Greenwich is our favourite family-friendly area in London, and in this post, we’ll summarize the best things to do in Greenwich with kids. Here are some of the highlights we’ll cover:
- Cutty Sark – the world’s last surviving tea clipper ship, and learn about its history and adventures.
- Royal Observatory – where you can see the Meridian Line, the Planetarium, and the Astronomy Centre.
- National Maritime Museum – where you can see exhibits on naval history, exploration, and trade.
- Old Royal Naval College – a stunning architectural masterpiece designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
- Greenwich Park – London’s oldest enclosed Royal Park and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The central part of Greenwich is a lively place and fairly small so it’s easy to walk around and see what’s there. As well as a popular area for tourists, Greenwich has a University in the Old Royal Naval College buildings on the banks of the Thames. The University took over some of the main buildings in 1999 from the Royal Navy and Trinity College of Music moved into the King Charles Court building in 2001. If you walk past Greenwich Market and through the gates at the end of College Approach you’ll often hear students playing classical music through the open windows
1. Arrive by boat
There’s no better way to start your visit to maritime Greenwich than by arriving by boat from central London. Your kids will get the sense of adventure, as they enjoy the stunning views of the city skyline, the iconic landmarks and the historic riverside as you glide along the Thames. And you’ll be travelling in comfort and style on the Thames Clippers service, which offers spacious seats, refreshments and free Wi-Fi.
The Thames Clippers service is also very child-friendly, with plenty of room for pushchairs, baby-changing facilities and discounts for families. Your kids will love seeing the sights from the water and feeling the breeze on their faces. Arriving by boat from central London is not only the best way to see Greenwich but also the most fun and convenient way for you and your family.
2. Follow the children’s trail
Confused about where to start exploring Greenwich? Based on countless visits to Greenwich with our children, we’ve made an easy-to-follow map covering all the main attractions for families in Greenwich.
A great way to spend a family day out is to start at the Cutty Sark, a splendid ship that sailed across the oceans in the 1800s. You and your kids can explore the ship’s amazing stories and interactive displays, and imagine what it was like to be a sailor on this historic vessel.
Then, head over to Greenwich Market and pick up some delicious street food which you can enjoy in beautiful Greenwich Park nearby. The park is perfect for a relaxing picnic, playing games, and having fun in nature.
After that, visit the Old Royal Observatory, where you can stand on the line that divides the world into east and west. Learn about the mysteries of space and time through fascinating exhibits and activities, and inspire your children to discover more about astronomy.
Heading back towards Greenwich, stop by the Greenwich Park Playground for the kids to let out some steam. Finally, don’t miss the Old Royal Navy College, a majestic building that showcases the glory of Britain’s naval heritage.
3. Taste the street food in Greenwich Market
Greenwich Market is a paradise for food lovers, where you can sample a variety of street food from different cuisines. Whether you crave a juicy burger, a spicy curry, a cheesy pizza, or a sweet crepe, you can find it all at the market. The food is fresh, tasty, and affordable, and you can enjoy it in a lively and friendly atmosphere.
The market is a treasure trove of arts & crafts, where you can find unique and handmade items from talented artists and makers. The market is open every weekend, but you can also explore the speciality shops that line the market area during the week.
The market has a rich history, dating back to the 19th century when it was a fruit and vegetable market. You can still see the old music hall above the entrance, and the sign that reminds traders to be honest and fair. The market has changed a lot over the years, but it still retains its charm and character.
There’s a wonderful atmosphere as people browse through the market or stroll off to have a meal and a drink in one of the many restaurants and taverns nearby.
Walking down to the riverside you’ll see Canary Wharf rise above the trees from the other bank, and if you go further down the bank towards the Trafalgar Tavern you get a good look at the Millennium Dome at the head of the next bend in the river. A number of films have shot scenes around the college including Patriot Games, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Crown.
Walking towards Greenwich Park, you’ll pass through the National Maritime Museum where kids can play in the wonderful Children’s Gallery. Once you go past the Museum towards the park there’s a large open grass area crisscrossed by paths that leads up the Royal Observatory on top of the hill where the view is fantastic overlooking the Thames and Isle of Dogs.
4. Enjoy a picnic with a great view
After picking up some delicious food from Greenwich Market, why not take it to Greenwich Park to enjoy a picnic with a view.
The park offers stunning views of the city skyline, the River Thames, and the Royal Observatory. You can also see the famous Prime Meridian line, where east meets west, and the Old Royal Naval College, a masterpiece of baroque architecture. Whether you want to relax on the grass, explore the flower gardens, or visit the deer enclosure, Greenwich Park has something for everyone. It is a perfect place to enjoy nature and culture in harmony.
Read more about the 4 best viewpoints of Greenwich Park.
5. Let out some steam in Greenwich Playground
One of our favourite playgrounds in London! If you’re looking for a fun and relaxing day out with your family, you can’t go wrong with Greenwich Playground in Greenwich Park, just next to the National Maritime Museum. This playground is one of the best in the city, with a variety of equipment for kids of all ages and abilities. You’ll find swings, slides, climbing frames, sandpits, and more, all set in a beautiful green space.
There’s also plenty of seating for parents, as well as toilets and a cafe nearby. Greenwich Playground is open all year round, from 9 a.m. to dusk, and it’s free to enter. You can easily get there by public transport, as it’s only a short walk from Greenwich station or Cutty Sark DLR station. Alternatively, you can drive and park in the nearby car park for a small fee.
Greenwich Playground is a great place to enjoy some fresh air and exercise while letting your kids have a blast. Whether you want to join in the fun or just sit back and relax, you’ll love this playground and its surroundings. Don’t miss it on your next visit to Greenwich Park!
6. Adjust your clocks!
In Greenwich Park, you’ll find a wonderful old clock mounted on the wall outside the gate of the Royal Observatory building displaying the correct Greenwich Mean Time. The clock made it possible for members of the public to adjust their clocks (after climbing up a steep slope). The clock is called the Shepherd Gate Clock, named after its creator and clockmaker Charles Shepherd Junior (1830–1905).
Did you know that there is a special time zone that is based on an imaginary sun? It’s called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and it’s the reference point for measuring longitude on Earth. The imaginary sun, or the Mean Sun, is a hypothetical object that travels around the sky at a constant speed, completing one cycle every year.
GMT was chosen as the global standard in 1884, and it’s also known as Universal Time. But how do they keep track of this imaginary sun? Well, they use a combination of astronomical observations and super-accurate atomic clocks from different parts of the world. These are synchronized by the International Time Bureau in Paris, which produces the Coordinated Universal Time. Isn’t that amazing?
7. Check out the Royal Observatory
The Royal Observatory is the home of Greenwich Mean Time, where you can stand with a foot in both the Western and Eastern hemispheres.
You can explore the history of astronomy, see the famous Prime Meridian line, and marvel at the stars in the planetarium. Here are some of the things you can do with your kids at the Royal Observatory:
- Visit the Time and Space gallery, where you can learn about how people measured time and navigated the seas using the stars. You can also see some of the oldest and most accurate clocks in the world, including John Harrison’s H4, the first marine chronometer that solved the longitude problem.
- Stand on the Prime Meridian line, where east meets west. You can take a photo with one foot in each hemisphere, and see how the line is marked by a laser beam at night. You can also learn about how the Prime Meridian was established and why it’s important for global timekeeping.
- Watch a show at the Peter Harrison Planetarium, where you can travel through space and time with expert guides. You can choose from different shows for different ages and interests, such as The Sky Tonight, which shows you what you can see in the night sky on the day of your visit, or Space Safari, which takes you on a journey through the solar system with a friendly alien.
- Enjoy the views from the hilltop location, where you can see the Thames, the City of London, and Canary Wharf. You can also visit the nearby Greenwich Park, where you can relax, play, and see other attractions such as the Maritime Museum and the Queen’s House.
Since 1833 its red time ball has fallen daily at exactly 1300 hours to enable ships to set their clocks accurately. Britain’s first telegraph cable linked it to a similar time ball in Walmer on the southeast coast for the benefit of shipping in the English Channel. In keeping with this naval tradition, a cannon is sounded daily on the deck of the Cutty Sark at 1300 hours.
Since 1884, the world has set its clocks according to the time of day on the Meridian of Greenwich, longitude 0°–an imaginary line joining the North and South Poles through the dead centre of a specialised telescope installed at the Observatory in 1851. Today, the Observatory houses Britain’s largest refracting telescope.
Following its complete renovation in 1993, you can see a unique collection of historic timepieces and navigational instruments which tell the story of time and astronomy and the origins of the Observatory itself; you can walk around Sir Christopher Wren’s Octagon Room and the apartments of the Astronomer Royal; and you can enjoy regular shows in the intimacy of the Observatory’s tiny Planetarium and visit one of the country’s few camera obscuras in the courtyard.
8. Go onboard Cutty Sark
The Cutty Sark, the most famous tea clipper ever built and the only one still in existence was built in 1869 at Dunbarton on the Clyde in Scotland. Her name, meaning “short chemise”, comes from the poem “Tom O’Shanter” by Scotland’s national hero, Robbie Burns, and her figurehead represents the witch clasping the tail of Tom’s horse.
Here are some of the things you can do with your kids at the Cutty Sark:
- Meet the crew: You can interact with actors who play the roles of the captain, the cook, the steward and other crew members. They will tell you stories about their adventures, challenges and secrets on the ship. You can ask them questions, take photos with them, and even join them in some activities.
- Play games: You can try your hand at steering the ship, loading and unloading cargo, and navigating by the stars. You can also test your senses by guessing what’s inside different crates, using sight, touch and smell.
- Discover history: You can see how the ship was built, how it survived storms and fires, and how it became the fastest clipper of its time. You can also learn about the different places and cultures that the ship visited, and the impact of trade and exploration on the world.
- Enjoy the views: You can admire the beautiful design of the ship, from its copper-bottomed hull to its towering masts and sails. You can also go up on deck and enjoy the views of the River Thames and Greenwich Park. Don’t forget to take a selfie with Nannie the Witch, the ship’s figurehead!
Her sleek lines and huge mast area were designed for speed: in the year of her launch, she took part in a famous race with the Thermopylae and led by some 400 miles [650 km] when she lost her rudder in a gale in the southern Indian Ocean.
Ironically, at the very time, the Cutty Sark was being built, a French nobleman–Ferdinand de Lesseps–was sowing the seeds of her obsolescence. His visionary ten-year project to build the Suez Canal was completed in the year of her launch, shortening the journey to the Far East and robbing British tea clippers such as the Cutty Sark of their former profits. They continued to bring wool from Australia but could not match the larger (albeit slower) four- and five-masted sailing ships. So as this wonderful ship – the greatest of its day – first took to the water, the age of sail was already fading.
9. Visit the National Maritime Museum
The National Maritime Museum is formed from the Queen’s House and two separate wings, joined by colonnades. See the separate page for information on the Queen’s House. The museum was first opened in 1937.
The west and east wings, plus the linking colonnades, were built in 1807-16 by Daniel Alexander. They were built as extensions to the Naval Asylum School, which had recently moved into the Queen’s House. The west wing has become much larger than the east because of several later extensions, which hold the museum’s main body. The east wing is nowadays mostly used for special exhibitions. The museum exhibits are enormous; the intention is to show the entire history of mankind’s association with the sea.
10. Visit the Queen’s House
James I’s Queen, Anne of Denmark, had commissioned Inigo Jones to design this magnificent building in 1616. It was completed for Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, in 1638. Inspired by the Italian palaces and villas of the Palladio, it is the earliest English building in the classical style. It revolutionised English Jacobean architecture overnight–and for over 200 years dominated European and American architecture. Straddling the old Deptford to Woolwich Road walled road (now marked by magnificent double colonnades), it joined the Tudor Palace grounds with the wooded hunting country Greenwich Park and Blackheath beyond.
Framed by Greenwich Royal Park, The Queen’s House is the centrepiece of the historic landscape that rewards visitors to Greenwich today and was reopened in 1990 after major work that restored the building to its 17th-century splendour. Today, with its dazzling interior which includes the first spiral staircase in England, the Queen’s House is a museum covering the Tudor and Stuart periods.
11. Take a walk through the Old Royal Naval College
If you’re looking for a fun and educational day out with your kids, look no further than the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. This historic site is full of fascinating stories, stunning architecture and interactive exhibits that will keep the whole family entertained. You can explore the magnificent Painted Hall, where you can admire the breathtaking ceiling paintings and learn about the history of the British monarchy and navy.
You can also visit the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul, where you can see the beautiful stained glass windows and organ. For a more hands-on experience, you can join one of the guided tours or workshops that are specially designed for children. You can learn how to make your own coat of arms, discover the secrets of naval navigation, or even dress up as a sailor or a buccaneer. There’s something for everyone at the Old Royal Naval College, so don’t miss this opportunity to experience a piece of London’s heritage with your kids.
You might also recognise the Old Royal Naval College from some of your favourite movies and TV shows, as it has been featured in many popular productions over the years. For example, you can see it in: The Crown, Bridgerton, Les Misérables, Thor: The Dark World, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and many more. How cool is that?
12. See London’s Flood Barrier
If you follow the Thames Path from Greenwich heading east towards Woolich you’ll encounter a very impressive structure – the Thames Barrier.
Hailed as one of the seven miracles of the modern world, this mighty feat of engineering is the world’s largest movable flood barrier.
The magnificent structure spans 520 metres across the Thames, protecting the upper reaches of London from the very present risk of flooding. Much of the riverside parts of Greenwich would be submerged were it not for its man-controlled power to stem the tides which have in past times wrought havoc on the ancient city.
The history of the River Thames aspect is presented through powerful images, and vivid sound in a rolling multi-media show played daily at The Thames Barrier Visitors Centre. Situated beside the Barrier on the south bank, the Centre offers visitors a vantage point from which to view the Barrier and an opportunity to relax over a cup of tea and a snack in its modern cafeteria.
13. Explore Greenwich by bike
One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of London and the River Thames is to use the Thames Path for family activities such as cycling, walking and scooting. The Thames Path is a long-distance trail that follows the river from its source in the Cotswolds to the Thames Barrier in Woolwich. Along the way, you can see many historic and scenic sights, as well as wildlife and nature.
One of the most attractive sections of the Thames Path is around Greenwich, where you can explore the rich maritime heritage and culture of this World Heritage Site. You can start your journey from Tower Bridge, one of the most iconic landmarks of London, and follow the river eastwards. You will pass by the Tower of London, St Katharine Docks, Shadwell Basin, Wapping, Limehouse Basin, Canary Wharf, and the Isle of Dogs. You will also see many bridges, boats, docks, and wharves that tell the story of London’s trade and commerce.
As you approach Greenwich, you will be greeted by the majestic sight of the Old Royal Naval College, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and considered one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Britain. You can also visit the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House, and the Royal Observatory, where you can stand on the Prime Meridian and learn about astronomy and timekeeping. Greenwich Park is a great place to relax and enjoy the views of the river and the city skyline.
From Greenwich, you can continue your journey along the Thames Path to Woolwich, where you will find another historic site: the Royal Arsenal. This was once a major military complex that produced weapons and ammunition for the British Army and Navy. Today, it is a vibrant cultural and residential area with museums, galleries, cafes, and markets. You can also see the Thames Barrier, a remarkable engineering feat that protects London from flooding.
The Thames Path around Greenwich is a wonderful way to experience London’s history, culture, and nature with your family. You can cycle, walk or scoot along the river at your own pace and enjoy the sights and sounds of this amazing city.
14. Check out Eltham Palace & Gardens
Eltham Palace is just a short car or bus ride from Greenwich and has something for everyone, from history buffs to nature lovers. You can explore the magnificent palace, which was once home to Henry VIII and his family, and see how it was transformed into a stylish Art Deco residence in the 1930s. You can admire the lavish rooms, the beautiful furniture, and the fascinating collections of art and objects. You can also learn about the lives of the people who lived here, from the medieval kings and queens to the glamorous Courtauld family.
But the palace is not the only attraction. The gardens are a delight to wander around, with colourful flowers, shady trees, and peaceful ponds. You can spot wildlife, such as birds, squirrels, and butterflies, and enjoy the fresh air and scenic views. And don’t miss the great playground, where your kids can burn off some energy and have a blast. The playground has slides, swings, climbing frames, and a sandpit, as well as a mini maze and a giant chessboard. It’s suitable for children of all ages and abilities, and there’s plenty of space to run around and play.
15. Go to the Farmers’ Market
At the top of the hill leading away from the Observatory is Blackheath Avenue which ends at the heath (starting point of the London Marathon). Follow the path down from the heath to Blackheath village and by the train station you’ll find a great local Sunday market (open until ~2 PM) with deliciously fresh produce sold directly by farmers just outside London. Blackheath is a friendly village with lots of pubs and restaurants, much quieter than in Central London.
You can find a variety of delicious food from local producers, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, artisan breads and cheeses, homemade jams and pies, and more. You can also enjoy some hot dishes from different cuisines, such as Thai curry, Mexican tacos, Italian pizza, and French crepes. The food is made with high-quality ingredients and cooked with love and passion.
16. Take a walk under the Thames
The Greenwich Foot Tunnel joins Cutty Sark Gardens and Island Gardens, on the Isle of Dogs. It is 1,217 feet in length and approx 50 feet deep. It was designed by Sir Alexander Binnie and was opened on 4 August 1902 at a cost of £127,000. The tunnel is lined with 200,000 glazed white tiles.
Originally opened to allow dock workers living in South East London to get to work at the Millwall docks, it’s still open, 24 hours a day. There are elevators, but they only run from 5 am-9 pm. The walk shouldn’t take more than five to ten minutes to get to Island Gardens on the other side, very close to Mudchute City Farm. So not only can you say you’ve walked under the Thames, but you’ll have a good photo opportunity from the north side of all the great buildings on the Greenwich bank!
The circular entrance buildings are similar on both sides of the river and contain a lift and a long flight of stairs. It is open daily between 6 am and 11 pm, although the lifts do not always run full-time.
17. Feed the animals on Mudchute Farm
Mudchute Farm is a hidden gem on Isle of Dogs, which is just a short walk from Greenwich by using the foot tunnel. It’s a great place to take the kids for a fun and educational day out. They can see and feed the animals, learn about farming and nature, and enjoy the fresh air and green space.
There are pigs, sheep, goats, cows, horses, chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, guinea pigs and more. The staff and volunteers are friendly and helpful, and there are plenty of activities and events throughout the year. There’s also a cafe, a shop, a playground and a picnic area. Mudchute Farm is a wonderful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and a perfect way to spend some quality time with the family.
One of the best ways to get to Mudchute Farm is by using the foot tunnel from Greenwich. It’s a unique experience to walk under the Thames and emerge on the other side. The tunnel entrance is near the Cutty Sark and the Maritime Museum, and it takes about 10 minutes to cross.
Once you’re on the Isle of Dogs, you can follow the signs to Mudchute Park and Farm, which is about a 15-minute walk away. You can also take the DLR to Mudchute station and walk from there. The farm is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is free.
18. Visit North Greenwich and O2
North Greenwich and the O2 is a vibrant area that has something for everyone, from thrilling rides and attractions to world-class entertainment and dining. Here are some of the highlights you won’t want to miss:
- Shows: Experience magic shows such as Disney on Ice, where your favourite characters come to life on the ice rink. Watch as Elsa, Anna, Moana, Rapunzel and more skate, sing and dance their way into your hearts. This spectacular show is sure to enchant and delight kids of all ages.
- Up at The O2: If you’re feeling adventurous, why not climb up to the top of the O2? This unique experience lets you walk on a suspended fabric walkway over the roof of the iconic dome. You’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of London and a sense of achievement. It’s suitable for kids aged 9 and above, and you’ll be provided with safety gear and a guide.
- Cineworld: For a more laid-back activity, head to Cineworld, where you can catch the latest movies on the big screen. Whether you’re into action, comedy, animation or drama, there’s something for everyone. You can also enjoy 4DX, ScreenX and Superscreen experiences, which enhance your viewing with special effects and immersive features.
- Restaurants: After all that excitement, you’ll probably be hungry. Luckily, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from at the O2, catering to all tastes and budgets. You can find everything from burgers and pizzas to noodles and sushi, as well as cafes and bars for a quick bite or a drink. Some of the popular options include Five Guys, Nando’s, Wagamama, Zizzi and Las Iguanas.
North Greenwich and the O2 are easy to reach by public transport, with the Jubilee line, buses and river buses serving the area. You can also drive or cycle there, with plenty of parking and bike racks available. Just make sure to book your tickets in advance for the shows and attractions you want to see, as they can sell out quickly. And don’t forget to have fun!
19. Take the Cable Car
If you’re looking for a fun and memorable way to see London with your kids, you can’t go wrong with the IFS Cloud Cable Car. This amazing attraction lets you soar above the Thames River in a comfortable and spacious cabin, giving you a bird’s-eye view of the city’s landmarks and skyline.
You’ll be amazed by how much you can see in just 10 minutes, from the O2 Arena to the Tower Bridge, from the London Eye to the Canary Wharf. And don’t worry about safety – the cable car is designed to be very secure and stable, even in windy weather. It’s suitable for children of all ages, even babies.
20. Go to the Trampoline Park
If you have a baby or a toddler, you might wonder if the Oxygen Trampoline Park in North Greenwich is safe. The answer is yes! The park has a special area for the little ones, with soft play equipment, foam pits and mini trampolines. They can bounce and explore in a safe and supervised environment, while you can relax and watch them.
My three kids, who are 2, 6 and 10 years old, also enjoyed the park very much. They loved the giant airbag, the dodgeball court and the ninja warrior course. We had a blast as a family, and I think it’s a great place to go for a fun and active day out.
The Oxygen Trampoline Park is suitable for all ages and abilities, from toddlers to adults. There is a soft play area for the little ones, as well as sensory play sessions for 0-5-year-olds. You can book a Freejumping session for 60, 90 or 120 minutes, and enjoy all the activities at the park. You can also book a birthday party package for your child, and have a memorable celebration with food and drinks included.
The Oxygen Trampoline Park is easy to get to by public transport or by car. It is located inside the O2 arena, which is a short walk from North Greenwich tube station on the Jubilee line. There is also a car park at the O2, which costs £6 for up to 4 hours.
Your kids will love the experience of flying high in the sky and seeing London from a different perspective. The IFS Cloud Cable Car is a must-do for families visiting London!
Is Greenwich within London?
Yes, the town of Greenwich is within Greater London, located just south of River Thames opposite Isle of Dogs.
Is Greenwich a good place to live in London?
Yes, Greenwich has a good mix of green space and attractions making it an attractive place to live.
What can kids do in Greenwich?
Greenwich is an exciting place for kids. Greenwich Playground is well maintained and safe for toddlers and young children. You’ll find several attractions with interactive play areas like Cutty Sark and the Ahoy! gallery in the National Maritime Museum. And let’s not forget about all the green space in Greenwich Park, perfect for picnics and sports activities.
Is Greenwich a town?
Yes, Greenwich is a town on the south bank of the Thames in South East London. The town has also given the name to the Royal Borough of Greenwich (also part of London).
Why Greenwich is famous?
First and foremost because of the Greenwich Mean Time or GMT which is used as the zero for longitudinal measurement