So this was an especially fun, out-of-the-box activity. The O2 Arena is a well-known indoor arena in London, hosting sporting events and concerts. I’d visited the arena multiple times before, once on my way out to Greenwich and twice for concerts (5 Seconds of Summer and Demi Lovato). What you might NOT know about the O2 is that you can pay to scale / climb to the top for a panoramic view of the river and the city.
“Up at The O2” is a bit touristy, for sure, but probably not something first-timers would consider or even know much about. This is why I’ve put it on my list for seasoned Londoners, because it’s something to do with family or friends in an area of town you probably haven’t yet explored.
Unlike other sightseeing / touristy activities, this is more physical. Keep this in mind for the rare dry and sunny day (or evening!). We went mid-morning on a day in early August, and it was quite sunny and hot. We were drenched in sweat by the end!
The O2 provides the necessary gear and sneakers for the experience. When you arrive, you’ll watch a short video tutorial giving instructions about your gear and also safety tips. Your group is accompanied by a trained guide.
Climbing the O2 isn’t super strenuous, I promise! You’re attached to a cable that you follow to the top, and rather than climbing stairs, it’s like walking up a steep sidewalk. (It feels a bit like a trampoline, but you’re not supposed to bounce or jump!) I could definitely feel the burn in my calves. But let me assure you there were people of all ages in our group, and everyone made it up and down just fine!
When you reach the viewing platform at the top, the view is absolutely spectacular. Not quite the same as the view from the Sky Garden, the Shard, or St. Paul’s, but you have a different sort of view of the river. Also, I think it’s all the more worthwhile because you’ve made the trek in your gear, and you’re totally out in the open without any glass separating you from the view. You have an opportunity to walk around the platform and take photos.
It’s an awesome photo op! I think climbing the O2 would make for a fun date, as well.
The O2 offers multiple packages – there’s the “original climb,” of course, but also the “sunset climb,” the “celebration climb,” or “twilight climb.” Any of these would be appropriate for date night or any other special occasion. On weekdays, the “original climb” is 30 pounds, but the price jumps to 39 pounds on weekends. The special packages are a bit pricier. The “sunset” and “twilight” climbs start at 36 pounds, while the “celebration climb” starts at 37.50. (The prices for these packages are also increased on weekends.)
You can purchase tickets online in advance, and select your time slot. I think the entire experience took about 2 hours (from the time we arrived / watched the tutorial video / donned our gear, etc.). You’ll also have to remember to factor in travel time, because it takes a bit longer on the tube to make it out to the O2.
I loved the experience and had a great time with my friends. I’m glad I was able to cross this off the bucket list before leaving London. I have a few last words of advice: Bring your own socks to wear with your O2 sneakers! Be early. Follow ALL the instructions. Volunteer to be FIRST on the way up, but go LAST on the way down. On the way up, it’s nice to set the pace rather than waiting on others ahead of you! And on the way down, having everyone else ahead of you is comfortable because you don’t feel as though you’ll faceplant (like I said, it’s pretty steep!).
On our way back into the city, we took the ferry rather than taking the tube. If you walk down to the dock, there’s easy-to-understand signage pointing you to the correct route. You can use your Oyster card for this mode of transportation, too. On such a beautiful day, it was nice to be out on the water.