The Best Things to Do in Greenwich

The Old Royal Naval College is one of many historic buildings in Greenwich
The Old Royal Naval College is one of many historic buildings in Greenwich | © Vittorio Caramazza / Alamy Stock Photo
Judy Cogan

Head south across the River Thames and you’ll find the leafy streets of Greenwich, home to the former Queen’s House, Royal Observatory and sprawling Greenwich Park. Here are our recommendations on what to see and do in this historic part of London.

Charming Greenwich occupies a prime spot on the River Thames with expansive views across London. Why not arrive in style by taking a boat trip downriver? Once there, check out an array of family-friendly museums, the vibrant market and the 19th-century Cutty Sark, using the area’s cosy cafes and pubs as pitstops.

1. Navigate the seas at the Royal Observatory

Building, Museum

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich, London
© Chris Dorney / Alamy Stock Photo
Home of the Prime Meridian, a planetarium and the Great Equatorial Telescope, the world-renowned Royal Observatory is a must-visit for fans of astrophysics and engineering. You can trace the development of time zones, find out how ships determined longitude and touch a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite, as well as stand on the exact point of Longitude Zero (0° 0′ 0″).

2. Tuck into the finest pub grub at the Old Brewery

Gastropub, Pub, Pub Grub, British

Located in the grounds of Old Royal Naval College, Old Brewery cafe and restaurant in Greenwich
© Jeff Gilbert / Alamy Stock Photo

This London boozer sits in the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College, a Unesco-listed site. It serves seasonal British grub with ingredients sourced from the south of England and London, whilst the beer garden offers views of the Thames, Cutty Sark and Canary Wharf. Book ahead for Sunday roast – the beef-dripping cooked roasties as well as the beer battered cod and chips are worth the wait.

4. Discover the history of fans at the Fan Museum


The Fan Museum Greenwich London UK
© parkerphotography / Alamy Stock Photo

The only one of its kind in the UK, the Fan Museum is uniquely dedicated to honouring the craft of hand fans. Yes, really. This unusual museum is housed inside a Grade II listed townhouse, featuring fans dating back to the 11th century. You’ll learn a surprising amount about the craft. Keep your eyes peeled for one hand-painted by the French impressionist Paul Gaugin. Don’t leave without staying for afternoon tea, served in the Orangery overlooking the Japanese garden.

5. Have a picnic in Greenwich Park

Park, Museum

Canary Wharf and the Docklands seen from Greenwich Park
© Piero Cruciatti / Alamy Stock Photo
No one wants to haul a picnic basket across London. So why not head to Royal Teas on Royal Hill? Choose from a selection of tasty fresh baguettes, frittatas and homemade cakes for a glorious picnic in Greenwich Park, the oldest royal park in London. Fancy something a little special? Opt for the prosecco cream tea box for two, it’s available to takeaway and eat al fresco. Afterwards, stroll through the enchanting rose garden – you might even spot wild deer.

6. Enjoy top-notch entertainment at Up the Creek Comedy

Bar, Beer

Greenwich, London. Up the Creek comedy and cabaret club
© Eden Breitz / Alamy Stock Photo

This cosy comedy club was founded by Malcolm Hardee – a veteran of the first Soho Comedy Store – and gives stage time to up-and-coming talent as well as top comedians. Acts who have appeared include Mo Gilligan, Sarah Millican and Sarah Pascoe. But any comedian worth their salt has beaten the notorious Black Out night here. Expect regular happy hours, after-parties and a menu of decent burgers and craft beer.

7. Take a tour of the Cutty Sark


London and the hull of the Cutty Sark at Greenwich.
© Stephen Tattersall / Alamy Stock Photo

Shiver me timbers, the Cutty Sark is a 19th-century tea clipper sailing ship that was the fastest of its time. It welcomes visitors on board to walk on its decks and explore the captain’s cabin. Enjoy a guided or audio tour to learn all about how the crew lived, what they ate and where they slept. There are regular shows and events in the studio theatre.

8. Watch up-and-coming acts at Greenwich Theatre


Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London, UK
© MS Bretherton / Alamy Stock Photo

A quality Off-West End theatre, Greenwich Theatre puts on a truly diverse range of productions and shows, encompassing everything from stand-up comedy and lectures to children’s plays and opera. It has an ethos of supporting theatre production at grassroots level, from casting new talent in its shows to offering guidance and rehearsal space to emerging theatre companies. Past productions have included Macbeth, A Christmas Carol and comedy from Adam Kay.

9. Grab a bite to eat at Greenwich Market


Greenwich market sign, London, England
© NICK FIELDING / Alamy Stock Photo
Established in 1737, Greenwich Market is one of London’s most historic markets, selling crafts, antiques, fashion, jewellery, art and more. Check out Greenwich Printmakers exhibitions and buy some local art to take home. The food stalls are a big draw and offer up plenty of authentic bites from Italian cannoli and Brazilian churros to Desi street food. There are plenty of pubs nearby to rest your shopped-out feet with a pint.

10. Admire the art collection at the Queen's House


England, London, Greenwich, The Queens House, Tulip Staircase
© mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
It’s in the name, but Queen’s House is another one of Greenwich’s royal residences. This grand white building is a masterpiece designed by historical architect Inigo Jones – it was the first classical building in the UK. It is home to an impressive art collection and some seriously fancy interiors. Highlights include portraits of Queen Elizabeth I and the Great Hall ceiling designed by Turner Prize winning artist Richard Wright.

11. Rediscover the universe at the Peter Harrison Planetarium

Museum, Park, Theater

Royal Observatory Peter Harrison planetarium, Greenwich, London.
© Tony Watson / Alamy Stock Photo
Book an immersive show that will take you to the surface of Mars, the edges of the universe or an adventure around the solar system. Part of the National Maritime Museum, this 120-seat planetarium invites you to learn all about the wonders of the universe in the most innovative and imaginative ways. For a romantic (and child-free) experience, visit at night.

Not sorted your Greenwich stay yet? Book one of the best hotels in the London Docklands area now through Culture Trip and enjoy your time right on the Thames.
Grace Beard and Angie Quinn contributed additional reporting to this article.

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