When you have spent some time in Central London, explored Westminster, the City and the markets, it is perhaps time to wander further afield. A short drive, train ride or better still, a cruise down the Thames will take you to one of London’s finest suburbs.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Royal London Borough of Greenwich is known around the world as the site of the Prime Meridian (longitude zero), where the West and East hemispheres meet.
It is also home to the Royal Observatory – founded by King Charles II in 1675 to discover how to measure longitude and thus improve navigation at sea, the National Maritime Museum – one of the largest of its kind in the world, and the Old Royal Naval College (now home to the University of Greenwich) with its magnificent Painted Hall, which has been described as “the Sistine Chapel of the UK”.
Other attractions include the Cutty Sark, the world’s only surviving tea clipper and the fastest ship of her day, and the Queen’s House, a magnificent villa built for Queen Anne in the 17th century, which now houses an important art collection.
The original design for the Royal Naval College would have blocked the view of the Thames from the Queen’s House, so the design was changed and the building split into two parts to preserve the outlook. This is a scene made famous by the Italian artist Canaletto in around 1750, and one which has changed little since then.
Greenwich is also home to a lively market selling arts and crafts, antiques and collectables, vintage clothes and much more besides, and the O2 Arena, London’s leading concert and indoor sports events venue. When you get hungry, the Market offers street food from around the world and there is a host of bars, cafés and restaurants in town. Just getting to Greenwich can be part of the fun.
As well as travelling by car, bus, train or London Underground, you can speed down the Thames on a streamlined catamaran, fly 90m high above the river on the Emirates Airline (the UK’s only urban cable car), walk under it through a foot tunnel or take the automated metro system, the Docklands Light Railway.
(Priced as Four Hour London Sightseeing Tour)