On the south bank of the River Thames, just downriver from central London, Greenwich is one of London’s most atmospheric boroughs. Famous for its UNESCO World Heritage–listed maritime history and Royal Observatory—the home of Greenwich Meantime—it’s a lively retreat from the busy inner city.
The most scenic way to arrive in Greenwich is by boat, and sightseeing cruises along the Thames run all the way from Westminster, passing landmarks like Big Ben, the Tower of London, and Shakespeare’s Globe along the way. The best way to explore is on foot and a walking tour of Greenwich typically includes landmarks such as the Cutty Sark (the world’s sole-surviving tea clipper), the Old Royal Naval College (famous for its magnificent Painted Hall), the National Maritime Museum, and the Queen’s House. Be sure to visit the Royal Observatory, where you can stand at the meeting point of two hemispheres on the Prime Meridian Line, and Greenwich Market, which is renowned for its art, handicrafts, and delicious street food.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Greenwich is a lovely spot for London-goers looking for a break from the big city.
- Plan to spend at least a half-day in Greenwich or a full day if you want to take in all the sights.
- Wear comfortable shoes to explore the Greenwich on foot—it’s full of hills, cobblestone streets, and steps.
- The Royal Observatory and many of the other attractions in Greenwich are wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
Thames Clippers boats run down the River Thames from Embankment Pier and Tower Pier in central London, taking less than an hour to reach Greenwich. The quickest way to Greenwich is by DLR train from London Bridge to Cutty Sark station, or by train from London Bridge or Cannon Street to Greenwich station. The closest London Underground station is North Greenwich on the Jubilee line, which is right next door to the O2.
When to Get There
Greenwich is busiest during the peak summer months (July and August), when you might want to avoid weekends if you don’t like crowds. Popular times to visit are during the Greenwich Summer Festival (July to August), Greenwich Music Time Festival (July), Greenwich and Docklands International Festival (June to July), and Greenwich Christmas Market (November to December).
North Greenwich is home to the huge O2 arena and entertainment complex, housed in the former Millennium Dome. As well as hosting some of London’s biggest music concerts and sporting events, the O2 has a cinema, bowling, and a number of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. Thrill-seekers enjoy the Up at the O2 experience, which offers spectacular views as you walk along the O2’s roof.