Situated on the banks of the river Thames, the area’s importance in Britain’s seafaring history is reflected in the designation of Maritime Greenwich as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Among its most significant pieces of architecture are the former royal residence the Queen’s House, which was completed in 1636 and is considered by many to be the country’s first truly Classical building, and the imposing Old Royal Naval College, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, best known for London’s St Paul’s Cathedral.
The 183-acre Greenwich Park is part of the World Heritage Site and enjoys panoramic views of London that are protected by an act of parliament. Home to the Royal Observatory, where you can stand on the Prime Meridian and visit the capital’s only planetarium, the park also has gardens, tennis courts, a café and deer, not to mention great picnic spots.
Despite not being on the Underground — it is a short bus ride from the town centre to the Jubilee Line at North Greenwich — Greenwich is within easy reach of central London. It is just over 20 minutes to Bank (the heart of London’s financial district) on the Docklands Light Railway and 10 minutes by train to London Bridge. It is even possible to commute by riverboat.
Residents of Greenwich in search of culture can find plenty on their doorstep. Royal Museums Greenwich encompasses the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House art gallery, historic 19th-century tea clipper Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory. The charming Fan Museum, located in two townhouses protected by a preservation order, serves afternoon tea in an orangery lined with murals.
The O2 arena on nearby Greenwich peninsula hosts sports events and concerts by international stars, and has a multiplex cinema, a bowling alley, bars and restaurants. Those seeking a more intimate experience can visit the town centre Picturehouse cinema or Greenwich Theatre, watch performances by students at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, or climb aboard Cutty Sark for evenings of comedy, music and theatre.
Photographs: Getty Images/iStockphoto; Dreamstime; Getty Images