You’ve probably heard of Greenwich for its rich maritime history, World Heritage status and great time-keeping (this is the home of Greenwich Mean Time, no less). But there’s plenty more to discover across this Royal Borough, from sky-high cable cars to an Art Deco mansion. Here are just five things to do while you’re staying in the area:
1. See Tall Ships and Nelson’s Uniform
If you’re visiting London this September, don’t miss the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta. Over five days (from 5 to 9 September), some 50 majestic tall ships will be arriving from the coast of Cornwall. But don’t worry if you miss out, one ship that’s not going anywhere is Cutty Sark – the last surviving tea clipper and the fastest and greatest of its time – now permanently docked in Greenwich. Don’t forget to pop into the nearby National Maritime Museum too to hear more fantastic sea tales – and see the coat Admiral Nelson wore at the Battle of Trafalgar (complete with bullet hole).
While you’re there… Eat lunch at The Trafalgar Tavern, a historic 19th century pub overlooking the River Thames.
2. See Time and Space at the Royal Observatory and Planetarium
Sitting high above Greenwich town centre is the Royal Observatory, home of not only Greenwich Mean Time, but also the Prime Meridian of the world (the zero point of longitude), London’s only planetarium and the UK’s largest refracting telescope. Take in a show at the planetarium, marvel at Harrison’s timekeepers and stand astride the Prime Meridian line – with one foot in the east, the other in the west. Look out for new exhibitions too, such as Longitude Punk’d – featuring modern-day versions of the weird, wonderful and somewhat wacky inventions submitted during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
While you’re there… Go on a ramble around Greenwich Park. This rolling green space is popular with locals and tourists alike for picnics, team games, strolls, boating-lake rides and squirrel spotting.
3. Soak up the view from a cable car or on top of The O2
Get a bird’s eye view of Greenwich and across London from on top of The O2. How do you get up there? You climb of course. It’s all part of the Up At The O2 experience, a 90-minute journey to a 360-degree viewing platform atop the famous domed venue. Alternatively head to the nearby south terminal of the Emirates Air Line and take a cable car across the river to the north stop, Emirates Royal Docks. Or if you prefer to have your head in the clouds but your feet firmly on the ground, don’t miss the new Emirates Aviation Experience, where you can get a feel for life in the skies with the help of flight simulators and interactive aviation displays.
While you’re there… Experience another unusual form of London transport and travel back to Central London by boat with City Cruises or Thames Clippers.
4. Visit A Royal Residence
Picturesquely located along the river, Queen’s House has ironically not housed many queens. Queen Anne (wife of James I) died before the building she commissioned was completed, and Henrietta Maria (wife of Charles I) spent little time there before the Civil War forced her to exile to France. It’s since fared better as an orphanage and then fine-art gallery – which it remains today. For something more off the beaten track, jump on the train to Eltham and visit the childhood home of Henry VIII, Eltham Palace – and the 1930s Art Deco mansion built next to the remains of this medieval royal palace.
While you’re there… Sample one of the homegrown, limited-edition beers at The Old Brewery, a working brewery with a restaurant/cafe and bar on the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College.
5. Browse Greenwich Market
You don’t need to leave Greenwich to find great treasures, like maritime explorers of past, there are plenty of gems to uncover at Greenwich Market. Here, artists and craftspeople from the local area and beyond gather to sell their creations – from fashion to gifts, homemade candles and jewellery. There’s also a food section that’s always packed full of stalls selling street snacks from around the world. Head down on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for antiques and collectibles, and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and weekends for arts and crafts.
While you’re there… If it’s the weekend (or a bank holiday) don’t forget to pay a visit to Greenwich’s other market, the Greenwich Clocktower Market, where you’ll find quirky antique and vintage pieces.