Greenwich Village London: Cool Things to do in Greenwich

Greenwich Village London is one of the city’s not so hidden treasures. With a wealth of museums, markets and sights, it’s no wonder that it has established itself as one of London’s must-visit destinations. Wondering what to do in Greenwich, London? Check out my guide to planning the perfect Greenwich day out.

Greenwich is firmly on my list of recommendations for anyone visiting London – or even anyone who lives in the city but doesn’t get out to explore as much as they could.

Ready to explore? Put on a comfortable pair of shoes and join me on the perfect Greenwich day out.

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    The Best Things to do in Greenwich: At a Glance

    1. Wander around the Old Royal Naval College
    2. Discover the Centre of Time at the Royal Observatory and London Planetarium
    3. Explore the National Maritime Museum
    4. Marvel at the art in The Queen’s House
    5. Roam around Greenwich Park
    6. Shop and eat in Greenwich Village London Market
    7. Step aboard the Cutty Sark
    8. Take a flight on the Emirates Air Line
    9. Eat some traditional British food at Goddard’s at Greenwich
    10. Have a pint at The Cutty Sark (the pub)

    Looking for more London and U.K. travel inspiration? You should also check out these London travel guides.

    1. Wander Around The Old Royal Naval College

    things to do in greenwich, the old naval college

    The Old Royal Naval College is a must-visit during your Greenwich day out.

    Wander around the huge grounds, with their symmetrical layout and imposing buildings.

    Make sure that you don’t miss the college’s two highlights – the Chapel and the Painted Hall. There are plenty of free things to do in Greenwich London but these are two of my favourites.

    The Chapel is a marvellous example of 18th century baroque design, complete with an ornate plaster ceiling and a large altarpiece by Benjamin West.

    The Chapel at the Old Naval College

    The Painted Hall is just that, with a huge ceiling painting by James Thornhill.

    The buildings were commissioned by William III’s queen Mary as a naval hospital. She engaged Christopher Wren, who designed the hospital’s distinctive buildings so as not to block the views of the river enjoyed by The Queen’s House nearby.

    The naval hospital became the Royal Naval College in 1869 and is now partially occupied by the University of Greenwich and Trinity College of Music.

    Entry: free

    2. Discover the Centre of Time at The Royal Observatory & London Planetarium

    You can’t plan a Greenwich day out and not visit the home of Greenwich mean time (GMT).

    It may be a pretty steep climb up to The Royal Observatory (after having done it, my one piece of advice would be to avoid doing this immediately after lunch) but the views from the top are worth it alone.

    The View of London from Greenwich Park

    The view from just outside the Royal Observatory is undoubtedly one of the best views in London. Make sure you bring a camera because you are definitely going to want to snap the views of the City you’ll get from the top.

    The Royal Observatory is actually several different buildings and areas, some of which are free and some of which aren’t.

    Flamsteed House (named after the first Royal Astronomer in residence after the Observatory was built) and its courtyard, which houses the Prime Meridian Line are both behind the barriers. Unfortunately, this means that you have to pay to get to them.

    Same for the Planetarium.

    Royal Observatory & Planetarium, Greenwich

    It is worth the money. Both the Observatory and Planetarium are very interesting spaces where you can learn a lot about their history and their interaction with the modern world.

    Entry to the Royal Observatory: Tickets for the Royal Observatory are £10 on the door, £9 if you book in advance online. A much better value alternative is to book onto this audio guide tour of the Royal Observatory for £10 (entrance to the Royal Observatory included).

    Entry to the London Planetarium: Tickets for shows are priced individually and generally cost £8 for adults. You can check times and book in advance here.

    3. Explore The National Maritime Museum

    The National Maritime Museum is one of those surprise hits and one of the best things to do in Greenwich London.

    The first time I went was for an Ansel Adams exhibition a few years ago. Being an avid photographer, there was no way I was going to miss that exhibition and I figured that seeing as I was there, I might as well have a look at the rest of the museum.

    I was very glad of it. The National Maritime Museum charts the history of Britain’s naval heritage through an expertly curated range of exhibitions.

    The National Maritime Museum

    The museum tells so many tales, from that of the the East India Company, who controlled large parts of India up until the mutiny in 1857, to the dark side of the British obsession with tea (which was bound up with the rise of the opium trade).

    There’s also a gallery dedicated to Nelson and the role he played in shaping British history. Kids (well, adults too) love the interactive features and there’s a children’s gallery and play area to keep the little ones entertained.

    Entry to the National Maritime Museum is free. Special exhibitions are charged separately.

    4. Marvel at Art at The Queen’s House

    I’m not going to lie, The Queen’s House is my new-found favourite place and another awesome free thing to do in Greenwich.

    Of all the things I’d recommend for your Greenwich day out, it was the one that I knew the least about before my recent trip, but actually ended up enjoying the most.

    It was built in the 17th century for Queen Anne (James II’s wife). Unfortunately, she died before it was completed. Instead Henrietta (Charles I’s wife) was the first queen to inhabit the royal residence.

    The building was designed by groundbreaking architect Inigo Jones and was the first in England to be built in the Neoclassical style.

    From the outside, it’s a simple yet striking piece of architecture but it’s the inside that I fell in love with. From the heavily Instagrammed Tulip Staircase to the gorgeous tiled floors, it’s a gorgeous setting.

    The Queen’s House is currently being used to showcase some of the Royal Museums’ collection of portraits (which is the second biggest in the UK after the National Portrait Gallery’s).

    Art at The Queen's House, Greenwich

    The rooms are filled with portraits and other artworks from floor to ceiling – striking the perfect balance between the lustrous setting and the striking artworks.

    Pieces currently on exhibition include Queen Elizabeth I’s Armada portrait and Gentileschi’s Joseph & Potiphar’s Wife.

    Don’t forget to peek out of the windows too – there are beautiful views to the Royal Naval College at the front and over Greenwich Park and to the observatory at the back.

    Entry to the Queen’s House is free.

    5. Roam Around Greenwich Park

    Greenwich Park is one of London’s Royal Parks and the oldest of them all. With a history that dates back to the Roman times, it was enclosed as a park in 1433.

    Henry VIII was born here and it was he who introduced the famous deer to the park (you can still spot them roaming the park today).

    Greenwich Park

    History aside, the park is a fabulous setting for summer picnics (been there, done that) and one of the nicest green spaces in London.

    No matter how busy it is, you can always find a nice space to claim as yours for the afternoon to laze away while nibbling on tasty tidbits.

    The Royal Observatory and London Planetarium are also based in Greenwich Park.  Even if you aren’t going to the Observatory, you should climb to their entrance for a stunning London cityscape.

    6. Shop and Eat at Greenwich Village London Market

    There are really two parts to Greenwich Market: the shopping part and the food stall part.

    If you like food, or shopping from quirky independent traders (or both) then there’s something for you here.

    Greenwich Market Food

    The market dates from the 18th century and is one of the city’s prettier ones.

    Shoppers can browse through a large array of goods – from handmade leather bags to limited edition photography and hand forged curtain poles.

    If you’re hungry, Greenwich Market’s continental food court should also not be missed – lovers of Caribbean food should definitely try the West Indian food stall there.

    7. Step Aboard The Cutty Sark

    The Cutty Sark is a beauty of a boat and one of Greenwich’s most famous attractions.

    She was built in Scotland in 1869 and was the fastest ship of the time, thanks to her modern design.

    The Cutty Sark was built as a tea clipper, used to escort tea from China to Britain as quickly as possible – now she’s the only remaining tea clipper in the world.

    A visit to The Cutty Sark is a chance to learn about the ship’s history: over the years, she’s been used as a wool clipper, spent a spell in Portugal and used as a training ship in Kent.

    She’s been docked on the edge of the River Thames in Greenwich since the 1950s but was closed between 2007 and 2012 for a renovation project that saw her permanently lifted three metres out of the water so visitors could see the full boat for the first time.

    Entry to the Cutty Sark: Tickets for the Cutty Sark cost £12.15 per adult. You can buy them on the day or book in advance.

    Alternatively book onto this hop-on-hop-off Thames Clipper tour, which comes with entrance to the Cutty Sark included. Perfect to combine your Greenwich day trip with a visit to the London Eye and Tower of London in central London.

    8. Take a Flight on the Emirates Air Line

    While it’s not in Greenwich Village itself, a trip on the Emirates Air Line is a must for any Greenwich day out.

    Over on the Greenwich Peninsula and near to the Greenwich o2 Arena, the Emirates Air Line is a cable car that shuttles between North Greenwich and Royal Docks near to the Excel Centre.

    Yes, the Air Line is operated by Transport for London, and is probably a useful means of transport for many people, but it’s also the perfect way to take in London from a different perspective as you hover 90 metres above its skyline.

    It goes without saying that if you’ve got a bit of a fear of heights, you might want to give it a miss.

    Entry: Use your Oyster Card, the Emirates Air Line is part of London’s public transport system.

    9. Eat Some Traditional British Food at Goddard’s at Greenwich

    Goddard’s is a pie, mash and liquor restaurant and the place to try some traditional British grub.

    Pie houses grew in popularity in the 1700s and have been warming Londoners’ stomachs ever since with their range of hearty pies.

    Traditional Pie & Mash Shop, Greenwich

    Goddard’s is also the place to try those rare cockney treats – jellied or stewed eels.

    10. Have a Pint at the Cutty Sark (the pub this time)

    It’s not a proper Greenwich day out without a proper pint in a pub.  There are few places better in Greenwich to do this than The Cutty Sark Pub.

    The pub’s riverfront building dates back to the Georgian times and the three floors offer pretty views of the Thames and Canary Wharf.

    Sit down with a pint one of the Young’s special brews on tap, relax and congratulate yourself on a day well done.

    So there we are, the perfect Greenwich day trip. Enjoy!

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      4 thoughts on “Greenwich Village London: Cool Things to do in Greenwich”

      1. Loved reading this as Greenwich is my favourite place. The Painted Hall is closed at present for renovation works but will be worth waiting for. You may wonder how you recognise some of the places but it’s because Greenwich is used frequently for big films.

        1. Thanks Christine – yeah the hall closed just after I wrote the piece. Am really looking forward to seeing it in its restored glory! I’m really glad you like it – Greenwich is also one of my favourite parts of London!

      2. The headline photo (always used) taken from (near) the Observatory seems to position the new world of Canary Wharf right at the heart of Greenwich. In fact, wandering around the market and the University, this world doesn’t exist. Need to use the Goddard Pie & Mash photo as the headline – more representative, me thinks.

        1. Thanks for your comments Alan – I think the headline picture captures the scope and symmetry of the Queen’s House and Royal Navy College and I think these definitely represent the heart of Greenwich. But thank you for the suggestion.

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