Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye- all of these are some of the most popular tourist attractions when it comes to London. When these big name attractions are checked off the list London still has so much left to offer, one place in particular being Greenwich. Far from the busy chaotic streets of central London, Greenwich is home to royal heritage, gorgeous parks, historic museums and plenty of views. So before you plan to stick around the usual tourist attractions of London consider spending a day or two in Greenwich.
Follow the Footsteps of Royalty at The Queen’s House
If you’re fascinated with the Royal family then a stop at the Queen’s House should be on your list of places to visit. Queen Anne, James II’s wife, was meant to be the first queen to inhabit the residence, but she died before it was completed leaving Queen Henrietta, Charles I’s wife, to be the first queen to live in the royal house. Designed by Inigo Jones in the 17th century the Queen’s House became the first classical building in England. Stepping into the royal residence will leave you breathless as you’re graced with striking marble floors, the uniquely designed gold leaf Great Hall ceiling, and the famous Tulip Staircase.
At the moment the Queen’s House is holding an exhibit of over 400 various portraits including the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I.
Explore the Old Royal Navy College
Visible from the windows of the Queen’s House is the Old Royal Navy College, another must see when visiting Greenwich. The Royal Navy College was built by Christopher Wren in the 18th century under it’s originally name The Royal Hospital for Seaman- where Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were born. In 1873 the Royal Navy took over the property and resided there for the next 124 years. Today the area is used by University of Greenwich and Trinity College of Music, but inside The Old Royal Navy College you can easily get lost admiring the Painted Hall that took James Thornhill 19 years to complete so don’t forget to look up!
Where East Meets West
One of my favorite places in Greenwich is the Royal Observatory. Famous for the Prime Meridian of the World, where east meets west at 0° 0’ 0”, the Royal Observatory is one of the most visited places in Greenwich. Besides being able to step back in time at the Prime Meridian Line visitors are also welcomed to explore the rest of the observatory which is a museum dedicated to time and astronomy. During your visit be sure to check out the Peter Harrison Planetarium, London’s only planetarium, and watch in awe at the various shows they have to offer.
Climb on Board Cutty Sark
Sailing at the maximum speed of 17.5 knots, Cutty Sark, is Britain’s fast clipper ship and when visiting Greenwich you’ll have the opportunity to visit the last surviving tea clipper ship. This award winning tourist attraction allows visitors to step on board Cutty Sark and take hold of the wheel where many captains stood in the past as they raced from China to the U.K. to deliver tea. While standing on the deck you can enjoy the breathtaking views of the London skyline and Thames River. If going onto the ship isn’t cool enough Cutty Sark has been raised three metres above ground giving visitors the chance to walk underneath the ship!
Stroll Through Greenwich Park
To add to your list of royal locations to visit in Greenwich, Greenwich Park should be one. The oldest Royal Park in London and birthplace of Henry VIII has become a place for visitors and locals young and old visit on a sunny day in London. When you visit you may see deer and wonder why they’re there. Henry VIII introduced deer to the park for hunting and to this day the deer have their own enclosure in the park. Herb and flower gardens are scattered throughout the park and for the little ones there is a playground full of slides, swings and monkey bars for them to run around and play on. London is known for their vast amount of parks and it only makes sense to visit the oldest Royal Park while you’re visiting London.
Ride the Cable Car
The London Eye is one thing, but the cable cars in Greenwich, in my opinion, surpass the London Eye anyday. Soaring over Greenwich and over The O2 arena allows riders to take in every inch of Greenwich and beyond from a bird’s eye view. The ride normally last about ten minutes leaving you plenty of time to take pictures and videos of the sights. I highly recommend hopping on the cable cars as the sun is setting or for a night ride to see the London night sky.