I'm not sure at what point I became obsessed with visiting Greenwich but right before our last trip to London it was something I became determined to do. Possibly because I spend 80% of my freelance working life writing about London and it is an area which always crops up or because I had a hunch that it was the kind of place I would love...I don't know!
Anyway, I determined that on our next trip to London we had to factor in time to cross the River Thames and spend the day in Greenwich. Luckily no-one had a problem with that and we were able to spend almost the entire day exploring the area. And I would definitely recommend it. Whether you are a family with young children or a couple on a romantic break and all arrangements in between, I am positive that you will enjoy a trip to Greenwich as much as we did.
If you are staying in Central London then you will need to cross the Thames to reach Greenwich. We chose to travel by car from our AirBnB accommodation in Crystal Palace because it was our last day in the city and we would be travelling home immediately afterwards (it's worth knowing that on a Sunday parking charges are HUGELY reduced in London. We paid a grand total of £1 to park in Greenwich for the day but there are often free spaces aplenty)
However, we also took a boat tour from Greenwich Pier so you could easily do this from Central London to make your way across. I'll cover this in more detail below. Alternatively the tube and the bus are great public transport options or you can venture out by foot and come through the Greenwich Tunnels which run directly underneath the River Thames as well.
What to See & Do
There are a number of great things to do once you are in Greenwich but if you don't have a lot of time then you will need to make your selection wisely. The Royal Museums of Greenwich consist of The National Maritime Museum, The Queen's House, Cutty Sark and The Royal Observatory. We only had time to fully explore one so we chose the National Maritime Museum as it seemed to appeal to everyone from my Dad with his love of naval history and battles right down to Eli who just needs space to burn his energy off.
We particularly enjoyed the interactive gallery for children and you can read our separate review of that here.
We also walked down to see Cutty Sark from the outside but unfortunately didn't have the opportunity to go in.
If we had time on our next visit to London, I'd love to visit the Royal Observatory and the Planetarium there but we just ran out of time.
Other great options for things to do include the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich Park and Greenwich Market. We ventured into Greenwich Market for lunch and it was brilliant. Divided into two sections, there is a food market at one side selling freshly cooked, locally sourced treats and on the other side you can find independent sellers with everything from homeware to jewellery to antiques. It has a very 'arts and crafts' feel to the market and was a lovely place to wander and pick up a few souvenir trinkets to take home with us.
As I mentioned above, we also took a boat tour from Greenwich Pier. You can save money (as did we) by avoiding the boat tour companies and just purchasing a ticket for a Thames Clipper boat instead. These are more like commuter boats and they stop off at different piers along the Thames. It would have cost us around £15-20 per adult for a boat tour whereas the Clipper was around £8-9 instead and both Meg and Eli were free.
Sure, we didn't get the full benefit of a tour guide or the in-depth information which comes with it but we were able to spot all of the major landmarks with the children and we even got to see Tower Bridge lifting up which was pretty cool.
We disembarked for a while at Westminster Pier; the water had been quite choppy and my Mum needed a break before heading back to Greenwich.
Where to Eat
Greenwich Market is a great option if you are working to a tight budget as there was a whole range of stalls selling various cuisines and dishes from £3-4 upwards. You could also head to Greenwich High Street which has a number of cafes and coffee shops as well.
For our dinner, before we set off back home, we opted for a more 'traditional' Greenwich meal at Goddards at Greenwich. This is a family pie and mash shop which has been open since the 1890's. None of us were feeling quite brave enough to try their jellied eel but we did opt for the 'pie & mash' pie of minced beef with lashings of gravy (much to Eli's horror!) - I loved the old style feel of the restaurant, especially the wooden benches which made up the indoor seating.
As you can see, there is so much in Greenwich; the only trouble you will have is deciding what you've got time to do!