The Royal Observatory, Greenwich
London Travel

Day trip to Greenwich: A Serious Guide

Every time a friend comes for visiting us, a trip to Greenwich is on our list of places to see. Why so? Greenwich is a neighborhood that is often overlooked. Too far for anybody visiting London, too near for the locals.

It’s a bit difficult to reach, as the tube does not get here directly and you have to switch to the DLR (Hey we live in London, anything that is out of reach for the tube is out of range for us!). Nevertheless, it has the right balance between monuments and markets, and everybody has been satisfied by the visit (or at least that’s what they say!).

Canary Wharf, view from Greenwich hill
Canary Wharf and Cutty Sark, view from Greenwich hill

How to reach Greenwich

First thing first, how do you reach Greenwich? As we said before, people usually take the tube and from there the DLR, but we suggest (at least once!) to take the ferry. It’s probably the only time it makes sense to take the ferry in London, and the travel from Westminster to Greenwich open up the possibility for great shots of the city from the river.

Palace of Westminster, view form the ferry
Palace of Westminster, view form the ferry

The London Eye, Westminster, the City Hall, we keep on moving on the left and right side of the boat in order not to miss anything!

The London eye, view from the ferry
The London eye, view from the ferry
Tower of London, view from the ferry
Tower of London, view from the ferry

As a final step, concluding the most interesting part of the travel, the ferry passes under the Tower Bridge. There are no better viewpoints of the bridge than from underneath it, where the majesty of the building is most impressive.

Tower Bridge, view from the ferry
Tower Bridge, view from the ferry

Exploring Greenwich

The interesting bits of Greenwich are all concentrated next to the pier.

The Cutty Sark was a mercantile clipper used for carrying tea from China to England as fast as possible (hey, tea is kind of important for Britain!), and it’s been transformed into a museum, where you can explore life inside an authentic ship of the XIX century.

The Cutty Sark, Greenwich
The Cutty Sark

The Queen’s House, facing the Greenwich Park, is a small house where the queen used to rest when visiting the Naval College, and it’s now hosting art exhibitions. It’s free to visit, and the building is not that big. The two wings connected to the main house by colonnades creates a beautiful effect, especially when looked from the Greenwich Hill.

The Greenwich Maritime Institute, currently part of University of Greenwich
The Greenwich Maritime Institute, currently part of University of Greenwich
Queen's House, Greenwich
Queen's House
Royal Navy College, Greenwich
Royal Navy College

The National Maritime Museum is the official naval history museum of Britain, alias the most important naval organization in history. The museum is arranged on three levels, and it’s definitely worth a visit, even a quick one.

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwhich
The National Maritime Museum
Miss Britain III, a racing power boat @ National Maritime Museum
Miss Britain III, a racing power boat @ National Maritime Museum
The figurehead on the bow was a fundamental decoration for every ship worthy of its name, National Maritime Museum
The figurehead on the bow was a fundamental decoration for every ship worthy of its name

Children can’t get bored as there are many games and interaction possibilities over the place, while we preferred the section about the East India Company, with several artifacts testifying the role of the British Empire over the centuries.

Delicious tipthe museum, like every other museum in England, is free to visit. You can use it at your convenience for the whole day, you can even leave the bags at the cloakroom (for 1 £ per item)!

Greenwich market is one of our favorite spots in town! The food market, open every day, is divided into two zones, one indoor, sharing the venue with other arts & crafts stalls, and one outdoor

Every time we visit the place we say to ourselves “just a quick tour, we won’t buy anything” and every time… Well, in our defense, there’s too much food on display!

It’s impossible to resist the temptation to buy something here, from the mini Italian cannolis and the cupcakes to the oysters and the biltong. While exploring, do not miss the coffee shop, the aroma of the toasted grains is too compelling to resist!

Planning a visit to Greenwich Market? Read more below 

Picnic, Greenwich park
Picnic, Greenwich park

After filling bags and bellies, we usually head up to the park for lunch. The Greenwich Park is accessible from directly behind the museum. The hill, with the Royal Observatory on top , is our designated place!

Our delicious picnic @ Greenwich park
Our delicious picnic @ Greenwich park
Carrot cake prepared by us and coconut vegan cupcake from Ruby's
Carrot cake prepared by us and coconut vegan cupcake from Ruby's

The combination of the Queen’s house, followed by the two domes of the Royal Navy College and the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf behind is a perfect postcard for Greenwich. That’s why we always choose this place for a picnic when the weather allows it!

Queen's house, view from Greenwich park
Postcard from Greenwich ✨

On top of the Greenwich Hill, there is the Royal Observatory.

Prime Meridian of the World: straddling between the east and west sides
Prime Meridian of the World: straddling between the east and west sides ✨

Sincerely, the museum inside the observatory is not worth your time, there is nothing of real interest (well, unless pendulum clocks are somehow fascinating you!), but there is one fundamental piece here that is unique in the world. The Greenwich Meridian of course!

The imaginary line is, of course, imaginary, and a reminiscent of a time when Europe thought to be at the center of the world, but the photo straddling between the east and west sides of the line is still a must-have for every visitor of this London neighborhood!

Great Equatorial Telescope @ The Royal Observatory
Great Equatorial Telescope @ The Royal Observatory

Greenwich is also the host of several vintage markets. After the lunch at the park (or post-lunch, or whatever you may decide to have!), take a stroll to the other markets. The Clocktower Market is opened only during weekends while the Greenwich Vintage Market is open every day but Monday and Wednesday.

Greenwich Vintage Market
Greenwich vintage market: the sign says all!

These two markets are less touristy, and they show an incredible diversity of items. From 80s games to old books, from handmade jewelry to some pieces we couldn’t really classify, we always end up in a tour around here, looking for anything we may want to put in our home!

Need cutlery? In Clocktower market you can find everything
Need cutlery? In Clocktower market you can find everything
80s vintage toys sold at Greenwich Market
80s vintage toys sold at Greenwich Market

Last but not least, we end up our small tour of Greenwich with a stroll around the neighborhood. By walking a couple hundred of meters outside of the touristic roads, you can find some beautiful spots, with tidy residential areas and small public parks inhabited by squirrels.

Small public park inhabited by squirrels, Greenwich 🌸 🏞 🌸
Small public parks inhabited by squirrels, Greenwich
Walking around Greenwich, Cutty Sark in background
Walking around Greenwich

Useful Info

To reach Greenwich by tube, you can get to Bank Station which is served by the Central, Northern and Waterloo & City lines, and the DLR.

To reach Greenwich by boat, you can get to Westminster Pier and take the boat to Greenwich Pier. For more info visit www.thamesclippers.com

Have you visited Greenwich? Which are your favorite spots? Share your trip with us!