If you are visiting London with children, and you stay there enough time (at least 3 days) to carve out a whole day, I recommend you visit Greenwich. It takes about an hour by tube from central London, but the neighborhood has so much to offer, first of all for its Greenwich Mean Time.
To help you get the most out of your day trip, this guide covers all the best things to do in Greenwich with kids, including Greenwich attractions, activities, places to visit and everything you need to know about bus prices. tickets, where to save money by booking online and opening hours.
I will also explain how to get there from central London.
So let’s venture right away to find out what to do in Greenwich with kids.
PS: if you are new here, I have lived in London for 7 years with two little kids and I am happy to share my local tips as ex Londoner and local mama.
Cosa troverai in questo articolo:
How to get to Greenwich from the centre of London
What to see in Greenwich with kids
Royal Greenwich Observatory
Stand on Meridian Line
National Maritime Museum
The Queen’s House
Old Royal Naval College & The Painted Hall
Greenwich Foot Tunnel
One-day itinerary in Greenwich with kids
Among the things to do in London you cannot miss a trip to Greenwich. Did you know that, in 1997, the Maritime Greenwich area, located in the heart of Greenwich, was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
This quiet neighborhood, famous for its maritime history, meridian and astronomical observatory, has a lot to offer, especially for family travellers.
In Greenwich, children can spend an afternoon of adventure. Among other things, in fact, they will be able to walk between the two hemispheres, explore the Cutty Sark like authentic sailors and run in the suggestive Greenwich Park, one of the largest royal parks in London.
Here, you will also find museums, historic buildings, shops, restaurants, cozy cafés and a lively market.
So let’s see, in detail, what to see in Greenwich with children and how to best organize the day.
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Getting to Greenwich from central London is simple. The fastest way is the subway and the journey takes about 20 minutes. To do this, you will need to take the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) line.
The two terminus in central London are Bank Station (Central/North) and Tower Hill (Central/District). To make sure you don’t get it wrong, make sure you board a train bound for Lewisham. Then get off at the Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich and you are right in the heart of Greenwich.
Alternatively, there are several buses from central London to Greenwich. Finally, keep in mind that the train is also a valid option, albeit more expensive. You can take it from Charing Cross, Waterloo East or London Bridge stations and get off at Greenwich.
Getting to Greenwich with children: three fun alternatives
If you want to go to Greenwich with the children, then there are three alternatives that will surely appeal to the little ones at home.
1. Reach Greenwich by boat or with a cruise on the Thames
A valid option is river transport. You can choose between regular boats, also used by commuters, speedboat tours and cruises on the Thames, with commentary on the main monuments. You will thus have the opportunity to admire the London skyline from a new perspective.
Consider the service offered by Thames Clippers. Vessels depart from the Embankment and London Eye and arrive in Greenwich, stopping at Tate Modern, London Bridge, Tower of London, Hilton London Docklands Riverside and The O2.
If you want to get to Greenwich by river, I also recommend consulting the Transport for London website.
Or you can book a Cruise from Westminster to Greenwich from here.
2. Reach Greenwich with the London Cable Car
Not everyone knows that Greenwich can also be reached by cable car, enjoying a splendid view over the city.
The London cable car crosses the Thames and takes you from Royal Docks to North Greenwich.
You can use your prepaid Oyster card or buy tickets at both cable car terminals.
3. Reach Greenwich on foot through the Greenwich Foot tunnel
A final alternative to reach Greenwich, which will surely leave children speechless, is the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, a pedestrian tunnel that crosses the Thames, connecting Greenwich on the south bank, with the Isle of Dogs to the north.
The tunnel was built in 1902 to provide a pedestrian passage under the River Thames and spans 1,215 feet in length.
The entrance to the tunnel, in Greenwich, is near the Cutty Sark ship; while the north entrance is between Island Gardens and the Poplar Rowing Club.
Royal Museums Greenwich
If you are thinking of visiting Greenwich with children, I suggest you visit at least one of the four museums that are part of the Royal Museums Greenwich: the Royal Greenwich Observatory, the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House and the Cutty Sark.
To book admission or purchase tickets, where necessary, you can consult the official website of the Royal Museums Greenwich.
The most important attraction in Greenwich is the Royal Greenwich Observatory. It was King Charles II who commissioned Sir Christopher Wren to build it in 1675.
The observatory is located inside Greenwich Park, on top of a steep hill from the top of which you can enjoy one of the best views in the area.
Here, you can visit an astronomy center, the Peter Harrison Planetarium, the only planetarium in London, Flamsteed House and, of course, the “zero meridian”, used as a reference for navigation by sailors since 1884 and from which they are calculated all time zones of the planet.
If your children love astronomy or have just studied meridians and parallels at school, a visit is a must. Having reached the meridian, in the courtyard of the Astronomical Observatory, they will be able to keep their feet on two hemispheres at the same time.
The Astronomical Observatory is open every day from 10:00 to 17:00. To visit it you will need to buy the ticket. You can consult the different options on the Royal Museums website.
Keep in mind that you can only buy the observatory ticket or the one that also includes admission to the Cutty Sark. If you intend to spend the whole day in Greenwich, a visit to the Cutty Sark is highly recommended.
From the observatory, you’ll enjoy one of the best views of London, overlooking Greenwich, the River Thames and the city’s incredible skyline. Look for iconic London landmarks including the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Shard and The Gherkin! While the observatory is paid, the beautiful views are one of the best free things to do in Greenwich.
Where: Blackheath Avenue, Londra
Times: every day 10:00 alle 17:00
There are many iconic things to see at the Greenwich Observatory, and standing on the Meridian line is definitely one of them.
The reference meridian, known as the Meridian LIne, is an imaginary line extending from the north pole to the south pole, dividing the eastern and western hemispheres.
At Greenwich Observatory, astronomers have identified the Meridian Line as a reference point for calculating time and longitude. This line is used as the Greenwich time base.
Even today, Greenwich’s longitude 0° is used to determine time zones around the world!
Therefore, during a visit to Greenwich, you cannot miss the opportunity to be at the point where longitude (and time) originates.
However, despite millions of tourists stopping on the Prime Meridian every year, the line is actually slightly out of position!
Modern scientists have discovered that the correct location of the Prime Meridian is about 100 meters further east! This demonstrates how extraordinarily accurate astronomers of the past were, considering the limited technical resources at their disposal, to get so close to a point of longitude that we still use today as a reference for time and navigation.