How to Book Free Sky Garden Tickets

Updated: 29 abril 2024
 By Margaret

This post covers how to visit the Sky Garden, London's free observation deck, including information on hours, directions, where to eat, and other things to do.

Let's get started!


THE BEST FREE VIEW IN LONDON

Londoners have a habit of naming buildings after the items we think they look like (The Gherkin, The Cheese Grater, etc.) and the Walkie-Talkie is another to add to the list!

A commercial skyscraper in the City of London, the actual name of the building is 20 Fenchurch Street.

The distinctive shape of the building, which is larger at the top than at the bottom, has led to the nickname ‘Walkie Talkie.’

walkie talkie building london

The building has been a hotly debated construction, with many believing the building has negatively impacted the view of the best views of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Tower of London.

In fact, the tall building was originally intended to be another 40 m (131 feet) taller but was shortened as a compromise.

Sky Garden at Night

Spreading across three floors, the garden offers uninterrupted views of London. There is a landscaped garden as well as a bar and restaurant.

Obviously, it costs to drink and dine at the venue but the garden itself is actually free to the public, as part of an agreement made before planning permission from the building was granted.

Some think the word ‘garden’ is a bit generous when used to describe this part of the building.

So, expecting lush green grass and countless plants, flowers, and trees will leave visitors disappointed.

However, the plants and trees that are on display here are lovely and give a somewhat surreal feeling while standing so high up above the ground.  

Besides, for the price (particularly when compared to the London Eye or the Shard), this is definitely one of the best views of the City of London / South of the Thames on offer.

London Walking Tours

HOW TO GET TICKETS

Advanced Reservations

London’s sky garden is completely free to visit, but advanced restaurant reservations are required.

In order to book tickets, visit the Sky Garden website and select your preferred date and time.

Spaces are limited, so be sure to make your reservation well in advance.

Typically, time of entry are for 1-hour periods and are available every 15 minutes from entry time onwards.

This is one of the more helpful comments from our London Travel Tips Facebook group, and it explains the process very well.

What time does Sky Garden release free tickets?

Every Monday morning, London's Sky Garden releases free tickets, inviting guests to the heart of the city to enjoy breathtaking views from one of London's tallest buildings.

Tickets are usually booked 3 weeks in advance, which means that when you go to book your ticket on Monday morning, you can expect to find tickets available for approximately 3 weeks from that date.


Walk-In Tickets

For those who are unable to book a reservation ahead of time, there are a limited number of walk-in tickets available.

Walk-in spaces are released Monday-Friday (none on weekends) between 10.00 am -  11.30 am and 14.00 - 16.30.

Sky Pod Bar welcomes walk-in guests more frequently. Read our section Restaurant & Bar to learn more

London Travel Tips and Hacks

REVIEWS

The Sky Garden at Fenchurch 20 is one of the most popular destinations for both locals and tourists in London. In fact, it ranks #22 on Things to Do on TripAdvisor.

Visitors love to eat at the Sky Garden restaurants where they find cuisine from all over the Europe

As one guest writes, "for something that is free to use and so easy to get to, you can't go wrong!"

Many say that they are pleasantly surprised by just how incredible the views are and that this visit was one of the highlights of their trip.

Though a vast majority of the reviews are positive, some visitors write that they were put off by the chilly temperatures due to cold air coming in from the rooftop terrace.

However, most who visited during winter say that this can easily be averted by bringing warm clothes and avoiding seats next to the automatic doors. 


The Building that Melted a Car

The Walkie-Talkie received international fame in the summer of 2013 because of a very interesting event: the melting of a car!

The unique shape of the building means that for around two hours of the day, the sun shines directly onto the concave windows of the building, reflecting onto the streets to the south.

It is estimated that the glare reflecting off the windows is around 6 times brighter than direct sunlight!

The reflection was so strong, in fact, that it damaged vehicles parked on the road nearby, including the partial melting of the framework of a Jaguar car!


PLAN YOUR VISIT

Location: 

20 Fenchurch Street is located at (you guessed it), 20 Fenchurch Street (map and directions).  

How to get to the Walkie Talkie Building

The building is located within the City of London and can be best accessed by the London Underground from the Monument Station (Circle and District lines).  

It can also be accessed by Bank Station (Central, Northern and Waterloo, and City lines).

If you are unfamiliar with London's subway, then read our tips on navigating the London Underground.  

TIP: If you are considering purchasing a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket, keep in mind that all companies have stops around the corner.

Also, all of these tickets are included for free with the purchase of most London tourist passes.


Sky Garden Opening Hours: 


If you are planning on taking our guided, pay-what-you-wish City of London Tour, and you would like to schedule your visit after the finish of the tour, then make one of the following bookings.

London Walking Tours
  • 13:15 (1:15 pm) following our Tuesday morning tour.
  • 16:30 (4:30 pm) following our Friday and Saturday afternoon tour.
  • Click here to book.

The building is also a stop on our GPS-enabled audio tour of the City of London, which you could take whenever you wish. It's just £1.99/download.


Entrance / Exit:

In addition to being home to the Sky Garden, the Walkie-Talkie building also features several floors of private offices.

The main front door entrance is exclusively for people who work in the building.

If you are visiting the Sky Garden, you must enter on the backside of the building.

There should be a person with a clipboard standing at the door who can guide you inside. 

Do you need to provide ID to get into the Sky Garden?

A passport, part of the necessary airport-style security, is needed for walk-ins at the Sky Garden, ensuring safety while you revel in the public space filled with greenery like African lilies and palm trees.


Regulations Worth Noting:

The building is subject to airport-like security: no liquids of less than 100 ml allowed (baby food/drink excepted) and no bags larger than 8 inches x 17 inches x 19 inches.

No groups of more than 6 are allowed. – An ID that matches the reservation name is required.

Also, be sure to arrive on time. Visitors that are more than 10 minutes late for their time slot will likely be turned away at the door.   

Read our post on where to store your luggage.


RESTAURANT & BAR

There are several different restaurants and bars open to the public in the Walkie-Talkie building.

In addition to serving great food and drink, they also allow guests the only opportunity to visit the Sky Garden at night during the months of April-October.

Also, if you are unable to book a reservation in advance to the Sky Garden, both the City Garden Bar and Sky Pod Bar welcome walk-ins. 

Can you bring your own food to Sky Garden?

Although bringing your own food to the Sky Garden is permitted, their restaurants offer a variety of menus, letting you savor a meal while appreciating landmarks such as the River Thames and St Paul’s Cathedral from their viewing platforms.


Fenchurch Restaurant

  • A very elegant restaurant serving contemporary British cuisine. Be aware that there is a strict dress code prohibiting shorts, sportswear, sports trainers, and flip-flops. You can bring your own wine, but there is a £30 corkage fee.
  • Lunch: Mon-Sun: 11:45 am-2:45 pm 
  • Dinner: Mon-Sun: 5:45 pm-10:15 pm

Darwin Brasserie 

  • Located on the 36th floor, this all-day brasserie serves classic British dishes made with seasonal ingredients found around the local area. A smart/casual dress code is encouraged and shorts, sportswear, sports trainers, and flip-flops are prohibited after 17:00. 
  • Breakfast: Mon-Fri: 7:30 am - 10:30 am, Sat-Sun: 8 am - 10 am,
  • Lunch: Mon-Fri: 11:30 am - 4 pm,
  • Sat-Sun brunch: 11:30 am - 3:30 pm,
  • Dinner: Mon-Sat: 17:30 - 22:30,  Sun: 17:30 - 22:00

City Garden Bar 

  • City Garden Bar is located in the center of the Sky Garden and serves both food and drink. Choose from a wide selection of soups, sandwiches, and salads, amongst other dishes. 
  • Wed-Sat: 10:00 am - 24:00, Sun: 10am-6pm
  • (Last Entry: Wed-Sat: 23:30)
  • Evening walk-ins are welcome.

Sky Pod Bar 

  • The Sky Pod Bar is another all-day drinking and dining venue that features live music. Reservations are encouraged if you wish to visit in the evening, though walk-ins are welcomed if space permits. A smart/casual dress code is advised. 
  • Mon: 7am-11pm, Tues: 7am-12am, Wed- Fri: 7am - 1am,
  • Sat: 8am-1am, Sun: 8am-11pm
  • (Last Entry: Sun-Mon: 10:30 pm, Tues: 11:30 pm, Wed-Sat: 12:45 am)
  • Evening walk-ins are welcome.

Tips From Locals and Travelers

The Sky Garden is actually one of the most common topics discussed in our London Travel Tips group on Facebook.

Whether it be travelers asking for advice about how to get free tickets or suggestions for other free locations to enjoy an excellent view of the city, there's always someone discussing this attraction.

Since most tickets are booked 3 weeks in advance, a lot of travelers forget to get their tickets before arriving and end up looking for an alternative.

Thankfully, there are actually a lot of other great locations you can visit which provide a similar (or perhaps even better) view of London for little-to-no cost.

As Wendy notes here, The Garden at 120 is another option that is free, and it's actually right across the street from the Sky Garden!

This is one of the better options for free views of the city, but there are other hidden gems and observation decks you might want to consider as well.

Here's another great suggestion from one of our group members: the building at 110 Bishopgate.

This isn't specifically designed as an observation deck, but there are some restaurants and cafes in the building that provide amazing views, including a great view of the Gherkin as you can see here.

If you are looking for something more similar to the Sky Garden, Horizon 22 is probably going to be your best bet.

Not only is this building just a few blocks from the Sky Garden, but they also offer free admission, and they're much less likely to sell out.

Finally, if all else fails, there are a few other places that offer excellent views of the London skyline, although they might not be as close as some of the other options our group members have noted.

We actually have a post on Primrose Hill if you're curious, and we recommend reading that guide before visiting.

If you're looking for even more suggestions or advice, please consider asking any questions you may have on our London Travel Tips group on Facebook.


NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

Due to its central location, the building is near many other famous London sights and attractions which can be planned to be visited on the same day including:


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About The Author

Margaret

An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 16 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries. Read More...
Updated: abril 29th, 2024
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