5 free things to do in… Greenwich

Date Posted: 26/12/2014

Thanks to its yawning green spaces, cobbled streets, and low-rise Georgian town houses, Greenwich is London’s breath of fresh air.

It’s the antithesis of urban, despite being just 10 minutes’ DLR ride from Canary Wharf. The best bit? You don’t have to spend a penny to enjoy time in the borough.

Here are five free attractions in Greenwich you can do in a day…

Visit the National Maritime Museum and Queen's House 

The National Maritime Museum is known as the world's largest maritime museum. It’s filled with inspirational stories of exploration and endeavour at sea and packed to the gunwales with intriguing objects and fascinating galleries. 

The Queen’s House is a perfectly proportioned Palladian house designed in 1616 by Inigo Jones.

It is now the setting for an art gallery displaying part of the National Maritime Museum's extensive collection of naval portraits and seascapes, as well as paintings of Greenwich.

These include Canaletto's view of the Old Royal Naval College, a scene virtually unchanged since the 18th century.

Duck into the Old Royal Naval College’s Painted Hall

The Painted Hall and its grounds are movie stars. They’ve been featured in everything from Pirates of the Caribbean and Gulliver’s Travels to Les Miserables and Thor.

They are totally free to wander around, and jaw-droppingly beautiful. The Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance is also housed within the grounds of the hall, and you can often hear the music students practicing as you walk past.  

The Painted Hall, designed by Sir Christopher Wren – who also designed St Paul’s cathedral – and Nicholas Hawksmore, was the final resting place of Admiral Nelson. It’s often described as “the finest dining hall in Europe”.

Pad around the Well Hall Pleasaunce and the Tudor barn in Eltham

One of Greenwich’s best kept secrets, this place is a haven of formal gardens, ponds and woodland which dates back to the 13th century.

It is the only Tudor barn in London, and is all that remains of a mansion built for William Roper and Margaret More – the daughter of Sir Thomas More.  

More recently, it was the home of Railway Children author E Nesbit. The 16th century Tudor Barn has been renovated and is now open as an evening restaurant and day-time heritage cafe.

Stroll through Greenwich Park

Covering 74 hectares Greenwich Park is one of the largest single green spaces in London. Tackle the steep slope in the centre of the park and you’ll be rewarded by panoramic views of the entire city of London – taking in everything from the Shard to the Walkie Talkie.

If you could bare to part with a couple of pounds, there’s a café at the top that serves home-made cakes. Alternatively, pack a flask and sip your own tea from the comfort of one of the benches.

Window shop at Greenwich Market

You don’t have to shop to enjoy time at Greenwich Market. Traders have sold their wares here since the 1700s.

It’s regarded as one of London’s best covered markets with up to 120 stalls showing antiques and collectables on Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays, and craft and design on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and weekends. 

The food area will test the strength of your purse strings, though. Stall holders cook up the likes of paella in satellite dish-sized pans, and cinnamon-scented mulled wine.

For more information on what to do in Greenwich visit www.visitgreenwich.org.uk.

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