Greenwich is like a little city in itself rather than a suburb of London and with a whole host of fantastic things to do with kids it makes for a brilliant family friendly weekend away. Here’s what we packed into 2 days:
We find Premier Inns family friendly at a very good price. We share a family room which normally has a double bed and 2 singles made up of a sofa bed and another temporary bed. The Premier Inn Greenwich was a little way out of Greenwich itself accessible via the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). It was reasonably priced, comfortable, we all had a good night’s sleep and enjoyed the breakfast buffet where kids eat free. Not fancy but great value for families.
OUR ITINERARY – DAY ONE
DOCKLANDS LIGHT RAILWAY
I am a big fan of the DLR. The driverless train makes it feel very futuristic and when its weaving its way through the streets at night past lit up buildings it feels very bladerunner. Or is that just me?!
The world’s only surviving tea clipper and surely the most famous, this iconic ship is now moored on dry land in Greenwich and is a spectacular attraction where you can walk underneath the ship as well as on board. What really made our trip here was that they had a costumed actor playing the original owner of the ship, Jock Willis. He was a really fantastic communicator engaging all of us in the history of the ship as he played the role to perfection. He had the children acting out the parts of different ships to demonstrate why the Cutty Sark was the fastest ship in the world at the time and told its history in a way that made it come alive. We learned so much more about the ship this way and I recommend you make a beeline for this if available the day you are there. They also have the ships cook and the ships figurehead giving talks on different days.
One of the floors of the ship is an interactive floor for children where you can do all sorts of activities from smelling the horrible smells of the ship (always popular with kids) to digital games. There are various trails you can also do with things to look for, you are encouraged to touch the copper hull, to turn the ships wheel and to climb in the bunks.
A hands on, interactive experience for the whole family. Allow at least 2 hours and take advantage of the special events that they have on.
LUNCH STOP: OLD BREWERY
DH likes to try locally brewed ales so we stopped here at the Old Brewery (Meantime is its name) in the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College for a quick lunch. It’s an unusual pub with the bottles passing overhead and the copper vats at one end.
The chapel of the Old Royal Naval College was unfortunately closed for an event and so we weren’t able to see its famous ceiling but we had a look around the visitor centre which gives a history of the college and the area and has some fun hands on things for kids to do. Allow 30-60 mins. Free entry.
GREENWICH MARKET AND SHOPPING
A historic market with interesting stalls and independent retailers all of a high quality. Lots of delicious food on sale and that all important old fashioned sweet shop. Next time I would have lunch from here as it all looked so tempting.We also had a look round some of the bookshops in the area. DDs are getting to the age where they love a bit of shopping and like saving up to spend on weekends away.
We left the main Greenwich area to get the tube to the O2 for a ride on the Emirates cable car or ‘Emirates Airline’ to give it its official name. The cable car takes you across the river and back. We didn’t get off on the other side as we were told there wasn’t much to see there. Let me know if there is – what have I missed?! A pleasant ride with great views of London and parts of the Olympic stadium. When you get off there is a small exhibition where kids can pretend to fly planes/travel on planes and learn about engines etc. Allow about an hour to do the ride and the exhibition.
Always a favourite for us with its excellent kids menu – katsu chicken always the choice, kids chopsticks, fast service, great tasty fresh food. Perfect at the end of a long days sightseeing. We had family with us who are vegetarian and vegan and there was plenty on the menu for them which was the key reason we chose here.
We’re going back to the 02 later this year to attend an event – leave me a comment if you know a great family friendly restaurant in the area I should try!
ITINERARY: DAY TWO
One of the Royal Parks of London, Greenwich Park was a great place for the kids to have a play at the playground and a run around after their huge Premier Inn breakfast. Am I the only one whose kids can’t go 2 days without going on some monkey bars? #gymnasticscrazy. The park is home to some of Greenwich’s main attractions, the Meridian dateline, the Royal Observatory and the Maritime Museum. We didn’t have time to do all 3 without risking serious burnout but we climbed the hill to admire the views of Greenwich before heading to the Maritime Museum. Allow an hour to play in the park and walk up to see the views, longer if your kids refuse to leave the playground….
There is a lot you can see for free at the National Maritime Museum. We did one of the kids trails and we also went to the ‘All Hands’ childrens gallery and some of the other main galleries. Generally I found the museum a bit tricky to navigate around and we actually missed some of the key exhibits including Nelson’s blood stained coat from the battle of Trafalgar – how did I miss that! #epicfail. It wasn’t the most child friendly museum I have been to, lots of written information with the kids stuff feeling a bit separate rather than interactive elements integrated into the museum. A fabulous collection no doubt but easy to miss key pieces. Just my opinion feel free to disagree! Allow 2 hours.
The Old Royal Naval College was to be our next step but it was closed for filming of ‘The Crown’ although we did spot Matt Smith of Dr Who fame amongst the cast so all was not lost!
And so ended our interesting and thought provoking 2 days in Greenwich. From shopping to ships we were able to fit a lot in as it was all so close together. Greenwich itself has a charm of its own, its naval and maritime history and impressive stately buildings giving it a presence and personality befitting this world heritage site.
Reason to go back…The Greenwich Observatory which we didn’t manage to fit in and we still haven’t visited the chapel and seen the legendary ceiling due to it being closed. Both are on my list for when we visit the O2 later this year!
Leave me a comment and let me know your restaurant recommendations in the area and anything in Greenwich you think I must do!
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