By the banks of the River Thames near Waterloo in London is an iconic white wheel, now a well-known part of the city’s skyline. This is the London Eye, one of the best ways of taking in the city’s sights all at once.
No less than 32 glass pods make half-hour rotations, giving brilliant 360-degree views of London. By the time you’re at the top of the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel, you’ll be 135 metres above ground.
From here, London’s main attractions are spread out for all to see, and how small they seem from up high. Keep your eyes peeled for Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral and even, on a very clear day, Windsor Castle.
These famous backdrops provide striking photo opportunities, so make sure your phone is charged before you set off.
Best time to visit the London Eye
On a good day, visitors to the London Eye can see for a distance of around 40 km. Gatwick Airport is about that far from London, which gives some idea of the scale.
When picking a time to visit, the best time of day is up to you. Daytime and nighttime trips both have their perks. What do you want to see, and when are you visiting the city?
If you’re hoping to spot your hotel room, a friend’s apartment, or a favourite tourist attraction, you’ll need clear weather and a good idea of the city’s geography. If you’re happy with a panoramic view of the main sights, then night-time is perfect.
From high above the Thames, a network of twinkling lights spreads out below. The London Eye at night is certainly up there when it comes to romantic scenes.
London Eye timeline
Since it first began revolving in 2000, the London Eye has won more than 85 awards for tourism, and is now well-sketched into the city’s skyline.
The Wheel was built to celebrate the new millennium of 2000, but has since made its name as one of the city’s favourite attractions. Here’s a timeline:
- 1998: Construction begins
- 1999: Officially opened with the nickname ‘Millenium Wheel’ in December by Tony Blair, having arrived at the South Bank pod by pod on a barge
- 2000: First passenger trip in March
- 2000: LED lighting system is installed, so the wheel is lit up for all to see
- 2006: Ownership of the wheel passes from British Airways to Tussauds Group
- 2011: The Wheel takes on the new name ‘the London Eye’
Plan your visit to the London Eye
A rotation in the London Eye takes 30 minutes. Tickets are free for children under three years, and reduced for children aged three to five. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. The Eye is open daily from 11 am to 6 pm, but check first on the website in case of any changes.
Booking your London Eye ticket
Buying your ticket online is the first step in planning your London Eye visit, and the process is simple. Just hop online and follow the steps.
Pods are available to book individually or as a group. You can book a single trip, or buy gift vouchers and cards as a treat for someone special.
For a big celebration, reserve a private pod for 25 guests and enjoy a unique time with friends as you fly above the Thames. Or combine the experience with another attraction and make a day of it.
Check our offers page for London Eye experience tickets.
How to get to the London Eye
On the South Bank by Waterloo Station, the wheel is in a central location. Several London underground lines are near the pods, and stations that are further away allow passengers to stroll past many attractions.
Train stations near the London Eye
The nearest underground station is Waterloo, but several others are close. These include:
- Waterloo station on the Bakerloo Line (Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern, Waterloo & City Lines): Eight minutes walk
- Charing Cross station (Bakerloo, Northern Lines: 15 minutes walk)
- Embankment station (Bakerloo, Circle, District, Northern Lines): 10 minutes walk
Getting the train to London
In terms of larger train stations near the London Eye, there are several mainline ones nearby:
- Waterloo is the closest mainline station, bringing in people from the west
- Charing Cross is a short walk over Embankment Bridge, with train lines heading south and southeast
- London Bridge is for the main routes to the south, and the station is a pleasant stroll along the Thames
If you’re planning a short trip to London, you may be hoping to visit more than one sightseeing spot. See our guide on how to spend three days in the city.
We’ve left no stone unturned when it comes to ticking the top London attractions off your list. Enjoy the main sights of London town with our essential guide.
Grab an offer
Ready to experience the capital? We want you to max out your time in London, and ticket offers are a great way of doing this. Make sure you explore our 2FOR1 train offers, which include a London Eye River Cruise when you travel by train.