Visit the Shard – the tallest skyscraper in London

Shard at night


Why should you visit the Shard?

Shard is definitely the most iconic piece of modern architecture in the United Kingdom. Londoners, tourists, and architectural critics are talking about this skyscraper every single second. As I finished my architectural studies I couldn’t miss visiting the Shard – one of the most famous modern buildings in the world. The view from The Shard is absolutely the best in the capital. This amazing structure quickly became the top attraction of London. Forget for a moment about the London Eye, because you will not find better views of London anywhere else than in Shard.

Visit the Shard View from Shard looking at Tower Bridge, Tower of London, River Thames 

View from Shard looking at Tower Bridge, Tower of London, City Hall and River Thames

The Shard could only be built if Southwark Towers were removed. In 2008, 100 meters tall building made a place for a super tall structure – Shard. Along with the Drapers’ Gardens tower, it was the highest structure ever to be demolished in the UK. Southwark Towers was near Guy’s Hospital and many other buildings so it took a couple of months to complete demolition and make a place for Shard.

How tall is the Shard?

Slim 306 meters tall tower fades into the sky and allows you to enjoy the most beautiful London skyline. It has workplaces at the bottom of the building. Restaurants, Shangri-La The Shard hotel in the center; and private apartments at the top of the building. 

Looking at Shard from London Tower Bridge visit the Shard

Looking at Shard from London Tower Bridge

A skyscraper with a mixture of functions such as residential, offices, and retail is in use 24 hours a day. This breath-taking 72-story structure was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. Pyramidal shape skyscraper has a public viewing gallery on the top floors, 240 meters above street level.

visit the Shard view from the street

Shard view from Great Maze Pond

There are only two other countries with taller buildings than Shard in Europe. Those include Russia (Lakhta Center, Federation Tower, OKO, Neva Towers, Mercury City Tower) and Poland with Varso Tower. The Shard is the 8th tallest structure in Europe and the highest in the UK.

Shard façade

This amazing building defines the quality of the best skyscrapers in the world. Extra-white glass makes that façade change all the time. Depending on the sky, you can admire the different colors of the Shard. There is also a unique technical approach to use the facade’s performance in terms of light and heat.

Shard facade

View from Shard looking at Tower Bridge and River Thames

Each piece of uneven glass slopes in a different direction. Exposure to the sun is non-identical for neighboring glass elements. The unique feature of Shard’s façade is that the glass pieces never connect. This way, wind load is not affecting large surfaces of the glass.

Visit the Shard 

Location: 32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG

On levels 68, 69, and 72 of the Shard are the greatest views in London. It stands nearly twice as high as any other observation deck in the city. 360-degree views up to 40 miles are offering visitors an unforgettable experience. 

View from Shard looking at Sky Garden

View from Shard looking at Sky Garden

Shard tickets

Get your tickets now and enjoy the amazing London skyline. You can admire the beautiful sunset or have a drink at the Shard as long as you want. There is no time limit on the tickets that can be booked →here 

Shard's viewing platform

Shard’s viewing platform

The Shard tickets prices vary depending on the day of the week or type of the ticket. There are plenty of options to choose from such as midweek savers, group tickets, or private proposals. You can also buy a gift voucher for your friend to visit the highest roof terrace in London.

Visit the Shard with Annual Shard Pass

Visiting Shard is included in a few tourist attraction passes. If you intend to visit more than one place in London, you might want to consider getting one of them. For unlimited views get Annual Shard Pass. This unique pass allows you to come to Shard as often as you want during the 12 months.

Inside Shard's viewing deck

Inside Shard’s viewing deck

Shard afternoon tea, or drinks at Shard bar. Dinner at Shard during summer, winter, or autumn. With Annual Shard Pass you can visit it whenever you want. In addition, you will get discounts on everything you buy in bars and retail shops.

View from the Shard

The Shard view is truly amazing and I highly recommend visiting Shard at least once in your life. Sky Garden is also a great spot to admire the beautiful panorama of London and it’s free! However, the view from the Shard is unbeatable. I visited Sky Garden and Shard the same day and I have to say that both of them are very unique, but if I have to choose one, my vote goes to Shard. 

View from Shard looking at Cannon Street Railway Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Millennium Bridge, London Blackfriars and St. Paul's Cathedral

View from Shard looking at Cannon Street Railway Bridge, Southwark Bridge, Millennium Bridge, London Blackfriars, and St. Paul’s Cathedral

When is the best time to visit the Shard?

Going to Shard just before the sun goes down is the best option. It is one of the best places to watch sunsets in London. During the day you will be able to see all of London’s landmarks. However, a visit at night will allow you to admire the sparkling lights of the city.

Shard sunset view

Shard view during sunset

My favorite season for visiting Shard is absolutely wintertime. During winter you can have the most beautiful light because the sun is low and any hour of the day seems like a golden hour. You can escape cold days to one of Shard’s restaurants and enjoy amazing views of London.

Shard view of Sky Garden

View from Shard looking at River Thames, Sky Garden, The Leadenhall Building

Another great time to visit Shard are on rainy days. Views might not be as impressive as when the sky is clear, but what else can you do in London when it rains? Shard offers so many amazing things to do such as swimming in Sky Pool, admiring the skyline from viewing platforms, or drinking the best cocktails in the sky. 

Visit the Shard to watch the best sunsets in London

Sunset time during winter in London is just before 4 pm so if you want to make the most of it, come to Shard at least one hour earlier. Find the best spot for watching the sunset and take the best pictures ever! 

Sunset in London

Sunset in London from Shard’s viewing platform

On the other hand, if you want to watch the sunset, visiting in summer allows you to come to Shard much later. During summertime, the sun goes down around 9 pm so if you are working long hours, you still won’t miss the best sunset in London.

sunset from Shard London

Sunset view from Shard

Spring is also a great time to watch the sunset in Shard. If you would like to visit Shard in March, make sure to get there before 5:40 pm. In April, the sun goes down between 7:30 pm and 8:20 pm. The Hours of the day in May are becoming longer so you can admire the amazing sunset until 9 pm. For more details check →sunset time in London

Sunset in London

Sunset in London seen from Shard

Days in September are becoming shorter, however, autumn still gives you the option to visit Shard after 6 pm, especially in September. It is the time of the year when you can watch a beautiful sunset from 6:40 pm until 7:40 pm, depending on the day of the month. At the end of October, the time of the sunset is around 4:40 pm. On the last days of November sun goes down just before 4 pm

Shard's sunset view

Sunset at the Shard

The sky is the limit

When I first visited London I was expecting to see skyscrapers everywhere. In reality, there are not many of them in London. The craziest thing to do in the capital was to try to get a building permit to construct a super tall structure that exceeds 300 meters. 

Shard at night

Shard at night

Shard’s developer Sellar didn’t have an easy road to complete this architectural and engineering masterpiece. Planning issues, financial crisis, and breaking significantly the building height in London was no simple task. There is a saying that “Sky’s the limit”, which simply means that everything is possible if you truly want it to make it happen. 

The best views in London

View from Shard looking at London Bridge

Irvine Sellar can be proud that against all the odds, he reshaped London’s skyline. I am sure that Londoners are happy with the city’s transformation. This iconic building attracts plenty of tourists but also is a great place to visit for those living locally. 

London Shard

The shard that reaches a height of 306 meters, was finished in 2012. It is fully made of glass and due to its unusual shape and height, it has become a significant landmark in London. Sometimes it is called Shard of Glass, but let’s stay with the simple name of Shard.

Shard at night

Shard at night

Shard is significantly taller than any other skyscraper in London. During construction, 11,000 panes of glass were used to create this amazing structure. My first thought is that the sharp shape of the building wants to pierce the sky. However, glass facades stop at different levels, causing the top of the Shard to look like lightweight feathers disappearing in the sky. 

Shard London

Looking at Shard from Southwark Bridge

Open top spire allows for a wind to swirl inside the structure and interact with it. Yes, the Shard is enormous, so enormous that it can be seen from many parts of the capital. It became the main reference point in the city, so if you ever get lost in London, look out for Shard.

Shard construction and opening ceremony

The cost of construction is roughly £435 million. It began in March 2009 and ended on July 5, 2012. Three years of work on this iconic building were worth waiting for the opening ceremony. A stunning light show lit the skyscraper as part of the inauguration. 

Shard construction

View of Shard from a close distance

It is not the only time when you could see illuminations on the building. The best season to see lights on the Shard is winter. During that period there is always something magical happening in London. For example, you can watch the Northern Lights display from the tallest building in Western Europe or admire →the best Christmas lights in London

How many restaurants are in the Shard?

There are 6 restaurants in Shard and each of them offers a completely different experience. You can taste delicious British cuisine, escape to the Alps or China. From level 31 up to level 52, Shard offers amazing views with tasty meals and great cocktails. Make sure to visit at least one of them during your stay in London.

London Bar in the sky

Bar in Shard, London

Visit the Shard London restaurants and bars (list starting from the highest to the lowest level) 

GŎNG – The best place to have drinks at Shard

This is an ideal spot for watching the sunset and drinking cocktails in Europe’s tallest hotel bar. GŎNG Bar is located on the 52nd floor with one of the best views of London. The bar’s name comes from “dougong” which is one of the most significant structural elements in traditional Chinese architecture, consisting of interlocking wooden brackets. 

TĪNG – The best restaurant with a 360-degree panorama of London 

Inside Western Europe’s highest skyscraper, taste modern British meals prepared with the best seasonal ingredients. Full height glass windows provide a 360-degree panorama of London in this stunning restaurant located on the 35th floor.

SKY LOUNGE – The best restaurant in the Shard Hotel

On level 34 of the Shangri-La Hotel, you will find a beautiful Sky Lounge. If you want to relax in a luxurious restaurant while admiring the stunning views of London, you don’t have to look any further. Sky Lounge offers a wonderful menu with great beverages such as Veuve Clicquot. 

HUTONG – The best restaurant to try Roasted Peking duck in London

Hutong restaurant is located on level 33. The cuisine of Hutong is based on the delicacies that were served at the royal palaces of Peking. The menu reflects Northern Chinese cuisine inspired by Shandong Province’s “Lu school” cooking style. The name of the restaurant comes from Beijing’s historic hutongs which were small passageways in the city, showing old family homes and their daily life.

OBLIX – The best place to have Shard afternoon tea

Modern restaurant on the 32nd level of The Shard is separated into two areas with views overlooking central London from East to West. Inspired by the New York cityscape, it provides a stylish dining place. Visitors may unwind and try a range of dishes from breakfast to evening menus. Shard afternoon tea with the best views of London is a unique experience.

AQUA SHARD – The best place to have  dinner at Shard

This restaurant offers a wonderful view of the city as well as a three-story high atrium bar. Aqua shard menu has the best British meals and great cocktails. You can enjoy amazing panoramic views of London on the 31st level.

BAR 31 – The best Shard Bar in winter style

If you want to feel the Alp vibes in London, there is no better place than Bar 31. You can try their delicacies like the Nuernberger Sausage Roll or Chicken Schnitzel. It is a great spot to catch up with friends and drink hot chocolate while admiring the best views of London.

Afternoon tea at the Shard

Afternoon Tea in the United Kingdom dates back to the early 1840s. Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford loved to eat sweet delicacies when drinking a cup of tea. At 4 pm higher classes had a “high tea”. One or two hours later lower and middle working classes would have “afternoon” or “low” tea.

When visiting London, you should go back in time to experience one of the most famous British traditions. In Oblix, Aqua Shard, and TĪNG you can have not only a great view of London but also an enjoyable cup of tea. 

Visit the Shard Hotel

In Shangri-La The Shard hotel you can enjoy panoramic views across the River Thames. The hotel is located on 18 floors, starting from level 34. Full height windows offer breath-taking views of St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, and many other attractions of London. Stylish décor with Chinoiserie accents provides elegance and comfort inside the highest structure of Western Europe. 

Skyline of London

Panoramic view of London looking at St Paul’s Cathedral

It is so simple to go to networking events in one of the best world’s financial cities when staying in Shard. Shangri-La Hotel is just a stone’s throw away from the Canary Wharf. This business center has over 300 shops, bars, restaurants, and one of the largest roof gardens in London.

View from Sky Garden looking at Shard

View from Sky Garden looking at Shard

Rooms in Shard hotel combine sophisticated materials like marble, silk, and wood. When staying in Shangri-La you can feel at home with a bit of luxury. Shard views are amazing so if you are looking for the best spot to watch the sunset in London, why not book a room with a breath-taking view.

Visit the Shard to swim in Sky Pool

Swim with the views in the most magnificent place in London. Sky Pool is located on level 52 and it is the highest hotel swimming pool in Western Europe. Shangri-La hotel guests can enjoy views from one of the best pools in London. They spend approximately £450 per room to dip into the water next to the capital’s skyline.

Sunset at the Shard

London sunset at Shard

Swimming 200 meters above sea level with views of famous buildings like the Gherkin or St Paul’s Cathedral is an amazing experience. Sky Pool is part of the highest bar in London – GŎNG. A 10-meter long swimming pool not only provides magical addition to the Shard, but it also makes London’s nightlife more sophisticated.

Meetings & Events in Shard

If you want to bring your meetings to an exceptional level there is no better place than Shangri-La The Shard in London. It’s an excellent option for weddings or any other celebrations for groups between 20 to 110 people. Full height windows in Shard, making it a perfect location to take incredible photos in a wedding dress.

Inside the Shard

Inside the Shard

Ren is the biggest private space with an area of 140 people. It has views of the gorgeous River Thames and the City of London. Another place to organize events in Shard is Li. It is ideal for smaller group meetings up to 30 people. Views of Battersea Power Station and Tower Bridge will impress all visitors. On the other hand, if you are looking for a room with up to 10 guests, choose Yi. 

Visit the Shard – London Bridge Quarter

The vision of a vibrant district with the tallest building in Western Europe became a reality. Not far from Shard, you can also see a 17-story structure – The Palace. As well as a newly refurbished transport hub which looks impressive from the top of Shard.

London Bridge station

London Bridge station is seen from Shard

Southwark was a large district of the ancient Roman colony of Londinium. Historically, it is the most significant region in London. During the London Bridge Hotel’s restoration, several historical treasures were found in this area. What happened later? The Museum of London took the entire site to explore it.

London Bridge at night

Shard view from London Bridge at night

Shard Quarter is not just a modern building with multiple functionalities. If you walk down London Bridge Quarter, please remember about one of the greatest civilizations in the history of London that was occupying this area. 

London – interesting facts about the Shard

The Shard is an integral element of London. In my opinion, it is one of the best buildings in the capital, if not the best. Have you ever wondered how fast the lift goes in The Shard? The speed of the lift is just six meters per second so you will not even notice when you get to the highest levels of the building. 

River Thames view

View of River Thames, City Hall, and Shard

Another interesting fact about Shard is that the majority of used materials in the building are recycled. Steel, concrete, and glass are the main elements that form Shard. Constructing this amazing skyscraper was a challenge, because of the London Underground. Any vibrations during work had to be kept at the lowest level.

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