Just 20 minutes from central London by train, you won’t regret crossing the river to visit Greenwich. This guide, brought to you by the team at the London Pass, will help make sure you don’t miss out on the best this fascinating borough has to offer!
Probably the most popular spot at the Royal Observatory is the Prime Meridian, which has been the reference line for GMT since the late 19th century. At exactly 0° longitude, it divides the eastern and western hemispheres of the earth. It’s marked by a physical line on the ground, so a photo with one foot on either side is a must! If you’re there at dusk you’ll see the position of the line shown by a green laser stretching towards the London skyline.
In the Time and Longitude gallery you’ll learn about the challenges of finding longitude at sea before satellite navigation, and why it was so important. Exhibitions of scientific objects, paintings and animations show the different solutions developed throughout the 18th century.
The Royal Observatory also houses London’s only Planetarium. Sit back and experience the wonders of the night sky, fly into the heart of the Sun, be transported to distant galaxies, witness the birth of a star and land on Mars. This is a wonderfully informative and interesting place for all ages, and the interactive space safari for under 7s, which includes music and rhymes, is ideal for young space fanatics.
Another brilliant place for children is the Cutty Sark, the world’s only surviving tea clipper. The fastest ship of her time, she sailed to all of the world’s most important ports in the 19th century, from Shanghai and Manila to New York and Melbourne. Now lovingly restored, you can experience what life was like on board. Take the ship’s wheel, explore the captain’s quarters, try out the crew bunk beds, and find out how the food was stored and prepared during long voyages.
You can even walk right underneath and touch the hull, since the ship has been raised over three metres off the ground as part of the conservation project. Some of the original hull planks and iron framework on display date back to 1869. Thirsty after all the exploring? Treat yourself to afternoon tea in the café under the gleaming copper hull of this magnificent clipper.
Image via Old Royal Naval College facebook
The Old Royal Naval College occupies the site of Greenwich Palace, arguably the main Royal palace throughout the Tudor period: it was where Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Mary I were born and Anne Boleyn arrested. Multiple artefacts from the original palace are now on show in the visitor centre.
The current buildings were designed by Sir Christopher Wren in the 17th century as the Royal Hospital for Seamen, a home for retired veterans of the British navy. Highlights are the grand Painted Hall (the original dining room) and the neo-classical chapel.
The Royal Naval College was established in the former hospital in 1873. It provided state-of-the-art training for elite young officers from around the world, as well as for thousands of Wrens during World War II. If the sun is shining, take a picnic to eat in the extensive, well-kept grounds and enjoy some of the best views of London with your sandwiches.
Open daily 10.00 – 17.00; grounds open daily 08.00 – 23.00
If you’re after something a little more high-octane when you visit Greenwich, try Up at The O2, London’s ‘Urban Mountaineering’ experience. Your Climb Guide will give you a short induction, a climb suit and shoes, and a safety harness. Then you’ll clip yourself onto the cable and climb up The O2. The 380m long fabric walkway is suspended 2m above the surface of the roof, 52m above ground level. At its steepest point the walkway has an incline of 28° on the way up and 30° on the way back down, so be prepared to use your muscles! It’s worth it though to reach the observation platform at the summit where you can take in spectacular views of London. You can even do the climb at twilight to see the city’s skyline lit up.
The experience lasts 90 minutes. Opening times vary by season.
Not keen on heights? Try the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, which runs approximately 15 metres below the River Thames, linking Cutty Sark Gardens in Greenwich with Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs. Opened in 1902, the tunnel was built to make it easier for south London residents to work in the docks. These days the tunnel, which is lined with 200,000 glazed white tiles, is used by about 1.2 million people a year. The entrances on either side of the river are marked with similar circular buildings. It’s up to you whether you take the lift or walk down (and up!) the long spiral flights of stairs.
Open daily, 24 hours (lifts not always operational)
Image via Greenwich Market facebook
Greenwich was originally granted rights for a market in 1700. It was moved to its current location in the 1800s, when traders sold live animals, meat, fish, eggs, butter, fruit and vegetables. You can still see some of the old stables and slaughterhouses, which were closed in 1908. The steel and glass roof dates back to the same year.
The produce stalls went into a gradual decline after World War II and didn’t really pick up again until the 1980s. Now though the market is one of the best reasons to visit Greenwich: a thriving and lively hub where you can buy everything from an antique tea cup to a massage! And if you fancy something to eat while you browse, there are also plenty of street food stalls selling delicious dishes from around the world.
Open daily 9.30-5.00 including Bank Holidays
May 3, 2018 by Leisure Pass Blogger
April 27, 2018 by Megan Hills
April 13, 2018 by Megan Hills