London with kids: Emirates Air Line Cable Car
Father-Hood.co.uk’s guide to the best things to do with your kids in London continues with our review of the Emirates Air Line Cable Car.
Where is it?
The Emirates Air Line Cable Car is a 5-10 minute ride across the River Thames between the Emirates Greenwich Peninsula and the Emirates Royal Docks. Both terminals are easily accessible by tube (Waterloo line to North Greenwich or DLR to Royal Victoria), but another, perhaps more fun, way of getting to the Greenwich Peninsula terminal involves taking the Thames River Bus past famous landmarks like the Tower of London and Canary Wharf. If you prefer to travel by car, you can park at The O2.
How much does it cost?
The standard ticket prices are £4.50 each way for adults and £2.30 each way for children aged five or over, but you can almost always get a discount if you buy in advance online. Better still, adults with a pay as you go Oyster Card can swipe through for a cost of £3.30 per single journey. But the best news of all? Kids under five are free when they travel a paying adult – whoop whoop!*
What are the best things about it?
The floor of the cable car is a really nice texture, the sound system is remarkably clear, the door has a beautiful handle and… I’m obviously joking. Like all cable cars, the best bits are the views. One side looks towards The O2, Canary Wharf, The Shard and central London. The other looks out towards the Thames Barrier and London City airport. Full disclosure: I preferred the former, because I could see how London has changed over the years, and my son preferred the latter, because, well, planes.
And the worst?
The cable car reaches a top height of 90m, so if you suffer from any form of vertigo, you are unlikely to enjoy the ride (my wife spent at least 60% of it squeezing my hand with her eyes shut). Also, if you’ve got young kids there isn’t much to do at the Emirates Royal Docks end. Thus the savviest option might be to work out a day trip that involves you arriving at the cable car via Docklands Light Railway, buying a one-way journey to North Greenwich, looking around The 02 and then heading into central London via the River Bus.
Is the food any good?
If you are desperate, the cafe at the North Greenwich terminal is acceptable, but nothing to write home about. If you’re not, you’ll find loads of eating options in The 02.
What are the toilets/baby change like?
Invisible. I’m serious. There are no toilets at the terminals, but, again, there are decent facilities you can use in The 02. Also, don’t tell anyone I told you this, but if you get a cable car to yourselves, then the floor is definitely big enough for you to chuck a portable nappy mat down and do an emergency mid-journey change.
Special insider tips
First, don’t panic if your cable car does the same things ours did and suddenly halts in mid-air. The people in charge occasionally stop the cars to allow a passenger or group of passengers extra time to get in, so a) you are not definitely going to die and b) you will be back on the move soon.
Second, there is a photo booth at the bottom of the exit stairs at the Emirates Greenwich Peninsula terminal. Most people walk past, presuming it will cost them money, but it actually doesn’t. Simply cram your family in, choose the background you want to be pictured in front of, enter your email address, smile and, hey presto, the photo will be delivered to your inbox without cost or fuss.
The bottom line
A short, but sweet ride that your kids will love.
*information correct as of October 2018