london greenwich queen's house tulip staircase
ENGLAND UK

11 Things to Do on a Day Out in Greenwich, London

By on 22/06/2017

Everyone agrees that London has a lot to offer, but few people venture outside of the core of Central London. And when they do, they go on day trips into the countryside or into other cities such as Bath, Oxford, Windsor.

And I must clarify that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. England has a lot of cities, towns and countryside that are worth exploring. But going back to London, there are a lot of areas outside of what is known as Zone 1 within the underground map, that are perfect candidates for a day out and are often overlooked by the London visitor.

Greenwich, in South East London, is one of those areas. It is full of maritime and scientific history, lovely markets and quirky museums. And let’s not forget a fantastic park with some of the best views over London.

So here are my recommendations for a day out in Greenwich.

Old Royal Naval College

The visitor centre within the Old Royal Naval College is the best place to start exploring Greenwich and its 500 years of history. There is a permanent exhibition with several historical artifacts and there are plenty of interactive exhibits too.

You can join free tours of the site, which are run multiple times a day.

london greenwich naval college

Old Royal Naval College

Grounds and Gardens

If you like architecture, the buildings of the Old Naval College will be heaven for you. The buildings are the centerpiece of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site and were designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the famous St Paul’s Cathedral architect, in the 18th century.

london greenwich naval college

Old Royal Naval College Colonnade

And if you like impressive views, the grounds of the College offer some of the best in London, with Canary Wharf’s glass and steel towers on the other side of the river and Greenwich Park with its Royal Observatory on the hilltop.

london greenwich naval college

Old Royal Naval College with views of Canary Wharf across the Thames

Chapel of St Peter and St Paul

This little chapel has one of the finest 18th century interiors in the UK. A neo-classical masterpiece, it has a beautiful organ built in 1798 and an altarpiece painted by Benjamin West. The ceiling gives the chapel superb acoustics, and it shows incredible plaster work that was carved rather than cast in moulds. The light blue and cream colour scheme has been inspired by Wedgewood ceramics.

london greenwich naval college chapel

Interior of the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul

One of the highlights for me is the beautiful spiral staircase. Don’t forget to look up before going down into the Undercroft, now used for events, and a Victorian Skittle Alley, which unfortunately is not always open. Check opening times with the visitor centre ahead of your visit if you’d like to see it.

london greenwich naval college chapel staircase

Spiral staircase of the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul

london greenwich naval college undercroft

The Undercroft

london greenwich naval college skittle alley

The Victorian Skittle Alley

There is also an underground tunnel that goes from the Chapel to the Painted Hall.

london greenwich naval college tunnel

Underground tunnel that links the Chapel with the Painted Hall

The chapel is still a place of worship, so entry is free.

The Painted Hall

The Painted Hall is a spectacular masterpiece and one of the most important baroque interiors in Europe. It is currently undergoing a renovation project that will go on until 2019, so the inside of the hall is covered in scaffolding.

london greenwich naval college painted hall

Entrance to the Painted Hall before the renovation scaffolding went up

london greenwich naval college painted hall

The painted ceiling

But don’t despair, because this gives you a once in a lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with the painted ceiling. The hour-long ceiling tour will take you to the special observation deck, where you will be able to look at the close detail of this magnificent painting. And I can tell you that it hides many secrets… Hint: play close attention to Queen Mary II’s cleavage and you will see a surprising detail (a possible act of rebellion?).

london greenwich naval college painted hall

Getting up close and personal to the painted ceiling on the observation deck

Tickets for the Painted Hall Ceiling Tours are £10, or £5 if you are a National Art Pass Holder.

National Maritime Museum

This museum is for those who have a special interest in history of life at sea. It’s full of art and objects that tell stories about adventures, battles, bravery and discoveries that make this the largest maritime museum in the world.

The museum holds regular daytime and evening events as well as film screenings. Check the website for a calendar of what’s on.

Entry to the National Maritime Museum is free, but temporary exhibitions tickets cost up to £12, but you can get 50% off if you are a National Art Pass Holder.

london greenwich maritime museum

Ship in a bottle outside the National Maritime Museum

Queen’s House

Built in the 17th century, the Queen’s House is Inigo Jones’ architectural masterpiece. Recently reopened after major restoration in time to celebrate its 400th anniversary, this understated white building keeps one of the most stunning not-so-secret secrets in London.

london greenwich queen's house

Queen’s House

The famous Tulip Staircase is not only visually stunning, but it was the very first geometric self-supported spiral staircase to be built in Britain. Look up as soon as you walk in and you will be struck by the beauty of this perfect spiral and its ornate wrought iron railings. It is said to be haunted by a ‘ghost’ that was caught on camera in 1966… *shudders*

london greenwich queen's house tulip staircase

The stunning Tulip Staircase

Another fantastic room in the Queen’s House is The Great Hall, the heart of the building. The Great Hall is a perfectly proportioned cube with a striking marble floor with a geometrically-patterned black and white design.

london greenwich queen's house great hall

The marble floor in The Great Hall

Entry to the Queen’s House is free.

Greenwich Park

One of London’s eight Royal Parks, Greenwich Park is famous for hosting the Prime Meridian Line and the Royal Observatory, and is part of the Greenwich Maritime World Heritage Site. Dating back to the 15th century, it is the most historic of all the Royal Parks.

From the top of the hill, you can enjoy one of the best views of London, that sweep across the river Thames to Canary Wharf, all the way to the O2 to the east and St Paul’s Cathedral to the west.

london greenwich naval college park

One of the best views in London

Royal Observatory, Greenwich

The Royal Observatory is where you can find the historic Prime Meridian of the World where east meets west at Longitude 0°, and where you can learn all about GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and what it is. It is also the home to the only planetarium in London.

Greenwich London Meridian Line

Greenwich Meridian Line – One foot in the east, one foot in the west

Join a guided tour or attend one of the planetarium shows about the sky, solar storms or anything astronomy related. You can also visit the annual Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition, which is free.

london greenwich royal observatory

The Royal Observatory

Tickets for the Royal Observatory cost £9.50 or you can get a 50% discount with the National Art Pass.

Cutty Sark

It is the world’s only surviving tea clipper that almost didn’t survive to this day. This iconic 19th century ship was destroyed by a raging fire in 2014, but restoration work started straight away and it is now an award-winning visitor attraction.

london greenwich cutty sark

The famous Cutty Sark tea clipper

The Cutty Sark was designed to carry tea from China to England as fast as possible. And it did, as it was the fastest ship of her time. Now raised 3 metres above ground, you can walk underneath the hull and even touch the original planks and iron work. You can also visit the sailors’ quarters and get up close to her famous figurehead.

london greenwich cutty sark

Under the hull of the Cutty Sark

Entry is £13.50 or £6 if you are a National Art Pass Holder.

Greenwich Foot Tunnel

The Greenwich Foot Tunnel is a marvel of Victorian engineering that crosses underneath the River Thames. It links Greenwich with the Isle of Dogs, the site of the docks and the shipbuilding industry in London. It was built at the turn of the 20th century to allow workers living south of the Thames to reach their workplaces instead of having to use the expensive and unreliable ferry.

The Foot Tunnel is still open and easily accessible, and has a lift that takes you down to the entrance. It is 504 metres long and, as it’s classified as a public highway, it is open 24 hours a day. Try and see if you can walk its length to the other side of the river!

london greenwich foot tunnel

Greenwich Foot Tunnel with Victorian tiling – Photo credit: Umbreen Hafeez

Greenwich Market

Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, Greenwich Market is packed full of unique arts and crafts, antiques, vintage items, collectables and street food. It has a vibrant atmosphere and sometimes you will hear classical music being played by students from the nearby Trinity College of Music.

It is open every day except for Mondays.

Fan Museum

A quirky little museum located inside two Grade II listed townhouses in historic Greenwich, this is a bit of a wild card and a pleasant surprise. The Fan Museum houses a diverse collection of fans from all over the world that date from 12th to the present day.

london greenwich fan museum

Fan collection at the Fan Museum

Make sure you visit the Orangery for afternoon tea, while you enjoy the painted murals and the view of the Japanese-style ‘secret’ garden.

london greenwich fan museum orangery

The lovely Orangery within the Fan Museum

Entry to the museum is £4 or free if you are National Art Pass Holder.

So here are my recommendations for things to do in Greenwich in a day (or two).


Want to go further afield?
Eltham Palace, a hidden gem in London


Like this post? Pin and share it!Day out in Greenwich London


Disclosure: A big thank you to the National Art Fund and Igerslondon who hosted me on my day out in Greenwich. As always, all views are my own.

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12 Comments
  1. Reply

    Lauren - Explore a Corner

    22/06/2017

    Great suggestions! I love Greenwich. It’s where me and my best friend stayed when we spent a week in London after our GCSE exams. It’s so easy to then get into central too.

    • Reply

      Teresa

      23/06/2017

      Hi Lauren.
      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed my suggestions. Greenwich is a great base for London and there’s so much to explore there too! 🙂

  2. Reply

    Julia

    24/06/2017

    I love old buildings, so this sounds like the perfect place for me! And those staircases are stunning! 🙂

    • Reply

      Teresa

      03/07/2017

      It’s a stunning place, and I can’t believe so many visitors to London miss out on Greenwich. There’s so much beauty here! 🙂

  3. Reply

    Anisa

    24/06/2017

    I love Greenwich. I need to go back though, because when I was there the Queen’s house was being renovated!

    • Reply

      Teresa

      03/07/2017

      Ah yes! The Queen’s House has recently re-opened, and it’s definitely worth going back. That staircase draws me in every time! 🙂

  4. Reply

    Christie

    24/06/2017

    This is great! I had no idea there is so much to do in Greenwich! I’ve been to London a few times (and it’s my favourite city!) but I still haven’t visited Greenwich! I’ll definitely have to go next time I’m in London. I love your photos as well! The angles in the shots look so cool 🙂

    • Reply

      Teresa

      03/07/2017

      Thank you so much Christie! I’m so glad you enjoyed my photos! Greenwich is almost a town in its own right and it really amazes me that so many people don’t know about it. It’s a great place to spend a whole day… or even two days! 🙂

  5. Reply

    Cristina

    24/06/2017

    This city is one of the reasons I want to go back to London! Lovely photos, btw.

    • Reply

      Teresa

      03/07/2017

      Thanks Cristina. I’m so glad that you liked my photos. Greenwich really is like a city in itself. So much to see and do! I love London because there are so many different areas to discover all the time 🙂

  6. Reply

    Katie

    24/06/2017

    I love Greenwich, it is such a lovely area and completely different to the rest of London! A friend of mine says she goes there for some “fresh air” – I didn’t realise there was so much to do in the area! Will check these out!

    • Reply

      Teresa

      03/07/2017

      It really is lovely. It doesn’t feel like you are in London at all, it feels like you are in a completely different town. And yes, I can see why your friend goes there for fresh air. It feels very open in comparison to the rest of London. You can easily spend a day or two exploring the area 🙂

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Hi! I’m Teresa, a London-based traveller and photographer who quit her job in the summer 2016 to explore the world. I’ve been to 39 countries and have ticked some adventures off my bucket list. I hope I can inspire you and motivate you to get out there and explore this beautiful world we live in. Follow my updates and discover the essence of travelling with me!

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