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Last Updated on 19th July 2017 by Sophie Nadeau

Whether you’re headed to London for the first of fifteenth time, you’ll probably want to check out one of the amazing views that the city has to offer. Here’s the ultimate guide to the Sky Garden vs the Shard:

When it comes to the options, there are two that often appear side by side: the Sky Garden and the Shard. One’s free, the other is markedly more expensive. One’s the tallest building in Europe, the other not so much. But is the steep price of the Shard (over £20 a person) worth it? Or should you just head to the Sky Garden (which is free!)?

The Sky Garden

Located in the heart of the city’s financial district, not far from Monument, you’ll find the Sky Garden. Located at the top of the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building, here you’ll find a restaurant, café (with reasonably priced hot beverages) and a small garden.


#1 The Sky Garden is Free. The biggest pro of the Sky Garden is that it’s free! ‘They‘ often say that ‘you get what you pay for‘. But when it comes to the Sky Garden, it seems that they might be entirely wrong. After all, the view is great and the ambiance is lovely… all for free!

#2 Food and drink isn’t too expensive. Another positive point for the Sky Garden is that the café isn’t astronomically priced, and a coffee can be purchased for under three pounds. Although you can obviously purchase cheaper food and drinks in other parts of the city, the prices of Sky Garden food is nothing in comparison with that of the Shard.

#3 Plenty of places to sit. Unlike the Shard, where there is nowhere to sit when it’s busy (there are very limited seats, even for those purchasing food and drinks), the Sky Garden is filled with benches, chairs, and tables.


#1 There’s actually not much of a garden. Despite being called ‘the Sky Garden’ and the highest Green Space in London, the Garden isn’t very green at all. There are numerous plants, but not enough that I would call it a garden per se.

#2 You have to book in advance. As the Sky Garden is free, and there are limited timed tickets for each hour of the day, it’s much harder to actually book tickets to visit than visiting the Shard! Tickets must be booked a few weeks in advance and many of the good times fill up quickly unless you continually check the website…

#3 35th Floor view. Now, of course, the view from the Sky Garden is still pretty high! However, the actual floor level is nothing in height when compared with the Shard’s levels 69-72.

sky garden london

The Shard

The Shard sits high above the city and was once the tallest building in Europe. As a result, it offers unparalleled views over the city and reaches high above any other edifice in London. The Shard is located in Southwark on the Southern side of the Thames. In the Shard, you can expect to find a restaurant and various places to buy cool drinks.


#1 The highest building in the UK. There’s something to be said for being able to witness first-hand the tallest view a building in the UK has to offer.

#2 360 degree views. The best part about the Shard is the view. The people and cars below look like little ants crawling along, while on a clear day you can see to the very outskirts of London…


#1 Expensive to visit. Let’s be honest, spending as much on one ticket for a view as a nice meal, is expensive! And, considering that plenty of viewpoints in London are either free or a lot cheaper to visit, I would only visit the Shard if it were a very special occasion.

#2 Not too many places to sit! Unlike the Sky Garden, the Shard was very busy and it was hard to find a ‘window-less’ area to take a photo, or even see the view. There were also fewer seats, meaning that we were unable to find one at all.

#3 Expensive food and drink. A glass of bubbly at the Shard will set you back a tenner.

shard view

The Verdict:

So, Sky Garden vs the Shard… what’s the verdict? Well, I personally love the view from both the Sky Garden and The Shard. However, the price of the Shard is not worth it when many viewpoints throughout the city can be accessed for a lot less money (particularly the Sky Garden, which is obviously free!). 

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London Travels- Sky Garden vs the Shard : Which London viewpoint should I visit on my tip to London, England?

About Author

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, Paris, pizza, and history, though not necessarily in that order. A fan of all things France related, she runs when she's not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming her weight in sweet food. Currently based in Paris after studies in London, she's spent most of her life living in the beautiful Devonian countryside in South West England!

1 Comment

  • Tanja (the Red phone box travels)
    20th July 2017 at 9:45 am

    I still haven’t done the Shard, mainly because of the price since there are so many free options (or cheaper) including the Sky garden:)


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