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London Eye Visitor Guide — How to Visit the Iconic Ferris Wheel in London

Towering over 400 feet above the River Thames, the London Eye Ferris wheel is an unmissable landmark in Central London. Step inside the Ferris wheel and you’ll be treated to sweeping 360-degree views of the United Kingdom’s capital city. Look out onto Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the Shard and more from inside an enclosed glass capsule.

Ready to climb aboard? Whether you’re looking for the cheapest ticket or something to do nearby, this post will help you make the most of your visit to the London Eye.

In this Post

Here’s what we’re covering in this post. We invite you to read the full guide or jump ahead to the section you’re most interested in.

About the London Eye

The London Eye is a Ferris wheel on the south bank of the River Thames in London, England. It was built as a landmark to celebrate the new millennium and quickly became an icon of the UK capital. The London Eye cost over £70 million to build, but now welcomes nearly 3.5 million visitors every year.

When it opened in 2000, the London Eye was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. Standing at 443-feet, the London Eye is currently the 5th tallest Ferris wheel in the world (having been just bumped down another spot with the opening of Ain Dubai Ferris wheel in 2021). The London Eye remains the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe.

There are 32 glass capsules on the London Eye; each capsule represents one of the 32 boroughs of London. Each capsule holds 25 passengers. Some quick math shows that roughly 800 passengers can ride the Ferris wheel at a time.

Inside of an empty London Eye Capsule

It takes about 30 minutes to ride London Eye around one time. The Ferris wheel moves continuously at about 0.6 miles per hour and does not stop for boarding. Passengers board the capsules from a platform as it slowly moves past the lowest point.

London Eye Tickets & Prices

Ready to ride? The only thing standing between you and London’s favorite Ferris wheel is a ticket. There’s a variety of ticket options for the London Eye, and the one that’s right for you will depend mostly on how much you want to spend and how long you want to wait.

London Eye Ticket Options

There are two basic ticket options for the London Eye: Standard and Fast Track.

A standard ticket for the London Eye includes one rotation on the Ferris wheel in a shared capsule with up to 24 other passengers. Each standard ticket is for a specific date and time. That time represents when you should enter the queue, but it does not guarantee entry at that time. Standard ticket holders will need to wait in the full queue to board.

People wait in line in front of the London Eye

With a Fast Track ticket for the London Eye, you can skip most of the standard queue and board the Ferris wheel faster. The Fast Track ticket also includes one rotation on the Ferris wheel in a shared capsule. Fast Track tickets are more expensive and limited in their distribution. This is to ensure the wait is kept low for Fast Track ticket holders.

Fast Track tickets are also for a specific date and time. However, there is a “Flexi Fast Track Ticket” option which is even more expensive, but can be used any day or time.

Fast Track Queue for the London Eye

Where to Buy Tickets

You can purchase tickets for the London Eye online in advance or at the attraction on the day of your visit.

You can purchase your ticket online from the official London Eye website here. When you purchase online, you’ll receive a digital ticket which can be scanned from your mobile device.

There are a few benefits to purchasing tickets online in advance. In some cases, buying online in advance can save you money. You used to be able to guarantee saving a few bucks by purchasing 7 days in advance, but that’s no longer the case. Now, you can only save by purchasing online in advance during the off season (which excludes the summer months).

Some promotions are only available online. Family tickets and the Flexi Fast Track Ticket are only available online and cannot be purchased on site.

Buying online will also guarantee entry. Fast Track tickets scan sell out during the day and in some extreme cases, all ticket sales may be halted. For example, in July 2022, extreme heat halted new ticket sales and only existing ticket holders could ride the attraction.

London Eye Ticket Office is located across from the London Eye entrance

You can also buy tickets for the London Eye at the attraction itself. There is a ticket office with self-service kiosks located across from the Ferris wheel entrance. From the kiosks, you can purchase Standard or Fast Track tickets if available. You will receive a printed ticket with a barcode to scan when you enter the queue.

Whether you purchase your ticket online or on site, you will need to select a specific date and time for your visit (unless you purchase the Flexi Fast Track which doesn’t require a time).

How Much Does it Cost to Ride the London Eye

London Eye ticket prices vary based on the ticket type, when you visit and how you book your ticket.

Here’s a breakdown of current ticket prices as of April 2023.

  • Standard Ticket — Purchased in advance online: £30.50 to £38*
  • Standard Ticket — Purchased on site on the day of the visit: £40
  • Fast Track Ticket — Purchased in advance online: £53 to £55*
  • Fast Track Ticket — Purchased on site on the day of the visit: £55
  • Flexi Fast Track Ticket — Purchased in advance online: £58

*Reduced online advance ticket prices are only available on certain off-peak days.

London Eye printed tickets with barcode

How to Save Money on London Eye Tickets

There are a few different ways to save money on London Eye tickets. Below are a few ways to save money while booking through the official ticket office. You may also find discounts and offers through third-party web sites and travel agencies. I can’t verify the legitimacy of all these offers, so I won’t be promoting those in this post.

  • Advance Tickets: If you’re visiting outside of peak summer months, you can save a few pounds on both Standard and Fast Track tickets if you purchase your ticket online in advance.
  • Arrive Early: If you don’t want to pay extra for Fast Track and also don’t want to wait in long lines, plan to visit the London Eye early. If you arrive within the first hour or two of opening, especially on a weekday, the standard queue is not usually that long.
  • Family Tickets: If you have at least two children and one adult traveling together, you can purchase discounted family tickets for £28 per person. Family tickets are only available online for certain weekdays.
  • Combo Tickets: If you plan to visit other London attractions like a River Cruise, Madame Tussauds and/or SEA LIFE Aquarium, you can save when you purchase tickets together in a bundle. You can purchase combo tickets here.

View of Big Ben from inside the London Eye

VIP Experiences

Take your London Eye visit up a notch with one of these VIP Experiences. Some of these experiences are only a few pounds more than Fast Track tickets alone and include some added perks.

The Champagne Experience and Pub Pod are reasonably priced experiences and great options for couples and adult friend groups.

The Champagne Experience includes Fast Track entry, one rotation around the wheel and a glass of Champagne onboard inside a standard capsule. This experience costs £58 – £60 per person.

The Pub Pod is a special capsule that has been elaborately decorated as an English pub. Pub Pod tickets cost £65 per person and include Fast Track entry, one rotation around the wheel and up to two alcoholic beverages per person (soft drinks are also available).

NOTE: As of April 2023, the pub pod experience is temporarily suspended and has been replaced with a special Coronation Capsule. 

For a more elaborate splurge, you can reserve an entire pod on the London Eye. For £550, you can reserve the Cupid’s Pod. This experience includes a private pod with priority boarding, bottle of Champagne, box of chocolates and one rotation around the wheel. For £675, you can reserve a private pod for up to 25 guests which includes priority boarding and one rotation around the wheel.

You can book VIP experiences here.

What can you see from the London Eye

From inside the clear capsule at the top of the London Eye, you can see for miles in all directions. On a clear day, the official website says you can see as far as Windsor Castle (20 miles away as the crow flies). We weren’t that lucky, but you can see a lot of things — pretty much every major landmark in Central London and beyond that isn’t otherwise blocked by a building or object.

Bridge on the Thames as seen from the London Eye

Some of the closest landmarks include Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Jubilee Garden. You can spot Buckingham Palace and the sprawling treetops of the city’s prominent parks, including St. James’s Park, Hyde Park and Regent’s Park.

View of Big Ben and Westminster Bridge from the top of the London Eye

Look further down the snaking River Thames and you’ll see some of the famous bridges like Westminster Bridge, Hungerford Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and even Tower Bridge at a distance. Some of the city’s most famous buildings, like the Shard, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Tate Modern, can all be seen from the top of the London Eye.

View from the top of the London Eye

Plan Your Visit

The London Eye is extremely popular and understandably so. It’s a really fun attraction with great views, but it’s also just really easy to visit. With just a bit of planning, you can work the London Eye into just about any London itinerary.

In this section we’ll go over some of the details for planning your visit to the London Eye.

Best Time to Visit the London Eye

The London Eye is open almost every day of the year. It is only closed on Christmas Day (December 25) and for a short period of time in January for annual maintenance. The maintenance closure is typically for about two weeks, so be sure to check the opening hours page if you plan to visit in January.

Like most tourist attractions, the most popular time to visit the London Eye is in the summer and weekends. To avoid large crowds, avoid these time periods. Spring and Fall are good times to visit London and the eye because you can snag advance discount tickets and crowds will be a bit lighter.

The London Eye is comfortable to visit anytime of the year, though, as the capsules are temperature controlled. However, do note that extreme weather conditions can halt ticket sales and sometimes suspend service.

View of a capsule of the London Eye as seen from the top

The London Eye is typically open weekdays from 11 AM – 6 PM and weekends (Saturday & Sunday) from 10 AM to 8:30 PM. This is notable because it means you can’t always ride the London Eye at night.

There’s rarely a bad time to visit the London Eye and you can fit it into most any visit. If anything, we’d recommend riding the London Eye early in your trip. It’s a great way to get a peek of what the city has to offer and build some excitement to see more of it up close throughout your trip.

How Long Does the London Eye Take

A ticket to ride the London Eye will get you one rotation around the massive Ferris wheel. That one rotation around the London Eye takes about 30 minutes.

In addition to the time you spend on the Ferris wheel, you also must account for time spent buying tickets (if you didn’t buy online in advance) and waiting in the queue to board. The official London Eye website says to expect 45 minute waits for Standard ticket entry and 20 minutes for Fast Track entry. These waits can vary based on the day and time of your visit.

To better help plan your day, we suggest buying tickets online in advance. Regardless of the ticket type you choose, you’ll need to select a date and time for your ticket. Plan to enter the queue 15 minutes before you scheduled ride time.

As a generous assessment, budget 1.5 – 2 hours total for a visit to the London Eye.

How to Get to the London Eye

The London Eye is located on the south bank of the River Thames in London. It’s easily accessible from many places in the city via public transportation.

London Underground subway sign

If you’re taking the London Underground subway, there are several stations near the London Eye.

  • Westminster Station: Serves the Circle, District or Jubilee lines
  • Waterloo Station: Serves the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern or Waterloo & City lines
  • Embankment Station: Serves the Bakerloo, Circle, District, Northern lines

There are also several buses that stop nearby. The closest bus stop is on the south bank side of Westminster Bridge which services the 12, 148, 159, 211, 453 and N109 bus routes. If you need to the take the bus, we recommend using Google Maps for specific route instructions.

You can even get to the London Eye by boat. Uber Boat service, which operates between 24 piers along the Thames, stops directly in front of the London Eye. If you’re coming from a location along the river, be sure to check the boat route and see if it works for you. We haven’t done this specific boat, but we love any excuse to commute via boat.

You can also walk to the London Eye from some of the other famous attractions nearby. The London Eye is less than one mile from Big Ben, Covent Garden, St James’s Park and Tate Modern, among other popular starting points.

Food and Drinks

Food and drinks are not allowed on the London Eye Ferris wheel. You cannot bring food or drinks (other than bottled water) aboard the London Eye, nor can you purchase food or drinks on the Ferris wheel itself.

The exception to this rule, of course, is the Champagne Experience and Pub Pod. Both of these experiences include beverages served on board.

If you are looking for food and drinks before or after your spin on the wheel, there are a few nearby options. The London Eye gift shop across from the wheel sells a limited selection of bottled beverages and packaged snacks. There’s also several food trucks, pubs and restaurants on the South Bank along the river to the east.

Restrooms, which include baby changing tables, are available inside the London Eye ticket office. There are no restrooms inside the London Eye Ferris wheel capsules themselves.

London Eye Gift Shop

Things to do Near the London Eye

The London Eye is in the heart of Central London. Nearly everything there is to see and do in London is just a bus, train or walk away from the London Eye. But let’s narrow that down a bit.

If it’s your first day in London — ever or just this trip — we suggest hitting the streets and taking a walking tour of London on your first day. Our perfect itinerary would look something like this.

  • Start on the South Bank near Gabriel’s Pier and Bernie Spain Gardens (or even Borough Market if you were very ambitious)
  • Take the Queen’s Walk, a walkway along the South Bank, past Waterloo Bridge and Hungerford Bridges. Stop for a pint, halloumi wrap or scoop of ice cream at one of the many vendors and restaurants along the way.
  • If you have little ones, take some time to play at Jubilee Park
  • Ride the London Eye (duh!)
  • Cross Westminster Bridge past Big Ben
  • Explore St James’s Park as you walk toward Buckingham Palace, and then cut through Green Park
  • If you’re really ambitious, continue on to SoHo and get a drink and dinner in Carnaby

London Eye with Kids

The London Eye is one of our favorite things to do in London with kids. It is a great family attraction because it’s equally fun for kids and adults. Children of all ages can ride the London Eye at all times, as long as they have a ticket. Kids 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult over 18.

Toddler looks out from inside the London Eye

The London Eye is very safe. The ride capsules are fully enclosed, so there’s no risk of dropped toys or stuck fingers. They’re also quite spacious, so there is room for them to walk around freely and places to sit if they need a break.

Most children will also really enjoy the London Eye. If they’ve been on a Ferris wheel before, the idea of riding a giant one is usually pretty exciting. A fun activity is to ask them to find the ways that the London Eye is different than other Ferris wheels they’ve been on. (Like the fact that it’s only supported on one side, the capsules are enclosed, or it moves much slower.)

The London Eye is not inherently scary and doesn’t move fast. It is really tall though, and that can be overwhelming for some young children (and some adults, honestly). The capsules are all glass so there is no escaping the height factor except for closing your eye.

At the tender age of almost two, our little one is scared of everyone and everything. It did take them a minute to get used to being in a capsule with so many strangers and the continuous movement of the Ferris wheel. They came around before we were halfway up and really enjoyed it.

The other thing to note about visiting with kids is that the attraction is long. A spin around the London Eye takes 30 minutes. That can feel like eternity for a toddler, especially if they are not enjoying it. Our toddler made it for about 25 minutes before getting too antsy.

Kids Ticket Prices

The biggest downside to the London Eye with kids is that it is expensive. Fortunately, there are a few ways to save some money if you’re riding as a family.

Children ages 3 – 15 will benefit from reduced children’s ticket prices for both Standard and Fast Track tickets. Children under three can ride the London Eye for free, but they still need a ticket so don’t forget to add it to your order.

There’s also a special Family Standard Ticket option available. If you buy at least one adult ticket and two children’s tickets, you can buy them together for £28 each. That’s up to £10 off each adult ticket and £6 off each child ticket. This package is only available online and for certain weekdays, so be sure to look for it before you book. I found the available days to be random and very limited.

Children are allowed inside both the Pub Pod and Champagne experience, but will be provided soft drinks. There is no reduced children’s pricing for these experiences, but young children under three can still ride this experiences for free

Kid-Friendly Activities Nearby

It’s easy to spend an entire afternoon or evening with the family on the South Bank. There’s plenty of kid-friendly fun within walking distance. If your kids are anything like ours, they’ll be begging to stay longer and then will immediately pass out when their head hits the pillow.

Right next to the London Eye is Jubilee Park, home to London’s (unofficial) best playground. It’s a big playground with tons of fun equipment. There are ships to swing on, logs to climb over and slides to rush down. All with a great view of the London Eye.

Playground looks onto the London Eye

Continue on the Queen’s Walk east and you can’t not find fun things to do. There are street performers, restaurants and food trucks galore, a pop-up book shop and even a skate park.

Another highlight is the Golden Carousel, located just east of Jubilee Park. It’s only £3 a person and the ride is pretty long. It’s surprisingly fast and there are no seatbelts, so hold on tight. If you’re riding with a little one, there are some longer horses that are designed for two people to ride together.

Carousel on the Queens Walk in London

What family night out is complete without ice cream? A popular stop is Snog Frozen Yogurt. It’s hard to miss this popular dessert spot because it’s built inside of a hot pink, double-decker bus. The kids will get a kick out of the upper level seating and the parents will love it for the people watching.

If you’re walking further on the Queen’s Walk, head all the way to the Sweet Spot. Here you’ll find hand-dipped ice cream and more sweet treats like churros, mini donuts and waffles. There’s another park and even more great dining options in the Gabriel’s Wharf area, too.

Personal Experience & Review

We went to London numerous times as adults without riding the London Eye. It always just felt a little too expensive when there were so many other things we wanted to see and do in London. We finally took a ride on the wheel when came to London with our toddler for the first time. Sometimes you just need a push.

We had the best time! Now that I know about the Pub Pod and Champagne Experience which are only a few pounds more than Fast Track tickets and come with drinks, I’d totally prioritize this as an adult/couple activity in the future. I honestly would have brought our kiddo to the Pub Pod because it looked so cute, but I didn’t know about it until writing this post.

The London Eye ride vehicles are quite large. Each capsule fits 25 people, and that’s the perfect amount. It didn’t feel crowded and there was plenty of room to move around. There is bench seating in the center of each capsule. There was always room to sit because most people were standing.

People stand inside a full London Eye capsule

The best views are from the front of the capsule, opposite the door. That area was always the most crowded. People in our capsule were good about moving around though, so everyone had a chance to see and take photos from all areas.

The views from the London Eye are great — specifically the views of Big Ben and Parliament which steal the show at this angle. It’s definitely the best way to see the city if you’re traveling with children, because you get views and an activity in one.

If you’re looking for other great views of London, the Shard and Sky Garden are both great options. These two buildings have similar views, which include a great view of Tower Bridge. If you’re interested in views with a meal, go to Sky Garden (make reservations in advance). For views and a glass of champagne, we’d recommend the Shard.

View of the Shard and Thames from the top of the Sky Garden

View from the Sky Garden Observation Deck

We loved our trip around the London Eye, but what we enjoyed most was discovering the broader South Bank area. The Queen’s Walk wasn’t something we’d ever done before, but we loved it so much. We stayed at Bankside Hotel, located just past Gabriel’s Pier, so we ended up making this walk several more times during our trip. It was great every time.

Closing Thoughts

I still think the London Eye is expensive, but I can at least say now that I think it’s worth it. If you pair an expensive ride on the London Eye with a fairly inexpensive rest of the day on the South Bank, I think it balances out.

The London Eye and South Bank is such a great way to start a trip to London. We flew Business Class on British Airways from New York to London, but our little one still didn’t sleep and we arrived exhausted. The Ferris wheel was perfect because it was really fun, but also very low energy.

I definitely loved it, but I also wouldn’t necessarily call it a “must do”.  London has so much to offer and there are plenty of reasons to skip the London Eye. It might not be right for travelers who only have a short visit or are on a tight budget. You can still have a great trip without a spin on the London Eye.

If you have a trip to London planned, will you be riding the London Eye? If you’ve ridden the London Eye, did you do it on your first visit or a subsequent trip like us? Let us know in the comments!