A guide to Greenwich, London

Greenwich, London

Greenwich is located at 0º longitude, where the eastern and western hemispheres meet. With both a nautical and royal heritage, here you can walk in the footsteps of mariners and monarchs alike. A substantial part of this area has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, of which there are only just over 1,000 in the entire world. When I first moved to London I was initially staying in the borough of Greenwich, so I made sure to spend some time in the historic heart of the area.

In this guide:

  • The National Maritime Museum
  • The Cutty Sark
  • Greenwich Park
  • The Royal Observatory
  • Queen’s House
  • The Old Royal Naval College
  • Greenwich Market
  • Historic pubs

The National Maritime Museum

This free museum is about all things seafaring, with stories of British explorers sailing across the globe in search of new horizons. They don’t shy away from some of the hard truths of this either, with a gallery dedicated to some of the atrocities associated with the spread of the British Empire. When I visited they had a special exhibition running about the moon, which was very well curated and definitely worth the extra pounds.

The Cutty Sark

If you walk towards the shore of the Thames, you’re bound to come across the Cutty Sark, a historic sailing ship that was once the fastest of its time. Tickets to explore the ship are quite pricey, but you can see the exterior and walk around it for free. Its tall masts are hard to miss!

Greenwich Park

Greenwich is home to the oldest enclosed Royal Park, which is part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site. The top of the sloping fields provides one of the best views in London, with the contrast of historic buildings with the modern skyscrapers of Canary Wharf behind.

The Royal Observatory

At the Royal Observatory, you can stand on the Meridian Line – where the eastern and western hemispheres officially meet. Discover the history of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and see a range of clocks and other timepieces that were important pieces in figuring out how we record time today. London’s only planetarium is also located here, with shows that allow you to get up close and personal with the solar system.

  • Queen's House, Greenwich, London
  • Tulip Staircase, Queen's House, Greenwich, London

Queen’s House

This former royal residence was commissioned to be built for Queen Anne of Denmark in 1616, but two years later she died before its completion. Work resumed in 1629 when King Charles I gifted the residence to his wife Henrietta Maria of France. Today, the building houses world-famous artwork, including the famous Armada Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and portraits by artists such as Rembrandt. Other highlights include the iconic Tulip Staircase, the first self-supporting spiral staircase, and the painted ceiling in the Queen’s Presence Chamber. Entry is free.

The Royal Naval College

Now used as a campus for the University of Greenwich, the Old Royal Naval College is the architectural highlight of this historic London borough. Here you can see the Painted Hall, Britain’s ‘Sistine Chapel’ – an extravagant and intricate Baroque masterpiece. The college grounds are also home to one of the University of Greenwich campuses, so make a stop at the Visitor’s Centre to confirm which buildings are open to visitors.

Greenwich Market

Running since the 1700s, Greenwich Market is a covered market set on old cobblestones where you can find a bite to eat or peruse through unusual antiques. The market is open daily and features a wide range of international food, from Ethiopian to Vietnamese and tasty French crêpes. Although most stalls most likely take cards, it’s worth bringing some cash just in case – the crêpe stand was only taking cash when I was there!

Historic pubs

Greenwich has an abundance of traditional British pubs which have stood the test of time. The oldest currently standing is the Plume of Feathers (est. 1691), which overlooks Greenwich Park. Other notable pubs in Greenwich include the Trafalgar Tavern – which used to boast Charles Dickens as a regular, and the Cutty Sark, located a short walk up the Thames with great views of London. As in many parts of London, there are pubs around every corner here, perfect for a pint or even a Sunday Roast.

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