Greenwich, United Kingdom is a fantastic alternative to the hustle and bustle of Central London. Despite smaller crowds, Greenwich is an essential place to visit on any trip to London and is easy to access from anywhere in London because of its many transport connections- train, DLR, buses, river bus, etc. (for more information on transport links, see here). It is ideal if you want to escape the hectic side of London for a day, or you just want to experience something new. So now that you have made it to Greenwich- what are the best things to do? Here are my suggestions on the must see areas of Greenwich, broken down into the Park, town centre and the riverside.
There is so much to do in the park that you could easily spend a whole day here. A stroll around the park is necessary, with so many corners to discover, be sure to visit both the bottom and the top of the park- the huge hill is definitely worth it. The bottom of the park has easy access to Greenwich town centre, the playground (one for the kids!) and the National Maritime museum (which is free to enter by the way). Going up the hill, the top of the park boasts the view of the Canary Wharf skyline- as well as the River Thames and the O2. This is an area where you can easily spend half an hour just looking at the skyline and the rest of the park, and it is particularly beautiful when the sun is setting. Right next to the view is the famous Royal Observatory (costs apply), where the GMT line passes through and you can literally stand on the line of the time zone! Also in the top of the park is easy access out to Blackheath (another beautiful place in London to visit), a number of dedicated flower gardens and the deer park.
Greenwich Park is perfect in the summer, for relaxing on the grass with a picnic, or in the winter for a brisk walk to warm you up.
Greenwich Town Centre
The town of Greenwich is home to a variety of independent and chain coffee shops, restaurants and clothing or homeware shops. As a brunch location I would recommend the Green Cafe (town centre), Heap’s Sausage (by the park) or Royal Teas (near the train station). For a dinner setting, there are plenty of chain restaurants to choose from including Pizza Express or Nandos. A full list of places to eat or drink is available here.
In Greenwich town centre you can also find Greenwich Market. When it is on (Wednesday-Sunday) you can wander around and look at all of the unique crafts and antiques on offer- you may even find yourself a bargain! Even when the market is not on, the shops surrounding the market place are open and many are filled with cute pieces for the home or items of clothing.
There are also a number of pubs to choose from, and a church right in the centre of town.
Greenwich has the prime location of being right on the bank of the River Thames. Not only is this a mesmerising sight, especially when you want to get lost in looking at the boats going by, but there are many more things on offer by the river.
The Cutty Sark stands majestically above the ground right by the river and truly reflects British culture- it was the fastest ship at transporting tea. It is now open to the public as a museum, and you are able to walk around under the ship (costs apply). If you are looking to save money, the outside of the ship is also remarkable and very photogenic, if you want a photo to show off your trip.
Moving past the Cutty Sark, the river is right ahead of you. There are plenty of places to sit so it is the perfect location if you want to grab fish and chips, or just to relax by the water. Recently, a number of restaurants have also been built by the river.
If the walk around Greenwich Park hasn’t exhausted you too much, there is also a path that goes alongside the river which is fairly short but has more views of the boats going past and you can see the O2 up ahead. At the end of the path is a pub (The Trafalgar), which is an ideal place for a drink to finish off the day if you are after an iconic location to have a glass of wine. Alongside the path are also the university buildings which you are free to wander through and which feature some stunning 17th century architecture.
For a further walking option, there is a foot tunnel running underneath the river which starts right next to the Cutty Sark and comes out on the other side, in the Isle of Dogs. Maybe this is something to save for another day but it is an exciting experience to walk underground and emerge on the other side of London’s most famous river!
These are a few of the best things to do in Greenwich, but it is also useful to do some research before going on a trip as there could be more going on than you think! For example, last weekend saw the annual Tall Boats Festival along the Thames- there is always something else going on! If you have more time or want to get even more out of the area I would recommend walking up into Blackheath, or going further down the river into North Greenwich where you can find the O2 arena and the Millennium Village.
Greenwich is so versatile- there is something for anyone regardless of age, whether you are with your family, with a partner, walking a dog or on your own. It is also not just for tourists, I would recommend anyone living in South East London, or London in general to get to know Greenwich better.