Day Out – 16 Top Tips for Visiting the Sky Garden, London

Fresh back from a great weekend in London here are my tips for booking a visitor slot at the Sky Garden and having a good time when you get there.  The arrival experience at the Sky Garden completely reminded me of the painful process of going through check in and security at an airport (not particularly pleasant) but, just like jetting off on holiday, it’s worth it in the end.

20160624_1343331 Firstly, the good news, the Sky Garden is  free.  Yay!  So my number one tip is don’t worry about the price.

2 Secondly you have to book, you can’t just turn up.  Tickets are sought after, especially at weekends, so they get snapped up months in advance so get your organisational hat on.

3 Tickets are tied to a specific time slot and to a specific individual.  Each visitor is allotted an hour within the Sky Garden unless you book a meal at one of the restaurants, which naturally may take longer.  I’d planned to get two tickets for a Friday afternoon and then see which of my mates would come with me.  This isn’t possible.  You have to state the full name of each ticket holder when you book and they require to show valid ID to security when they arrive.

20160624_1422404 Children must be booked in too.  Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult aged 18 years of over. One adult may bring a maximum of 3 children with them. I contacted the SkyGarden to find out the ID policies for little ones and thankfully under 18s do not require identification.

20160624_1345495 Think  about your Luggage – I was heading straight from the airport to the Sky Garden but there’s a strict luggage allowance and no lockers so ensure your baggage not only fits their current criteria of bagggage size but also that you’re happy dragging it around with you.

6 Remember your ID!

7 Finding the Sky Garden – don’t follow the street numbers as they make no sense whatsoever, just look up and find the iconic building and walk towards it.  Secondly, the entrance isn’t even on Fenchurch Street, it’s round the corner, so ignore the street numbers and street name!

8 Over and Out – The building is also known as the Walkie Talkie building, and if you do get lost this name resonates far more with locals than the Sky Garden when asking for directions.

9 Arrive Early – I arrived at my allotted time and saw a snaking queue at the door.  As my paperwork said I’d been given an hour to visit I did worry that I’d waste fifteen minutes queuing but don’t panic.  Once inside the actual garden I never heard or saw anyone rounding people up, there isn’t an armband system etc. or tannoy announcements so you’re trusted to stick roughly to your visit time.  It was very chilled once you were inside.

10 If it’s raining bring an umbrella, the snaking queue often goes right out the door into the wonderful British weather.

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11 An Hour is Ample – Once inside the Sky Garden you’re free to explore the gardens and take in the views.  An hour may not sound much but it does actually suffice so relax.

12 Don’t Expect too much Garden- To be fair the gardens aren’t exactly extensive, but it’s lovely to see greenery (any greenery) in such a modern building.

13 Don’t Expect Sunshine but Do Feel Safe with your Kids – The rooftop terrace offers great views of the city, London Bridge and fantastic views of the Shard.  The terrace is covered and very safe for children so feel confident bringing toddlers to visit, but if you’d hoped to catch some rays having a drink on the open air terrace then this isn’t the place for it as terrace is, to all intents and purposes, completely covered and it can naturally be very windy due to its height, so I’d class a visit to the Sky Garden as an indoor activity.

14 Eat & Drink – If you haven’t booked a restaurant the Skypod is the place to grab a coffee, cake, salad or sandwich.  It’s not overly expensive considering we’re talking about a key tourist attraction in the city of London.  The cocktails are beautiful and delicious – including the alcohol free ones.   The Skypod operates like chain coffee shop i.e. you queue, order, pay and collect your goods, there’s no table service.  Therefore if you’re travelling alone or on your own with your children and you want seconds you pretty much have to abandon your seat/table, queue with all your coats/baggage and then find a new table so it’s worth trying to order what you want in one go.

15 Crowd Control – due to the strict ticketing the numbers of visitors within the Sky Garden at any one time are regulated.  This means there’s usually enough tables and chairs for everyone and the queue for the Skypod isn’t particularly long.  It never feels overly crowded and there’s no such thing as a lunch time rush, which is always a relief in a busy city like London.  Blankets are provided at the tables as sometimes the gusts of wind that blow in from the terrace are quite powerful and chilly, so it’s very snug to wrap up if required.

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16 Lastly make sure you have your phone fully charged for taking photos.  This is a wonderful spot, for free, in the heart of London.  It could be a novel place for a hen do to kick start a weekend, a great spot for a proposal, I explored on my own (nae pals) and loved it, a school trip was visiting when I was there so it’s fantastic for youngsters and I’d thoroughly recommend getting the organisation in place to make this trip happen for you.

[And I’ll just say it again, remember your ID.]

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36 Comments

  1. Reply

    Josh

    August 30, 2016

    Woho 🙂

  2. Reply

    Wandermust mummy

    August 30, 2016

    Great tips – it’s on my list for next time we are home #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      August 30, 2016

      It’s definitely worth doing, amazing views and lovely drinks too.

  3. Reply

    Notmyyearoff

    August 30, 2016

    I didn’t even know this place existed. I’m going to send this link to my friend in London who’s always looking for things like this! #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      August 30, 2016

      So glad I showed you something new!

  4. Reply

    California Globetrotter

    August 30, 2016

    Wish I would have known about this sooner! We were in London last May and paid the hefty prices to go up the Shard 🙁 Wont do that again! #CityTripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      August 30, 2016

      I posted about visiting the Shard for free recently. The Sky Garden takes more organisation but yes, the bottom line is it’s free!

      • Reply

        California Globetrotter

        August 30, 2016

        ah yes I think I read that before!

  5. Reply

    Elizabeth

    August 30, 2016

    This was my favorite find on our London trip. We had a nice coffee and cake and enjoyed the views. The kids thought it was amazing! #CityTripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      August 30, 2016

      Great for all ages isn’t it.

  6. Reply

    Tanja

    August 30, 2016

    I liked the views from the Sky garden!and it wasn’t full of ppl when I visited it too:) #city tripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      August 30, 2016

      They keep the numbers just right don’t they.

  7. Reply

    joylovestravel

    August 30, 2016

    The Sky Garden is high on my list for our next visit to London – great tips!!

  8. Reply

    MummyTravels

    August 30, 2016

    This is so useful- I’ve not actually been yet but it’s definitely worth having the tips for when I finally get around to booking. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      August 31, 2016

      It’s the kind of post I wanted when I visited. Hope you can organise a trip soon.

  9. Reply

    Bumble Bee Mum

    August 31, 2016

    I would love to be sipping a cocktail from Skypod and enjoying that awesome view from the top! Would remember to book before going! #CityTripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      August 31, 2016

      Yes it does play into the favour of those who are organised. My poor husband has never been as he’s more a ‘spontaneous ‘ type :-).
      Hope you get a visit soon.

  10. Reply

    mymeenalife

    August 31, 2016

    Did you feel like going through all that was worth it for the experience? I’m quite surprised that so much was required to visited a garden, even a special one such as this. #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      August 31, 2016

      Yes. It didn’t take too long and i felt safe. There is something unpleasant about having your backpack scanned but hugely reassuring in other ways. Loved the space when I got up there.

  11. Reply

    Umberta

    September 1, 2016

    Beautiful! I really wanna go there nest time I’ll visit London!! Thanks for the tips 😉
    Umberta
    https://thesecretlifeofanactress.blogspot.fr/

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      September 4, 2016

      You’re welcome. I just wrote what I wished I could find online when I was trying to organise my visit. Hope you enjoy it.

  12. Reply

    afamilydayout

    September 1, 2016

    We visited just after it opened. Fantastic views although I think the garden was still being planted at the time of our visit! #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      September 4, 2016

      You must have been early if the garden wasn’t planted. But with views like that you may not have noticed the soil!

  13. Reply

    Ahila

    September 2, 2016

    Enjoyed this post with your very useful tips on visiting the sky garden. I look forward to visiting it on my next time in London.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      September 4, 2016

      It’s definitely something a little different in the heart of the city. Enjoy.

  14. Reply

    fifi + hop

    September 2, 2016

    Looks wonderful – and even though you have to book ahead, anything free is always a major bonus!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      September 4, 2016

      I think tourists book ahead as they’re planning their London holiday, it’s us here in the UK or in London itself who get complacent! I love free too.

  15. Reply

    Wave to Mummy

    September 2, 2016

    What a fascinating post and really helpful! I’ve wanted to visit Sky Garden for ages now, ever since it opened. I really should try book tickets soon 🙂 #citytripping

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      September 4, 2016

      It’s actually a great place to catch up with a friend over a cocktail or two. I visited solo and loved it too. Hope you get your trip organised soon.

  16. Reply

    Sema huseyin

    April 24, 2017

    I found the information very useful. Good to know what to expect and what you need to have on you.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      April 25, 2017

      Glad to hear it. It’s quite strict but great when you get there. And it’s free!

  17. Reply

    Terese

    April 6, 2018

    Thank you very much for great, helpful information! We’re hoping to be able to get tickets for our upcoming trip and now we know what to expect once we get there. The little pieces of info such as the fact that the entrance is around the corner, how much time to expect, that it isn’t very crowded etc. is all very helpful. It is also nice to know that we can actually sit down to rest a little bit if need be. Thanks again!

    • Reply

      scots2travel

      April 7, 2018

      Glad to hear it. It’s an impressive destination, considering it’s free. The cocktails and cocktails are quite lovely too!

  18. Reply

    tots2travel

    September 6, 2016

    Thanks for mention. Appreciate it. I can’t link up this week as my posts are all rural – that’s the trouble with us Scots, always in the bloody countryside 🙂 Doesn’t mean I won’t take a peak, comment and do a wee be of sharing. Happy #citytripping.

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