Looking for things to do in Greenwich, London? Look no further! Here’s how to spend a day in the neighborhood.
It’s not the kind of place that’d first come to mind. London to-do’s usually lead you to the likes Central way before you find your way to Southeast.
But if you truly want to see London’s charm, there’s no better place than Greenwich. A leafy village-like hub Greenwich is the kind of place that makes you forget you’re in London. In a good way.
Filled with quirky independent shops, historic museums and a park that seems fit for a movie scene after three years of putting off a visit, I’ve fallen in love with this neighborhood. And so if you ever find yourself in this part of the city, here’s all I got up to for the day and how to make the most of your time in Greenwich. Enjoy!
A Brief History Behind the Area
Known for it’s Maritime history Greenwich was a shipping port hub and home to the Palace of Placentia in the 15th century. The birthplace of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I the town drips with royal reminiscence, including the Queen’s House and the Royal Observatory to name a few —but we’ll get to those later.
Anyways by the 18th century Greenwich traded it’s royal image for tourist wandering, becoming the Queen’s city escape with grand houses and museums to match.
Fast-forward to present-day and Greenwich can still be seen as a city retreat, perfect for a day of exploring Greenwich’s maritime history and seeing beautiful sights along the way.
How to Get There
The best way to get to Greenwich is popping on the DLR and getting off at Cutty Sark Station. This will put you at a perfect starting point for wandering the neighborhood, but if you’re feeling a little more adventurous you can also head to Greenwich by boat.
Things to do in Greenwich London
Here are all my favorite things to do in Greenwich, London. Feel free to skip around for what you’d fancy the best. But if your tourist spirit moves you you can definitely see all there is to see in a day.
1. Roam the Old Royal Naval College (and admire the Painted Hall)
If you want to feel like you’ve stepped back in time, head to Old Royal Naval College. A World Heritage Site, the ex-stomping ground of monarchs and a breath of history (with some needed changes underway) roaming the area is a must. It’s also a university!
If the Old Royal Naval College wasn’t enough architectural eye candy —take a look inside the Chapel of St.Peter’s and St.Paul’s.
But the real gem is the Painted Hall. As soon as you walk you feel like you’ve stepped onto a scene of the Crown (probably because you have). The £8.5 million Baroque masterpiece took James Thornhill 19 years to paint and you could easily spend hours admiring the details.
Keep in mind tickets are normally £11 and to book before you go!
2. Browse the National Maritime Museum
Perched in pink on the Old Naval grounds lies the National Maritime Museum. From space expeditions to historic wanderings it’s a great place to pop into after the Painted Hall.
Although there were parts of the museums I didn’t particularly enjoy I still think it’s an experience worth having. The interactive experiences are wildly impressive and certain pieces will definitely leave you in awe.
Wandering on my ones I definitely got more of a “family-friendly” vibe here, but it was a nice little pit stop.
Don’t forget to reserve your ticket in advance!
3. Walk the Tulip Stairs at the Queen’s House
Directly across you’ll have made your way to the Queen’s House. Falling into the Instagrammable allure I headed over post-museum and promptly felt like I had entered the 1600’s.
An ex-royal residence and subsequent apology gift, the Queen’s House still stands today. But think more art collection…much fewer monarchs.
The galleries are only a quick stroll with the Tulip Stairs taking center stage. One of the original features of the Queen’s House it’s the first supporting spiral stair in Britain. The geometry alone will have you fawning — and in need of a snapshot or two.
Tickets are free just be sure to book before.
4. Visit Cutty Sark
Next, you’ll want to visit Cutty Sark. Historically it was a China tea clipper and one of the fastest ships of it’s time. But current day you can walk through the ship, browse the greenhouse-like interiors, and of course, get a view from top deck.
The ship is also used for the UNESCO’s International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition every year.
5. Walk Greenwich Foot Tunnel
Next I made my way over to Greenwich Foot Tunnel. Not one for the books necessarily but a cool wander none the less. Directly across Cutty Sark it’s easy to miss under it’s rustic brick top.
The tunnel was built in 1911 to link the South and Millwall and is usually with dotted with locals and cyclists making their commute.
Once you’ve made your way over take the elevator to the ground floor (or walk the 311 steps if you’re feeling adventurous). When the door opens you’ll be met by a gray tunnel.
Don’t forget to stay a couple of lazy minutes at the waterfront once you come back up!
Read More: 5 Best Greenwich Hotels to Stay In for 2021
6. Eat at Greenwich Market
You simply can’t say you’ve been to Greenwich if you haven’t tried been to Greenwich Market. A Greenwich staple serving everything Thai street food to steaming Brazilian churros.
There’s nearly 120 stalls so you’ll definitely want to take some time to wander around. Outside of foodie favorites there’s also tons of local businesses to support from jewelers, to book stalls and handcraft boutiques.
Highly recommend the Eggplant and Mozzarella Arancini Di Riso at Mamma Mia’s. It’s heaven!
7. Get Some Greenwich Grub
If you’ve still got a post-market appetite the Greenwich food scene is definitely worth checking out. For a spot of something sweet hit Rhodes Bakery on the corner of King William Walk. Otherwise get your sweet tooth filled at Peyton & Byrne.
For traditional English finds have a pie (and some mash) at Goddards, a family business serving handmade pie since the 1800’s!
Or for a local sitdown cozy up in Bill’s Cafe (the interiors are beautiful). And if you’re feeling a little more stylish, pursue over to Cafe Rouge.
8. Grab a Drink at Trafalgar Tavern
All the exploring left me in desperate need of a sit-down, so I found one. With a view! Nestled along the riverbank Trafalgar Tavern is visually striking, and Charles Dickens old stomping grounds. With pastel peach and giant beds of flower petals wrung around the building, you’re best off seeing it for yourself.
Take a day break with a pint or simply sit outside and take in the riverside views.
9. Roam the Town Center
One thing I love about Greenwich is how homey it feels. Walking through the town center there’s definitely a village-like feel to it. So if you have some time be sure to visit some local shops, do some window gazing or simply wander and appreciate the neighborhood.
10. Climb Up to the Royal Observatory
If there’s one thing Greenwich’s known for, it’s the Royal Observatory.
A historic staple for astronomy and navigation as we know it, the Royal Observatory sits high on Greenwich Hill, and yes, it’s worth the walk.
The views are truly incredible and if you want to feed your inner geek, you can even stand on the Prime Meridian Line. Yep, you’re officially at longitude 0!
11. Wander Greenwich Park
Okay so I was trying to save this one for last but given it’s literally right next to the Observatory, we’re heading to Greenwich Park.
There is SO much to do and see here, but I’ll make it quick. Have a tea break at Pavillion Cafe, catch a glimpse at the Deer Park, roam the Flower Garden (it’s so magical) and quite honestly, simply take in scenery.
After my visit Greenwich Park has definitely gone up on my list of London parks (Update: It’s officially my favorite) so don’t be afraid to leave some extra time to really see it all.
12. Stroll Ranger’s House & The Rose Garden
Finishing off the day with a peek at the Rangers House and the oh-so-lovely Rose Garden. A red-brick Georgian mansion sitting backside to Greenwich Park you can roam the Wernher Collection inside or simply admire the exteriors.
Whichever you choose be sure to end your day at the Rose Garden. A bedded array of every rose color under the sun it’s a lovely walk through to end your day. The peak bloom is in June and July but I still got to see an autumn bloom or two.
Bonus: Go to the O2
Of course, you can’t leave Greenwich without a trip to the O2. Home to some of the biggest performers in the world O2 Greenwich is a grand dystopian looking venue and the place to see your top 40 favorites and more, live and in charge.
Well, that’s our day! If you still find yourself roaming around Greenwich you can…
- Walk through more of Greenwich’s prettiest streets such as Hyde Vale Street & Royal Hill Street
- Visit Peter Harrison Planetarium
- Rent a boat at Greenwich Boating Pond
- Visit the Quirky Fan Museum
I hope you found some cool things to do in Greenwich for your time in London – have the best time!
Read More on London:
…and if you love the Greenwich area you’re sure to love Canary Wharf!