From historic riverside pubs overlooking the glistening skyscrapers of Canary Wharf to the so-called ‘The Sistine Chapel of England’, SE10 is full to the brim of things to see and do. Famous for its rich maritime history, it’s home to UNESCO-listed sites including the Cutty Sark – a restored 19th-century ship which was the fastest of its time – the magnificent National Maritime Museum, and the classical buildings of the Old Royal Naval College, among many others too.
So, whether you’re more of a culture vulture or would rather catch a gig at the iconic 02, you’re bound to find something that’ll keep you occupied in the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Here’s a roundup of ten of the best things to do in Greenwich from our resident writer Sam:
1. Take in the sunset from the leafy Greenwich Park
Officially one of the UK’s most beautiful parks, Greenwich is a former hunting park of King Henry VIII and is the oldest of the eight Royal Parks of London. Home to spacious boulevards, flower-filled gardens, wildlife-rich meadows and historic spots dating all the way back to Roman times, it’s a peaceful spot which is well worth a visit when you’re in SE10.
Famous for its panoramic views of Canary Wharf, the City and the River Thames, it’s also one of the best places in town to watch the sunset. Bring an ice cold can during the Summer months or a steaming hot cup of cocoa in the Winter and you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in town. Alternatively, if you can manage to get yourself out of bed, then the sunrises here are also pretty damn phenomenal. Remember, the early bird catches the worm… It’s also home to the Royal Observatory – grab your tickets for that here.
📍You’ll find Greenwich Park at SE10 8QY.
2. Amble around the stalls of Greenwich Market
If you’re wanting to while away the hours moseying around a market then you really could do worse than heading to this one. A jack of all trades, it offers food, fashion, arts and crafts, and jewellery, and has more than 120 stalls for you to explore.
There’s everything here from Ethiopian food to trinket-filled antique stalls, so you can really eat and shop to your heart’s content! Even though it’s open all-year-round, it’s especially magical at Christmas when you can throw in a few twinkling lights and some mulled wine. Trust us – it’s festive AF!
📍You’ll find Greenwich Market at SE10 9HZ.
3. Enjoy a pint or two at a charming riverside pub
Nothing says ‘London’ like enjoying a pint or two in a traditional boozer, and as this author can attest, Greenwich has some real bloody gems. For River Thames views, cosy snugs and some pretty epic pie and mash – go to the Trafalgar Tavern – a Grade II-listed spot which has been serving patrons since 1837.
Other great spots include The Gipsy Moth – which overlooks the famous Cutty Sark and has a heated patio garden – and the Georgian Guildford Arms – which has a sunken garden and some pretty banging food.
4. Climb up the roof of the O2 Arena and soak up the views
The next addition to this roundup of the best things to do in Greenwich is one for the adrenaline junkies. Fancy a thrill? Well you could do worse than climbing to the top of the iconic O2 Arena. At 52 metres tall, it offers sweeping 360º views over Greenwich, the Olympic Park, Canary Wharf, the City and beyond.
Better yet, you can choose to do the climb as the sun is setting or even at night – pre-gig activity anyone?! Go on – take a walk on the wild side… For another great panoramic view of the London skyline, don’t miss the chance to soar across the Thames aboard the London Cable Car, which takes you from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks.
📍You’ll find Up at the O2 at SE10 0DX.
Speaking of food, SE10 has a lion’s share of great places in which to grab some grub after a day of sightseeing. If you’re looking for some good old British grub, then don’t miss paying Goddards of Greenwich a visit – it’s widely acknowledged that it serves some of the best pie and mash in the whole of London.
Other fantastic options include the fish and chips shop The Golden Chippy – which was voted London’s best restaurant on TripAdvisor back in 2016 – the pan-Asian, BYOB joint Zaibatsu and the famous Heaps Sausage Café, which is the place to go if you’re looking to fill your boots with hearty British grub.
6. Delve into the eclectic history of the Cutty Sark
You can’t head to Greenwich without paying a visit to the Cutty Sark – a 19th-century vessel which lays claim to being one of the most famous ships in the world with towering masts, an iconic copper hull and over eleven miles worth of rigging!
It was also the fastest ship of its time, and you can explore this architectural wonder – the world’s sole surviving tea clipper – aboard a guided tour where you can also enjoy a classic British afternoon tea too. If you’re wanting to continue your historic adventure, then make your way to the National Maritime Museum, where you’ll be able to discover ‘epic stories of exploration and endeavour that have shaped our world today’.
📍You’ll find the Cutty Sark at SE10 9HT and the National Maritime Museum at SE10 9NF.
7. Admire the exquisite architecture of the Old Royal Naval College and the Painted Hall
Greenwich ain’t exactly short of beautiful buildings it has to be said, though the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College is arguably the jewel in the borough’s crown. Nicknamed the ‘Sistine Chapel of England’, this extraordinary hall is an artistic masterpiece which is an ode to Baroque design.
Designed in the early 18th century by Sir James Thornhill, it features 40,000 square feet of walls and ceilings, and all these surfaces are covered in striking images depicting 200 figures including kings, queens and mythological creatures. As you wander around the rest of the Old Royal Naval College, you might be able to recognise filming locations from some famous Hollywood blockbusters, including ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, ‘The King’s Speech’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. You can explore it further on a guided tour – grab your tickets here.
📍You’ll find the Painted Hall and the Old Royal Naval College at SE10 9NN.
8. Get your art fix at the regal Queen’s House
The Queen’s House in Greenwich is famous for many reasons – its former royal occupants (rumour has it that it was commissioned for Queen Anne of Denmark as an apology for King James swearing at her), its incredible art collection, and for the ghost that is believed to walk its halls – spooky!
A visit to this lovely house of delights (which did in fact make a brief appearance in the favourite Netflix Regency romp, ‘Bridgerton’), it’s pretty much guaranteed to impress with a hefty dose of royal charm. You can admire art from the likes of Rembrandt and Gainsborough – including the iconic Armada portrait of Queen Elizabeth I – or get a pic for the ‘gram on the famous Tulip Stairs.
📍You’ll find the Queen’s House at SE10 9NF.
9. Stand on both sides of the world-famous Prime Meridian Line
Home to the UK’s largest refracting telescope, a 4.5 billion year-old asteroid and London’s only planetarium, a visit to the Royal Observatory is a must-add spot to your Greenwich bucket list.
There are regular exhibitions here – including the ‘Astronomy Photographer of the Year’ – and as the home of GMT (or ‘Greenwich Mean Time’), it also gives you the chance to get a photograph on the world-famous Prime Meridian Line.
📍You’ll find the Royal Observatory at SE10 8XJ.
10. Discover a one-of-a-kind museum
Rounding off this list of the best things to do in Greenwich is the Fan Museum – the world’s first museum dedicated to the preservation and display of hand fans. Accredited by the Arts Council England, it’s a small-scale, independent place located in a pair of beautifully-restored, Grade II*-listed Georgian houses.
You’ll find out everything you ever needed to know about fans here, including the diverse history, culture and artistry of fans and fan-making. Oh darrrrrrrling!
📍You’ll find the Fan Museum at SE10 8ER.
So there you have it, a roundup of ten of the best things to do in Greenwich from our resident writer Sam. From the city’s only planetarium to traditional boozers, you should find more than enough to keep you busy here!