Located on the 35th floor of a towering skyscraper in the City of London is a lush green garden and one of the best places to see panoramic views of the London skyline.
The aptly named Sky Garden sits at the top of 20 Fenchurch Street, a commercial building more commonly known as the Walkie Talkie building thanks to its shape. It’s London’s highest public garden and is not only a great place to see London from up high but, unlike many other viewing platforms in London, entrance to the Sky Garden is completely free!
In this guide we tell you everything you need to know about booking your free tickets to the Sky Garden.
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What is the Sky Garden?
London’s Sky Garden opened in January 2015 but its development and construction was not without controversy. The area where the Walkie Talkie tower stands was never intended for such a tall building and there were concerns about its visual impact on the city, particularly nearby buildings including Tower Bridge and St Paul’s.
However, planning approval was eventually given on the basis that the skyscraper would come with a magnificent public park that would be free for all to access.
When the building – and Sky Garden – eventually opened, however, critics claimed that the green space occupying the top of the building was a far cry from the public gardens originally proposed. Initial drawings showed towering trees and a stepped series of gardens rising over the entire height of the space. When the garden opened, however, these early plans had been replaced by two planted slopes and some potted trees.
Whether or not the gardens live up to their initial promise, however, there’s no denying that the Sky Garden commands some of the best views of London, particularly south across the river and west towards central London.
With no other high buildings to block its view, visitors are rewarded with panoramic vistas across London including landmarks such as the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral the London Eye. It’s a great way to watch life go by along the River Thames and you can also see across to Canary Wharf.
And don’t forget the back of the building either, from here there are views over the ‘Gherkin’, the ‘Cheesegrater’ and other imaginatively-named London skyscrapers.
Today the Sky Garden sits on the top three floors of the Walkie Talkie building and two express lifts whisk visitors up to the 37th floor. There is a large viewing area and open air terrace, an outdoor terrace, two bars and two restaurants. On the ground floor, opposite the entrance, is a newly opened gift shop and the Larch restaurant and cafe.
The public garden is today hugely popular with locals and visitors alike for the spectacular view from its viewing platform.
It’s also popular thanks to some of the events that take place here, including live bands and DJ nights and even a weekday or weekend yoga session. Take a look if you fancy doing your sun salutations with the sun rise.
Where is London’s Sky Garden?
The Sky Garden is located at 20 Fenchurch Street in the City of London. The Monument to the Great Fire of London is around the corner as is St Dunstan-in-the-East, one of London’s best hidden gems. The Sky Garden is also within walking distance of Borough Market.
Monument station is the closest tube station. Tower Hill, Tower Gare, Aldgate, Bank and Mansion House stations are less than a 10-minute walk away.
The Sky Garden entrance is on Philpot Lane, on the south-west corner of 20 Fenchurch Street. There are signs on the ground level of the building that will point you in the right direction.
The Sky Garden Restaurants
The two restaurants within the Sky Garden itself are the Darwin Brasserie and Fenchurch Restaurant.
Darwin Brasserie offers all-day dining including weekend breakfasts and brunch. It’s also a fun place to eat in London with kids. The menus include everyone from a full English breakfast and classic Eggs Florentine to hamburgers and gnocchi with pesto. There’s also a set dinner menu and a kids menu that includes such options as roasted vegetable pasta, cheeseburgers and fish fingers and chips.
If it’s a special occasion then book a table at Fenchurch Restaurant, which offers contemporary British cuisine. While there is no dress code for visiting Sky Garden itself, Fenchurch Restaurant definitely deserves making a big of an effort! Fenchurch also has its own private dining room.
Both restaurants come with stellar views. And, if you have a restaurant reservation, then you do not need to book a separate access ticket to the Sky Garden. See below for more details.
The Sky Garden Bars
There are two bars to choose from, the Sky Pod Bar and the City Garden Bar. Both are open for all-day drinks and fantastic views.
Come in the evening for cocktails and live music but be aware that children under 16 are not able to enter the Sky Garden after 6pm on weekdays and 9pm on weekends.
If you have a restaurant reservation then kids under 16 are allowed to dine with you but you’ll have to go straight to the restaurant and won’t be allowed to hang around in the gardens themselves before or after your meal.
If you have managed to snag a babysitter then it’s worth booking a table at one of the bars as they do get busy.
When is the best time to visit the Sky Garden?
Morning is one of the best time to visit, particularly during the school holiday when it can get very busy in the middle of the day. Late afternoon can also be a good option. Note that children under 16 are not able to enter the Sky Garden after 6pm on weekdays and 9pm on weekends
One of our favourite ways to is it the Sky Garden is to book a breakfast slot and watch the sun rise over the city. Open on weekdays and Saturdays at 8am and 9am on Sundays, you’ll get to enjoy the gardens and the views at the start of the day. Just be aware that the outdoor terrace will be closed. For more information on the sunrise slot, take a look at the Sky Garden website.
Where to get free tickets to the Sky Garden?
Now you know what to expect at the Sky Garden, how do you go about organising your free ticket?
Tickets to access the Sky Garden are free but you do need to book a time slot to visit.
Free tickets are released very Monday morning (excluding bank holidays) three weeks in advance for the whole week. Choose which entry time suits you best and book your ticket. Tickets are delivered via email.
Walk-in tickets are sometimes available but this is highly unlikely during the school holidays and busy periods such as Christmas.
If you have a restaurant reservation then you do not need a separate access ticket to the Sky Garden.
Be aware that there is airport style security when you enter the building.
The Sky Garden website says that you should bring an ID (or passport) with you. I’ve never been asked for ID but if you do get asked then a driving licence is sufficient (kids don’t need ID).
Book your free access ticket here.
Sky Garden Address and Opening Hours
The Fenchurch Building (The Walkie-Talkie), 1 Sky Garden Walk, London EC3M 8AF
The Sky Garden is open from 8am – 12am, last entry 11pm.
Now all you need to do is book your ticket and enjoy the amazing views of London!
All photos from Depositphotos