though how London goes to two extremes. It has world-class free attractions like its museums and art galleries and at the other end of the spectrum some of the priciest attractions we've ever come across.

  2. Is the London Eye worth it? An absolute Yes from me! I loved the London Eye and recommend everyone put it on their London bucket list. Great post covering everything anyone could want to know about a ride on the London Eye. Oh and I agree with your comment about going on a clear day. We went on a clear day and the views over London do go on forever.

    1. You are a person after my own heart. My advice is try to ignore the cost and just do it!

  3. I went on the London Eye soon after it opened and don’t remember it being particularly crowded or expensive. But I suppose it has become a major tourist attraction since then...

    1. We didn't have to wait for long in the queue but I have read a lot of warnings about the length of the queue in the high tourist season and on weekends in summer.

  4. I do have height issues, so I plan to save my US$36 on a London Eye ticket and spend it at a pub.

  5. Lovely photos. I pass the London Eye regularly but haven't been in a capsule. It's definitely well worth the trip.

    1. London has some great landmarks. My personal favourite is London Bridge but the London Eye is right up there with it.