To save a few pounds, I booked an Airbnb in Greenwich. Thus, I spent a bit of each day in a town 30 to 45 minutes away from London by train. With youthful exuberance, friendly pubs and lots of outdoor activity, Greenwich is the surprising charm of Greater London.
If you take the train to Greenwich from London (say, Bank), I suggest getting off at Crossharbour on the Isle of Dogs. From Crossharbour, walk south to Mudchute Park and Farm and Millwall Park. Mudchute is a local nature reserve where many farm animals reside. People can observe the animals up close in this interactive setting that is fun for all animal lovers. Livestock at Mudchute includes llamas, goats and pigs. Walk through these parks to reach the Thames.
Find the entrance to Greenwich Foot Tunnel North in Island Gardens along the river. Descend 15 metres and walk 370 m under the river to Greenwich through a tunnel built at the start of the 20th century. While crossing, you will notice a piece of the structure that is oddly narrower than the rest. This is a repairment of damage caused by a World War 2 bombing.
You’ll come up at the Greenwich Foot Tunnel South and be greeted by a beautiful view of the Cutty Sark. Built in 1869, the Cutty Sark is the last surviving British tea clipper. Maritime Greenwich is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a haven for the nautically inclined. Along with the Cutty Sark, Greenwich is home to the Old Royal Naval College and the National Maritime Museum.
Greenwich Market is the heart of the town. It is in the centre of the central block, enclosed by street-facing buildings. The buildings are Grade 2 listed, meaning they are important and of more than special interest, as decided by Historic England, and they are chalked full of delightful shops and restaurants. Walk through a friendly alley to reach the market in the centre, which is covered and has loads of interesting vendors. There has been a market in Greenwich since the 14th century and it was officially established in 1737. I had dinner at The Coach and Horses, in the square that hosts the market. It’s somewhere quiet that people go at night to meet friends, drink beers and smoke cigarettes. I was the only one eating but the bangers and mash were delectable.
There are fascinating theatres in Greenwich as well as a thriving LGBTQ community. Greenwich Theatre shows off-West End plays and is located next to Ye Olde Rose & Crown Greenwich across from Oliver’s Jazz Bar. There is also Greenwich Picturehouse, an independent theatre that shows exciting, modern movies like Poor Things and The Boy and the Heron. At the University of Greenwich, by the Old Royal Naval College, is the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
Up the road from the pie shop Goddards at Greenwich and beside Greenwich Tavern is St. Mary’s Gate, which leads into Greenwich Park. This royal park was once a hunting ground. It was the first park to be fully enclosed (logically, to keep the animals and bullets in). It has lots of walking area, with big grass spaces and wonderful trees. These days, it is loaded with secrets. There is a rose garden and a deer park. There is also the Royal Observatory where Greenwich Mean Time is kept as well as Prime Meridian (0 degrees longitude). It is at this park that the London Marathon has its start line. This park also has Queen’s House, a former royal residence built in the 17th century.
If you walk through Greenwich Park, the town on its southern border is Blackheath, discoverable by All Saints church, which is visible in the distance from Greenwich Park’s southern exit. This is a cool town where you’ll find quaint restaurants and independent retailers. At Blackheath, you can hop on the train and take the southeastern line back into London.