England, London

Free Things To Do In London | Have A Cuppa At The Sky Garden

January 28, 2017
Sky Garden, London - PinayFlyingHigh.com

Depending on where you’re traveling from, London can be quite an expensive city to visit. There are not much things that you can do here for free which is why whenever something like that comes to light, I get all excited about it. A lot of people have told me how beautiful and worth visiting Sky Garden is which made me put it right at the top of my London bucket list. Two weeks ago, I was finally able to visit it.

Sky Garden, London - PinayFlyingHigh.com

The Sky Gardens is located at the 35th floor of 20 Fernchurch Street building otherwise known as the Walkie Talkie because of its shape. I’m not really into modern architecture and for me, this building is a sore to my eyes specially as it doesn’t really blend well with the rest of London. I probably would’ve written a disclaimer to not listen to me because I know nothing about architecture but apparently, a lot of people agrees with me (even UNESCO criticized it) and the Sky Garden was included in this building as a saving grace. It may be a horrible-looking building but hey, it boasts the highest garden in London which offers a great view that you can access for free.

Sky Garden, London - PinayFlyingHigh.com

Although the visit to Sky Garden is free, you have to make a booking for you to be allowed to go inside (booking is straightforward and a very easy online process). Upon entrance, staff will check your reservation confirmation and you’ll also have to go through an airport-style security. That security area will somehow give you an idea of what awaits you at the 35th floor because as soon as I walked in to the Sky Garden, it did remind me so much of Dubai Airport Terminal 3.

Sky Garden, London - PinayFlyingHigh.com

To be completely honest, I was a bit disappointed by all the hype about it. The “garden” was almost non-existent – there were only 2 trees on the main gallery and a pretty landscape of plants on both sides of it. I was probably misinformed or I might have been expecting something else as it was described on their website as “exquisitely landscaped public gardens“. Based on that description alone, I was expecting that I’d walk in a very lush and very green space as what a garden should be. It wasn’t a garden at all, it was just an open space with plants on both sides of it for aesthetic purposes. I’m not saying that it’s not beautiful because it is, I just wouldn’t call it a garden.

Sky Garden, London - PinayFlyingHigh.com

While I was surely disappointed by the lack of the garden space in Sky Garden, the views from up there was truly impressive. It’s another amazing way to see London from a different perspective and on top of that, it’s for free. The Thames River looks gorgeous from up there and I believe it would be lovelier if you see it in the evening with the whole of London lit.

Sky Garden, London - PinayFlyingHigh.com

There are 5 food and beverage outlets in the Sky Garden and I wanted to try the Darwin Brasserie but I was kind of put off by the location of the restaurant. I know, I’m weird. Location and views is probably more important for me than the food itself when I’m visiting a restaurant and from what I’ve seen, it’s better for me to try the cafe at the main gallery as it offers a much more beautiful views. I tried to have coffee at the main gallery but I was again put off when I saw that they were serving coffee in a paper cup. Okay, I admit – it has nothing to do with the views nor the paper cups. It’s all because it’s not instagrammable. #bloggerlife

Sky Garden, London - PinayFlyingHigh.com

So instead of having a meal or a drink, I went to the terrace to admire the London view more. The Shard building which is equally-menacing to my eyes is right smack in the middle of the view from Sky Garden. The beautiful Tower Bridge is on the left side and just beside it is the Tower of London. Seeing all these places which I have previously visited from a different vantage point is kind of interesting. It’s like you’re doing a helicopter tour of London when you’re in Sky Garden.

Sky Garden, London - PinayFlyingHigh.com

I do see myself going back there from time to time and I believe that it’s going to be one of those places that I’d take visitors to. On my next visit, I’m sure that I won’t be as disappointed about the lack of garden space as I already know what to expect. I’ll probably have to warn my visitors though.

Plan your visit to the Sky Gardens:

Nearest underground station: Monument
Opening Times: Monday – Friday, 10AM-6PM | Weekends – 11AM-9PM
Book your free visit here.

Tip: You’ll be able to take better photos of the view if you go in the morning as the sun would be against your camera if you go in the afternoon. I went there at 1pm and I couldn’t take a decent photo of the River Thames and the rest of London.

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30 Comments

  • Reply Ingrid March 11, 2017 at 18:38

    This is a great tip! I’ve tried to book a free visit for the last weekend of March but unfortunately, I cannot find seem to find a place πŸ™ I’ll come back later to see if I’m lucky enough to get one free spot for the 27th of March though.

    • Reply Pinay Flying High March 11, 2017 at 18:57

      Ooooohhh I hope you get a slot! Maybe if you book a meal in one of the restaurants? πŸ™‚

  • Reply Mike February 4, 2017 at 10:35

    Hello Noemi, wow! What a wonderful idea you have shared. I never saw any blog like this. Really it’s amazing. Thanks for sharing this fabulous blog

    • Reply Noemi of Pinay Flying High March 9, 2017 at 18:55

      Thanks Mike!

  • Reply Flo @ Yoga, Wine & Travel February 2, 2017 at 10:15

    Great tip about timing! My iPhone sucks when the sun is glaring. This place looks absolutely stunning and the view is gorgeous – too bad about the lack of plants and flowers though!

    • Reply Noemi of Pinay Flying High March 9, 2017 at 18:56

      Yeah, iphone sucks in general when it comes to zooming in and with the sun glaring. :p But then with this glare, not even my camera can get a good photo of it. :p

  • Reply Eulanda February 2, 2017 at 09:58

    We share very similar thoughts about the Sky Garden. Beautiful views, but the gardens are quite lacking. The way the restaurants are set up are a bit strange as well. Great tip about what time to go. We also went around 2pm, and the lighting was a struggle! You still managed to capture some lovely snaps though!

    • Reply Noemi of Pinay Flying High March 9, 2017 at 18:57

      Oh that’s great to know that I’m not the only one. I thought I was being a snob and spoiled by saying that I was a bit disappointed about it. :p

  • Reply Josie February 1, 2017 at 23:31

    I am definitely going to go to the Sky Garden next time I am in London. Those views are fantastic. And I will remember that it’s not really a garden so I am not disappointed. Thank you for the warning!

    • Reply Noemi of Pinay Flying High March 9, 2017 at 18:58

      Thanks Josie! It’s lovely to go up there to enjoy the views but yeah, don’t expect a very lush garden. :p

  • Reply Allison February 1, 2017 at 21:45

    I love modern architecture! Give me shiny glass and stainless stell over crumbling sandstone any day Sky Garden look like a great place to while away and afternoon and it’s free to boot!

    • Reply Noemi of Pinay Flying High March 9, 2017 at 19:00

      Yep! The free thing is the best! :p

  • Reply Rosie Fluskey February 1, 2017 at 18:21

    I loved my trip to the Walkie Talkie, such a nice change to do something like that for free…and in London. I was also expecting more of a Kew gardens feel but I’d imagine it’d be rather unpleasant up there if it was too humid. We walked from there to Holborn sightseeing along the way.

    • Reply Noemi of Pinay Flying High March 9, 2017 at 19:10

      Yeah, you do have a point. I think it would be really unpleasant if it’s a real garden up there with the humidity. :p

  • Reply carola February 1, 2017 at 15:25

    I’m so sorry this was a (partial) disappointment! The view though…

    • Reply Noemi of Pinay Flying High March 9, 2017 at 19:11

      Yep, the view is worth it all. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Isobel Lee February 1, 2017 at 12:30

    This does looks interesting! I appreciate you also sharing the down side – I can see there’s not much of a garden – and I hate getting ripped off so I’m not sure I’d be spending my money at the bars and restaurants! Interesting though!

    • Reply Noemi of Pinay Flying High March 9, 2017 at 19:12

      It is interesting and please don’t get me wrong, it’s worth going up there specially since it’s free. Just don’t expect a real garden. :p

  • Reply Delaine Dcosta February 1, 2017 at 11:16

    How old is this building? Shame that I didn’t know about it 4 years ago πŸ™ It looks right about my alley. Absolutely love the architecture & dining scene inside, and the view of London city from the top.

    • Reply Noemi of Pinay Flying High March 9, 2017 at 19:13

      I’m not sure how old this is but I guess it’s a good excuse to come back to London Delaine. :p

  • Reply Katie Ackerley February 1, 2017 at 09:34

    I LOVE THE SKY GARDEN. It’s such a nice place to go and relax away from the stress of the city. Your photos are absolutely beautiful.
    Katie x

    • Reply Noemi of Pinay Flying High March 9, 2017 at 19:14

      Thank you Katie! πŸ™‚

  • Reply neha February 1, 2017 at 09:24

    Thanks for sharing this. Indeed I come from a place that I will have to strictly watch my pocket while visiting London. I totally love this skygarden. I won’t mind visit here – whether I get a free stuff or not. I love the tall walls and the comfortable sunshine inside

    • Reply Noemi of Pinay Flying High March 9, 2017 at 19:15

      I come from a similar place Neha so yeah, this place is a great option for us to maximize what London has to offer – FOR FREE! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Trainswestcan2espano January 30, 2017 at 08:40

    Hi. Mi I share your comment on the architecture. it is spoiling London. certainly loses its appeal.

    • Reply Pinay Flying High January 30, 2017 at 21:49

      Yeah, it’s not at all pleasing to the eyes – at least for mine and apparently yours too. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Manju January 30, 2017 at 05:44

    That place looks very bright. They could really add lot many plants, probably vertical ones to make it look more green….But that London view is so nice..

    • Reply Pinay Flying High January 30, 2017 at 21:50

      That’s true, I did love the bright area though. It made it look fresh but yes, a few more greenery would help if they want to call it a garden. :p

  • Reply Tanja (the Red phone box travels) January 29, 2017 at 15:51

    it’s an amazing place indeed:) I did it too last year:)

    • Reply Noemi of Pinay Flying High March 9, 2017 at 19:18

      Everyone should really go there since it’s one of the very few places London offers for free. :p

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