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London is full of fantastic places to enjoy flora and fauna, from the Royal Parks to historic palaces. However, one beauty spot is a little different (and higher!) than the rest. The Sky Garden in London is one of the capital’s newest attractions and the city’s highest public garden. It is a very popular spot for both strolling around the gardens, and for eating and drinking at one of their several rooftop bars and restaurants.
In addition the Sky Garden has a stunning skyline view you can enjoy for free if you plan in advance. So read on to learn more and ensure you guarantee your free ticket to the Sky Garden…
Sky Garden London Location and History
The Sky Garden opened in 2015 and sits atop the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building. The skyscraper’s comical nickname was coined by locals and developers after it was realised the building’s exterior looked like a walkie talkie from afar (and not to be confused with the nearby ‘cheese grater building aka the Leadenhall building).
The building is located in the heart of the city, near Fenchurch Street and Liverpool Street stations. Whilst most of the building is used for commercial purposes, part of the reason planning permission was granted by the authorities was that they had to include a public space that all visitors and Londoners could access (not just Walkie Talkie workers) – hence the Sky Garden was born.
Sky Garden Layout
Set over three levels of lush landscaped layouts, your first port of call as you exit the lift will likely be the outdoor balcony on the 35 floor, with stunning views looking over the city and towards south London. Here you’ll see incredible vistas of the Shard, the River Thames plus a bird’s eye view of Tower Bridge and nearby the Tower of London. Head right as you first enter the balcony to also glimpse a skyline view of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Once you’ve completed your alfresco viewing (and dodged all the wannabe models doing laborious poses), head back indoors to explore the multi-level gardens comprising south african savannah style plants and Mediterranean flowers.
Once you’ve explored, time to reward yourself and soak up the city views in style with a well earned cocktail or beer…
Eating and Drinking / Restaurants
There are several establishments located in and around the gardens
The Sky Pod is the first bar you’ll see as you exit the lift. The bar is open all day and has stunning views of the city, serving a variety of hot and cold drinks, plus light snacks. Prices are reasonable, especially if you consider entry is free e.g. a pint of beer starts from £6.50 as at July 2020.
The City Garden Bar is located amongst the garden foliage and is also open all day (we personally prefer the Sky Pod section so this is a good back-up if no tables are available in the former).
The Fenchurch comprises a restaurant (serving British contemporary fine dining fare) and a terrace section on the 37th floor overlooking the main balcony and Sky Pod bar.
The Darwin Brasserie is located on the 36th storey, nestled between The Fenchurch and Sky Pod – it specialises in seasonal dishes inspired by the very best of British dishes.
How to get Free Tickets to the Sky Garden
In summary – book waaaay in advance. Free tickets usually become available on the Sky Garden website around 7 to 10 days in advance. If you are only in London for a short period, remember to set a reminder on your calendar to check daily a few days before you arrive to secure yourself a ticket – free Sky Garden tickets go VERY very fast so do keep checking the website regularly in the days leading up to your London.
Sky Garden Last Minute Free Tickets / Sky Garden Sunset Tickets
Although there are no guarantees, we have on occasion ourselves managed to secure free sunset tickets to the Sky Garden at the very last minute e.g. we once managed to get sunset tickets for an 8.30pm slot two hours before, purely by chance and checking the website at random. We presume these were last minute reallocations so don’t hold out for these, as they are few and far between.
Sky Garden Sunset Sessions / Restaurant Reservations
Ultimately, the only way to guarantee yourself a spot in the Sky Garden if you haven’t been able to obtain a free ticket is to book a dining spot in either the Fenchurch & City Garden Bar or Darwin Brasserie restaurant.
As well as the bars and restaurants to unwind in, the Sky Garden hosts a series of special events such as sunset DJs or yoga sessions (although we think the wine-tasting events are more our cup of …erm…vino).
Sky Garden Arrival / 35 Storeys Up
Once you’ve booked your free ticket in advance, you’ll be allotted a timed slot to arrive by. There will often be a queue outside so try to get there early; later-comers will usually not be admitted.
Your ticket will be scanned (phone or printed out) and then you’ll be ushered through security and an x-ray machine. Once through security, you’ll be escorted into a lift (without windows – an FYI in case you’re scared of heights) and then you’ll shoot up 35 storeys in less time than you know.
All in all, Sky Garden is a wonderful and welcome addition to the London skyline (and free alternative to the Shard) but just be prepared to plan your adventure in advance.
Sky Garden Opening Hours
Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Saturday – Sunday: 11:00am – 9:00pm (and Bank Holidays)
A small number of non ticketed walk-in slots are also sometimes available (but booking in advance is highly recommended)
Where to stay near the Sky Garden
Club Quarters Hotel London City
4 star hotel with stylish rooms located next to Leadenhall Market, one of the oldest parts of London. Facilities include a a 24-hour fitness centre and Gaucho Argentinian Steakhouse (housed in a former gold vault!). Check out prices and availability for Club Quarters Hotel London City
Cheval Three Quays at The Tower of London
Spacious serviced apartments ranging from studios to 3-bedroom apartments, with some overlooking the River Thames. Facilities include a fitness centre. Check out prices and availability for Cheval Three Quays at The Tower of London
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Tower of London
Beautifully decorated luxury hotel that has a rooftop bar with incredible views of London’s skyline. Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows as well as custom-designed beds, and there is a 24-hour gym on-site Check out prices and availability for DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel London – Tower of London
Sky Garden Address
1 Sky Garden Walk, 20 Fenchurch Street, London, EC3M 8AF
London Underground tube station: Monument (district line)
Train station: Liverpool Street, Cannon Street and Fenchurch Street are all within a 10 minute walk of Sky Garden
Check out our other London blog posts
- South Bank walk – one of the best walks around London (with map)
- The Churchill Arms – the most colourful pub in London
- A guide to Victoria Park Village and park
- Best things to do in Greenwich, London
- Things to do in Leicester Square by a local
- Traditional English food – best dishes to try in the UK
- Things to do in the historic Square Mile London
- The 10 best markets in London
- Visiting St. Dunstan in the East Church Garden and Ruins