It’s no secret if you’ve been reading my blog that I love a good day out. I always enjoy making the most of the day somewhere new, trying to see and enjoy as many historical and cultural sites as possible before its time to head home. I thought I would try and start a guide type feature on the blog to try and share my tips and recommendations for certain areas, whether they are cities or smaller towns. Hopefully, they will inspire you to take a day trip and make the most out of visiting somewhere new!
The first guide I wanted to do is a guide to Greenwich, south east London. I’ve visited Greenwich a couple of times now and have tried to really explore the beautiful historic place, making the most of my time there. Of course, this isn’t going to be a comprehensive list of everythinggggg Greenwich has to offer, there are still places I want to explore but it’ll definitely give you a starting point if you’re new to the area!
Old Royal Naval College
For me, the thing that draws me to Greenwich is its architecture, the sheer concentration of such beautifully preserved historic buildings will always outstand me. One of these buildings and perhaps the most iconic is the Old Royal Naval College. I think one of the special things about these buildings is that they were never intended for private use or showing off, they were for the public or charitable causes. For me that makes them beautifully unique, the idea that such amazing classical buildings were constructed for the people as a whole to appreciate not just one family. The buildings today follow many of the plans of Sir Christopher Wren, but also demonstrate the work of Nicholas Hawksmoor, Joseph Kay and Phillip Hardwick. The highlight for me would have to be the neo-classical Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul by James ‘Athenian’ Stuart and William Newton. The level of detail is truly incredible. I might write a whole post on the magnificent group of buildings, there’s just so much to talk about!! The website for ORNC has loads of information about the history of the buildings and about visiting them, click here to check it out.
Painted Hall Ceiling Tour
Another area you can visit in the ORNC is the Painted Hall, which is currently being conserved. I’ve written a whole blog post going into detail about this amazing experience here, so do check that out if you’re planning on visiting. Although the conservation work and tours are due to end in September, so be quick!
If you love exploring architectural gems such as the ORNC, you will also love visiting the Queen’s House. Designed by Inigo Jones in 1616, the Queen’s House is the first classically built building in Britain and has beautiful features such as the Tulip Staircase, pictured below. I’ve also written a post all about the spectacular building here if you wanted to find out more.
National Maritime Museum
Moving away from the architecture, Greenwich is also rich in Maritime History due to its location on the Thames. The Queen’s House has a beautiful collection of maritime paintings, however, it’s the National Maritime Museum that truly brings the history to life through its eclectic collection of maritime objects and artwork. There is so much to see in the museum and I will probably be writing a blog post about it in the near future but I’ll just share a few of my favourite pieces for now. I really loved the ship busts on display, they were so colourful and so much larger than expected!! They also have the coat that Admiral Lord Nelson died in which is extraordinary to see, especially alongside photos of the conservation process. The museum is really child-friendly, with interactive elements throughout and it has a lovely cafe, so what’s not to love!! Check out the website here for more information. Also if you’re interested in Maritime history, the Cutty Sark is also in Greenwich, I haven’t been myself but I’ve heard it’s well worth a visit. Check it out here.
Greenwich Park and Observatory
After some time in the museums, it’s always nice to head outside for some fresh air and Greenwich Park is perfect for a stroll or a nice lounge on the grass. There are green areas surrounding the ORNC which I think is definitely part of the appeal of Greenwich as it doesn’t feel so claustrophobic like the centre of London. It’s also good fun to walk to the Royal Observatory up the small hill at the far end of the park. You get some beautiful views over not only Greenwich and the ORNC but the whole of London as well, it is truly amazing!! Although I didn’t visit the Observatory, it’s a great opportunity to stand on the Meridian line and explore the Planetarium. For more information on the Royal Observatory visit here.
Food and Shopping
Food-wise, I would highly recommend the National Maritime Museum for a coffee and cake, although it can be expensive for a full meal or lunch. For a cheaper and more varied option, Greenwich Market is a great place to find something for lunch. The food area has a brilliant variety of world food options, I had a super tasty mini calzone but sadly ate it too quickly to get a pic! Greenwich market is also perfect for a small spot of arts and craft shopping and they have a good selection of vintage and antique shops too! The market dates back to the 19th Century, and despite the downturn in wholesale food market’s the market is now as vibrant as ever with a largely craft-based focus. The Greenwich Market website has some really interesting photos of the historic market which are well worth a look if you’re interested.
Hope you enjoyed this post, I’ve loved writing this little guide and hopefully, it will be of use if you’re thinking of visiting Greenwich anytime soon! If you have any recommendations in Greenwich or places you’d like to see guides on in the future, do let me know in the comments below!