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The Ultimate Guide to visiting Greenwich

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Being five miles out of central London, Greenwich is often left out of most travel itineraries. But with countless historic landmarks, a vibrant city centre (not to mention the fact that it’s home to the Prime Meridian line), making the 20-minute journey to Greenwich is more than worth it for any tourist in London.

Derived from the Saxon word meaning “green village,” the area now known as Greenwich started as a small farming settlement on the banks of the River Thames, and remained mostly rural until the end of the 19th century. The area started expanding around the 16th century, and eventually became the epicentre of royal London during the reign of Henry VII thanks to the riverside palace at Greenwich (The Palace of Placentia), which was used by both the Tudor and Stuart monarchs.

But today Greenwich is perhaps best known as being home to the Prime Meridian of the world (AKA Longitude 0°0’0″), which was divides the eastern and western hemispheres, and was originally defined by a Transit Circle telescope at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. Its maritime area was also awarded a World Heritage Site status in 1997, and is home to some of the most notable maritime landmarks in the UK, such as The Old Royal Naval College (which was a Royal Navy training establishment between 1873 and 1998) and Cutty Sark (the only remaining 19th-century tea clipper in the world).

Greenwich also boasts having the oldest enclosed royal park (Greenwich Park) which was once used as a hunting ground for Henry VIII), and is also home to Britain’s only urban cable car and The O2 Arena.

Today both locals and tourists alike venture to Greenwich to stroll around its vibrant shopping area, which contains a string of independent shops lining the streets surrounding the town centre. Its town market (Greenwich Market) is also a fan-favourite, as it contains over 120 different arts, craft and antique stalls.

 

Greenwich Canary Wharf
Greenwich Park
Greenwich Food Market
Greenwich Foot Tunnel
Greenwich Pub
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Greenwich Highlights

Whether you’re looking to shop for antiques, listen to some live music, or even enjoy a pint in a quintessential English pub with some friends, there’s no limit to the things you can do during a visit to Greenwich.

But if you want to experience everything that Greenwich has to offer, here are some of the best activities you can do during your visit to the area:

  • Stand on the Prime Meridian Line after a visit to The Royal Observatory Greenwich; (and make sure you check out Flamsteed House while you’re there as well).
  • Get some hardcore retail therapy done at The O2 Centre before watching a once-in-a-lifetime performance at The O2 Arena.
  • Shop around the hundreds of arts and crafts stalls at the Greenwich Market.
  • Stroll around the historic clipper ship Cutty Sark
  • Look at some fascinating exhibitions and items like historic ship models, uniforms, paintings and navigation instruments at the National Maritime Museum
  • Snap photos of the Queen’s House (which was built as a summer residence for Anne of Denmark under the orders of King James I).
  • Climb to the top of the dome of The O2 Arena and enjoy 360-degree views of London for the Up At The O2 experience.
  • Browse for antiques, collectibles, jewellery and books at the Greenwich Vintage Market.
  • Watch some live music and drink a pint at the Moonlight Market on the last Friday of every month.
  • Take a boat ride around a lake or play a friendly game of tennis at Greenwich Park.and enjoy stunning views of the Canary Wharf from the top of the hill. (And while you’re there, see if you can spot any foxes or deer that are known to live in the area as well).
  • Marvel over some stunning architecture at the Old Royal Naval College, which dates back to the reign of Charles II
  • See where Henry VII was baptized at the St. Alfege Church
  • Go ghost hunting around the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, which is believed to be one of the most haunted locations in London.

Special Tips

tip

Don't make the common rookie mistake of mispronouncing Greenwich (it's correctly pronounced as “Gren-itch”)

tip

Because the National Maritime Museum, the Cutty Sark and the Queen's House are all within walking distance of each other, you can easily visit all three sites in one day. Cutty Sark is a six-minute walk from the museum, while the Queen's House is a three-minute walk away.

tip

If you want to do some research before you visit, check out the Visit Greenwich podcast for more historical information on some of the area's most fascinating attractions and landmarks.

tip

If you're on a budget and don't feel like spending cash on eating out, then try to visit Greenwich during its market days as you can easily find a dish for under £5

Getting There

getting there

Address

Lambard House, Greenwich High Rd, London SE10 8JQ, United Kingdom (See map).

getting there

By Tube

The Jubilee line runs to North Greenwich, and you can reach Greenwich in about 12 minutes from London Bridge, or 25 minutes from Bond Street.

getting there

By Train

You can reach Greenwich from Charing Cross Station, London Bridge, Waterloo East, Cannon Street, London Bridge and Dartford. Once you arrive at the train station, you can reach the town centre in under ten minutes.

getting there

By Bus

You can reach the Greenwich town centre via routes 129, 177, 180, 188, 199, 286 and 386. You can also reach Greenwich Park (Blackheath) via routes 53 and X53.

Visiting Greenwich

You could easily walk around Greenwich in three or four hours, but if you want to visit all of the historic landmarks in the area and stroll around its market, you may find yourself spending an entire day in the area.

Just because Greenwich is far away from central London doesn’t mean it’s lacking in restaurants, pubs or bars to choose from. As a matter of fact, with sushi joints, sausage shops, Italian restaurants, gelatarias, or even just a simple fish and chippy, Greenwich has just as many eating options as central London. Many of the pubs in the area also have their own garden, so you can sit outside with a pint on a warm summer’s day, and view the stunning London skyline from afar.

If you need more information about where to go, what to see or things to do during your visit to Greenwich, there are Greenwich Tourist Information desks at the Visitor Centre at the Old Royal Naval College, and they also have left luggage facilities as well.

 

 

Hotels in Greenwich

Luckily accommodation in Greenwich tends to be much cheaper than accommodation in central London, so you can easily find some great-quality hotels that won’t break the bank. Greenwich also offers a ton of variety in terms of accommodation, from budget chains to luxurious hotels, to B&Bs and apartments.

There’s a Mercure London Greenwich Hotel located 15 minutes away from Cutty Sark, an Intercontinental London The O2 located right in the Greenwich Peninsula, and the historic The Pilot Inn and The Express by Holiday Inn are both within walking distance to The O2 Arena.

The Staycity Aparthotels and Antigallican Hotel are both close to the Greenwich train station, as well as the Premier Inn which is a great option for any traveller on a budget.

If you’re on a strict budget, however, there are some great hostels in Greenwich as well, such as Venture Hostel, St. Christopher’s Inn Greenwich Hostel, the Albion Hostel and Hostel Ordnance.

When to Visit

Generally speaking, Greenwich’s restaurants tend to be cheaper than those in central London, and it’s not uncommon to pay around £10 for a meal out. There are some places where you can have breakfast or lunch for under £10 per person, or between £20 and £30 for dinner.

Shops and restaurants are generally open seven days a week, but opening and closing times may vary. If you have a specific place in mind, you may want to check out the official website before you visit.

Greenwich Park opens at 6 a.m., and closes between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. during the warmer months, or around 6 p.m. during the colder months.

If you want to visit the Greenwich Market, Wednesdays are a food and homewares’ market day, while Thursdays and Fridays have more of a focus on antiques, collectibles or arts and crafts.

The Greenwich Tourist Information desk is open every day (except between December 24th and 26th) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you want to leave your luggage at their left luggage facility, items cost:

  • £5 per item (for up to three hours)
  • £8 per item (for up to 24 hours)
  • £10 per item (for each additional 24 hour period).

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