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Top Things To Do In Greenwich London
There are so many things to do in Greenwich London, fun for the family, solo travelers, and couples. People are known to spend half a day to a day visiting here. Greenwich is a borough in London, and is located on the banks of the River Thames. The most well-known attraction in Greenwich is Greenwich Park. Greenwich Park is one of eight royal parks of London, meaning, since the 15th Century, the Royal Family used this ground for recreational and hunting purposes, deer, and other wildlife. Now, the park protects these wild animals for the public to enjoy. We’ll talk about that later in the post. This post is actually brought to you by Annisa at London Travellers who lives in London, so you know you are getting all the insider tips on visiting Greenwich London.
Here are your highlights of visiting Greenwich:
- Walking, running, and cycling
- Shopping and eating
- The Cutty Sark Ship
- The Fan Museum
- National Maritime Museum
Things to see in Greenwich Park:
- The Planetarium
- The Royal Observatory Greenwich
- Prime Meridien
- The Queen’s House
- The Rose Garden
- The Queen’s Orchard
- Deer Enclosure
- Flower Garden
How to get to Greenwich
- Greenwich is in South East London and it’s conveniently accessible to Central London. You’ll be there in minutes.
- You can get there on the DLR, the South-eastern Train, by boat along the River Thames, on the cable car and by tube.
- By bus, you can get there on the 108, 177, 188, and 286.
- By train, if you’re coming from the South or South-eastern Train, get off at Lewisham and take the DLR towards Bank.
- If you’re coming from the North, it’s better to get the tube, take the Jubilee Line (grey) and get off at Greenwich.
- Unlike the websites, this post will tell you what to expect from this area, what attractions to see first and how long to take in each attraction.
Walking, Cycling and Running in Greenwich
Walking and running are encouraged when visiting Greenwich. You can get to Greenwich by public transport but when you get there, walking and running is what everyone does. Everywhere you turn, there’s always something to see and do and people can spend a day here covering all the attractions in the Greenwich area.
When it comes to cycling, it’s best to cycle in Greenwich Park, at least you’d have the green space and paths to cycle. You can cycle in the main roads, but you must be careful as it’s a busy road and there’s usually traffic in Central Greenwich. The roads can come from different directions and if you’re not used to the roads in the UK, it can be dangerous for you to cycle. Even experienced cyclists have had accidents here, so, make sure you cycle in Greenwich Park, it’s much safer.
If you want to visit all the paid attractions, make sure you visit them first, after, you can relax at the park, have lunch and dinner in one of the British pubs for fish and chips. Read further to find out more about the paid attractions. Queen’s House, the National Maritime Museum are all free, except the Cutty Sark. £15 per adult.
When you’re walking, make sure you cover Greenwich Market, Cutty Sark, the view of the River Thames and Canary Wharf, go up the hill towards the Royal Observatory and General Wolfe statue, cover the Rose Garden, the Queen’s Orchard, Deer Enclosure, and walk up Croom’s Hill where you’ll enjoy a row of Georgian houses and peaceful environment, away from the busy Greenwich Park, and the Flower Garden. All free to visit. Keep reading below for more details on these free attractions.
The weather can be windy for ten minutes, sunny the next minute and rain after, so be prepared to pack the right travel essentials for your trip.
As for the kids, aside from the activities mentioned above, there’s also Greenwich Children’s Playground where kids can play in the sandpit, climb a wooden castle, and drop down a slide.
Shopping and Eating in Greenwich
Shopping and eating in Greenwich are easy. With just a few steps from Greenwich Park, Greenwich High Street offers dishes and coffee shops from around the world, not to mention several pubs you can choose from for traditional fish and chips and other British food. To be honest, fish & chips anywhere tastes the same, so it doesn’t matter where you eat.
Check out The Gypsy Moth, King’s Arms, Admiral Hardy and Greenwich Tavern. 4 pubs I recommend for traditional British food and beer. British pubs can be very crowded and there are limited seats available, so make sure you get there as early as possible or book a table. However, not all pubs accept table bookings.
Of course, check out various vintage shops and stalls in and around the busy Greenwich Market ranging from fashion, souvenirs, book shops and many more.
The Cutty Sark Ship
The Cutty Sark Ship is located by the River Thames, overlooking Canary Wharf. The Cutty Sark was a famous and fastest clipper ship in its time.
The ship had been nicknamed after a witch called Nannie (Cutty Sark). It was taken from Robert Burn’s poem Tam O’Shanter.
You can take a self and private guided tour and learn more than 100 years of the ship’s history and story.
Originally, its purpose was to import tea from China but later, travelled to Australia importing wool.
Later during the century, the expansion of steam engines became popular and Cutty Sark was renamed Ferreira by a Portuguese company. Since it was bought by the Portuguese, it was still a cargo ship until 1922. It changed into a training ship by sea captain, Wilfred Downman.
The Cutty Sark caught fire in May 2007 by renovation workers where they left the vacuum cleaner for two days. 90% of the ship is still undamaged and the ship is bigger than its exterior. What’s so admirable is, as soon as you step below deck, you can see the glass roof which consists of geometric shapes. It seems like staring into an evening sky from the bottom.
You will see the kitchen they used with replicas of cutleries, the room where they held meetings and the intricate exterior designs including “Neptune’s wooden angels” at the end of the ship. You’ll also discover a small office room used by the Master and information on tea and wool imported from China and Australia. Other areas worth visiting is the lower cargo area where they stored teas and the entrance to the master’s cabin. Spend at least 1 hour here.
The Fan Museum
Situated between rows of Georgian houses, you wouldn’t notice the museum as you walk up Croom’s Hill. As you see a four-sided bricked building sticking out, with no windows and doors, the museum is literally next to that bricked building. You’ll see a black door which will lead you to the museum.
If you’re interested in fans from around the world, from the 18th – 20th Century as well as discovering different designs from lace, folding to folding fans, then The Fan Museum is for you. Here are some of the collections you can see inside the of The Fan Museum:
- A portrait of The Siege of Gibraltar – 1782
- Lacquer fan made from China – Late 19th century
- 1920 Pocket Ventilator
- English Fan Leaf showing prints from the classic era – 1810
- French Brise fan designed with a garland of flowers, supposed to represent Napoleon – 1820
- Spanish Brise fan made from tortoiseshells – 1900 – 1910
- Chinese Brise fan made from bones
- Various fixed fans made from peacock feathers, fixed woven fan with seashell decorations and wooden fixed fan designed as a sunflower.
- You can also have afternoon tea here.
This is a great museum because you’ll see designs from around the world and most of the fans depict stories from war and general life from the 18th Century to the 20th Century. It doesn’t get too busy here and there’s space to explore the museum. Spend 1 hour here.
While in Croom’s Hill, admire the Georgian architecture as you go up the steep hill. You will feel tired if you’re not fit, but as soon as you get to the top, you’ll catch your breath and feel the peaceful atmosphere, in contrast to the busy Greenwich Park.
National Maritime Museum
If you’re a fan of naval ships and maritime (the name is explanatory), then visit the National Maritime Museum. Free of charge.
Situated on the busy high street of Greenwich, opposite University of Greenwich, the National Maritime Museum consists of life at sea in Britain. From maritime art, cartography, manuscripts, official public records, ship models and plans.
Here are your highlights of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich:
Admiral Horatio Nelson’s Trafalgar Coat which he wore during the Napoleonic War. He wore this coat when he was fatally wounded on board the HMS Victory ship.
JMW Turner’s huge painting depicting life on the ship during the War of Trafalgar. In the picture, the falling flagpole may be a reference to Nelson’s death. There are several seamen trying to save each other from drowning.
You can see a gigantic Ship in a Bottle outside the museum, opposite Greenwich Park. It commemorates Admiral Nelson’s victory with the naval HMS Victory ship.
The Caird Library and Archive consists of 130,000 manuscripts on the history of maritime around the world from the 14th – 20th Centuries.
There are 4 new galleries opening which you can explore.
Sackler Gallery consists of collections of items found in the Pacific by British voyagers for thousands of years. Learn about Captain Cook, boat building, navigation, and Christian missionaries to the island and many more.
Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Gallery consists of items during the exploration of the Polar regions by the British. In this gallery, you will learn about how people have endured the weather while exploring the Polar regions, the food and clothing they wore, and learn about the culture of Arctic regions and the impact it has on the environment in the future.
Piggott Family Gallery consists of collections of the Tudor and Stuart seafarers between the 14th – 16th Century. You will see a detailed wooden model of the Tudor ship, Christopher Columbus, Sir Francis Drake, and Samuel Pepys. You will also learn about the ships involved during the Spanish Armada and the Dutch. Don’t forget to explore more than 130,000 collections of instruments, such as astrolabes, compasses, and telescopes.
The last gallery consists of items from the sea. There are 600 objects in this gallery ranging from a 19th Century sea belt to sea badges and 55 models of ships involved during many British wars. Spend around 1 – 2 hours here.
People can spend half a day in Greenwich Park just to enjoy nature with the family and have a picnic. Aside from just sitting on the grass socializing, eating, and drinking, make sure you spare enough time to visit the attractions within the park.
As you reach the park, you will see the National Maritime Museum on your left and the Queen’s House next to it. The Herbaceous Border is the largest herbaceous border in London but not a lot of people pay much attention to it, they just walk by.
It’s advisable that you spend time in all the attractions here and relax in the park after.
Spend time in the Cutty Sark – 1 hour
Spend time in the National Maritime Museum – 1 hour
Spend time in Queen’s House – 1 hour
The Queen’s House
The bright white mansion sits in front of the wide green space of Greenwich Park. It has the characteristics of the Stuart period built between the mid-17th Century. From pictures online, it looks peaceful but when you get there, it’s surrounded by people spending time at the park. The environment is still enjoyable, especially if you go up the hill, you’ll see a great view of Canary Wharf, the Shard, and the O2 Arena.
The Queen’s House was previously a royal resident during the 17th Century (1616 – 1635) and it consists of many art collection and stunning British architectural designs from the Classical period. To visit the Queen’s House, it’s free entry like the National Maritime Museum.
From personal experience, visiting Queen’s House, it’s exceedingly difficult to get information on what each room was used for, but if you’re interested in 17th Century British Classical architecture, then this place is for you.
The Royal Observatory
The Royal Observatory is also situated at the top of the hill in Greenwich Park. The red building you see from the bottom of the park, that’s The Royal Observatory. The Royal Observatory consists of the Planetarium and the Meridien Line and it has been an influence on the history of astronomy.
The Meridien Line
The Meridien Line consists of a line where east meets west and it was a great tool to navigate your way to certain destinations by using the sky and the stars as their map. In the 1800’s, a lot of sea captains used sea charts and Greenwich as its Prime Meridien.
The Planetarium is great for all the family and all science buffs. Situated at the top of the hill, in the Royal Observatory (you can’t miss it), The Planetarium consists of information on the planet we live on today as well as other planets beyond planet Earth. From learning about the Solar System, the Milky Way, asteroids, the Moon, and galaxy, you’ll be immersed with what lies beyond our planet Earth. Why not learn about astronomy, space, dark matter, and the black hole?
The Planetarium Show takes 30 minutes and you’ll be taken on a “bus tour” to the universe. You’ll hear sound effects as the rockets will take you up into space together with great commentary of the universe.
The Rose Garden
As you meander through Greenwich Park, follow the signpost to the Rose Garden. You will see the Cherry Orchard trees lining up on each side which will lead you to the Rose Garden.
Here, you will see many flower beds ranging from tulips, roses, and other colourful flowers. In June, they said the flowers would be blooming but 30% of the flower beds were still premature. There were several children running around between the flower beds and enjoying the sun.
You will also see the Ranger’s House here. Admire the Georgian mansion, the Georgian style windows, and the classic, red brickwork. Although quite a big mansion, the Ranger’s House looks smaller than it is online. On the other side of the Ranger’s House, you’ll be in Croom’s Hill, a quiet hilly area, away from the busy park life, where you can admire many Georgian houses. Going up Croom’s Hill can be tiring, so beware.
Spend no more than half an hour in The Rose Garden.
The Queen’s Orchard
Step into the crackling stony path of the Queen’s Orchards. The Queen’s Orchard has been opened since the 17th Century. Between two orange bricked pillars, you will be able to go through the steel gate decorated with two deer and leaves. Once you’re inside, admire many 16th Century fruit trees from vegetables, flower beds, many pathways, ponds, and one with a lily. Spend no more than half an hour here.
The Flower Garden and Deer Park
The Flower Garden is gated because it closes at a certain time. This is the best thing about the park. As you walk through the garden path, you will notice many tall hundred-year-old oak and ash trees as well as many beautiful colourful flowerbeds. You will also notice many wildlife such as squirrels and pigeons. As you walk further, you will see around twenty round flower beds scattered around the garden in different colours, purple, red, white, green, yellow, and blue. The Flower Garden is very well maintained.
The Deer Park is situated in the Flower Garden since it’s hidden in an “enchanted forest”. As you go inside the “enchanted forest,” you will often smell mud as you go through a dark forest surrounded with tall leafless trees and branches, dead and fallen branches and trees are still used for children to climb up in. It really is an enchanted forest. The muddy footpath will lead you to the deer enclosure.
The deer enclosure is exceedingly small, smaller than you think. Probably around 5 people can fit and enjoy deer watching. The deer here are quite far away and it’s exceedingly difficult to take photos but you can see them. If you want to see a better view of some deer, go to Richmond Park. You can walk, cycle, drive and run there. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with the deer, unlike the ones here in Greenwich. Be careful, deer here are wild animals, they’re not pets, and it’s advised not to feed them as there are instances where people have been injured.
Hi, I’m Annisa. I’m an Indonesian national living in London. I’ve been living here since 1991. My family and I packed our bags to pursue a better way of living. My father thought London was a prosperous city with many opportunities.
Since living here, I noticed London is rich in history and culture and I had an idea of writing about it in a blog. As a resident here, I’ve learned the ins and outs of London and every time visitors see London, there’s always something new to see and do. It’s impossible to see everything in a short amount of time, so that’s why I made it my mission to write about London and give visitors tips and tricks for planning a great holiday.