Located on the south bank of the River Thames in southeast London, Greenwich is more than a simple, albeit important, line on a map. It is filled with beautiful vistas, history, and culture all wrapped in a uniquely British style.
Travel time from central London to Greenwich, a royal borough of London, is around 30 minutes depending on your mode of transportation. There are several great options including the Tube and DLR, Uber Boat, and the IFS Cloud Cable Car.
1. The Cutty Sark
The Cutty Sark is a sleek Victorian-era tea-clipper ship that was built to sail the world for the sake of Chinese tea. Built in 1869, the ship sports 32,000 square feet of sails when completely unfurled, supported by 11 miles of rigging. It was built to be the fastest ship at sea delivering tea to the clamoring British public.
After a rough and tumble history marked with trans-ocean sailings, competition from steam ships, a mutinous crew, disaster, and military training duties, the ship is now part of the Royal Museums Greenwich. Guests can explore the sailing ship’s crew quarters, the captain’s deck, and the hold. The Cutty Sark story comes alive as you wander the decks and ponder the exhibits.
Pro Tip: If you want to engage in a little role play, you can climb the rigs of the Cutty Sark just like the original crew — except with harnesses and hard hats. There is an extra fee for this experience and it should be booked in advance.
2. National Maritime Museum
The Nation Maritime Museum, like so many London museums, is free to visit. Filled with a mix of historic exhibits and fun interactive spaces, the museum appeals to all ages. Current exhibits include the fascinating history of exploring the Antarctic, an artistic collection of our human connection to water, and other thought-provoking collections.
For families, an enormous map of the globe on the floor draws you closer; children can hop aboard a boat and sail the world. There is also a children’s gallery, The AHOY!
3. Painted Hall
The stunning Baroque interior of the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Navy College is gorgeous. The 18th-century frescoes that grace the ceiling and end walls of this former dining-hall-turned-museum tell a story of political upheaval, scientific breakthroughs, and naval achievements throughout British history of the time.
Originally built as a dining hall for the seamen pensioners who lived at the Royal Hospital, it was soon evident that the Painted Hall was a showpiece of the United Kingdom’s historic roots.
Pro Tip: Multimedia guides are available and docent-led art talks are scheduled throughout the day.
4. The Queen’s House
The Queen’s House in Greenwich is an architectural study in whimsy and symmetry. The Tulip Staircase, a self-supporting spiral staircase, is the centerpiece of the house. Traveling round and round up the 94 cantilevered steps is a dizzying proposition.
The Queen’s House was commissioned in 1619 to be a garden retreat with luxury amenities and spectacular views. It has historically been a place where art flourished. Today, it serves as an art gallery with over 450 pieces from unknown artists.
5. Chapel Of Saint Peter And Saint Paul
The unassuming exterior of the Chapel of Saint Peter and Saint Paul does not prepare you for the grandness of this small house of worship. Built for the retired seamen, the beautiful altar painting by Benjamin West is captivating.
The Chapel’s subtle naval references are so perfectly intertwined with the religious neo-classic décor, they are almost unnoticeable.
6. Trafalgar Tavern
When you are ready to take a tourist break and enjoy some classic British pub grub, Trafalgar Tavern is the perfect spot. Lunch at a picnic table along the Thames is the perfect spot to rest before you begin the uphill hike to the Royal Observatory.
If you want a nibble, try the fried halloumi with tamarind, spring onions, and chili or the Greenwich whitebait (small fish fry) with caper mayo and lemon. Heartier plates include the British classic of bangers and mash or traditional fish and chips. Of course, you will want to wash everything down with a fresh-drawn pint.
Pro Tip: If you are sitting outside, and you should, go in to place your order. Remember to check your table number; they will deliver your food and beverage when they are ready.
7. Greenwich Park
At the center of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site is the beautiful Greenwich Park. Expansive lawns, tree-lined walkways, and flower gardens are meticulously maintained for your outdoor enjoyment. A beautiful spot for a picnic or to relax with a great book, Greenwich Park is an outdoor oasis for busy Londoners.
As you walk up the pathway to the Royal Observatory, the panoramic views of London feature lush lawns flowing down to the Old Royal Naval College, on to the Thames, and ending with a skyline backdrop of the city skyscrapers.
Pro Tip: The steep vertical rise up the paved path is significant considering the Royal Observatory is only 46 meters (150 feet) above mean sea level, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
8. Prime Meridian Line
Who doesn’t want to stand on the Prime Meridian Line — it is the center of world time. A tourist’s picture must-have when visiting Greenwich, the line divides the Eastern and Western Hemispheres at 0 degrees longitude. It is one of those cool spots that you think should feel different, but it’s just like every other spot.
Once you have had your photo op, there is a small park surrounded by big views of London.
9. Greenwich London Royal Observatory
Once you have made it to the top of Greenwich Park, you can wander through the Royal Observatory museum. Tour the Sir Christopher Wren-designed Octagon Room built to showcase an uninterrupted view of the nighttime sky. Enjoy a show at the Peter Harrison Planetarium and watch the sky evolve and change. Take a live or online class to discover the intricacies of astronomy.
10. Greenwich Market
A stroll through Greenwich Market is the perfect way to end your day exploring this charming London borough. Shop, dine, and explore your way through the stalls and shops in this historic marketplace.
The most delicious fudge shop in London is The Fudge Patch. Their vegan fudge is freshly handcrafted by fudge artisans while you watch. Rich and flavorful, you will want all the yummy flavors.
Your slab fudge purchase can include flavors like strawberries and cream, salted caramel, cherry bakewell, chocolate orange, and other delectable flavor combinations. The Fudge Patch is a sweet-treat gem of confectionery delight.
11. The Coach & Horses
After your shopping excursion is over, grab a seat at The Coach & Horses for a chef-centric daily special meal, a pint of a great local brew, or a quick nosh before heading back to the city center. A seat in the outdoor patio is the perfect spot to watch the comings and goings at Greenwich Market.
Spend A Day In Greenwich
There is a lot to see and do in Greenwich and you don’t want to wander aimlessly — you might miss some of the really good stuff. Hiring a local guide that can curate a tour focusing on your specific interests is the best way to enjoy a new-to-you location. Destination Gourmet’s tours take you to interesting spots in and around London, where you will see all the highlights punctuated with culinary delights and historic details.
Spend a day in Greenwich on your next visit to London. You will love the adventure.