Visiting the Shard in London

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Please see my Privacy Policy for more information.

The Shard is in the left of the picture towering over London and the River Thames at dusk with an orange blue and purple sky. The Shard is made of glass with shard like tips at the top of the building.



What was I thinking when I agreed to visit the Shard?

I know I am terrified of heights and one of the reasons you visit the Shard is because it gives you a view of London from 306 metres in the sky. I thought it would be fine because the Shard is enclosed by glass. Not like that time I visited the Rockefeller Centre lookout in New York City where it was an open top deck. What was there to fear? I’d be fine, right?

I was so wrong.

Man with brown hair dressed in black with glasses on the left and woman in black with glasses and brown hair on the right are posing in a cold London in front of trees that are full of bright white lights
Towner and I before our visit to the Shard

What’s the Shard like when you’re afraid of heights?

As my friend Towner and I hopped into the elevator that took us halfway up the tower, I felt completely confident. I could do this! It will be amazing to see all of London at night. See all of the wonderful lights; be able to see the Ferris wheel, the River Thames and to see all of the little people and cars below just living their lives. The lift only took us half way to floor 33 so we all exited the lift and were guided by a nice Shard employee towards a lift that took us the remainder of the way.

It was at this point that I started to feel a little uneasy. I looked up at the tv screen in the lift as it showed us ascending towards each floor β€˜50, 51, 52’ at a rapid speed until it reached floor 68. The lift doors opened, and the panic really started to set in. We were almost here but as another little test to my uneasy stomach, we had to go up a flight of stairs to reach the top.

All I could see was how high up we were.

I clutched onto the wall of the stairs and took a deep breath. It would be fine when we reached the floor and got to solid ground I told myself. I won’t have to worry about falling back down the stairs. I kept picturing myself losing my balance and falling back into the crowd of visitors we shared the elevator journey with.

I stayed strong as I followed Towner to the top stairs I looked forward and realized that the entire floor was covered in floor to ceiling windows.

I began to sweat profusely and realized I had made a mistake. I attached my body to the wall attempting to get as far away from the glass as I could. If I focused really hard, I could skew my vision enough to forget that I was surrounded by terrifying views.

I’ve never been so hot in my life.

Why did my hoodie feel like it was a furnace around my stress-filled body? Why was no one else overheating? It was heat from fear that no one else could feel.

Related: Love travel stories? Check out my Terrifying drive through England

Panoramic view of the London sky line including the River Thames at night from the Shard. All of the buildings have lights on and are illuminating the dark sky.

The view from the Shard in London

The panoramic view of London was stunning. Through my fear, I could see how gorgeous the view was. Towner and I found an empty table to sit at that were against the wall so I could feel a bit more stable. We sat there until I was calm, cooled down a bit and was ready to try to move forward.

Towner took my camera and snapped some lovely pictures as I couldn’t take my eyes off of the view or take my hands from the wall long enough to take any nice pictures myself! As I started to feel a little less frightened, I slowly made myself walk as closely as I could to the window. I was feeling a bit more relaxed luckily!

It took me a while of just sitting at the table, plastered against the wall to feel comfortable enough to get up and slowly edge towards the windows. I must have looked hilarious to people around me as I did a sort of sideways dance with my arms extended for balance. Still far away enough from the window to feel safe, but getting closer with each breath!

The Shards 72nd-floor view has binoculars attached to the floor so you can focus on any one specific location you were looking for. Instead of using this for it’s intended use, I clutched onto it for moral and emotional support. As I got closer to the windows, Towner would point out famous London locations we could see. Off to the right was the easiest thing to spot – the London Eye. It was shining a bright red.

Scanning the skyline we spot the infamous Gherkin, St. Pauls Cathedral, the Tower of London, London Bridge, and the boats moving along the Thames.

London Skyline from above with the dark night sky with the city of London lit up. Red ferris wheel is in the distance on the left side.

The Shard Viewing Tower

We decide to venture up further onto the 75th floor where there is an open-air observation deck that is closed in enough so it keeps you feeling safe and secure inside the building.

As I confidently ventured upwards I found some benches beneath the Shards glass spikes I cooled my body from the sweat and anxiety I felt earlier. The air helped me breathe and made me feel better about being so high up. I think that if you are experiencing vertigo you should grab a seat and hold on. Relax yourself.

As Towner and I decide to head down the Shard back into the bustling world of London I decided to take a quick trip to the bathroom. I open the door to the individual stall and am greeted by a terrifying sight.

The toilet is sat there next to a floor to ceiling window overlooking London. There really was no way to get away from the view. Not expecting this twist of events my fear peaks again and I cling to the wall as I make my way to the toilet.

Unlike most people, I choose to sit looking towards the door inside the building, rather than letting my mind wander to the view below. If you were ever wondering what it was like to relieve yourself while all of London watches – and you watch them – the Shard is your place.

A view of the bathroom in the Shard. The toilet overlooks a window with the dark sky and lit up buildings from London city below.

I am glad I visited the Shard, as it was both a terrifying and beautiful experience. I believe you can visit if you are afraid of heights, but I would recommend visiting in the evening as it was less busy than the day. It gives you more room to move around and grab onto places where you feel safe, while still getting a view of stunning London.

Getting to the Shard:

The Shard is located at 32 London Bridge St, London SE1 9SG, UK

Tube

The nearest station is London Bridge (a two-minute walk away).

Walking

London Bridge Station is just a 5-minute walk from Blackfriars, 15-minute walk across London Bridge from the City a pleasant 30-minute walk along the South Bank of the Thames from Waterloo Station.

Visiting London's Tallest Building - The Shard

Join the newsletter for more stories, adventures and pictures that don’t make it onto the blog!

Sharing is caring!

Comments 15

  1. Glad you enjoyed it, eventually!
    Every time I looked back from the view you were stuck to the inner wall like Spiderman haha!
    I look forward to retiring on the royalties from the photos πŸ˜‰

    1. Post
      Author

      Hahaha, thanks Towner! Next time we hang out should we do another death defying event?

  2. I am going to start following your site. I love the tv show dark tourist. Now I want to see your travels. Keep up the good work. A little fear is a good thing.

    1. Post
      Author

      Thank you! I’ll have some posts coming in October/November that you’ll enjoy if you are into the darker side of life. 😊

  3. What a view!! The bathroom with a view story made me laugh!! πŸ™‚

    1. Post
      Author
    1. Post
      Author
  4. This looks so amazing!! I haven’t made it up the Shard yet, but can’t wait to now πŸ’› the view is stunning 😊 I’m glad you conquered your fear!!

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks! I think if I went back up now I would still be pretty scared, haha! I hope you enjoy it when you do go! I am sure the views are also spectacular in the day.

  5. I’m not sure I could have done that. I once worked in a building downtown that had a fancy conference room that had one wall of floor to ceiling windows for a beautiful view. I could not get close to it. Once during a meeting break a co-worker was leaning against the glass talking to another co-worker. I nearly had a panic attack watching him thinking the glass could give way and send him plummeting!

    I know you are proud of yourself for doing this and conquering it. It’s lovely that you had an understanding friend to help you!

    1. Post
      Author

      Thank you! I feel the same way! If someone walks to close to an edge or near a window high up I freak out too! I am very lucky that my friend was so understanding of my fears! Thank you for your comment!

  6. I’m sorry you had a hard time from the top The Shard! Your friend got some amazing photos and the toilet story made me laugh.

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks! It was definitely worth it in the end! I really don’t know what they were thinking with that toilet view, haha!

      1. Haha, no me neither! No one wants to have a full window when they’re in the loo. πŸ˜…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *