This Crowded London Tourist Trap Has A Free Alternative That Is Honestly Even Better

There are plenty of things you absolutely must see when you're visiting London, England. This lovely city has a rich history spanning century after century. If you do go, you're probably going to want to hit the Tower of London, stroll by Big Ben, and maybe take a photo at the famous street crossing near Abbey Road Studios, where The Beatles recorded. You could also hit the Tate Modern or visit Trafalgar Square. There is no end to the historic sights and modern marvels. 

One place many tourists hit these days is the London Eye, the giant Ferris wheel on the banks of the River Thames. It's a popular spot, with some incredible views of the city. Although it's a great way to get an overview of London, if that's the main reason you're going, another spot will not only give you the same thing — okay, slightly nicer because it's higher up — but with more activities in the same place. This attraction is also free. This wonderful place is London's Sky Garden. 

About London's Sky Garden

The Sky Garden is located at 20 Fenchurch Street at the top of what is known as the Walkie-Talkie building. It's not that far from the Tower of London and London Bridge. The Sky Garden itself is on the top three floors (36-38) and is the highest public garden in the city. There are restaurants and bars, and the stunning location can even be rented out for events. You'll be treated to a 360-degree view of the city, and it's taller than the London Eye at 500 feet compared to the Eye's 450. Plus, you can walk around rather than just being stuck going around and around slowly. 

And again, this experience is free, which is a big deal in a place like London. You can book a ticket up to three weeks beforehand, and it's timed for an hour. Of course, if you visit the restaurants and bars, you can stay longer. You can also get an early access ticket, which includes a hot drink. You may get lucky and get in if you show up on the day without a ticket, but it's not worth the risk. 

The Garden is accessible for those with mobility issues, and if you have a guide dog, they are permitted, though pets are not. You'll be looking out over London through the glass and steel, but there is also an outdoor observation deck. As you can see from the picture above, the sunsets are breathtaking. The observation deck is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends, but again, you can stay for dinner and/or drinks. 

What to do at the Sky Garden

If you're hungry, you can visit the Darwin Brasserie, which serves seasonal dishes on the 36th floor, and Fenchurch Restaurant, which is classified as fine dining. If eating that high up isn't for you, there's always Larch Restaurant on the ground floor, which serves classic Italian. Bars-with-views Sky Pod and City Garden, along with Darwin and Fenchurch restaurants, all suggest reservations. Fortunately, they all come with an entry ticket for the gardens (Larch Restaurant does not). 

The Sky Garden even has a New Year's Eve celebration which gives you a fantastic view of the city's fireworks display, though the tickets are a bit pricey. They also hold music events and a sunrise breakfast, though you will have to pay a fee for those. There are also pretty public gardens to explore, which feature South African and Mediterranean plants and flowers like the African lily, the bird of paradise, and herbs like French lavender and rosemary, as well as palm trees and ferns. If you or a loved one is a plant fanatic, a gift shop on the ground floor sells gardening gifts and also has a cafe. Let's face it, it all sounds a lot more fun than just sitting in a bucket.