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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Places

Explore new parts of London in Greenwich

You’ve been to the center of London and done all the must-do’s, so what’s next? How about a boat trip?

Greenwich is truly worth the journey – by which we mean getting there is as much fun as being there. You can’t say that for many neighborhoods in London, yet the light rail (DLR) to Greenwich passes through Canary Wharf like a Blade Runner hovercraft and the Thames Clipper glides past one major riverfront monument after another. Once you’ve reached Greenwich Pier, have a look around the Cutty Sark, a historic tea-shipping schooner anchored on the shore. It’s the first clue you’ve arrived in a place of extraordinary maritime significance. From here you can potter along the Thames Path or even step down onto the pebble beach before walking up into town.

See London’s Sistine Chapel

Cross the University of Greenwich campus to the striking white neoclassical buildings along the riverfront. It was in a great medieval palace now in ruins beneath your feet that Henry VIII and Elizabeth I both spent their lives. Queen Mary hired Christopher Wren to design the colonnades and domes overtop, now the Old Royal Naval College. Explore the gardens, then duck into the newly restored Painted Hall, a frescoed gallery with a breathtaking 18th century ceiling depicting Britain’s days as a dominant naval power. It’s free to enter.

Old Royal Naval College

King William Walk, East Greenwich, London SE10 9NN

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Eat like a sailor

Nestle into a leather banquette under old ship lights for platters of traditional haddock’n’chips and sausage’n’mash. Or, if the sun makes an appearance, find yourself a seat on the garden terrace. The weekend brunch includes bottomless bellinis with your Full English or eggs Benedict.

Greenwich Tavern

1 King William Walk, London

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Photo: Shutterstock

Walk off your brunch

The neighborhood’s largest park starts as a flat sprawling green, with walking paths flanked by ancient trees – a gorgeous spectacle any time of year. Venture out toward the eastern edge and you’ll find the remains of a Roman temple, excavated to the tessellated floor. Then hike up steep, spiraling lanes to the plateau for astonishing views over London.

Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park, London

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Photo: Shutterstock

Travel back in time

Christopher Wren, again. Back in the 17th century, King Charles II commissioned Wren to build this small brick observatory to house the official naval time-keepers and their curious clocks. Explore on creaky wood floors to obsolete navigational gadgets like an old refracting telescope. Outside, join the queue for selfies straddling the Prime Meridian, and gaze up at the house’s unusual domes and corbel-wing gables.

Royal Observatory Greenwich

Flamsteed House, Blackheath Avenue, London

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Pick up a souvenir

Back down the hill and past an iron archway you’ll find one of London’s loveliest and least crowded markets, squeezing in everything from homemade breads and jams to a carousel – all locally produced. Pull up at Oyster Brothers’ seafood bar to slurp down a half dozen, or try on a vintage naval captain’s uniform at Rick’s Blitz & Pieces.

Greenwich Market

5B Greenwich Market, London

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Sail away

If you’ve been traveling by Thames Clipper, make sure you’ve purchased a River Roamer ticket, which gets you unlimited travel for the day, from Putney to Woolwich via Westminster and Tower Bridge. The half-hourly service ships you around London faster and more directly than even the Underground, viewing skyscrapers, spires and fairy-tale bridges en route. And, unlike on the Underground, you’ll always get a seat – it’s the law. Now, hop on again for the one-stop shuttle to North Greenwich. Timetables and routes vary from weekday to weekend.

Thames Clipper

Let loose in a traffic-free zone

While Greenwich’s charm is in its history, the Greenwich Peninsula is a cultural juggernaut. Hop out at the pier and check out the Jetty first, a modern hanging garden floating on the Thames. Then cross under the Emirates gondola to spot outdoor sculptures marking points on the meridian line, such as Antony Gormley’s Quantum Cloud and Peninsula Spire by Barr Gazetas and Whitbybird. For even more art, visit the dazzling installations at Now Gallery, at the center of a buzzing pedestrian square.

Greenwich Peninsula

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Last edited: February 18, 2019

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