Deciding what to do in London can be tricky, as there are simply so many options available to tourists. But if you want to see some spellbinding views of the city during your visit, there’s no way you can miss out on visiting the Shard. At the top of this gorgeous new addition to the London skyline, you’ll find the View from the Shard, a series of platforms that grant the perfect view of London.
To get the most out of visiting this fantastic London attraction, it really helps if you do some planning before you go. That’s why we have put together this guide on how to buy tickets for the Shard. It includes all the information you need on tickets, as well as other things like when to visit and advice to ensure you have a stress-free experience.
Quick Answer – How to Buy Tickets to the Shard in London: Unless you like spending your vacation waiting in long lines, we highly recommended you book your admission ticket to the Shard in advance here.
Best Ways to Get Tickets to the Shard
As the Shard is a popular attraction in London for those looking to admire views of the city, there are a few different ways to get Shard tickets. Each option has its own strengths and weaknesses, so we’ll go through where to buy tickets for the Shard depending on how organized you are and how much sightseeing you plan on doing in London. That way, you can work out the right approach based on your preferences.
1. Line Up in Person (Not Recommended)
Unless you actually like standing in a line and waiting around, then waiting until you arrive to buy tickets to the Shard is probably a bad idea. Many tourists to London want to see the views the Shard offers and if you leave it to the last minute, you’ll be waiting behind all of them. Even if the ticket line isn’t too bad, you may find that the next entry times are already sold out. This would mean having to wait or come back later for the next available entry time, which could disrupt your whole sightseeing itinerary.
2. Book Online (Recommended)
By far a more sensible option is to simply organize your tickets in advance by booking tickets to the Shard online. Whether you do it months in advance or even the morning of, you can go and select exactly when and how you’d like to visit. The other benefit to booking online is that it’s the only way to get a skip-the-line Shard ticket, allowing you to quickly start your visit without any unnecessary waiting around.
Tickets can be purchased through the official website for The View from the Shard. Unfortunately, these tickets are nonrefundable, which could be a problem if your plans change and you can no longer go at the scheduled time. This is why we recommend booking through this link instead, as these tickets can be canceled up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund and cost basically the same price.
3. Purchase a Tourist Pass
London is a city full of great attractions to visit, so if you’re thinking of doing lots of sightseeing during your visit, you may want to consider getting a London Pass. This tourist pass offers the same benefits of other tourist passes by including entry to a whole range of places at a competitive price.
With the London Pass, you not only get entry to the View from the Shard but also to tourist highlights like the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. It even includes a day ticket on the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers, which means it covers your transport to and from the Shard.
Useful Information for Visiting the Shard
What’s the Best Time to Visit the Shard?
When visiting an attraction like the Shard, timing is everything. Not only do you probably want to visit when it’s not too busy, you’ll want to go up at the right time to get the best view of the city. While your options for when to go up are limited by when the view decks are open, there still are certain times that are better than others.
For the most striking views of London, nothing beats going up just before sunset so that you can see both the city at sunset and the city illuminated at night. Of course, this is also the busiest time and the slot for which tickets are most likely to sell out. Keep in mind there is no time limit on tickets here, so you can just come earlier and stick around.
If you’re after a quieter experience that offers a perfect view of the city, consider going earlier in the day. However, if you want a romantic experience and already have a feel for the city skyline, you can’t pass up a nighttime visit.
The Shard Hours of Operation
A confusing aspect of planning your visit to the Shard is working out when its viewing decks are open.
Opening hours for the Shard change from day to day, so it’s important to check the official website for the specific day you want to go. That said, the viewing deck is generally closed on Monday and Tuesday, except in August 2022, when it is open every day.
During summer, hours are usually 14:00 to 22:00, while outside of summer, they are more commonly from 11:00 to 19:00. Again, consult the calendar on the official website to confirm.
How to Get to the Shard
Getting to the Shard while in London isn’t difficult thanks to its central location and its convenient public transport connections. Since you could be coming from anywhere in the city, we’ll explain your options in general terms rather than getting into specific routes.
To reach the Shard by the London Underground, you will want to take either the Jubilee line or the Northern line to the London Bridge tube station directly outside the tower. Coming by train on the Southern, Southeastern, and Thameslink railway lines, you’ll want to alight at London Bridge train station.
A more scenic alternative to get to the Shard is by taking a ferry along the Thames to the London Bridge City ferry wharf a short walk from the building. The RB1, RB2, and RB6 services for the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers all stop there.
How Do Shard Tickets Work?
To make the most out of your visit to the Shard, it helps to understand how Shard tickets work, from how you buy them to what’s included in a ticket.
The good news is that tickets to the Shard are relatively straightforward as there’s only one for general admission. With this ticket, you get access to the indoor viewing platforms on levels 68 and 69, as well as access to the open-air Skydeck on level 72. Entrance to the View from the Shard is based on scheduled 15-minute windows, so you’ll need to choose a time from what’s available when booking through the official website.
Upon selecting your time, you can then add other services or perks to it, such as a glass of champagne, a guidebook, or a photobook. It’s here that you can also turn your ticket into a skip-the-line ticket for the Shard by paying extra. An interesting inclusion in certain tickets is the View Guarantee, which allows you to request a complimentary return voucher during your visit if the weather ruins visibility.
Tickets can be booked months in advance right up to the same day you wish to visit, subject to availability. On the day of your visit, you can present your ticket either on your smartphone or printed out.
How Much Do Tickets for the Shard Cost?
Prices for tickets to the Shard are incredibly simple, so there should be no confusion about what it will cost you to visit. Standard Shard tickets start at a price of £28 per person but are generally more like £32 each. Prices are the same whether you’re an adult or a child. It costs £10 to add fast track access to your ticket and £12 for a bonus 50-minute sightseeing cruise on the River Thames.
Best Hotels for the Shard
Even though it’s pretty easy to get around London thanks to the city’s extensive network of public transport, it’s often nice to stay right in the center of the city. The area around the Shard can be a particularly convenient part of London to stay in and not just for visiting the skyscraper. There are lots of great options if you want to stay near the Shard, but we can save you some time researching by offering our recommendations.
Did you know you can actually stay at the Shard during your London visit? The tower is home to the luxurious Shangri-La the Shard, a five-star hotel spread across many levels of the tower and boasting spacious rooms with phenomenal city views.
For somewhere to stay that’s a little more affordable but still delivers plenty of comfort, be sure to check out Native Bankside. You have your choice of studios and apartments in this stylish and inviting aparthotel and will definitely enjoy its prime location just off the Thames, about a 15-minute walk from the Shard. You’ll also find some great midrange options in our Airbnb guide to London.
Budget accommodation is always a challenge in central London, so your best option is definitely Wombat’s the City Hostel London. Here you’ll find pristine and welcoming dorms and rooms, and a 30-minute walk to the Shard takes you right across Tower Bridge, ticking two sights off at once. For more hostel recommendations, be sure to take a look at our London hostel guide.
Dining and Drinking at the Shard
Admiring the view isn’t the only thing you can do at the Shard. The skyscraper is home to an incredible seven drinking and dining venues that give visitors plenty of choices, from cocktails to cuisine from Britain and Northern China. However, it’s important to understand that access to the viewing platforms is not included with a restaurant booking, as there is no direct access between these spaces.
Dining and drinking venues at the Shard include:
- Aqua Shard – Contemporary cuisine on level 31
- Oblix – Casual dining on level 32
- Hutong – Northern Chinese cuisine on level 33
- Sky Lounge – Brunch and cocktails on level 34
- Tīng – British cuisine with an Asian twist on level 35
- Gŏng – Bar for cocktails and late-night drinks on level 52
- Bar 31 – Casual, social setting on the ground floor
Security Process at the Shard
To ensure you don’t run into any problems during your visit, it’s best to be aware of the rules and security process in place for visitors to the Shard. Anyone visiting the viewing platform needs to go through an airport-style security screening with metal detectors.
Visitors are not allowed to bring food and drink from outside into the viewing gallery. Large bags and backpacks are not permitted inside, and there is no cloakroom or luggage storage space to leave them during your visit. While pushchairs cannot be brought into the viewing gallery, there is a designated space for guests to leave them during their visit. Personal photography is allowed at the viewing deck, but tripods and large professional equipment is not permitted.
Visiting the Shard With a Disability
Some measures have been put in place at the Shard to assist visitors with disabilities and accessibility needs. These measures include providing a free carer ticket upon arrival for a companion of a guest who is registered as disabled and requires assistance.
Although there are steps leading into the building at the entrance, there is a small lift to the left of them and an automatic door as well. Once inside the booking hall located on level 1, there are no steps involved in visiting the viewing decks. Foldable chairs can be provided on request at the viewing decks for visitors with mobility issues. For visitors with hearing impairments, there is a hearing loop system available at the booking hall counters.
FAQ – Facts About the Shard
What Is the Shard?
The Shard, also known as the Shard of Glass, is a modern skyscraper building in London.
When Was the Shard Built?
Construction on the Shard began in March 2009 and was completed in July 2012.
How Old Is the Shard?
Since the building was completed in 2012, it will celebrate its 10th birthday in 2022.
How Tall Is the Shard?
The Shard has 95 stories and measures 309.6 meters (1,016 feet) in height, making it the tallest building in Western Europe.
Who Built the Shard?
Irvine Sellar was the developer behind the project to build the Shard, and Italian architect Renzo Piano was hired to design the building.
Why Was the Shard Built?
The Shard was built to be a vertical complex combining commercial offices and stores, with restaurants and residential areas, all close to a major London transport hub.
Where Is the Shard Located?
The Shard is located next to the London Bridge train station in the Southwark district of central London south of the Thames.
With all this information at your fingertips, you shouldn’t have any difficulty organizing your tickets to the Shard. Hopefully you now know what things you need to think about before you get your tickets and understand why booking in advance and planning your visit is so useful.