London with kids: The London Eye
Father-Hood.co.uk’s guide to the best things to do with your kids in London continues with our review of the London Eye…
Where is it?
The 135m-high Coca-Cola London Eye can be found on the south bank of the River Thames between Westminster Bridge and Waterloo Bridge. Most tourists get here via Waterloo station (National Rail, Jubilee, Northern, Waterloo & City and Bakerloo underground lines), but if you fancy a walk across the river, it’s also a short stroll from both Embankment (Circle, District, Northern & Waterloo) and Westminster (Circle, District & Jubilee).
Bus-wise, you can stop here on the 211, 77 and 381, or on most London sightseeing tours.
How much does it cost?
If you’ve got a Merlin Annual Pass, you can whirl round the Eye for free on any day that it’s open, aside from Valentine’s Day, UK Bank holidays and the entire month of August.
If you don’t have an annual pass, the prices are many and varied, but, as a general rule, adults who buy online will pay £27 and adults who buy at the London Eye will pay £30. And kids aged between three and 15 cost £22 online (or £24 at the Eye). Children under the age of three are free, but you do need to order a ticket for them.
Fancy skipping the queues? Then fast track options begin from £37 for adults and £32 for children. Oh, and yes, families do get a discount – if you’re buying for at least one adult and two kids, then you will receive 13% off online.
What are the best things about it?
The views over London and the surrounding areas are obviously the main attraction, but parents of toddlers will also enjoy the roomy, but enclosed nature of the capsules. Which means? It means you can let your little ones wander freely safe in the knowledge that they can’t go anywhere or get into any real trouble.
And the worst?
The main criticism of the Eye tends to be the price, but I’ve also heard people moan about the 30-minute ride “taking too long”. I can understand this, but if you keep looking for different landmarks and taking pictures it soon flies by.
Is the food any good?
Unless you’ve purchased a fancy package or have a medical issue, the only food or beverage that you’re permitted to take on the Eye is bottled water. That said, it’s less than 50m to the nearest McDonald’s and less than 30m to the nearest ice cream stall. There are also a load of other eating options a little further along the South Bank.
What are the toilets/baby change like?
There are no facilities in the capsules, so it’s probably best if you attempt to change your kid’s nappy/persuade them to go to the toilet beforehand. The public toilets in the ticket office are extremely busy, but decent enough.
Any special insider tips?
- The last time we went on the Eye it was Mother’s Day, so I splashed out on a Champagne experience. This wasn’t cheap (£41 per person online), but it did include a glass of Champagne (or juice for kids), fast track entry and a 360° mini skyline guide, and it did mean that we only had 18-20 people in our capsule. Note: fast track entry on its own costs £37 (online), so you’re basically getting a glass of Champagne and a quiet capsule for £4.
- The Eye’s internal structure means that any pictures taken towards the inside of the capsule tend to be ruined by a lot of steel (see below pic). Avoid suffering this fate by only taking pictures on the outer side of the pod.
The bottom line
The price means you and your kids probably won’t do this London landmark twice. But the views mean you should definitely do it once.
*prices correct at 23 April 2019