An Eye on London
By Risa Laib
The London Eye, spinning opposite Big Ben, is as tame as an elevator ride, but it's fun for the grand views. From the top of this 443-foot-high wheel — the highest public viewpoint in the city — Big Ben looks small.
London's answer to the Eiffel Tower is the world's highest observational wheel. Whether you ride or not, the wheel is a sight to behold. Designed like a giant bicycle wheel, it's a pan-European undertaking: British steel and Dutch engineering, with Czech, German, French, and Italian mechanical parts. It's also very "green," running extremely efficiently and virtually silently. Twenty-five people ride in each of its 32 air-conditioned capsules for the 30-minute rotation (each capsule has a bench, but most people stand). You go around only once; save a shot on top for the glass capsule next to yours.
Its original five-year lease has been extended to 25 years, and it looks like this will become a permanent fixture on the London skyline. Thames boats come and go from here, using the Waterloo Pier at the foot of the wheel. For a "Peter Pan flies to Neverland" view, try the Eye at night, when the city lights glitter.