The second of my five top places in My City & My Town, Appreciating London , retracing my footsteps, is Greenwich.
Greenwich is a nice little town just a stone’s throw away from London, in the south-east which sits on the banks of River Thames, accessible with a 20-minute journey from London (Bank Station). It is a popular destination for tourists because of its maritime and astronomy history. The area, Royal Greenwich Park is host to the Royal Museum Greenwich, which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and consists of four top attractions, the Royal Observatory, the Queen’s House, National Maritime Museum and the Cutty Sark. All of these attractions are within walking distance of each other and would typically fill a full-day itinerary. Greenwich also offers a good selection of shops for fashion and jewellery and a wealth of quality food to choose from with many pubs here serving food [see below]. This quintessential town is home to one of London’s popular flea market, Greenwich Market [see below] which is just 2-minutes from the station.
Greenwich is definitely a Must-Do for families with kids, grand-kids, solo travellers and couples – not only for the over 50’s but at any age! You will experience history, lots of free exhibits and guided tours. You will also save money when buying a combined ticket and there are additional savings when buying online – which means you need to plan your visit at least a couple of days prior. In addition, there is a lot to see and do in this little town and if you only have a day to spare, then you may need a workable itinerary so that you do not miss out on memorable experiences. As for me, I wanted to witness the Red Time Ball at 1 p.m. which meant that everything else had to revolve around that. Anyways, please read on and let me know what you think of my day.
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Greenwich is a town I am familiar with as I frequently visit here to meet friends for a meal or for drinks. However, on this particular occasion as I re-traced my steps as an “explorer/adventurer”, my objective was to achieve my itinerary as I had planned. I began my day early to arrive at Greenwich for 09:45. I started the day right 🙂 with a cup of coffee and a Chelsea bun at the family owned Peyton and Byrne Cafe. Oh yes! I do have a sweet tooth although I do not indulge with such treats often. However, on this occasion, with all the walking ahead of me, I felt I needed the sugar!
My first stop was the Greenwich Market. Afterwards, I walked around the town for a bit before making my way along King William Walk and across the Royal Park towards the Royal Observatory and the Planetarium. It was not a very busy morning on that day in the market or the town, so it was a little easier to click away. The following is the itinerary of how I spent the day at Greenwich.
- Greenwich Market
Each time I visit Greenwich, I take the opportunity to visit the Greenwich Market which is right in the centre of town and today was no different. The aroma of fresh coffee and freshly baked bread and pastries was inviting even as I walked along the road towards the market. It was not busy but the crowd was beginning to form.
Greenwich Market was established in 1737 and today, this covered market is fun, colourful and bustling with shoppers from the beginning of the market-day till it closes. There is no shortage of a great selection of antiques shops, handmade gift ideas, arts and crafts, British designer fashion and jewellery. As with any markets, Greenwich Market offers delicious street food on-the-go that spans the globe, ranging from organic, vegan or gluten-free options.
There is also a huge selection of freshly baked bloomers, delis and cakes. There is something for everyone!
2. In and around Greenwich Town
It is certainly a pleasure to walk around this quaint town! In a little town such as this, you will be surprised to find a variety of selection of shops for fashion and jewellery, on the main street and some tucked away in the nooks of the town.
One that I will highly recommend, is a visit to the Nauticalia, located on Nelson Road and on the corner of King William Walk – you can’t miss it! It is famously quoted as the First Shop in the World! but this claim is probably not true – it is more accurate to regard that this is the first shop in Greenwich since Greenwich Mean Time was invented, so first shop since time began in 1847.
This beautiful little shop, which looks more like a novelty store from the outside is home to unique nautical gifts and collectables. You will find beautiful clocks and barometers, tools and gadgets, and compasses – all making wonderful souvenirs to purchase. Nauticalia is popular amongst tourists as it is a great part of Greenwich and it is worth a visit when you are here.
Places to eat:
There is amazingly a wealth of quality food to choose from with many pubs here serving the pub-grub, Italian and French cafes that serves great coffees and fresh pastries, a choice of Chinese, Vietnamese and of course food-on-the-go.
- Greenwich Tavern – Is an attractive pub with an elegant interior that serves traditional British pub grub, fish & chips, burgers and sausage & mash. It offers a kids menu for your young ones. This pub offers cocktails and beers as well as real ales. I had visited here on a number of occasions but have not tried the cocktails here yet. It is definitely a place for me return to on another day during happy hour, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.
2. You can head-over to the Kings Arms, for a traditional pub-grub also if you prefer a different setting.
3. There are a great variety of restaurants such as Bills, takeaways and cafes which caters for all palates.
4. The family-run cafe, Goddards of Greenwich, has been here since 1890 and offers delicious home-made pies which you may want to try.
It was easy to be lost in my own thoughts when here but I was mindful of my time and everything that I wanted to see before 6 p.m. Besides the quaint town, the Market and the shops, what makes Greenwich popular are the four main attractions of the Royal Museums Greenwich. So, I began to make my way along King William Walk and across the Royal Park towards the Royal Observatory and the Planetarium, which was my first stop. It was a pleasant, cool morning with the rays of sun coming through between the trees and I just felt that the day ahead was going to be a splendid one.
My plan to visit the Royal Observatory and the Planetarium first was important because I wanted to watch the Planetarium Show at 11:45. So, a walk through the gallery and Flamsteed House before the show worked well because, after the show, I still had some time to explore which brought me nicely to watch the Red Time Ball drop at 1 p.m. A walk downhill to the Queen’s House, then the Maritime Museum and then the Cutty Sark. Please click on the individual links to read more and for money saving tips plus useful information. I have included a Summary of Experiences for each of the 4 top attractions here at the bottom of their respective blogs, just above the “Useful information” paragraph. I hope that you will find the summary useful. Let me know in the comments box of what you think of this idea of “summary.”
3. The Royal Observatory and the Planetarium
When one thinks of the town Greenwich, one can immediately relate the town to GMT, the Greenwich Mean Time, the Prime Meridian of the world, where zero- degree longitude is marked – Yes! it is the home where time begins and ends, where east meets west! Time, the most precious commodity in life, is the Only commodity that we own, according to Baltasar Gracian who once said:
“All that really belong to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that.”
So, where better a place is there than Greenwich itself for a day visit to discover the practicality of accurate time and time distribution in everyday life with my young children many years ago. [to continue reading click here]
4. The Queen’s House
The Queen’s House is a historic royal house which served as a former royal residence, Greenwich Palace, where Elizabeth I was born. It was built between 1616 and 1636 and was designed by the famous architect, Inigo Jones, who was inspired by his travels in Italy and the Queen’s House was the first Classical building in England. The building is Grade 1 listed and is an ancient monument and includes the 35 metres (115 feet) axial vista to the River Thames. [to continue reading click here]
5. The Natural Maritime Museum
I am sure that you will not be bored with a visit to the National Maritime Museum here 😊 as it features popular artworks and space-photography that will capture your interest from the time you walk-in as it did mine, on this visit. It is a perfect place to visit after the Queens House as it is located next to the House. It is a place where you can [to continue reading click here]
6. The Cutty Sark
My kids had a ball here! And what a delight it was to re-visit this legendary 19th century sailing ship that was the fastest ship in her time. This is the only surviving tea clipper in the world today. The Cutty Sark is suitable for a family fun-day out and for children from three-years upwards. I am certain that your kids will have a splendid time learning how to steer the ship’s wheel and taking the 963 tons of Victorian tea clipper through storms and [to continue reading click here]
Greenwich certainly offers a lot of experiences, and it is a visit that requires careful planning. In a nutshell, you can enjoy 45 Experiences in One Day – A Day Trip to Greenwich. These are:
- I call this a typical English Experience – Coffee + Chelsea bun in a British owned cafe, Peyton and Byrne.
- Greenwich Market – one of the oldest flea market in England dating back to 1737.
- Enjoy and experience the authentic, freshly made food from all around the world, plus 100% vegan option was also available.
- Go back in time and walk through the little nooks and narrow alleys where you will be pleasantly surprised with artisan shops and boutiques.
- Visit the “First Shop in the World” – Nauticalia, since 1847. You would probably want to give it a quick browse in the morning and visit later in the day or just visit once, perhaps at the end of the day.
- Note the amazing places to eat – Experience the traditional British pub-grub and grab a pint or two.
- The Royal Greenwich Park is host to the Royal Museums Greenwich, designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Experiences at the Royal Observatory & The Planetarium.
- The Shepherd’s Clock.
- Greenwich Meridian Line.
- Flamsteed House.
- Time & Longitude Galleries.
- The Red Time Ball.
- The Planetarium.
- The View – stunning views of the Queen’s House, River Thames and London’s Skyline.
- The Park – the chance to see the Royal Deer!
- Experiences at the Queen’s House.
- Imagine what life was like back in the 17th century as you walk through the 1st Classical building in England which is Grade 1 listed and is an ancient monument.
- Experience 400 years of history, the stories behind each painting and each wall…
- Discover why it is also known as “The House of Delight”
- The incredible art collection.
- The cubic Great Hall.
- The recently restored beautifully decorated ceiling in gold leaf
- Walk on the incredible striking black and white marble from the 1630s
- The stunning view directly to the River Thames from the 1st floor gallery
- The infamous Tulip Stairs
- The Queen’s Presence Chamber
- The ceiling of the Chamber is the original feature of the House
- The “Mask of Youth”
- The Armada Portrait – discover the significance of the Tudor Rose, Pelican and ermine that is featured on the portrait.
- Experiences at the National Maritime Museum
- Possibly the largest of its kind in the world
- Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle.
- Figurehead Collection
- The Traders Gallery – British history over 250 years
- Map of the World – various continents
- Prince Frederick’s Barge
- Exhibitions – at the moment it is on “Space Photography”
- Experiences at the Cutty Sark
- Family fun-day with characters from the past.
- Discover the history of the World’s only surviving tea clipper.
- Steer the Ship’s wheel and imagine going through storms and the drama of sea-life.
- The story behind the name “Cutty Sark”.
- Traditional Afternoon English Tea.
- Value for money!
** I suggested that a visit to the Queen’s House after the Observatory, however, if you are needing lunch or a break, the Greenwich Tavern is a good place to go to. It is just across the road from the Park, where you can easily resume your visit to the Queen’s House afterwards. Alternatively, you can visit the Cafe at the National Maritime Museum.
Opening hours: 10:00 – 17:30, 7-days a week and Bank Holidays
Address: Greenwich Market, London SE10 9HZ
25 Nelson Road, Greenwich, SE10 9JB
Getting to Greenwich
There are several ways to get to Greenwich. Oyster cards are valid on all Underground and bus journeys from Central London to Greenwich. The following is the three main transportation mode that can be used to get here:
- Docklands Light Railway (DLR) – DLR can be accessed from Bank Station which is on the Central Line from Central London. Greenwich is just 20 minutes journey from here.
- Southeastern Trains – From London Bridge, it is less than 10 minutes From Cannon Street Station, it is less than 15 minutes
- MBNA Thames Clippers – The catamarans depart every 20 minutes from: London Eye pier – 40 minutes to Greenwich London Bridge pier – 25 minutes to Greenwich Tower pier – 20 minutes to Greenwich