Royal Observatory and Park, Greenwich

Royal Observatory and Park, Greenwich

If you want to start your stay from a prime spot you should definitely do that in Greenwich, a former London suburb that now is part of the city. Greenwich Royal Park is a quiet and cosy place for nice unhurried walks with fabulous views of the central part of London and the Thames. The park is stretching from the National Maritime Museum to the hill with the Royal Observatory and further on to a tennis court, pond, cricket filed, rose garden and War Memorial. The park was established in the 15th century when a special area was designated here for the royal hunting and leisure. The place preserves age-old trees and charming wild nature nooks.

If you are looking for the real Prime Meridian, the park is the place where to find it. Almost on every tourist's to-do list here will be a trick to make a photo with one foot in the Western Hemisphere and the second in the Eastern. You can even got a certificate of visiting the Prime Meridian right here from a vending machine. The Observatory built in 1674 was commissioned by King Charles II in order to compile the star maps and calendars. Now it hosts a rich museum display with such exhibits as, for instance, the most accurate clock of the 18th century and chronometers by famous inventor John Harrison.

If you come here in the evening you will easily notice a green laser beam coming from the observatory's building. It is pointing at the Prime Meridian exact location. One of the towers of the observatory will catch your glance with an interesting red globe on a spire. Will you guess its purpose straight away? Well, in fact this is the time ball put there in 1833 to signal the accurate time. The ball dropped and the seamen hearing its sound could adjust their chronometers. You can also witness this event daily at 1 pm.

At the observatory you can visit a planetarium and an astronomy center, as well as a display on time tracking and thematic temporary exhibitions (see the website for the details). Tickets are £10 for the Royal Observatory and £8 for planetarium (can be purchased online). Park entry is free. In terms of snacks take a look at Astronomy cafe or Pavilion Tea House.

The unusual Fan Museum is a stone's throw from the observatory. The museum keeps more than 4,000 antique fans from all over the world. It is easy to get here from the city center taking a river boat from the Westminster Pier to Greenwich Pier. There are a lot of interesting venues in Greenwich, we recommend you to look at our map and make your own list of places to visit and spend the whole day here.

Address: Blackheath Avenue
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 10 am – 5 pm (entry till 4 pm). Closed on December 24-26.
How to reach: Greenwich metro station; buses 53, 54, 202, 380 to Charlton Way, 129, 177, 180, 188, 286, 386 to the Maritime Museum; Greenwich Pier.
Coordinates: 51.476873, -0.000000