Travel Highlights: Things to see and do when visiting Greenwich (Updated 2021)

Whether your coming from Richmond or Runcorn, Greenwich is a major tourism town that sees thousands of people paving its streets every year. This year (and last year) however, has slightly been a little different. With lockdown eased again, the streets of Greenwich are starting to fill up again. 

I originally published this post in August 2020 and have revised it so it’s updated to reflect this year’s events. Spending a day trip visiting Greenwich during the summer holidays can be easy, cheap and very enjoyable for the whole family. Train companies usually offer GroupSave discounts when travelling during summer holidays if you’re coming from outside of London.

Visiting Greenwich

There’s so much to see and do in Greenwich that I’d recommend taking out two days to see everything if you can otherwise you’ll have a jam-packed day trip. If you’re aiming to see it all in a day, make sure you have an itinerary plan and stick to it. If you’re staying overnight, there’s so many hotels in and around Greenwich to choose from. Greenwich is home to the Royal Museums Greenwich which is the umbrella for the top three museums (National Maritime, Cutty Sark & Royal Observatory) plus the stunning UNESCO heritage site, Queen’s House.

Toilets: There are toilets inside Greenwich Park, the museums and there’s also a paid public toilet located near Cutty Sark, opposite Starbucks.

Top tip: Start early to really get the most out of everything.

The Greenwich Mummy Blog - Things to Do in Greenwich for Free
Queen’s House and the grounds / Photo Credit: Royal Parks

How do I get to Greenwich?

By train, DLR or tube
I’d recommend getting to Greenwich as early as 10AM to get the most out of your day. Your closest stations to Greenwich are Greenwich Cutty Sark DLR which is right in the centre of town, Greenwich railway station is a 7 mins walk away or a short bus ride, and North Greenwich underground station is a 15 mins bus ride away. Another lesser known rail station is Maze Hill which is ideal if you want to start your day visit off at Greenwich Park, Queen’s House, or Royal Observatory Greenwich. It’s about 5-7 mins walk to the town centre from here.

Be aware that if you’re visiting with young children, you’ll need to plan in extra time as they will tire easily so limit the number of attractions you want to see. Focus on just 1-2 main attractions and fill the rest of your day with free time to have a hassle-free experience. Pre-booking is highly recommended for all museum visits if you don’t want to be disappointed. Walk-in bookings may not be possible and some attractions are fully booked well in advance so do your research before coming.

By bus
Buses that stop on Greenwich high road and the town centre: 177, 180, 199, 129, 188, 286, 386

By boat
If you have time, travel in style on the water with Thames Clippers (run by Uber Boat) to any popular destination ie. The O2, Westminster, or go all-out by booking a river cruise with City Cruises. The Greenwich Pier from where the boats depart from is located opposite Cutty Sark and the Old Royal Naval College.

Things to see and do in Greenwich:

Cutty Sark – highly recommended!

Last August was the first time we set foot onboard the Cutty Sark. She’s the last standing tea clipper, and thanks to the restorations, she looks more beautiful than ever. It was amazing to stand on the main deck with the kids – we saw how tiny the ship cabins were, found out that toilets were called ‘heads’ as they were originally designed to be at the head of the ship.

We also discovered that Cutty Sark not only carried tea on board her cargo but she also carried many weird and wonderful things including beer and spirits, clothes and even the odd piano! Throughout the day you can also meet the ‘Cutty Sark Characters’ who will tell you a story of her past travels.

Cutty Sark

Open daily, 10am – 5pm

“Visit Cutty Sark, the celebrated historic sailing ship and fastest of its time. Now an award-winning visitor attraction in Greenwich, London.”

Prices:
Adult – £15
Child – £7.50
RMG Member – FREE


Painted Hall

Calling all culture vultures and fine art lovers. The Painted Hall boasts one of the most spectacular Baroque interiors in Europe.

Gaze up at The Painted Hall’s incredible ceiling and wall decorations which were designed and hand-painted by British artist, Sir James Thornhill. Thornhill used a variety of painting techniques including trompe l’oeil, which literally means to ‘trick the eye’. This clever use of illusion, combined with the Baroque architecture is something that needs to be seen in person to truly appreciate the breathtakingly beautiful paintings.

Why not visit the rest of the Old Royal Naval College grounds whilst you’re there? Visit Old Royal Naval College website

The Greenwich Mummy | UK Family Lifestyle & Travel Blog

Painted Hall

Opens daily, 10am – 5pm

“Discover a breathtaking artwork in the heart of historic Greenwich. Includes entry to the Painted Hall with a multimedia guide (available in 7 languages) & a guided or self-guided tour of our extensive grounds and buildings.”

Tickets:
Adult – £12.50
Carers- FREE
Child (under 16) – FREE
Students & Concessions – £7.50

Photo Credit: ORNC website


Greenwich Market

Even though Greenwich Market which is a covered open space, wearing a face covering is still advised. The markets have a range of food, arts and crafts and vintage stalls to see. Food stalls offer different cuisines to suit everyone. From authentic Thai to Italian homemade pastas, Chinese dim sum to meat-free and plant-based eats. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, try the Ethiopian food stall if you want hot food or the Mediterranean vegan bowls from Ehla if you’d rather a cold option.

Eating out in Greenwich

There are literally so many places to eat from in Greenwich that you’re simply spoilt for choice. Love pizza? My recommendation is Franco Manca, their sourdough-base pizzas are delicious beyond belief. Prefer something lighter? The Grind Greenwich is perfect for a brunch or a light lunch. Want food on-the-go? Choose from good ol’ Greggs to M&S Foods. There’s endless coffee shops to choose from and bakeries like Peyton & Bryne to satisfy your morning hunger.

My favourite place to eat is Bill’s restaurant for a healthy and wholesome English breakfast (I love their vegetarian option!) and the market stalls for a quick lunch fix – the softshell crab burger from Da Fish Ting stall is AMZING!

Greenwich Market

Opens daily, 10am – 5.30pm

Arts & Crafts stalls
Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Weekends

Antiques stalls
Tuesdays and Thursdays

Food stalls & outdoor food court
Every day! Check website to check list of vendors


National Maritime Museum

The National Maritime is every local’s favourite place to visit. It’s spacious, friendly, and conveniently located. The cafés, museum gift shop and children’s play area are on the ground floor. Upstairs you’ll find more museum artefacts, special exhibitions and a small café. The Ahoy Gallery is a dedicated play space for young kids aged 0-5 years, make sure you book your free space to avoid disappointment.

Last summer, the museum set up two self-led outdoor nature trails which we got involved with post-lockdown. We had a go at both trails and loved the Hide & Seek Bird trail.

The Wandering Mother Blog | Things to see & do in Greenwich

National Maritime Museum

Opens daily, 10am – 5pm

“Visit the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Discover epic stories of exploration and endeavour that have shaped our world today.”

Tickets:
FREE but you must pre-book online


Queen’s House

As one of the UNESCO heritage sites, the Queen’s House was the first Classical building in the UK, and was also home to royalty including the Tudor family and King James I. This palace was also once home to Elizabeth I and many other great queens after her. Now, it houses an internationally-renowned art collection. Take a look through the gallery’s paintings and portraits then snap a selfie on that infamous Tulip Staircase.

When you’re done with exploring the grounds, sit down on the grounds of Greenwich Park for a picnic and enjoy people-watching at its finest.

The Wandering Mother Blog | Things to see & do in Greenwich

Queen’s House

Opens daily, 10am – 5pm

“Visit the Queen’s House in Greenwich, London. Home to an internationally renowned art collection, Inigo Jones’ architectural masterpiece is the first Classical building in the UK.”

Tickets:
FREE but pre-booking recommended


Royal Greenwich Park

We LOVE Greenwich Park. It has so much to offer and the park is so big that you can’t fit it all in a day’s visit plus seeing attractions. The top half of the park has the deer sanctuary, rose garden and a semi-hidden ‘secret garden’ called the Jubilee Gardens. If you’re planning on visiting the Royal Observatory then you’ll be at the top half of the park and the viewpoint from up there is amazing! You can look down at the whole of Greenwich Park and see Canary Wharf and City in the skyline. If you’re at the lower half of the park you’ll be closer to the children’s playground, the boating lake, National Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House. You’re also a short walk away from the Cutty Sark, The Painted Hall and river Thames.

If you have young children, the playground area is fantastic for up to 10 year olds. There are swings, climbing frames, play sand, a merry-go-round, slides and so much for the kids to enjoy. It does get really packed so just a word of warning.

The Wandering Mother Blog | Things to see & do in Greenwich

Greenwich Park

Opens daily, 6am – 9pm

Covering 74 hectares (183 acres), Greenwich Park is the oldest enclosed Royal Park and home to a small herd of Fallow and Red deer.

There are lots of outdoor events held at Greenwich Park throughout the summer, . Click here for more details

Upcoming events at Greenwich Park 2021

  • Sunday 4th July – Monday 30th August

    Greenwich Park Bandstand Concerts 2021
    Time: 3pm
    Location: Bandstand area

    read more…

  • Thursday 26th August

    Thursday Weekly Play Session
    Time: 1:30pm – 4:30pm
    Location: children’s playground

    read more…

  • Saturday 28th August

    Sing-along cinema: The Greatest Showman
    Time: 8:30pm – 10pm
    Location: near Pavillion Café

    read more


Royal Observatory Greenwich

As mentioned earlier, at the top half of Greenwich Park you will find the Royal Observatory, home to the largest lensed telescope in the UK. The Royal Observatory’s planetarium has reopened and visitors can watch a show at the Peter Harrison planetarium (Ted’s Space Adventure for under 7s is highly recommended!) and see the rest of the museum which includes access to the telescope, the gift shop, and the Prime Meridian Line. A selfie opportunity not to be missed!

Did you know the meridian line has been dividing the Eastern and Western hemisphere since 1884? At night, the line still glows a deep, fluorescent green which can be seen on a clear night sky. Personally, I haven’t seen it for many years as it’s now a rare sighting because there’s so much air pollution.

The Greenwich Mummy | UK Family Lifestyle & Travel Blog

The Royal Observatory

Opens daily, 10am – 5pm

“Visit the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. Home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the Prime Meridian of the world and London’s Planetarium.”

Tickets:
Adult – £16
Child – £8
RMG Member – FREE

Please note:
Planetarium show tickets are not included in entry to the Royal Observatory. Shows run Friday-Monday during term time and daily during school holidays.

Hiring a Greenwich Blue Badge Guide

If you really want to soak up the most history Greenwich has to offer, I’d recommend booking yourself a Blue Badge guide to take you around the town. The guides are amazing and extremely knowledgeable. There’s a few companies to choose from but support local and check out the guys at Greenwich Tours.

P I N  T H I S  P O S T :


NB. This post contains affiliate links. We were kindly gifted admission tickets to the Cutty Sark and Royal Observatory Greenwich for the purpose of this post. All words, photos and content are my own and should not be re-used without my consent. Any press images have been credited respectively.

Posted by

UK Family Travel & Lifestyle Blogger. Mama of two. Juggling motherhood, work, life and everything else in between. :-)

4 thoughts on “Travel Highlights: Things to see and do when visiting Greenwich (Updated 2021)

  1. For those that don’t know, the Painted Hall is often referred to as “the Sistine Chapel of the UK”?

    It’s the largest painted ceiling in London, the impressive baroque hall, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor, took artist Sir James Thornhill nearly 20 years to paint in the early 1700s. If you’ve not seen it then get on down to the Painted Hall in Greenwich… it’s well worth it!

    An £8.5m restoration to clean and conserve the magnificent 17th Century paintings was completed in 2019. The Painted Hall has been brought vividly back to life – you’re in for a treat when you visit!

    Like

Leave a Reply to Manny N Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.