Visit London Blog » national maritime museum Enjoy the very best of London Tue, 17 Mar 2015 16:11:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Spotlight On: Greenwich Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:00:11 +0000 Mercedes tall ship. Photo credit: Royal Borough of Greenwich

You’ve probably heard of Greenwich for its rich maritime history, World Heritage status and great time-keeping (this is the home of Greenwich Mean Time, no less). But there’s plenty more to discover across this Royal Borough, from sky-high cable cars to an Art Deco mansion. Here are just five things to do while you’re staying in the area:

1. See Tall Ships and Nelson’s Uniform

Nelson's Trafalgar Uniform. © National Maritime Museum

If you’re visiting London this September, don’t miss the Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta. Over five days (from 5 to 9 September), some 50 majestic tall ships will be arriving from the coast of Cornwall. But don’t worry if you miss out, one ship that’s not going anywhere is Cutty Sark – the last surviving tea clipper and the fastest and greatest of its time – now permanently docked in Greenwich. Don’t forget to pop into the nearby National Maritime Museum too to hear more fantastic sea tales – and see the coat Admiral Nelson wore at the Battle of Trafalgar (complete with bullet hole).
While you’re there… Eat lunch at The Trafalgar Tavern, a historic 19th century pub overlooking the River Thames.

2. See Time and Space at the Royal Observatory and Planetarium

Royal Observatory. Courtesy of Visit Greenwich

Sitting high above Greenwich town centre is the Royal Observatory, home of not only Greenwich Mean Time, but also the Prime Meridian of the world (the zero point of longitude), London’s only planetarium and the UK’s largest refracting telescope. Take in a show at the planetarium, marvel at Harrison’s timekeepers and stand astride the Prime Meridian line – with one foot in the east, the other in the west. Look out for new exhibitions too, such as Longitude Punk’d – featuring modern-day versions of the weird, wonderful and somewhat wacky inventions submitted during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
While you’re there… Go on a ramble around Greenwich Park. This rolling green space is popular with locals and tourists alike for picnics, team games, strolls, boating-lake rides and squirrel spotting.

3. Soak up the view from a cable car or on top of The O2

Emirates Air Line

Get a bird’s eye view of Greenwich and across London from on top of The O2. How do you get up there? You climb of course. It’s all part of the Up At The O2 experience, a 90-minute journey to a 360-degree viewing platform atop the famous domed venue. Alternatively head to the nearby south terminal of the Emirates Air Line and take a cable car across the river to the north stop, Emirates Royal Docks. Or if you prefer to have your head in the clouds but your feet firmly on the ground, don’t miss the new Emirates Aviation Experience, where you can get a feel for life in the skies with the help of flight simulators and interactive aviation displays.
While you’re there… Experience another unusual form of London transport and travel back to Central London by boat with City Cruises or Thames Clippers.

4. Visit A Royal Residence

Queen's House. Courtesy of Visit Greenwich

Picturesquely located along the river, Queen’s House has ironically not housed many queens. Queen Anne (wife of James I) died before the building she commissioned was completed, and Henrietta Maria (wife of Charles I) spent little time there before the Civil War forced her to exile to France. It’s since fared better as an orphanage and then fine-art gallery – which it remains today. For something more off the beaten track, jump on the train to Eltham and visit the childhood home of Henry VIII, Eltham Palace – and the 1930s Art Deco mansion built next to the remains of this medieval royal palace.
While you’re there… Sample one of the homegrown, limited-edition beers at The Old Brewery, a working brewery with a restaurant/cafe and bar on the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College.

5.  Browse Greenwich Market

Greenwich Market stall

You don’t need to leave Greenwich to find great treasures, like maritime explorers of past, there are plenty of gems to uncover at Greenwich Market. Here, artists and craftspeople from the local area and beyond gather to sell their creations – from fashion to gifts, homemade candles and jewellery. There’s also a food section that’s always packed full of stalls selling street snacks from around the world. Head down on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for antiques and collectibles, and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and weekends for arts and crafts.

While you’re there… If it’s the weekend (or a bank holiday) don’t forget to pay a visit to Greenwich’s other market, the Greenwich Clocktower Market, where you’ll find quirky antique and vintage pieces.

See the Visit Greenwich website for more things to do in Greenwich.

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Where To Take A Toddler in London Tue, 08 Apr 2014 08:00:33 +0000 In The Night Garden Live

Want to entertain your toddler in London but need something suitable for their age – and your wallet? We’ve got a few suggestions to get you started…

In The Night Garden Live

Just like Peppa Pig and CBeebies, In The Night Garden is making the transition from the small screen to the big stage, with live shows at The O2 and Richmond Park this spring. Taking place inside a special show dome, the performance uses costumes, puppets and all sorts of technical trickery to magically bring Igglepigle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka to life.


Discover Children’s Story Centre

Take a wander along the story trail at Discover in Stratford, where you and your little one can explore a secret cave, have a tea party, dress up in a crazy costume… and let your imaginations run wild! There’s also a garden, café and studio featuring multi-sensory installations and exhibitions. And best of all, it’s free for under 2s!

National Maritime Museum

The fascinating National Maritime Museum in historic Greenwich has something for all ages. The Children’s Gallery and Ship Simulator may be too old for your toddler, but they’ll definitely enjoy scooting around the Great Map on a plastic boat and the many family events, such as Play Tuesdays – where under 5s can explore the museum through crafts, music, dance and stories. The museum is free but the activities do have a small charge.

Diana Princess of Wales Memorial

Tumbling Bay Playground

Within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park lies a fantastic kids playground, Tumbling Bay. There’s plenty to explore here: rock pools, sandpits, slides, swings… plus an adjoining community centre and café, the Timber Lodge, for when you need to refuel or change nappies. Other great outdoor spots for toddlers in London include the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens (complete with pirate ship); London’s many city farms; and Coram’s Fields, a seven-acre playground close to the British Museum.

Unicorn Theatre

Alongside its programme for older children, the Unicorn Theatre in London Bridge puts on special productions for younger visitors. Upcoming toddler-friendly shows include Not Now, Bernard (for ages 2+), based on the much-loved children’s book, and Sensacional (for ages 18 months to 3 years), a colourful sound-and-light show in which your toddler dresses in a white suit and becomes part of the experience!

London Transport Museum

Many toddlers have a fascination with public transport; indulge their obsession at the London Transport Museum. Particularly good for this age group is the All Aboard! area, with its pint-sized versions of a bus, train, Tube and taxi. There’s also a play table with a miniature model of London and toy trains. Though chances are they’ll want to ‘have a go’ on the full-size buses and Tube trains too.

Toddler Time at Picturehouse Cinemas

Many cinemas now have kids clubs or parent-and-baby screenings, Picturehouse goes one up with Toddler Time: 30-minute shows to introduce children to the big screen. Admission is £3 per child, free for under 1s.

London Aquarium

Plus: toddlers go free at…

Which toddler-friendly attractions have proved a hit with your little one? Share your top tips in the comments section below.

More family-friendly attractions in London

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Top 10 Free London Attractions Tue, 14 Jan 2014 12:28:54 +0000 Old Royal Naval College

Every visit to London should include these top London attractions. Not only are they fascinating and unique, but they’re also all free!

And we’re not the only ones to think they’re pretty good. These world-class venues were the top 10 free attractions in 2012 across London – and England too (source: VisitEngland Annual Survey of Visits to Visitor Attractions).

British Museum

British Museum

Home of the Rosetta Stone, Parthenon sculptures and mummies of Ancient Egypt, the British Museum is a treasure trove of world history and culture. The collection is free to explore, though some special exhibitions are ticketed. Free temporary displays currently include Perfect Timing: The Mostyn Tompion Clock and Wise Men From The East: Zoroastrian Traditions In Persia And Beyond.

Tate Modern. Image visitlondonimages/ britainonview/ Pawel Libera

Tate Modern

Located along the River Thames in Bankside, Tate Modern is the bright, spacious and throbbing hub of modern and contemporary art in London. There are free guided tours of this former power station every day, or you can explore the collections yourself – from Russian Revolutionary Posters to Cubist works by Picasso, Duchamp and Diego Rivera.

National Gallery

National Gallery

Where the Tate Modern showcases the new, the National Gallery celebrates the old – specifically Western European paintings from the 13th to the 19th centuries. Look out for Vermeer’s A Young Woman standing at a Virginal, Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières, van Gogh’s Sunflowers, da Vinci’s The Virgin of the Rocks and many other unmissable classics from the masters.

Spend time with the kids at the Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

There’s plenty to discover and delight at the Natural History Museum, from the renowned Dinosaurs gallery to Treasures in the Cadogan Gallery, a permanent exhibition of historic gems such as the rare first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, a dodo skeleton and the first adult skull of a Neanderthal ever discovered. Entrance is also free to the Attenborough Studio, where you can see films, join talks and meet the experts.

The Great Bed of Ware, 1590-1760. Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonVictoria and Albert Museum

Billed as the world’s greatest museum of art and design, the V&A (as it’s commonly known) is known for its world-class exhibitions on fashion, culture, art and style. As well as the huge central collection and (ticketed) special exhibitions, there are free temporary displays. Current highlights include Making it up: Photographic Fictions, Masterpieces of Chinese Painting: Digital Dragons and The Jameel Prize 3, featuring works inspired by Islamic traditions of art, craft and design.

Science Museum

Science Museum

Founded in 1857, the Science Museum explores the past, present and future of scientific discoveries through its amazing galleries, interactive displays and historic collections. Go hands on in the Launchpad interactive gallery, learn about yourself in Who Am I? and see iconic inventions such as Stephenson’s original Rocket locomotive, Babbage’s Difference Engine No. 1 and Crick and Watson’s DNA model.

National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery

Princess Diana, Ian McKellen, Emmeline Pankhurst, the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens… beautiful captured moments of the great and good from throughout British history line the walls of the National Portrait Gallery. See how man familiar faces you can spot – and don’t miss the current star-studded special displays, such as Michael Peto Photographs: Mandela to McCartney, Starring Vivien Leigh: A Centenary Celebration and Bob Dylan: Face Value.

Old Royal Naval College

Old Royal Naval College

Built on the site of Greenwich Palace, along the River Thames, the Old Royal Naval College encompasses a series of fascinating historic and royal edifices. Must-sees include the magnificent Painted Hall and Chapel, located in the twin domes designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and the exhibitions and relics on display in the Discover Greenwich Visitor Centre.

British Library

British Library

Beyond its famous and hushed reading rooms, the British Library is a top visitors attraction – full of fascinating exhibitions relating to literature, culture, music and more. Check out the Picture This: Children’s Illustrated Classics display (open until 26 Jan) or explore the permanent galleries’ gems, including no less than the Magna Carta, Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks and Shakespeare’s First Folio.

National Maritime Museum

National Maritime Museum

Tales of adventure, discovery and daring deeds bring fresh life to the fascinating history of life on the high seas. The world’s largest maritime museum, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich has something for everyone: a Children’s Gallery and Ship Simulator for the little ones, free exhibitions such as Maritime London: 1700 To Now and Nelson, Navy, Nation (featuring Nelson’s iconic uniform) and art from the likes of George Stubbs.

More free London attractions

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London Challenge: Family Day Out For £50 Tue, 09 Jul 2013 13:00:40 +0000 "Driving" the driverless trains on the DLR Saying hello to the animals at Mudchute City Farm The Greenwich Foot Tunnel Outside Discover Greenwich, the visitor centre Learning through play in Discover Greenwich Standing on the Greenwich Prime Meridian Line Pirate Alice Leghorn at the National Maritime Museum Playing in Mudlarks at the Museum of London Docklands A well-deserved sit down at Poppies restaurant in Spitalfields

Can a family enjoy a day out in London for £50? I accepted this challenge and set out with a friend and our daughters for a day out. We only spent money on travel and food, as all the attractions we visited were free.

Morning: Mudchute Farm and Discover Greenwich
Mudchute Farm is one of London’s largest city farms and easy to reach on the DLR. From Crossharbour station, it’s a short walk to the farm where we said hello to the animals, watched horse-riding lessons and then exited at Millwall Park for the playground.

From here it’s a five-minute walk to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel under The Thames to reach Greenwich. (Do note, if you have younger children the lifts don’t always work, so be prepared for stairs.) It was a scorching day, so we all appreciated how cool it was in the tunnel. Within minutes, we were in Greenwich. Discover Greenwich, the visitor centre, has lots for children to do. We enjoyed dressing up, building towers and playing games. You can pick up a free map from the Tourist Information Office here and we grabbed ours and then went to the park.

Lunch: Greenwich Park
We were spoilt for choice for great picnic locations at Greenwich Park but we chose to climb the hill to the Royal Observatory, and eat our packed lunches admiring those magnificent views. We then watched the 1pm ball drop at Flamsteed House.

It’s possible to get photos of the Prime Meridian Line outside the Observatory courtyard as the line continues across the path outside. Just look for the “kissing gate” to the right of the courtyard to see it. We walked down the hill and found the Prime Meridian is also marked on Park Vista – a road near the boating lake. This called for more photo opportunities and, again, there was no-one else there.

Afternoon: Free Museums
The National Maritime Museum is a fabulous family-friendly museum and we played on the large floor map for some time before heading up to the All Hands! children’s gallery. On the hour, there are free family events to meet historic characters and we met Alice Leghorn – a female pirate who is well worth seeing.

We all wanted an ice-cream as it was such a hot day but ice-creams from a van in the park were £2.50 each; instead, we nipped to the supermarket nearby and bought a pack of four ice-creams for less than £3.

A short ride on the DLR and we got to Museum of London Docklands with another excellent children’s play/learning area. The girls had an hour in Mudlarks damming a stream, loading cargo on a ship, weighing and building before we visited the galleries.

We played in the sunshine in Canary Wharf before heading to Spitalfields for dinner. The area is well-known for excellent street art so we made sure we had time to explore and take photos.

Dinner: Fish and Chips
Poppies of Spitalfields has 1950s style decor with the friendliest service. There are kids’ meals on the menu and we all perked up when dinner arrived. We all enjoyed our day and I’m glad we proved that a family day out does not have to be expensive in London.


  • Two adult one-day travelcards (top-up on Oyster cards): 2 x £7.30 = £14.60
  • Pack of 4 ice-creams from supermarket: £2.69
  • Dinner at Poppies, including drinks: £31.80
  • Total: £49.09

Laura Porter writes the London Travel site and is also a VisitBritain Super Blogger. She’s @AboutLondon on twitter and fits in further freelance writing while sustaining an afternoon tea addiction to rival the Queen’s.

More ideas for enjoying London on a budget

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What’s On This Weekend: 22-24 February 2013 Mon, 18 Feb 2013 08:30:50 +0000 Sparkle is definitely a theme in the city this weekend, not least because the glitzy London Fashion Weekend will be descending on Somerset House! You can also watch snow sparkle under film-makers’ lights, admire the glittering elegance of the UK’s best-loved ballroom dancers, or check out the spangly superhero costumes down at ExCeL.

Vodafone London Fashion Weekend at Somerset House Anyone who longs to be part of the London Fashion Week action will love the Vodafone London Fashion Weekend, a stylish consumer event that takes place just after London Fashion Week itself. Set against the stunning backdrop of Somerset House, the four-day event offers catwalk shows, lectures and – of course – exclusive shopping opportunities. Tickets start from £15.50.21-24 Feb 

The London Super Comic Convention at ExCeL

A must for comic book fans, the London Super Comic Convention is the largest event of its kind in the UK. Exhibitors come from across the globe to display the latest in comics and comic memorabilia, whilst many of the world’s most famous comic creators will be on site to meet fans and sign autographs. Tickets start from £17.50. 23-24 Feb

Banff Mountain Film Festival Tour at the Union Chapel

Temperatures are plummeting in Islington this weekend, as the Banff Mountain Film Festival tour skis in to the Union Chapel. The festival is one of the most prestigious mountain festivals in the world, and celebrates adventure, human endurance and the great outdoors through the medium of film. The London screenings allow you to see the festival’s best short films and share in a world of high octane action, beautiful vistas and remote cultures without leaving the (comparative) warmth of Islington. Screenings vary depending on the evening and tickets are £13.50. 21 Feb-1 Mar

Chinese New Year Celebrations at the National Maritime Museum

Discover British East Asian heritage and how the sea aided the flow of ideas from Asia to Britain at the National Maritime Museum, which is hosting a day of free Chinese New Year celebrations. From 11am to 4pm, both adults and children can enjoy themed workshops, music and performances that celebrate the Year of the Snake and highlight the influence of Oriental culture on the UK. 23 Feb

Anton & Erin Go To Hollywood at The Barbican

Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag, stars of the enduringly popular Strictly Come Dancing, are bringing a dash of glamour to the Barbican this Saturday. The twinkle-toed pair are dancing in a new show that pays homage to classic MGM musicals such as Gigi. Featuring a 25-piece orchestra, memorable songs and show-stopping choreography, this is guaranteed to put a spring in your step. Tickets start from £19.50 and there are two performances to choose from. 23 Feb

More events in London

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London Video of the Week: London Time Lapse by Greg Brummel Fri, 15 Feb 2013 12:14:07 +0000

This gorgeous montage of London life was created by Greg Brummel and contains more than 6,000 pictures of the city. See how many landmarks you can spot!

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What’s On This Weekend in London: 9-11 November 2012 Mon, 05 Nov 2012 09:47:52 +0000 This is a great weekend to immerse yourself in London’s rich culture. See the world’s oldest civic procession, learn about Egypt’s influence on London architecture or relax at the city’s biggest music festival.

The Lord Mayor’s Show, City of London

Marvel at this spectacular procession, which has been held (almost) annually for nearly 800 years. The extensive parade, which consists of floats, marching bands, musicians and cars, sets off from Mansion House at 11am. You can also watch the return route between Aldwych and Bank from 1 to 2.30pm – don’t miss the new Lord Mayor of London in his magnificent gold coach. 10 Nov

Cartier Bresson: A Question of Colour, at Somerset House

This fascinating exhibition displays 10 photographs by French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson that have never before been on view in the UK. These important works are exhibited alongside those of 15 international photographers, allowing visitors the chance to trace Cartier-Bresson’s significant influence on his field. This exhibition is the first from The Positive View Foundation, a charity which works with disadvantaged young people and which is supported by Prince William. 8 Nov-27 Jan

The London Jazz Festival, Various Venues

London’s largest pan-city music event kicks off in style this weekend, and as many of the events are free there’s plenty of opportunity to be spontaneous.  Throughout the festival there are more than 30 jazz events per night to choose from: check the event website for full programme details and prices. 9-18 Nov 

Egypt in England, Wellington Arch

From Cleopatra’s Needle to Highgate Cemetery, London’s long association with Egypt is highly visible. Head to this interesting exhibition to learn about England’s involvement with Egypt and how it came to influence the country’s buildings and interiors. After the exhibition, pop upstairs to the roof for unique views of Buckingham Palace and the surrounding landscape. 7 Nov-13 Jan 

Ansel Adams: Photography from the Mountains to the Sea, at the National Maritime Museum

This exhibition presents a rare chance to see works by legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams in the UK. Although Adams is best known for his pictures of the American Midwest, this exhibition explores his other passion – water. More than 100 photographs are on display, covering everything from waterfalls to rivers and confirming his reputation as a truly exceptional photographer. 9 Nov-28 Apr

More London events

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London Exhibitions: Last Chance to See Fri, 07 Sep 2012 16:04:05 +0000

If you’ve been planning to visit this summer’s must-see exhibitions such as Damien Hirst at Tate Modern or Yoko Ono at the Serpentine Gallery, be quick! It’s changeover time at London museums and galleries and the following shows are all set to close this month:

Closing this weekend

Closing later in September

But don’t worry there are plenty of exciting new exhibitions coming up this autumn, including Pre-Raphaelites at Tate Britain and Hollywood Costume at the V&A. Keep an eye on our Arts page for all the latest information.

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London Video of the Week: London Architecture Fri, 10 Aug 2012 09:30:28 +0000

We love this video of the best of London’s architecture by Mattia Bicchi via YouTube.

Locations featured include King’s Cross Station, Strata Tower, Palestra Building, Royal Albert Hall, British Museum, RBS Building, Wembley Stadium, Heron Tower, Broadgate Tower, O2 Arena, St Giles Building, Tower Bridge, The Shard, National Maritime Museum, Wellington Arch, St Paul’s Cathedral and Canary Wharf and the Houses of Parliament with Big Ben (or the newly named Queen Elizabeth Tower to give it’s correct monkier.)

You can see more London videos on our YouTube channel:

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London Video of the Week: The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations by NauticWeb Fri, 09 Mar 2012 13:00:45 +0000

Here’s a fun video tracing the history of the Thames in Royal events, and showing clips of various Jubilee celebrations throughout our Queen’s reign.

It’s a busy year for London’s largest waterway. If you’re a fan of the Thames, make sure you check out the following events:

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