Is "London on a budget" an oxymoron? You might think so, but I don't! On our last trip to London I balanced pricey admissions to tourist sites with free things and one of the best things we did for free was visit the Sky Garden.
Located on the 35th floor of 20 Fenchurch Street, the Sky Garden offers three stories of wide open, panoramic views over London. It's the perfect place to enjoy botanical inspiration while escaping the not so perfect London weather. The day we went, we ran the last block through the rain to get there! !
Best tip: book your tickets early! This is a free attraction and it fills up quickly. I had set a reminder to book tickets as soon as the days we planned on being in the area were open. My first-choice time slot was filled. No worries, I was able to reserve a time 45 minutes later. You can book your tickets three weeks in advance.
There are other ways to go without a ticket. You can book a table at Fenchurch or Darwin Brasserie, the lovely restaurants located inside the gardens. You can also skip the ticket and head straight up to the City Garden Bar or Skye Pod Bar, they accept walk-ups during limited times.
20 Fenchurch Street is known as the Walkie Talkie, based on its distinctive shape. l love that about buildings in London; there are many modern buildings sprinkled in within this historic city. It makes for an outstanding skyline. The Walkie Talkie is conveniently located near the Tower of London, if are planning to visit the Tower this is a great option as it is in the general area. It would be a quick taxi ride but we walked from the Tower of London as the weather was decent (at first! ). It was about a 25-minute walk, which we loved! Part of this trip to London was all about walking through the city and it was well worth it.
Since we had tickets, we skipped the line and went straight up. And straight up 35 stories in these elevators takes just 20-30 seconds! The first thing you notice when you walk out of the elevator is the overwhelming feeling that you are outdoors. The entire room is glass and there are plants, trees and flowers everywhere. It's a bit humid and all the garden smells create a fantastic sensory memory.
The terraced gardens here are pretty amazing. Stroll around the thoughtfully designed gardens, observation decks and open air terrace, after all this is London's highest garden! There are plenty of spaces to sit and take in the view and let's be clear, the view is the real star here. We grabbed a latte and sat for a while. It wasn't too crowded, but even if it were, the way the terraces are designed makes you feel like you have your own private view. We sat for quite some time, had our coffee and chatted about the rest of our day.
The view here is giving you a chance to see London from a unique perspective. The river Thames is right there, front and center. You'll be able to see the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, The Shard and The Gherkin, among literally everything else that surrounds you. There are so many great photo opportunities. We spent a lot of time taking photos inside and trying to get some good shots of the view.
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed our time here. When you book your tickets it's for an hour but honestly, I'm not sure how much they enforce that. I didn't notice anyone being ushered out or any intercom reminding you that your hour is up. I loved the views and the terraced design, which provided different perspectives.
If you go to the official website, there are plenty of things going on here. Yoga in the morning and live music in the evening, just to name a few. I highly recommend checking the site out. The Sky Garden is one of the best things we did for free while we were in London.
Where: The Sky Garden is located on the 35th floor of 20 Fenchurch St, London EC3M 8AQ.
When: According to the website, here are the hours;
Tickets for the Garden (check the websites for Covid-19 restrictions):
Restaurants and bars:
How much: It's free to book a ticket to visit the Sky Garden. You can also make a reservation at one of the restaurants.
Amenities: The Sky Garden has seating to take in the gorgeous views. It also has several restaurants, bars and a coffee shop.
How long: If you have a reservation to a restaurants or bar you can stay as long as you'd like. If you book a ticket to the gardens, technically each ticket is booked for an hour. I did not notice anyone enforcing this.