Greenwich is one of my favourite areas in London. I love the history that’s there with its links to naval history and the meridian. Plus it has the wonderful Cutty Sark that until recently I’d never been able to visit before. As part of our 6-day ultimate family bucket list holiday to London, I was keen for us to spend the day in Greenwich. The Royal Museums in Greenwich include the Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory. Plus the free to visit National Maritime Museum and Queen’s house. You can purchase a combined ticket for the first three which I will talk more about below in my review.
Disclaimer: We received complimentary tickets to the Cutty Sark and Royal Observatory in exchange for a review.
Cutty Sark Greenwich
I was excited to visit the Cutty Sark as I’ve never been onboard before but I’d seen this ship next to the River Thames for many years. The Cutty Sark was a clipper ship used for transporting tea, it was one of the fastest of its kind. My 6-year-old and my Mum picked up an audio guide which they took around with them. He got a little bored of it once he came to all the interactive exhibits but seemed to find it interesting to start off with.
You start the tour inside the wonderful ship learning all about its history and how it was used to transport tea from China. Not only does it look and feel realistic to the time but you can literally smell the tea and hear what life back then would have sounded like.
You then move up to the next level which is still inside. Here there are lots of interactive exhibits including learning how to sail a ship with the use of the tradewinds and more.
Next, you go up on deck where we met a sailor from the past and you are free to explore as much as you like. It really is a wonderful ship and we all loved exploring the living quarters. The renovations are excellent and a lot of money has clearly been spent.
Finally, you head down and under the ship and into the cafe area. Here you can see the whole of the bottom of the ship. They have a fun display of figureheads at one end and it’s worth walking up the steps here for a whole new view of the ship.
After visiting the Cutty Sark we headed up the steep hill to the Royal Observatory. The walk is not for the unfit but my goodness do you see some wonderful views on the way up and down. At the Royal Observatory, you can stand on the Meridian line and have one foot in the east and the other in the west.
It’s worth picking up an audio guide to guide you around their exhibition rooms. This helps you discover why the Royal Observatory became the home of Greenwich Mean time (GMT). We hadn’t picked up a guide and the displays were aimed more at the older guest. You can also explore space with a Planetarium show at £10 extra for an adult and £5 for a child. Sadly we were not able to do this during our visit.
National Maritime Museum
I first visited the National Maritime Museum around 10 years ago with my husband when we were staying at the hotel next door. It is a fantastic free museum and has developed a lot since we last visited. It is a lot more modern now in that there are lots of interactive exhibits and it’s a lot more welcoming to the younger visitor. We were there for around 2 hours and we certainly could have spent a lot longer in the museum. There is so much to see and do. A lot of it won’t interest smaller children in the slightest but that really doesn’t matter as there’s plenty there that will interest them.
They have recently opened 4 new galleries with over 1,000 more objects on display. The museum covers so much of our naval past, even adults will learn something new and fascinating.
Kids will love the big open space upstairs next to the cafe. This has a huge world map with boats that kids can push around the world. We virtually had to drag the 6-year old away from this after well over 15 minutes of role-play fun.
There is also an excellent children’s gallery. This has some really fun interactive elements including being able to shoot pretend canons at pirates, a sail mast that kids can hoist up and down, play kitchen, ship wheel and so much more. I wish we’d had more time! There are also family-friendly trails to take part in and a ship simulator. This is more for older children and adults but my 6-year-old had great fun badly driving a ship around the harbour in New York! We didn’t find this museum anywhere near as busy as the Natural history museum and we actually preferred it here as well.
Sadly we ran out of time to visit Queen’s house. It is free to visit and it is “home to an internationally renowned art collection, Inigo Jones’ architectural masterpiece is the first Classical building in the UK. Inside you can see great works by leading artists including Lowry, Turner and Canaletto as well as the iconic Armada Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I.”
If you are looking to spend the day in Greenwich then the best value option is a Day Explorer ticket. This allows you entry to the Cutty Sark, Royal Observatory, Planetarium show, special exhibitions and audio guide. If you purchase your tickets online in advance this costs £23.65 for an adult and £11.85 for a child which saves you money. Other pricing options are available including separate entrance tickets.
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