Last updated on September 4th, 2020
Hurrah! Royal Museums Greenwich is now ready to welcome everyone back with open arms. The fab four, which includes Cutty Sark, the Royal Observatory, the Queen’s House and the National Maritime Museum, offer the perfect post-lockdown family day out. You’ll get some of the best views in London, plenty of fresh air, a healthy dose of culture, and you’ll be able to explore these London museums safe in the knowledge that all social distancing measures are fully in place. Join me (and Anais) for a magical family day out in Greenwich.
Covid-19 safety measures and social distancing at Royal Museums Greenwich
I spent the day with my 13-year-old Anais, so her health and safety were of paramount importance. We drove to Greenwich from Hammersmith which took about an hour, but you could opt for the excellent Thames Clipper river boat service which drops you off at the Cutty Sark. You could also take a bus or train service to Greenwich or even cycle if local.
Royal Museums Greenwich operate a one-way system throughout. I was reassured by the abundance of social distancing and safety signage.
There were plenty of sanitiser stations throughout. Anais and I were grateful for this one next to the interactive display.
Masks were encouraged at the time of our visit but are now compulsory throughout all indoor areas of the museum. There were plenty of outdoor spaces to enjoy in and around the museums where masks could be taken off.
The Royal Museums Greenwich staff were informative and helpful and seemed very happy to see us. We were so happy to be back in Greenwich!
Visitors are asked to pre-book all tickets online and to pay by card only in the shops. More information on social distancing and how to safely visit Royal Museums Greenwich here.
Royal Observatory Greenwich
Let’s start by heading over to Greenwich Park and its 180 acres (the perfect place for a picnic, if you ask me). Follow the signs to the Royal Observatory and start climbing up. You won’t be disappointed when you get to the top.
Commissioned by Charles II and designed by Christopher Wren, the Royal Observatory was home to the Royal Astronomers and was a working observatory until 1947.
Take in some of the best views in London
There are London views and there’s the Greenwich view. It’s the perfect marriage between old and new. Look out for the 02, the Shard, The London Eye and The Gherkin with some of London’s historical gems taking centre stage: the Queen’s House, the National Maritime Museum and the Old Royal Naval College.
Stand on the Prime Meridian Line
The Greenwich Meridian was chosen as the Prime Meridian of the World in 1884.This marks the spot from which time zones are measured and is the line which divides the eastern and western hemispheres. Stand with one foot on the right and the other on the left and you’ll be meeting both the east and west. At night, look out for the green laser from the top of the hill in Greenwich Park which traces the Meridian Line from Greenwich towards Canary Wharf.
Normally, you would expect to queue to see this popular attraction, but with timed entry and social distancing measures in place, we had most of the Meridian Courtyard to ourselves and I had plenty of time to take snaps of Anais.
Get celestial at Flamsteed House
This swanky pad was built by Wren to house the first Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed, and his family. A further nine astronomers would live here.
Look up outside Flamsteed House and you’ll see a large red ball. This was one of the world’s earliest public time signals, allowing ships on the Thames as well as city dwellers to set their clocks. Today, the Time Ball drops daily at 1pm.
Explore the Astronomers Royal apartments
Find out how the Astronomers Royal and their families lived in the 18th and 19th centuries.
See the glorious Octagon Room
The Octagon Room was originally designed so that the Astronomer Royal could make celestial observations from its generous windows. It is a rare example of a Wren-designed interior.
Visit the Time Galleries
Soak in some astronomical history with tales of sea navigation and learn how longitude works. The Time Galleries include paintings, scientific objects, clocks and interactive displays which the kids will enjoy.
The museum shop is open. Toilets are available about halfway through the tour (off the Meridian Courtyard).
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Planetarium is currently closed, and the Camera Obscura is cordoned off. Audio guides are also not available.
Anais and I headed over to the Cutty Sark for a quick hello as we had already visited last year on a family day out (and you can read all about that here).
The world’s only surviving tea clipper, Cutty Sark is a must-see when you’re in Greenwich. Launched in 1869, she was the fastest ship of her time. During her 52-year tenure, she travelled the equivalent of a trip to the moon and back two and a half times.
The Royal Observatory isn’t the only place with killer views.
Thanks to timed-entry on board, we felt like we had the old girl to ourselves. It was such a treat to wander around the decks and soak in the naval atmosphere.
It was also quiet in the gallery below-deck and in the living quarters. Now really is the perfect time to visit Cutty Sark, one of London’s top attractions and therefore normally very busy.
Please note: some of the digital displays are not open and you can no longer touch Cutty’s hull.
Queen’s House and National Maritime Museum
We didn’t visit these two museums as they had not yet re-opened on the date of our Greenwich outing. Both museums are now open, although the National Maritime Museum won’t be fully operational until the end of August.
Faces of a Queen and Woburn Treasures
I’m planning a farewell drop-in to see the Armada Portraits triptych of Queen Elizabeth I before these are disbanded at the end of the month. It’s one of the most dazzling exhibits I have ever seen in London. Faces of a Queen is on until 31 August.
Make sure you also take a peep at Woburn Treasures, a collection of 70 paintings on loan from Woburn Abbey and featuring works by Reynolds, Van Dyck, Gainsborough and Canaletto. And the good news is, it’s been extended to Spring 2021.
Entry to the Queen’s House is free, but you must pre-book entry to both exhibitions.
The Tulip staircase at Queen’s House is a thing of design beauty. It’s the first self-supporting spiral staircase in Britain, and the location of several ghost sightings.
Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year
Visit the 2019 Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year at the National Maritime Museum. You can read about last year’s shortlist here. Entry to the National Maritime Museum is free, but you must pre-book entry to the exhibition (ends 13 September).
How to Book a Day Out with Royal Museums Greenwich
So, what are you waiting for? Get thee to Royal Museums Greenwich for a fun London family day out. These unique attractions are part of an extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage Site which combines naval history, astronomy, royal history, architecture and art.
Go say good morrow to Queen Elizabeth I at the Queen’s House, tread the decks at the Cutty Sark, see some of the best views in London at the Royal Observatory, or reach for the stars and beyond at the National Maritime Museum.
- Royal Observatory: Adults £16 (kids £8)
- Cutty Sark: Adults £15 (kids £7.50).
- Get a Greenwich Day Pass for £25 (kids £12.50) and get access to both the Royal Observatory and Cutty Sark. It’s perfect for a family day out.
- Become a Member and get free entry to all the exhibitions. More information here.
This is a sponsored post with Royal Museums Greenwich. All opinions are my own.
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