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Your Guide To A Fascinating Day Trip In Greenwich

19 January 2022

Famous for being the home of the Meridian Line, the centre of world time, Greenwich is home to many attractions where the hours slip away easily as you explore its many charms.

Landmarks such as the Cutty Sark, the National Maritime Museum, and the Royal Observatory are part of the reason that an estimated 17-19 million people visit each year.

Over 90% of those were day-trippers, so we’ve put together a handy itinerary for you to explore this fascinating south west corner of London in a day.

Where to begin your Greenwich adventure

Start the morning by blowing away the cobwebs and hopping on the Uber Boat from central London to Greenwich Pier. 

Depending on where you embark, the clipper takes passengers past iconic London landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge, and up close to HMS Belfast warship. 

As the boat cruises past the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and round the horseshoe bend of the Thames past the Isle of Dogs, Greenwich will come into view.

The rope-covered masts of the Cutty Sark, the last remaining tea clipper, are visible first, with the Old Royal Naval College dominating the riverside as you pull up to the jetty.

Hop off and start exploring

The boat drops you in front of a round red brick building topped with a glass dome.

To warm up your legs, climb down the wide spiral staircase inside and peek into the Greenwich foot tunnel that runs under the River Thames. 

More than 1.2 million people in Greenwich use this tunnel every year to cross to the northern riverbank, and rumour is it’s haunted by Victorian ghosts, whose footsteps can supposedly be heard echoing off the floor’s flagstones! 

If the thought sends shivers up your spine, climb up the stairs again and distract yourself by admiring the impressive Cutty Sark. Built in the 1860s, the historic sailing boat was once the fastest ship on the seas. 

It ferried tea from China to England and wool from Australia, helped along by the streamlined 65-metre-long hull and its three masts, the tallest standing at 47 metres high.

Once you’ve appreciated the full glory of this impressive piece of British history, head to Greenwich’s covered market.

What treasures will you find?

First open in the 1730s, to this day the market is a bustling hub containing a collection of food stalls, jewellery sellers, and antique traders. 

The market is also surrounded by enticing independent shops, including one wholly dedicated to selling fudge, which is perfect for a leisurely browse. 

If you can resist your growling stomach and the temptations of the market’s foodie offerings, walk five minutes around the corner to Heap’s Café on Nevada Street for a late breakfast. 

Queues for this delicatessen can often be seen winding around the corner as people get in line to buy their award-winning sausages – but trust us when we say the wait is worth it!

If a breakfast bap isn’t for you, their lamb and mint sausage roll will leave you licking your fingers for the last bits of crumbly pastry.

Their mouth-watering selection of homemade cakes and sweet treats to choose is a must for any sweet tooth.

A bite to eat is central to tackling this next part of the itinerary as now the trekking begins.

Fancy a hike?

It’s time to climb Point Hill, walking via the picturesque Gloucester Circus, a Georgian terrace curving around fenced private gardens – the north side of which was bombed in World War II. 

Gather yourself before hiking up the steep Point Hill but allow yourself to stop halfway – not only to take a breather, but to turn around and look at Canary Wharf coming into view. 

At the top of the hill, turn right across the small park and walk to the furthest corner where the trees open up to reveal an incredible view. 

Scanning the horizon from west to east, take in The O2 and Anish Kapoor’s red ArcelorMittal Orbit, the world's longest and tallest tunnel slide in Stratford.

Further to the left you can see the city, the domed top of St Paul’s Cathedral, and The Shard, London’s tallest building.

Other landmarks visible from this lesser-known lookout include the BT Tower, the London Eye, the Gherkin, and Wembley Stadium over 12 miles away to the north west. 

Wooden benches line the fence if you’d like to soak up the astonishing view a little while longer. But if you’re ready to get moving again, turn around and head towards Greenwich Park.

A scenic stroll

Take in the imposing Ranger’s House as you pass, a Georgian mansion housing the extensive art collection of a 19th-century businessman, and enter the park through the hidden entrance at the top of Croom’s Hill. 

Wind your way around the pretty grounds, stopping by the rose garden and the seasonally planted flower garden. 

A popular fixture throughout the year, this Royal Park is at its most stunning in autumn when the ancient chestnut trees shed their leaves, leaving an auburn blanket across the grass. 

During spring, when the foliage grows back, the park’s avenue of cherry blossoms also comes alive, drawing visitors from across London. 

Your visit to the park would also not be complete without dropping by The Wilderness section in the south east corner where you can spot antlered deer through the foliage.

Greenwich is the oldest of London's deer parks, and there are several viewpoints where you can best see the Red and Fallow deer in their enclosure. 

More historical sights

Circle back to the park’s central tree-lined avenue and head to the Royal Observatory.

Even if you don’t go onto the Observatory site, the views from the top of the hill across the London skyline and down to the Old Royal Naval College below are worth the trip. 

Make your way down the steep slope and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring this centerpiece of Maritime Greenwich, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

As you marvel at the white buildings designed by architect Sir Christopher Wren and admire the white stone pillared corridors connecting them at the centre, consider the 500 years of British history layered under the cobbles beneath your feet. 

Henry VIII was born here when the site was formerly a Royal Palace, while his second wife, Anne Boleyn, paced these stones before she was arrested on charges of adultery and beheaded. 

It was later rebuilt and turned into a Naval College and a hospital. The Painted Hall, known widely as ‘Britain’s Sistine Chapel’, is also where Admiral Nelson lay-in-state.

 

How to end your day

After your action-packed adventure, we suggest finishing off the day with a roast at The Cutty Sark pub - a Grade II listed building a five-minute walk along the riverfront. 

In the winter, explore the pokey corners of the pub’s wood-panelled interior, or soak up the sun on the outdoor benches with views over Canary Wharf and towards the O2. 

From here, you’ll see the remains of old jetties lining the riverbank at low tide – another reminder of how the passing of time that makes Greenwich so famous has shaped this maritime corner of London.