There are many lovely green spaces dotted across the London landscape but few are as beautiful on a sunny day than Greenwich.
Located in South East London, Greenwich is a short tube (on the Jubilee line) or boat (on the Thames Clipper or most of the riverboat cruises) from central London but stepping on to the flowing green lawns it feels like you’ve been transported to a quiet, leafy, seaside village.
Greenwich is one of the boroughs of the London Docklands and is most famous for its maritime history. It was the birthplace of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I and has been immortalised with the ‘Greenwich Meridian’ and ‘Greenwich Mean Time’.
Established in 1873, The Royal Naval College is one of the most iconic buildings in Greenwich and has been seen in many movies including The Young Victoria, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Les Misérables, Cinderella and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
You can visit the historic rooms of the college (which ceased to be a military school in 1998) and it’s well worth a visit to the Painted Hall which is gorgeous in its grandeur.
In the 20th century Greenwich welcomed a new permanent residence when the Cutty Sark was installed next to the river front.
Greenwich’s maritime connections were further established with the opening of the National Maritime Museum in 1934 which offers interesting and informative permanent and temporary exhibits that are sure to make you want to throw off the constraints of land and take to life on the sea!
After you’ve wandered around the museum you’ll want to leave plenty of time to make your way up the hill to the Royal Observatory. (Both because it’s a bit of a hike and because you want lots of time to keep exploring!) At the summit stands the Royal Observatory where you can straddle the Greenwich Meridian Line (the Prime Meridian) where East meets West and take in some truly stunning views across London.
When you’ve drunk your fill of Greenwich’s sights (both literally and figuratively depending on the type of day out you have in mind!) I highly recommend hopping onboard one of the many river boats and taking the scenic ride back to central London.
There are a variety of tour and boat operators to choose from but not all of them provide commentary of river sights. For some people, this serene silence will probably be ideal but for those of you who, like me, are always curious to know more about what we’re seeing and experiencing make sure you speak to the helpful ladies and gents selling tickets to ensure you’re on the right boat for a cruise into knowledge.
Once you’ve cast off, the boat takes a leisurely meander along the Thames passing some truly amazing (and sometimes odd) architecture that shows the many layers and decades of London architecture that have been brought together.
A few twists and turns and before you know it some rather familiar sights come into view…
The view from the water is truly awesome and well worth the minimal ticket cost. Where else can you get up close to London’s landmarks without a million other people blocking your view?
Most boats leaving from Greenwich dock at Westminster Bridge so if you’re looking to go farther make sure you get information on transfers and onward journeys from the ticket officers. Thankfully for me, Westminster is a handy jumping off point and truly one of my favourite spots in London. I never get tired of these views!
So, Saturday picnic in Greenwich sometime soon?