Opening to the public on February 1, 2013 The View from The Shard in London provides breathtaking skyline views unseen before in the iconic city.
At 1,016 feet high, the Shard skyscraper is the tallest building in the UK and all of Western Europe. Access to the top levels is private, but the public can visit the 72nd floor, 800 feet above ground, and (on a clear day) take in a view that stretches 40 miles out.
Vistors can zip up in a lift that shoots skyward in just under 60 seconds. Inside the elevator, screens and mirrors create the effect of passing through the iconic ceilings and rooftops of London.
Tech fans can play with the Tell:scopes, telescopes that double as interactive guide books, pulling up information on over 250 landmarks. Along with real-time views, the Tell:scopes are also equipped with pre-recorded videos to show how the landmarks look at various times during the day and night.
Designed by renowned architect, Renzo Piano, The Shard spent over 10 years in construction and was completed just before the 2012 London Olympics. It's not surprising that the viewing gallery, which offers visitors a wholly unique way to interact with the building, was a high priority from the initial design phase. According to Piano, "In the open air on the highest habitable floor, you are surrounded by the shards of glass as well as the sights, sounds, elements and atmosphere of the city below. On top of the city, but also within it." You can pre-order tickets online; $40 for adults, $30 for children—flying high ain't cheap.
Later this year The Shard will play host to luxury hotel brand Shangri-La, as well as several restaurants, bars, a spa, and apartment units. Sorry, no Ferris Wheel.
—Andrew Villagomez is a freelance LGBT, travel, and pop culture writer. Follow him @AndyVeeNYC.