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London Eye

The London Eye, the world’s tallest observation wheel, has become the city’s  most popular visitor attraction since it opened to the public in March 2000.

In fact, it’s now thought to be a bigger draw than the Pyramids of Giza…but then, they’ve never turned in a circle beside the River Thames. Something to work on, perhaps.

The Eye’s 32 glass capsules offer the city’s best unobstructed, panoramic views of London; on a clear day you can see for up to 25 miles. Each capsule can comfortably carry 25 people, and should you want to simply sit and gawk at the scenery as it unfolds, each capsule features a central bench.

The wheel moves slowly enough to load and unload capsules without ever coming to a full halt. A full revolution, or flight, takes 30 minutes, and the ride is so smooth you barely feel like you’re moving. As you travel, take note of large swaths of trees (Green Park and St. James’), Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Parliament.

Originally the brainchild of a husband-wife architect team and named the Millennium Wheel, the Eye is now officially called the Merlin Entertainments London Eye, after its theme-park corporate sponsor. Merlin has created a 4D Experience movie to precede your ride on the Eye at no additional cost.

The London Eye is open from:

23 October – 23 December
10:00am – 8:30pm
Christmas Eve
10:00am – 5:30pm
Christmas Day
New Years Eve
10:00am – 3:00pm
1-7 January
10:00am – 8:00pm
8 – 21 January
22 January – March
10:00am – 8:00pm
10:00am – 9:00pm
May and June
Sundays to Thursday
10:00am – 9:00pm
Friday and Saturday
10:00am – 9:30pm
July and August
daily 10:00am – 9:30pm
daily 10:00am – 9:00pm

Walk-up tickets are £18.90 (adults) and £11.25 (children).

The ticket office is located in the County Hall building, adjacent to the Eye itself. Here you can either make your ticket purchases or pick up your pre-booked tickets; between the potential for long lines in and 10% discounts offered online, it’s worthwhile to book in advance.

There are also special packages available that combine the Eye and other tourist attractions; add-ons like champagne or a river cruise; or, for a truly special flight, you can reserve your own private capsule. Visit the London Eye website for the full range of options and prices.

The Eye offers full disabled access, and upon request, they have a fast track policy for disabled or elderly customers.

The London Eye is at Jubilee Gardens next to County Hall on the South Bank of the Thames. The nearest Tube stations are Waterloo and Westminster. Map

Note: As of 2010, the Eye opened Eyeskate, an outdoor, temporary holiday season  ice rink. Come skate, fly, or both.

Photos taken from London Eye (by Cristina Puscas, March 2011)