About this Walk

This self-guided walk takes you around historic Greenwich, a world heritage site long associated with royalty and maritime history. See popular London tourist attractions such as the National Maritime Museum, the Royal Observatory and the Cutty Sark.
Allow 3 hours.
Best time to do it is on a weekend as the market is open, and during good weather as there isn’t a lot of shelter on the walk route.
Written in 1998, updated in 2003 and in 2014.

General Route

Make your way to Greenwich by train, bus or ferry.

Start at Greenwich Foot Tunnel – Cutty Sark – Greenwich Market- Greenwich Park – Royal Observatory – National Maritime Museum – Old Naval College – Trafalgar Tavern – Trinity Hospital – end at Greenwich Foot Tunnel

click to view map in full screen

Download this walk in a handy booklet

Just £2.00 for a pdf booklet of this walk including a map, directions and attractions

After you have paid, you will receive an email with a link to download your booklet.

This walk begins and ends at Greenwich Foot Tunnel. On arrival at Greenwich, head towards the Cutty Sark and the dome-topped building on the river, near it

Greenwich Foot Tunnel

The Greenwich Foot Tunnel was built in 1899 for the dockers who worked and lived on different sides of the Thames.

It connects Greenwich in the south with the Isle of Dogs in the north (and hence with the rest of London’s Docklands area, including Canary Wharf).

It is open to the public 24 hours a day.

Did You Know?

The name Greenwich means either “green village” in Anglo-Saxon or “green reach” in old Norse.

look across the river to the Millennium Dome

Millennium Dome

Across the river, you can see the Millennium Dome, which was the focal point of Britain’s new year celebrations in 2000.

Public support for the Dome both before and after it opened was mixed. Though some people felt that the amount spent on it (over £758 million) could have been better spent on public services such as hospitals, others were pleased it was built as it brought prosperity to a deprived part of London.

Did You Know?

There is evidence of both Roman and Saxon settlements at Greenwich, and in the middle ages it was a fishing village. During the reign of Henry VII it became the seat of the monarchy but was only in the 1600’s that Greenwich really became a town, being favoured by the aristocracy.

walk along the side of the tall ship you see next to the foot tunnel and stop in front of the Gipsy Moth pub on the corner

Cutty Sark

The Cutty Sark was built in 1869 as a tea clipper. At one stage in its history, it was the fastest freight ship in the world.

In 1885 it began transporting wool from Australia to Britain.

It has been in dry dock since 1954 and was badly damaged by fire in May, 2007. As part of its restoration, an exhibition centre was built next to / under it. (Admission charge).

Did You Know?

Henry VIII and all his children (Mary I, Elizabeth I and Edward VI) were born in Greenwich and it became the favourite place of the Tudors. It is also the place where the London Marathon starts from each year in April.

continue along Greenwich Church Street and turn left down College Approach, then cross the road and enter Greenwich Market

Greenwich Market

There has been a market in Greenwich for hundreds of years and will be for many more. That’s because in 1700 the Commissioners of Greenwich Hospital were formally given permission to hold a market here for 1,000 years.

Greenwich market is open from Tuesday to Sunday, though some shops are open every day.

It sells food from around the world, hand made gifts and so on. A great place for lunch.

The buildings in Turnpin Lane date from the early 1800’s.

Did You Know?

In 1997, maritime Greenwich was added to the list of World Heritage Sites for the concentration and quality of buildings of historic and architectural interest.

And Asteroid 2830 was named Greenwich in recognition of its astronomical links.

walk straight through the market, then turn left along Turnpin Lane. At the end, turn right and walk along King William Walk to the entrance to Greenwich Park.

Greenwich Park

Greenwich Park was the first royal park in London to be enclosed.

In 1433 Henry V’s brother, the Duke of Gloucester, was granted a licence to “empark” the land and enclose it within a wall. He also built a manor house in the park and the house was later rebuilt as Greenwich Palace by Henry VII.

The park currently covers an area of 73 hectares (183 acres).

Did You Know?

The Duke of Gloucester (founder of Greenwich Park) left a vast collection of manuscripts to Oxford University which formed the basis of the famous Bodleian Library. His wife was suspected of being a witch and Henry VI committed her for high treason.

Bronze Age tribes settled in Greenwich Park and a Roman villa was built in it.

walk through the park and up the hill to the Old Royal Observatory

Royal Observatory

Founded by Charles II in 1675 and built by Sir Christopher Wren, the Royal Observatory was the first purpose-built scientific research facility in Britain.

It’s main purpose was to measure time, with the Greenwich Meridian being 0 degrees longitude (the Prime Meridian) – the place from which all time around the world is measured (as in “Greenwich Mean Time”).

It is now no longer operational. Instead, it houses an impressive collection of all things astronomical, including old chronometers and telescopes.

The Meridian line crosses the Observatory courtyard (entrance fee) and it also crosses Greenwich Park. You can see the line up close for free by going through the small gate to the right of the clock and the examples of British Weights and Measures on the wall next to the Observatory.

Did You Know?

The orange ball on the roof of the Observatory was used to signal to sailors at sea when it was 1pm. It still rises to the top of the pole each day and at 1pm falls again.

Until the 18th century each country used its own capital city as the zero point from which to measure longtitude.

At the 1884 international conference for navigators it was agreed that the Greenwich meridian (zero longtitude) should become the prime meridian for the world, from which time and distance would be measured.

return down the hill to the National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum

This is the largest maritime museum in the world.

Its collection includes 2,500 ship models, 750,000 ship plans and hundreds of globes, chronometers and pieces of artwork depicting British seafaring.

Next to the museum is the Queens House, designed by Inigo Jones, Sir Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor.

Did You Know?

In 1737, Samuel Johnson went to live in Greenwich. Another resident, General Wolfe, set out for Quebec from Greenwich.

exit the park from where you entered it, walk down to Romney Road, turn right and cross the pedestrian lights, then turn right again. Continue along Romney Road to the next set of pedestrian lights and turn left into the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College. Walk towards the river and half way down, turn right and walk east through the grounds

The Old Royal Naval College

The Royal Naval College was founded in 1694 as the Royal Hospital for Seamen. It closed in 1869 and re-opened 4 years later as the Royal Naval College.

It closed again in around 2000 and many of the buildings became home to the University of Greenwich.

You can walk around the Old Naval College for free.

Did You Know?

There used to be two fairs held at Greenwich : the Easter fair and Whitsun fair.

The easter fair is mentioned in Thackeray’s Sketches and Travels in London. Dickens also describes the fair in Sketches by Boz, calling it “a sort of rash; a three days’ fever which cools the blood for six months afterwards”.

continue through the grounds and exit at Trafalgar Gate (emerging in front of Trident Hall). Next to Trident Hall you will see the Trafalgar Tavern.

The Trafalgar Tavern

The Trafalgar Tavern was built in 1837 and up until 1883 it held Ministerial “whitebait” dinners at the end of each session of Parliament.

Famous visitors to the tavern have included Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins.

walk down the laneway between the Trafalgar Tavern and Trident Hall, and stop when the lane meets the riverside, in front of the white building on the left.

Trinity Hospital

Trinity Hospital was founded in 1613 by the Earl of Northampton to house 20 poor, retired men. His tomb is in the chapel.

Behind the hospital is Greenwich power station, built in 1906. It provides a reserve power supply for the London Underground.

you have now completed this walk. Return along the laneway and follow the path beside the river, back to the Cutty Sark, foot tunnel and jetty for ferries back to central London.