One of the world's most famous Ferris wheels, the London Eye is also officially the United Kingdom's most popular paid tourist attraction. The gigantic, 443-foot-high observation wheel was built to mark the millennium in 2000 and boasts a prime location on the Thames River waterfront, opposite Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. In short, it'd be a mistake to skip the London Eye.
With over 3.5 million annual visitors and notoriously long lines, pre-booking a skip-the-line ticket to the wheel is the best way to make the most of your time. A 30-minute ride in one of the 32 glass pods offers panoramic views, so travelers can spot London landmarks like St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace from every angle. On a clear day, it might even be possible to spy Windsor Castle on the horizon.
For an even more unforgettable experience, opt for a private capsule or treat your loved ones to a glamorous champagne experience. Look out for special events too—the London Eye has hosted flash mobs, pop-up dining events, Valentine's Day dinners and even weddings. Plus, the wheel is a main feature in the city's famous New Year's Eve fireworks display.
Insider's Tip: One full trip around the wheel takes 30 minutes, with the structure rotating at a fairly slow speed, meaning visitors are free to walk about their capsule and take photos from all sides.
The London Eye is located on the south bank of the River Thames, opposite Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The closest tube station is Waterloo, reachable on the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern and Waterloo & City lines. The Eye opens at 10am and closes at either 8:30 or 9:30pm depending on the time of the year.
Did You Know? It's no accident that the London Eye has 32 capsules—each one represents one of the city's 32 boroughs. However, observant visitors will notice that the last capsule is actually No. 33—the creators skipped pod No. 13, deeming it unlucky.