Looking to delve into the unique history and culture of one of London’s most iconic neighborhoods? Greenwich is home to royal heritage, gorgeous parks, historic museums and plenty of views. Here are our top six experiences you have to try on your next visit.
Follow the Footsteps of Royalty at The Queen’s House
Fascinated by the Royal Family? A history or art-lover? If the answer is yes, then a stop at the Queen’s House should be on your list of places to visit. Designed by famous architect Inigo Jones in the 17th century, the Queen’s House was the first neo-classical building in England. Queen Anne, James II’s wife, was meant to be the first queen to inhabit the residence, but she died before it was completed. Which left Queen Henrietta, Charles I’s wife, to be the first queen to live in the royal house. It’s hard not to be impressed by the 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. This includes the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, making it the perfect time to plan your trip.
Explore The Old Royal Navy College
The Old Royal Navy College is visible from the windows of the Queen’s House. The college was built by Christopher Wren in the 18th century under its original name “The Royal Hospital for Seaman”. This is where England’s famous King Henry VIII and daughter 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. Inside The Old Royal Navy College you can easily get lost admiring the Painted Hall that took James Thornhill 19 years to complete. Don’t forget to look up when you’re inside.
Where East Meets West
Tourists and Londoners alike love the Royal Observatory. It is famous for being the home of the Prime Meridian (where east meets west at 0° 0’ 0”), and one of the most visited places in Greenwich.
Besides being able to step back in time on the Prime Meridian Line, you should spend time exploring the rest of the observatory buildings, which function as museums dedicated to time and astronomy. Don’t forget to check out the Peter Harrison Planetarium too, London’s only planetarium.
Climb on Board Cutty Sark
The Cutty Sark was the marvel of the waters when it sailed at its maximum speed of 17.5 knots. It was Britain’s fastest clipper ship and is the last surviving one in modern times. You might wonder how much there is to see in what’s essentially an old boat. This award-winning tourist attraction allows visitors to step on board and take hold of the wheel where many captains stood in the past as they raced from China to the U.K. delivering tea. The ship’s deck offers breathtaking views of the London skyline and Thames River.
Stroll Through Greenwich Park
Greenwich Park is a gorgeous combination of landscaped spaces in the heart of the area. The oldest Royal Park in London and birthplace of Henry VIII has become a place for visitors and locals, young and old to visit on a sunny day in London.
Henry VIII introduced deer to the park for hunting. The deer still have their own enclosure in the park to this day. London is known for its vast number of parks – it only makes sense to visit the oldest Royal Park while you’re there.
Ride the Cable Car
The London Eye is one thing, but the cable cars in Greenwich, in my opinion, surpass the London Eye any day. Riders can soar over Greenwich and The O2 arena to take in every inch of Greenwich and beyond from a bird’s eye view. The ride normally lasts 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.
Julianna Barnaby is a travel writer and blogger from London. She has written for publications including Rough Guides, Business Destinations, and SUITCASE. Having traveled to over 60 countries, she documents her travels in the award-winning travel blog The Discoveries Of. Read more of her London travel guides.