Visit London Blog » old royal naval college Enjoy the very best of London Mon, 20 Apr 2015 15:31:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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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The Cook Islands in London: Captain James Cook Wed, 08 Feb 2012 11:34:25 +0000

One of the smallest nations competing in London 2012, The Cook Islands in the South Pacific is named after British Royal Navy Captain and East London resident James Cook.

Originally settled in the 13th century by migrants from what is now French Polynesia and Samoa, the islands were surveyed and charted by Captain Cook in 1773 and 1777.

As well as The Cook Islands (known as the Hervey Islands until the 1820s), James Cook also charted New Zealand, Hawaii and the eastern coast of Australia.

Cook’s ship The Resolution encountered The Cook Islands archipelago in 1773 while searching for the mysterious “Terra Australis”. On his return to London, Cook was promoted to the rank of captain and offered honorary retirement from the Royal Navy as an officer in the Greenwich Hospital, sited at the Old Royal Naval College.

However, he returned to The Resolution on his third and final voyage and revisited The Cook Islands in 1777. He was murdered two years later in The Sandwich Islands, now Hawaii.

Cook has a firm place in the history of many Pacific nations, and his navigational skill and legendary voyages are marked in museums and statues across the region.

In addition to The Cook Islands, his name has been given to places in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Kiribati and most recently a crater on the moon.

In London, artefacts from Cook’s voyages can be found at the Royal Museums Greenwich, including a replica of the famous H4 Marine Chronometer and there’s a statue of Cook in the grounds of the National Maritime Museum.

You can also see blue commorative plaques at Cook’s former London homes at Shadwell (340 Highway marks the site of Cook’s house at 126 Upper Shadwell) and Mile End (89 Mile End Road marks the site of Cook’s house at 7 Assembly Row).

Do you know of any other London connections with The Cook Islands? Let us know using the comments section below.

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Scissor Sisters to Perform at London 2012 River of Music Thu, 27 Oct 2011 10:22:55 +0000

The Scissor Sisters will perform at the BT River of Music festival in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The two-day celebration on 21 and 22 July 2012 will feature free concerts along the banks of the river Thames, starring musical talent from Olympic countries around the world.

Six stages will host music from the major continents: Asia in Battersea Park, Africa in Jubilee Gardens, Europe in Trafalgar Square and Somerset House, the Americas at the Tower of London, and Oceania at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

Confirmed artists include Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Naturally 7, Baaba Maal, Angelique Kidjo, Zakir Hussain and Andy Sheppard.

To find out how to get your hands on free concert tickets, sign up now at Ticketing information will be released in May 2012.


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Old Royal Naval College Welcomes its Millionth Visitor Tue, 09 Nov 2010 11:45:42 +0000

Congratulations to the Old Royal Naval College: this weekend, the team in Greenwich will welcome their millionth visitor.

According to reports, the lucky visitor will be greeted by a “fanfare of crumhorns, hurdy-gurdies, lutes and harps” – probably something to do with the Greenwich International Festival of Early Music, which is taking place at the Old Royal Naval College this weekend.

This festival is just one of a whole host of initiatives produced by the Old Royal Naval College to increase visitor numbers. Others include:

  • restoring the old brewery, working with the Meantime Brewing Company
  • Discover Greenwich, new £6 million visitor centre and restaurant
  • numerous festivals, including the Beer and Jazz Festival, the Summer Sessions music festival, and London’s biggest comedy festival

Duncan Wilson OBE, Chief Executive of the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College, says, “We are delighted to have reached one million visits. 

“Since taking over the care of the Old Royal Naval College, we have focused on forging  commercial partnerships and developing sustainable tourism. This approach enables us to  protect and care for the Word Heritage Site while creating an international tourism destination. Combining our commercial income with Government funding has enabled us to restore the magnificent buildings of the Old Royal Naval College to their former glory and reach out to a wider audience.

“The range and depth of activities taking place at the Old Royal Naval College is also increasing.  From music festivals to theatre and film locations, we are continually enhancing our offer as an international tourism destination and a valued location for Londoners.  We look forward to 2011 and the build up to London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Entrance to Discover Greenwich, the Clore Learning Centre and the Greenwich Tourist Information Centre at the Old Royal Naval College is free. If you haven’t been down there yet, now’s a great time to join the other million people who’ve made the visit! You won’t be disappointed.

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London Welcomes The World’s Smallest Hotel Fri, 26 Feb 2010 18:31:42 +0000

We know visitors to London have very discerning tastes when it comes to choosing accommodation. Whether it’s top-of-the-range luxury hotels or family-friendly B&Bs, there’s lots on offer.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to shake London’s hotel scene up a bit: we’re opening the world’s smallest pop-up hotel.

If you’re in London between the 15-19 March, and you would like to try this money-can’t-buy experience, enter the prize draw for a chance to win at

Lucky winners will wake up with an amazing view of some of the capital’s favourite attractions including

Visit London has transformed a luxury American Airstream into a beautiful bedroom suite, teaming up with Radisson Edwardian Hotels to stamp their own unique style on the pop-up hotel.

The high-spec mini hotel features a dedicated concierge, check-in desk, room service, a flat-screen TV, sound system, fridge and dining-room area, double bed, en-suite facilities and all the other little touches you would expect to find in a top London hotel.

Enter now: the competition closes on 7 March

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