Out and about in Greenwich
Amazing London views, great kids-friendly activities and plenty of green space … a visit to the Royal Borough of Greenwich isn’t just about diving into London’s seafaring past!
One of the things we love about Greenwich is that although there are plenty of museums and indoor spaces to explore on a rainy day, if the weather’s good, it’s also a great ‘outdoors’ place. Even better, so much of it is free! Read on to find out more about the best things to see and do in Greenwich.
Kick off with one of the best views of London. Start your day with a stroll through Greenwich Park and a brisk climb up to the Royal Observatory. Visit on a clear day and the uphill climb is even more rewarding. Watch the extraordinary City of London skyline unravel before you, punctuated by the Shard, the Gherkin, St Paul’s, Canary Wharf and the O2 centre.
If you can tear yourself away from the view, the Royal Observatory is the perfect stop for stargazers. Straddle the Prime Meridian time line, learn about astronomy and explore how scientists first plotted the stars and seas. You can also visit the magnificent Octagon Room, designed by Christopher Wren, and see the Great Equatorial Telescope. Tickets from £15/£6.50 (adult/child) including an audio guide.
The Queen’s House
The Inigo Jones-designed royal home is Britain’s first classical building. It houses a world-class art collection, including paintings by Rubens and Canaletto. However, it is perhaps best known for its spectacular parkland views and stunning Tulip Stairs, the first geometric self-supporting spiral stairs in Britain. Free entry.
National Maritime Museum
The world’s largest maritime museum takes you through Pacific Encounters, the Polar World, the Battle of Trafalgar and on a journey of European exploration. There are plenty of child-friendly activities, including the free AHOY! Gallery for under 7’s and the All Hands section for 6 to 12-year-olds. At the heart of the museum is the Great Map, a giant world atlas, overlooked by an open-plan café – the perfect introduction to the big wide world. Free entry.
The Cutty Sark
The Cutty Sark, once the fastest ship of her time, is now the world’s only surviving tea clipper. Built to carry tea back from China, the ship was a visitor at most of the world’s ports. Enjoy the family-friendly activities or book on to a Cutty Sark tour to be transported back into life on the waves at the end of the 19th century. Tickets from £13.50/£7 (adult/child).
Old Royal Naval College
Stroll round the grounds of some of London’s most iconic buildings and admire the stunning riverside views. Take time out to visit the Chapel and the Painted Hall, often referred to as the ‘Sistine Chapel of the UK’ (currently closed for renovation). The College is frequently used as a film location with big names including Pirates of the Caribbean movies and James Bond. On our last visit, we were lucky enough to catch some filming of the very popular Poldark series! Free entry.
End your day with a stroll along the Thames. The vistas are less dramatic than those at the Royal Observatory but just 5 miles from the city centre, this must be one of London’s most relaxing viewpoints and the ideal opportunity to observe everyday life on the river.
The best way to get to Greenwich is to arrive by boat. On board sightseeing cruises depart near the London Eye at Waterloo, at Westminster and Tower piers.
By rail, over ground train services are available to Greenwich station; or get the DLR to Cutty Sark Station.
For full-blown views before you even get to Greenwich, hop on the Emirates Air Line Cable Car from Royal Victoria Docks to the Greenwich Peninsula, near the 02 centre.
For more comprehensive information, including prices, opening times and what’s on in Greenwich, visit Royal Museums Greenwich.