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Greenwich is one of my favourite areas of London.
Part of the city yet with its own unique identity, The Royal Borough of Greenwich is a fascinating place to spend the day or even a weekend.
It is the area we return to time after time regardless of the season, and I always recommend visitors to London explore Greenwich when they are in London.
Greenwich – London
A brief history of Greenwich
Greenwich has been a significant site in British history since the 15th century. The Palace of Placentia that once stood there was the birthplace of Tudor King Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.
Over the centuries the site was developed by a succession of royal patrons into the impressive World Heritage Site we find there today.
Greenwich is home to many grand buildings overlooking the Thames – primarily the work of celebrated architects Inigo Jones and Sir Christopher Wren.
These buildings are now home to some of the best museums in London and are set in lush green parkland with spectacular views of the city.
Perhaps best known for its role in British maritime history, Greenwich is the home of the Prime Meridian – Longitude 0° – which provides the definition for global time zones. There are several other attractions in Greenwich highlighting the area’s strong connection with the sea.
Things to do in Greenwich
The Cutty Sark
An unmissable sight on your visit to Greenwich is the restored clipper Cutty Sark. The 19th-century ship towers above the concourse next to the Thames and houses a wonderful museum dedicated to its history.
One of the last clippers built before steam-powered ships became the norm, during its sailing history the Cutty Sark was used to transport tea from China and wool from Australia.
At the museum you can learn all about conditions on board and enjoy the views from the deck. I also love the collection of figureheads including a likeness of Florence Nightingale in the basement underneath the ships hull.
Tickets: Adults: £18.50, Children over 5, £8.50 – significant discounts for rebooked tickets.
Opening times: Monday–Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Closed 24-26 December
Learn more about the Cutty Sark on their website
With over 10 galleries of exhibits the Maritime Museum is the largest of its kind in the world. My favourite sections of the permanent collection include the Armada portrait of Queen Elizabeth I and the Horatio Nelson Exhibition.
Here you will see the coat Admiral Nelson was wearing, complete with bloodstains and shrapnel damage, when he was fatally wounded on board the HMS Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar.
Tickets: Free entry. Opening times: 10.00–17.00 daily.
Royal Observatory Greenwich
Your walk up the steep hill to the Royal Observatory is rewarded with some of the most spectacular views of London and the Thames. Visit the museum to experience having one foot on either side of the meridian line and explore the history of maritime timekeeping.
Read an in depth post about visiting the Royal Observatory.
Note: the museum does get very crowded so may not be suitable for those with very young children
Next door at the Planetarium watch one of several shows exploring our galaxy and universe. This attraction is popular so refer to the website for current shows and arrive early to avoid disappointment.
Opening hours: Monday–Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Closed 24–26 December.
Tickets: There is a complicated ticketing system in place at the Royal Observatory and Planetarium – be sure to check their website for further information.
Greenwich Park is one of my favourite parks in London and is the perfect place for a stroll or picnic when the weather is fine. The views from the hill are incredible too.
The park covers over 74 hectares and within the grounds there is a deer sanctuary, an impressive Edwardian flower garden and even the remains of an Ancient Roman site.
In north Greenwich you will find the O2, London’s largest music venue. The O2 hosts internationally acclaimed artists such as U2, Adele and Amy Schumer. Information about upcoming events and ticket prices are available on the O2 website.
If you have an adventurous spirit and are not afraid of heights you can climb the roof of the O2 for views of up to 30km on a clear day. Tickets from £28. Ages 10+. More info at the O2 website.
More attractions in Greenwich
Things to do with kids in Greenwich
The museums in Greenwich offer outstanding services for visitors with children and it is for this reason we visit regularly.
In particular, the Maritime Museum caters for children of all ages with a variety of permanent and seasonal activities. We love the AHOY! interactive gallery for children up to age 7.
It is a nautical themed soft play activity zone with interesting ways for children to learn and explore. Older children will enjoy The All Hands children’s gallery – for ages 6-12.
On the top floor of the museum is a huge map of the world where kids can run around to their heart’s content. Parents can watch on from the cafe on the side and the coffee isn’t bad at all.
The museum is well serviced with a big area for prams and strollers. They also schedule lots of interesting activities each week and even during school holidays. The children’s galleries at the Maritime Museum open 10am to 5pm weekends, holidays & Tuesdays and 2pm to 5pm on other weekdays.
Tip: For outdoors fun, head to the adventure playground near the Maritime Museum
We also enjoy visiting the Old Royal Naval College visitor centre for interactive displays suitable for children including dress ups and building blocks for budding architects.
Favourite pubs in Greenwich
There is nothing more English than a creaky old pub and you find several beauties in Greenwich. My favourites are on the far side of Greenwich Park overlooking the Thames.
The Cutty Sark – Wonderful views of the river Thames with a distinctly ship like interior
The Trafalgar Tavern – this Regency era pub often hosted Charles Dickens who preferred their famous whitebait supper.
The 18th-century market is a must do for all visitors to Greenwich. Recently extended and refurbished, Greenwich Market is home to a variety of traders selling everything from antiques, art, crafts and design goods and gourmet food.
When the sun is out we like to buy our lunch supplies here and head across to the parks and gardens for a picnic.
On cooler days it is fun to explore the shops, stalls and galleries. Our favourites are Teabird‘s wonderful candles in fine china and the quirky collection by Alice & the Thimble
Greenwich Market is open 7 days a week from 10.30am to 5pm with a different focus depending on the day – find out more on the Greenwich Market website.
How to get to Greenwich
Greenwich is well connected to the City of London via the DLR from Bank to Cutty Sark.
The overground train takes around 15 minutes from London Bridge to Greenwich station. My preferred method of transport to Greenwich is the 35 minute Thames Clipper voyage down the Thames from the London Eye.
You arrive by river, much like the Kings and Queens of England before you.
More information on travelling to Greenwich at Transport for London
Where to stay in Greenwich
If you have visited London many times and are looking to discover new neighbourhoods and areas of the city, Greenwich is the perfect base.
At your doorstep there are all the attractions of the World Heritage Site, great local shops and historic pubs all within easy access of London’s main attractions.
Best hotels in Greenwich
There isn’t a great range of hotels in Greenwich unfortunately. However, IBIS Greenwich is modern and in an enviably position close to the park.
A little further away the Doubletree by Hilton Greenwich is only 15 minutes walk from the Cutty Sark
Short term rentals in Greenwich
Find a cosy place to stay near all the action. The Plum Guide hand picks unique properties for short and long-term rental in locations throughout London.
Plum Guide property hosts are committed to the art of hosting and make sure your stay in their home is beyond comfortable. Expect luxury bedding and toiletries, fully stocked kitchens, local insight, and more.
Greenwich in 2017
There are several exciting exhibitions and events happening in Greenwich over the coming months
In particular I am looking forward to:
⚓️ the 400th anniversary celebrations and reopening of Queen Anne’s house after over a year of refurbishment
⚓️ the National Maritime Museum’s exhibition on the life of Emma Hamilton – celebrated actress and Admiral Lord Nelson’s formidable mistress
Have you visited Greenwich? What is your favourite thing to do in this exciting area of London?
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