Whether you’re interested in the maritime history of the city, or just looking for a good place to go shopping, have dinner or hang around in the park, it’s all possible in Greenwich London. Many activities are suitable for kids as well and this area makes a perfect day visit if you’ve been to London before and would like to expand your view.
In this mega-roundup I’d like to share 10 things I can recommend you to do in Greenwich, and I’m sure there are a couple of surprises in the list for you
One Day in Greenwich London
1. Royal Observatory Greenwich
The highlight of a visit to Greenwich is of course visiting the Royal Observatory and their Meridian Line. A highlight in the true sense of the word, because this historical attraction can be found on top of a hill in Greenwich Park.
The Meridian Line in Greenwich splits the Eastern and Western hemisphere in two (just like the equator does for the Northern and Southern hemisphere), so if you stand with one foot on either side of the line, you’re in two parts of the world at the same time!
The use of this ‘Prime Meridian’ is that it shows the 0 degree longitude, so if calculate how far away from this line you are and how far away from the equator (latitude) you are, you can pinpoint your exact location on earth. Just like that!
The line in Greenwich has been there since 1884 and has always been very popular with visitors. So if you want to take a photo here, I can recommend starting your ascent early in the morning!
Besides the Meridian, you can visit the observatory and get a close-up look at the giant telescopes they’re using here. There is also a small museum where you can take a trip through the history of the British astronomy (also fun for kids) and they’ve got shows in their planetarium, which is also the only one of its kind in London.
2. Cutty Sark
While we still haven’t gotten around to visit this maritime museum, every time we’re in Greenwich we’re amazed by it’s beauty. According to the brochure, inside this old ship, you can find an interactive exhibition where you can take a look on board of this legendary sailing ship from 1869. It’s the only surviving ‘tea clipper’ (they used it to import tea from China) AND it used to be the fastest ship of its era.
3. National Maritime Museum
The Greenwich Maritime museum is one of the biggest in the world and definitely worth a visit. You will hear exciting stories about the maritime adventures of the British and you will learn more about the British Hero Admiral Horatio Nelson, who you will recognize from his statue at Trafalgar Square. Here he went down during the Battle of Trafalgar
The interesting thing about this museum is not just the exhibition itself, but also the fact that you can visit it for free!
4. Old Royal Naval College
This building was designed by the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren and it’s one of the world’s most famous buildings. If you really want to dive into Britains maritime past, I can recommend starting here. The museum gives you a good overview of the more than 500 years of maritime history of the country.
Up until 2018, you also have the opportunity to sign up for a so-called ‘scaffolding tour’. Here you use the scaffolds to get up close to the incredibly detailed paintings of one of the buildings. There are also daily tours for a small fee. The rest of the museum is free, although donations are very much appreciated!
5. Discover Greenwich’ Hotspots
While it might not be your first choice of neighbourhood to visit when you come to London, Greenwich really is a nice area to spend (half) a day walking around. Here are some tips (links to their websites at the bottom of this article) of nice shops and restaurants to check out:
The Old Brewery, the cafe in the Old Royal Naval College that we just mentioned looked amazing and they serve real British classics like fish & chips.
I also spotted a Jamie’s Italian restaurant, quite a few good-looking Asian restaurants and Bill’s is always a nice place to go for lunch. We chose to go for a burger at Honest Burger and were definitely happy with our choice.
As far as shopping is concerned, Greenwhich has many small independent shops where you can find original (home decor) items and clothing. Better than another magnet or keychain, for sure! Here are some shops that caught our eye:
Rustic Chic – Gift shop that was founded in Greenwich. Specialised in humourous products, homeware, personalised items and retro gifts.
Hardys Sweets – An authentic looking candy store (you can find this all around London) with a tasty selection of sweets. We love the Nerds candy!
Things British – A shop full with handmade products from designers and creative brands from all around the UK. You can find ceramics to furniture and from jewelry to glass, metal and textile here.
Oliver Bonas -The first shop of this brand opened in Fulham in 1993, but now you can find this shop at more than 60 places in London and the rest of the UK. Beautifully designed items for your interior, jewelry, fashion and other gifts. Not very cheap, but definitely originals and well made!
JOY – The window looked a bit boring, but the inside of this shop was a lot more hip than expected. It’s a fashion and accessory shop, but they also have nice gifts for sale. Reminded me a bit of Urban Outfitters.
6. Greenwich Market
While I’d been to Greenwich a couple times before, I only recently discovered that there is an amazing market in the center. It features every thing you can imagine: street food, handmade products en also secondhand goodies. If you’re on the hunt for a good souvenir from London, this might be the place to find it!
It depends on the day of your visit what kind of things you can find here, but in general there is a good mix of antiques, vintage, collector’s items, food and crafts. The market is covered and around its edges, there are many more independ shopt worth checking out
A short walk away, there is also the Greenwich Vintage Market, where you can find a real jumble of secondhand items. If you’re into that, it’s great here!
7. Queen’s House
You’ll find another free entrance at the Queen’s House, designed by architect Inigo Jones. This building is considered one of the most important buildings of the country, because of the architectuur, the art collection and the fact that many Royals lived here over the years. Oh – and there is a ghost, too. Apparently.
One of the most impressive parts of the building (at least I think) is the winding staircase that they call the ‘Tulip Stairs’. It was the first geometric iron and free standing spiral staircase of England and it’s still standing proud!
8. Greenwich Park
On a nice day, I can recommend getting a snack at the supermarkt and go out for a picknick in the Royal Greenwich Park. This is a lovely old park where you’ve got an amazing view over the city of London from the top of the hill. There is also a deer park in the back!
In Summer, you can find live music and entertainment around the kids’ playground. There are also three cafes in the park, but I haven’t tested these myself yet.
The Queens’ House, with a free view on the harbour (on request of her majesty, of course)
9. Climb the O2
Ok, this is something we also haven’t done ourselves, but it must be incredibly exciting to climb over the roof of this MEGA entertainment, or not?
In the O2, you can find concerts of the biggest bands around, watch several sports gigs, visit the cinema or go bowling at one of the 12 lanes. You can also taste great food in one of the 130 restaurants, or go for an interactive experience at the Sky Studios or the Nissan Innovation Station.
With ‘Up at the O2’, you step into a protective suit and climb at more than 50 meter along a path going straight over the roof of the O2. If you feel like it!
10. Emirates Air Line Cable Car
When you think of Lonodn, you probably think of red doubledecker buses and the underground, right? But did you know that the city also has cable carts going over the river Thames? The Emirates Air Line is a kind of ski lift going from the Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Victoria Docks.
It’s handy that you can use your Oyster Card here, so don’t worry about tickets. It’s £4.50 for a single ride. You can also book a 360° tour at the ticket office, that will give you a return ticket. It’s about 7 pounds, but with your Oyster, it’s always cheaper.
It takes you about 10 minutes for a trip during the day, but during morning rush hour (mon-fri) between 7 and 9, it takes you about 5 minutes. In the evening (after 7) is a better time to go, because they have night flights that will show you the city lit up in about 12-13 minutes, with an accompanying music and movie in the cart.
Definitely fun to try one time!
I hope you find the tips in this article useful and that they help you plan your next trip to Greenwich! Here is a list of all mentioned activities and hotspots. Any questions, let me know!
Other Travel Options (Bus/Boat) – www.visitgreenwich.org.uk/how-to-get-here
Visit Greenwich – www.visitgreenwich.org.uk
Sail Royal Greenwich – www.sailroyalgreenwich.co.uk
Royal Borough of Greenwich – www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk
Royal Museums Greenwich – www.rmg.co.uk
Old Royal Naval College Greenwich – www.ornc.org
Up at The O2 – www.theo2.co.uk/…/up-at-the-o2
FOOD & DRINKS
Honest Burgers – www.honestburgers.co.uk
The Old Brewery – www.oldbrewerygreenwich.com
Jamie’s Italian – www.jamieoliver.com/…/greenwich
Rustic Chic – www.rusticandchic.co.uk
Hardys Sweets – www.hardyssweets.co.uk
Things British – www.thingsbritish.co.uk
JOY – www.joythestore.com
Oliver Bonas – www.oliverbonas.com
Postmark Online – postmarkonline.co.uk
The Greenwich Vintage Market – www.greenwich.market
Greenwich Market – www.greenwichmarketlondon.com
MAP OF GREENWICH
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