I’ve been living in Greenwich for a few years now and explored most of its attractions which I’d like to share with you.
The first thing people say when visiting Greenwich is how different it is to the rest of London. It’s extremely leafy and quaint which makes you feel like you’ve travelling back in time.
I admit, sometimes living here I do crave a bit more diversity – the odd Lebanese or Turkish restaurant that you’ll find in Peckham or Hackney would go down an absolute treat. Greater diversity might come in time, after all, London is one of the great cosmopolitan cities of the world, however, at the moment Greenwich is very quintessentially English with cosy pubs, antique markets and pie shops.
Nevertheless, I still love living here, being able to retreat to my personal little haven away from the hectic crowds and cacophony that often comes from living more central is something I really treasure. I guess in London it’s hard to find somewhere that ticks all the boxes so you have to compromise – especially when you’re on a budget.
During the week it’s rather quiet in town but on the weekend the place transforms into an international tourist spot with crowds flocking over to see some of London’s most historical and beautiful attractions. Greenwich used to be the former Royal residence back in the day and whilst these buildings no longer serve for this purpose, the incredible buildings still remain and have been turned into a variety of different sites of interests for visitors to explore.
With this in mind, it’s now a good time to show you what exactly you can do in this area.
1. Greenwich Food Market
Beginning in the centre of town, you’ll find Greenwich Market directly across the road from the DLR station. This is where you’ll find people selling some quirky and unique crafts but the real highlight is the food, there’s something for everyone, including veggies and vegans and those with an insatiable sweet tooth – I think you’ll find your match at the churros stand!
My go-to stall is usually the Ethiopian food stall where I can choose from a variety different curries plus injera, rice, salads and lentil sambosas.
It’s opened seven days a week, but come on a weekend for all the food stalls to be out in full force.
2. Greenwich Park
Now you need somewhere to eat the treats you just bought at the market, so if the weather is good head straight to Greenwich Park for a picnic – I couldn’t resist snapping this couple having a cheeky moment hah! I’ve been to most of the main parks in London and nowhere tops this one for beauty.
Most people stay at the bottom but they’re missing out because located at the top you’ll find the Flower Garden and a small deer enclosure.
3. Queen’s House
A former Royal Residence turned art museum, it’s hard to believe it’s completely free to enter this landmark building. Designed by architect Inigo Jones, it is one of the most important buildings in British architectural history, being the first consciously classical building to have been constructed in the country.
Despite housing hundreds of pieces of art, the pièce de résistance is the very instagrammable tulip staircase.
4. The Painted Hall
The Painted Hall of Greenwich’s Old Royal Naval College, created by Sir James Thornhill in the 19700s, was once considered the greatest work of decorative art in England. Head inside to admire the beautiful murals and admire an interior that has served as the setting of several Hollywood movies.
5. Chapel of St. Peter & St. Paul
Opposite the Painted Hall lies the beautiful Chapel of St. Peter & St. Paul. The most amazing element is the ceiling, which has a perfect neo-classical design of squares and octagons, with wonderfully ornate central ornaments. It quite small but what it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty. Anyone looking to get married in London certainly has a contender here!
6. Royal Observatory
Stand with a foot in each hemisphere and explore how great scientists first mapped the seas and the stars at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Now a museum, it’s home to the Prime Meridian Line, the UK’s largest refracting telescope and a 4.5 billion year-old asteroid. It’s a great place to come with children with enquiring minds!
7. The Planetarium
Though part of the Observatory, I think the Planetarium deserves its own spotlight, especially since it’s the only one in London. When my friends visit London I like taking them here for something different to do. Be careful not to fall asleep! It might only last 25-minutes per show but staring up at a 3D galaxy from the comfort of a reclining seat has sleep inducing powers! Just try to ignore the snoring from one or two people who couldn’t manage to stay awake in the audience.
8. The Best View of London
Right outside the Observatory you’ll probably see people posing in front of the camera because here lies the best view of London. Its combination of old and new makes this view of London so striking.
Try and visit at sunset too…
9. Cutty Sark
Climb aboard Cutty Sark, the last surviving tea clipper built at the end of the golden age of sail. Discover what life was like aboard the legendary 19th-century ship, find out how she was used to bring tea from China to Britain, and walk beneath the carefully designed hull that made her one of the fastest ships of her time.
10. Old Royal Naval College
Explore the Old Royal Naval College, an architectural masterpiece designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Study the lavish altar and elegant plaster works in the neoclassical chapel and make sure to walk the impressive grounds, which have featured in many recent movies.
11. The Fan Museum
Tucked metres away from the main street in Greenwich, the Fan Museum easily blends into the other Georgian houses found on the same street. As you would expect from a niche museum, the place is not very big, just a handful of rooms spread over two floors but the collection is vast with a mixture of fans over several centuries and from all over the world. Perhaps the most popular aspect of the museum is the Orangery, a beautiful place to sit down for afternoon tea. It’s often listed as one of the go-to places to experience quintessential afternoon tea in London on a budget.
12. National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum is the largest museum of its kind in the world. Learn about Britain’s encounters with the world at sea, the Royal Navy, and the life of great British hero Admiral Horatio Nelson, and see the uniform he wore when he was fatally wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar.
13. Greenwich Theatre
Being one of the quality off-West End theatres, this little place near the Fan Museum offers an array of shows available weekly, providing a programme of national and community projects. See what’s currently on here: www.greenwichtheatre.org.uk
14. The Ranger’s House
This is a National trust property; Rangers House is a Georgian villa built in 1723 and houses the Wernher collection which an outstanding collection of medieval and Renaissance works of art purchased by the diamond magnet Sir Julious Wember. Please note this place is often closed so please check their website here before attempting a visit.
15. Cutty Sark Pub
I’m not a pub kind of person so it means something when I wax lyrical about one. The Cutty Sark Pub is the kind of higgledy piggledy pub with lots of nooks and crannies to cosy up inside. It’s pretty from the outside too with a gorgeous Georgian bow-fronted facade overlooking the river Thames. It’s the perfect place to relax and catch the sunset over a pint of draught beer. The food is delicious too but I advice you to book as tables fill up fast.
16. Shop for Cheese
My brother and his girlfriend are always taking trips to this vintage cheese shop aptly named the Cheeseboard. Opened for almost 30 years, the Cheeseboard prides itself on the “survival of farmhouse artisan cheese”. You’ll find over 100 cheese from all over the UK and Western Europe as well as breads, crackers, wines, craft beers and chutneys. Cheese lovers, you’re in heaven here.
17. Ride the Clipper to Central Along the Thames
The Thames Clipper is a speedy boat that’ll take you from Greenwich right back into central London (stopping at either London Bridge or the London Eye). It’s far more enjoyable than getting the tube or the bus and gives you a unique look at London from the water. Plus it’s a fraction of the price of some riverboat cruises!
18. Explore the Cute Village of Blackheath
You can reach Blackheath easily by exiting the main dates at the top of Greenwich Park and take the 10-minute walk across the heath into this very small but pretty town. There’s an exciting urban myth that Blackheath was named that way because it was a plague pit in medieval times, but unfortunately that’s apparently all hearsay. Alas! I’ve just realised there’s quite a bit to say about this small town so I’m going to write a separate post soon.
19. Rummage Through the Antique Markets
On the weekend you’ll find a couple of antique markets selling all kinds of stuff. Granted you probably don’t need any of it, but there’s something fun about finding something unexpected from a bygone era. If you’re a collector of records, you might actually find a few gems.
20. Eltham Palace & Gardens
Once a medieval moated castle and playground to Henry VIII, the remains of Eltham Castle and its Great Hall have been sensitively constructed in Art Decor style by wealthy philanthropists and horticulturalists the Courtaulds. It architecture and decor is simultaneously modern and classic, and features a cavernous entrance hall, richly panelled dining hall and ornamental rose gardens – the ideal spot to while away listless hours. Art deco exhibitions and family picnic days occur seasonally.
21. Emirates Cable Car
Similar to the clipper, if you’re looking for a unique way to get in or out of Greenwich then why not hop on the Emirates cable car? The 1km journey affords some great views of London from a height of up to 90m (295ft). Though please note the cable car begins or finishes at North Greenwich/02 Arena which is a 10 minute bus ride away from the centre of town.
If you’re looking for more things to do in London, check out a full range of tours here.
Are you planning a trip to Greenwich?
Source: The Culture Map