London Eye Review

Riding the London Eye When You’re Scared of Heights

Is the London Eye scary? I decided to find out…

What do you do when you’re scared of heights, and you want to see as much of London as you can, in a very short space of time? Why, you book yourself a couple of tickets on The London Eye, of course!

The London Eye was my idea (Er, going on it was my idea, I mean. I’m not trying to take credit for its creation or anything like that, because if, for some reason, I’d been tasked with coming up with a new London tourist attraction, I’d have suggested something much, MUCH closer to the ground…), and I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. I mean, I wouldn’t class my fear of heights as a particularly bad one (It’s not even close to my fear of crustaceans, for instance…), but I DID almost have to be sedated once at the top of the Eiffel Tower, so, you know, I’m not GREAT with heights either.

Terry, meanwhile, gets fairly severe vertigo even when crossing some bridges, so when I suggested that “Hey, one great way to see London would be from the top of a giant ferris wheel, while encased in a small glass pod!”, he did look at me kinda funny. Terry is a great believer in facing your fears whenever possible, though (He is the complete opposite to me in that respect: I’m a great believer in running as far away from your fears as possible. Like I said, I have NO IDEA what I was thinking with this one. Maybe that when I got to London, I would magically turn into a normal person?), so he readily agreed to my foolhardy plan, and went ahead and booked us some tickets. (Get them here.)

Big Ben and the London Eye

On the London Eyeglass pod on the London Eye

Is the London Eye scary?

With this done, I promptly forgot all about our plan to invest almost £50 in scaring ourselves witless. I guess I was too distracted by working out which skirts would get least creased in my suitcase, and which shoes would be the most painful, or whatever. I actually didn’t think about The Eye again until we rounded a corner on our walk through London, and there it was in front of us.

“Look, Terry!” I shrieked excitedly, “There’s the London Eye!”


Folks, it’s HUGE. Like, really, REALLY huge. And obviously, I knew this. I knew it was big. I just hadn’t actually processed that knowledge through my brain. (I do that a lot: it helps me get through life.)

“That CANNOT be safe,” I said.

“BANG!” said the thunder.

“CRASH!” said the lightning.

Oh yeah, did I mention we were surrounded by thunder and lightning at this point? We were surrounded by thunder and lightning at this point. And now we’d get to experience what thunder and lightning is like when you’re trapped inside a glass pod, high above the earth! YAY!

Luckily our tickets were flexible ones, so we were able to continue on our way, and come back to the Eye later. “We’ll just come back when the lightning stops,” said Terry. “Or when the crippling fear stops?” I suggested. Of course, only one of those DID actually stop, and it wasn’t The Fear. The Fear continued, and, indeed worsened, the closer we got to the structure. It felt a bit like The Death Star was pulling us in.

We collected our tickets and joined the line, and that’s when the rain started again, although thankfully without the accompanying thunder and lightning – whew! The first surprise came as I attempted to board our “pod”, and realised they weren’t going to stop it in order for me to get on. When you look at the Eye from the ground (and when you’re inside it, for that matter), it doesn’t actually look like it’s moving: it’s only when you try to cross from the nice, safe platform over to the pod, that the movement of the thing becomes obvious, and there was a brief moment where it looked like I might get left behind. “You didn’t SERIOUSLY think they’d stop the London Eye just for you?” asked Terry, once we were on board, but yes, I guess I did. Whoops.

But how scary is it?

Anyway! Now we were on board, and all that remained was for us to sit back and enjoy the ride! HA.

It takes around thirty minutes for the Eye to complete a rotation, and the first 10 minutes or so were fine: because it moves so slowly, it wasn’t nearly as scary as I’d been expecting, and the sight of London, spread out before you, is enough of a distraction to make you forget you’re suspended in mid-air for a while. We quickly worked out that as long as we looked AWAY from the structure of the wheel itself, and out of the other side of the pod, we were both pretty much OK with the height: it was only when we glanced back in the other direction, and realised that all that stood between us and a free-fall towards the earth was a few slim white tubes, that we started to freak out a bit. I’m actually amazed I have any photos at all to show you, because for a while there THIS was my view:


This probably answers your ‘Is the London Eye scary?” question, huh?

Then our carriage reached the top of the wheel, and OH MY GOD, that was pretty scary. In fact, I actually had to close my eyes for a couple of minutes. “Talk to me!” I said to Terry. “Say something to distract me!”

“We’re RIGHT on top of the thing!” Terry replied. “Sitting RIGHT at the top. It’s really, REALLY freaky, and we still have to go all the way down, too!”

Which… wasn’t really the type of distraction I had in mind, you know?

Once we’d made it over the top, as it were, however, we both started to feel a bit safer. We even managed to stand up and go over to the window, although as you can probably tell from my hunched demeanor and general lack of hip-popping, I wasn’t exactly in my element.

on board The London Eye

We did it, though! And although there were a few hairy moments near the top, it wasn’t SO scary that I wouldn’t do it again if the opportunity presented itself. (And, you know, if someone else was paying for it…) The views, it goes without saying (Also without photographing, apparently…), are spectacular, even when you’re looking at them from behind your hands, so we were really glad we’d felt the fear and did it anyway.

We were also really glad our next stop on the trip was the restaurant we were meeting my friend in: that glass of wine was very, very welcome…

The London Eye at Sunset


The London Eye: reviewRiding the London Eye: our review of one of the UK's top tourist attractionsShould you ride the London Eye if you're scared of heights

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  • Ack no – this just confirms that the London Eye is not for me! I used to work a 3 minute walk from it so I have a full appreciate of its might… and if it were me I’d probably have to go round the whole thing with my eyes shut. And, y’know, if I wanted to do that I could do it for free in my home, rather than pay £50 for the privilege!!

    And don’t even get me started on the Eiffel Tower. Hell Tower, more like. Had the most severe panic attack of my life on the *second* floor and ran for the nearest lift to safety – leaving my then boyfriend to take a solo trip to the top. Never again!

    August 4, 2014
  • I really wanted to go on it when I was in London but the queue was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo long (possibly more o’s are needed to explain the length of said queue) that I just decided against it.. although you do get amazing shots of the city!

    August 4, 2014
  • One of the pods next to us had a wedding taking place in it. How unexpected was that?
    I was kind of surprised by the amount of time it took to go the whole way around. I have been on it twice, and both times at night. The height is definitely obscured when you can’t really see directly beneath you because of it being dark. I think a day ride will be next for me should I get the chance to be in London again.

    August 4, 2014
  • I remember that when I went on the London Eye I was expecting a classic panoramic wheel ride, complete with swinging compartment… Instead it felt so ‘secure’ and ‘steady’ I was almost disappointed! It’s funny how perceptions can vary from person to person!
    But I remember having a vertigo attack on the tower of Pisa, which is 56 meters of leaning old structure… On the top there were just some flimsy railings that arrived at your belly… I still get sweaty hands whenever I think of it!

    August 4, 2014
  • …yeah, no…your white knuckles are enough for me to remain firmly rooted on terra firma. I have ‘made’ myself do a few things well out of my comfort zone…one being taking the Whistler Blackcomb gondola. {How skiers do it over and over I’ll never know.} Coming back down, I did manage to ooh and aah at the view, but it’s not easy for me. They have a new gondola, The Peak to Peak…a one way trip miles above the canyon between two Canadian mountain peaks..eeeeek!

    August 4, 2014
  • Marie


    Oh my god. I’m so glad I read this. I’m terrified of heights and I’d almost talked myself into attempting the London Eye.

    Paris is like the city of embarrassing height related panic attacks or me. The Eiffel Tower, the top of the stairs in the Sacre Couer, climbing parts of the Notre Dame… you really think I’d learn!

    Pro-tip: never, ever, ever attempt the tree top walk at Kew Gardens. I ended up clinging to the side of the lift, eyes shut, unable to take my hands off the rail long enough reach the button while bemused tourists watched on. The damn thing sways in the breeze. Eeeeeeeep.

    August 4, 2014
  • Lorraine


    I laughed reading this, but it’s not funny, I TOTALLY understand the fear. I would have been lying on the floor screaming. Well done for doing it, both of you, especially when scared of heights. Jeez, I took a panic attack up in the glass viewing part of the Lighthouse in Glasgow. Then froze and got down on my hands and knees attempting to go up that tower on Princes St.
    When my husband asked me to go up the CN Tower I laughed in his face!

    August 4, 2014
  • I have panic attacks if I look over the railing of the second floor of my local mall, I’m completely certain that I couldn’t get within 15 feet of the London eye with out panicking.

    Fashion and Happy Things

    August 4, 2014
  • This is true. I went down the stairs of the Eiffel Tower on my bottom after reaching the first floor and having such a crippling panic attack I couldn’t walk up nor down. Small children were stepping over me asking their parents “what is that lady doing, mummy?”

    August 4, 2014
  • I don’t so much have a problem with heights as the machinery (lifts, cable cars, etc. that hold me up high). I went on the London Eye with a friend who was visiting from the States and my view was similar to that of yours…the bench in the middle! Beautiful sights but exhausted nerves!

    August 5, 2014
  • I don’t so much have a problem with heights as the machinery (lifts, cable cars, etc. that hold me up high). I went on the London Eye with a friend who was visiting from the States and my view was similar to that of yours…the bench in the middle! Beautiful view but exhausted nerves!

    August 5, 2014
  • Glad to know I’m not the only one who had a meltdown on the Eiffel Tower. You did well getting to the top, I only managed the second floor. I was freaking out just climbing the stairs and annoying everyone below me by how slow I was going – never again! I went on the London Eye once, one of my previous employers paid for us to go on it as part of our Christmas Party. I didn’t completely freak out but I won’t be rushing to go on it again!

    August 5, 2014
  • Denise


    So impressed at how brave you both were. I am definitely in the facing your fears camp. You would never have experienced it if you didn’t go on it and you don’t have to do it again unless you want to.
    I have gone ‘Go Ape’ and I am petrified of heights, but it was amazing having friends all around you to keep you going.
    I didn’t go up the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but I think it is something I still need to do, despite being scared of heights.

    August 5, 2014
  • Ghalia


    “… although as you can probably tell from my hunched demeanor and general lack of hip-popping, I wasn’t exactly in my element.”

    Best sentence, ever xD Has me in giggles every time I read it.

    August 6, 2014
  • Aw, well done for facing your fear, that’s amazing that you actually got a bit of enjoyment out of it too, that’s almost a full smile on your face in some of those pics! (I love your little gold shoes by the way, they are so pretty). I have never been on the Eye, but it’s the price that puts me off, and while I am ok with heights, I don’t like small spaces. Every film I’ve ever seen that has a ferris wheel in it ends with someone hanging off it. P x

    August 24, 2014
  • Well done! I did it a few years ago even though I have the same fear. I figured when in Rome (or rather, London!). It took ages until I felt brave enough to stand near the window, then when we reached the top I had to sit back down again. Worth it though 🙂

    August 30, 2014
  • Oh wow, so brave, esp. given the weather! I still kind of want to go on it, even though I’m kind of the same with heights/being suspended up high in particular (I can handle roller coasters but not cable cars/ferris wheels, which seems stupid to me but c’est la vie). I also didn’t go up the Eiffel Tower, that was more down to the lines though. I might see if I can find a Groupon voucher though, that is tres steep, I could go to a West End play for that! ;-0

    April 6, 2015
  • Verona


    This is true. Good job for facing your fear.
    You are an inspiration.

    July 15, 2021