Off to London on a budget? I have some advice if you would like to see London from above without spending money at all.
Located in the City of London on 20 Fenchurch Street, Sky Garden is a public indoor garden on the 35th floor of the “Walkie Talkie” skyscraper. If you enjoy botanical gardens and breath-taking views this green haven is definitely worth a visit. Admission is free, but you need to book tickets in advance, and you can do so here. The process on the website is really straightforward, it only took me a couple of minutes to book a visit for Nis, my parents and me.
Before you can enjoy the 360-degrees view over London, security guards make you put your stuff in these pretty grey boxes for X-ray check and ask you to walk through a metal detector. And please don’t forget your ID and ticket!
Once you have passed this airport-like security check you take the lift up to the 35th floor. The lift is actually so fast that you can feel the pressure drop in your ears, so another plane trip-like experience!
Stepping into the Sky Garden, stunning views over the river Thames with the Tower Bridge and The Shard are waiting for you. There is an outside terrace as well as two large open indoor spaces with plenty of sitting areas.
If you fancy a drink or a snack you will find a bar right in the centre of the room to quench your thirst. There is also a restaurant and a café if you are more hungry.
Walking upstairs tourist-friendly, inscribed windows tell you what you are currently looking at, which really helps to get a feel for the geography of the city. However, don’t get your hopes high if you go there to see fancy plants. They were certainly not as impressive as the views.
Nevertheless, I immediately had that feeling of being able to breathe freely when I entered the 35th floor because the whole Sky Garden area is very airy with all this large open space, big windows and green fern. It was not as crowded as other tourist places either, probably because there is a limited amount of tickets available each day and you are supposed to leave after one hour. However, there seems to be no system to check this, so you will not be dragged out by security if you over stay. But I think one hour is plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful views, take some photos and have a drink or two.