Greenwich is only a short journey from central London, offering some of the most amazing views of the city of London that you won’t want to miss. You can stand, straddling the eastern and western hemisphere and so much more. We take you on a discovery of the outer limits of London with this guide on things to do in Greenwich on a budget.
This is where east meets the west, straddle both hemispheres with one foot on either side, at Prime Meridian. Or admire Sir Christopher Wren’s architectural design. No, we are not talking about the famous dome at St Pauls Cathedral, but his design of the Royal Naval College in Greenwich. With so much to see and do, is it really possible to visit Greenwich on a budget? Of course, it is!
Greenwich is a borough of London and located about 5.5 miles from central London. While it is part of London, it’s still nice to get out of the humdrum of the city, but know that you’re still in London.
A palace was built in the 15th century. It was the birth place of many Tudor kings and queens including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Sadly, during the English Civil War, the palace went into disrepair, only to be demolished and replaced by the Royal Naval Hospital for sailors.
Henry VIII loved Greenwich, that he married Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves in the borough.
The first steam railway to be built in London and completed in 1838 was from London to Greenwich. The route started at London Bridge terminating at London Street which is now called Greenwich High Road.
To mark the turning of the century, the Milennium Dome was built on part of the East Greenwich Gas Works. It has now been taken over by O2 and was converted into an arena and restaurants.
When to visit Greenwich on a budget
The key to visiting Greenwich on a budget, is when you travel.
In our experience the best time to visit Greenwich, is during the spring and autumn months of March-May and September-October. The weather will be warm, yet less crowds. Accommodation prices will be cheaper compared to the summer months.
The cheapest and budget friendly time to visit is during winter. Between November and January-February. During the festive season of December, prices increase a little. However, the weather during the winter is cold and will often be wet.
Whilst the summer is the best time to visit for the weather, travel prices will be at their most expensive.
Avoid travel during the school holiday where possible. Travel prices will increase during this period.
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The currency in England is the £(GBP)
Overseas travellers will need to convert their currency into the £s. We would recommend taking enough cash with you for your holiday and a little bit extra for emergencies. You can also use debit or credit cards, but always check with your bank prior to travel. There could be a fee for non-Stirling transactions (it might be labelled differently in your home country).
Things to do in Greenwich on a budget
Sightseeing can be a real budget killer, especially if you have to pay to enter the attraction.
We would recommend the following tips, on how to pick up free sightseeing tickets, or in some cases tickets at a fraction of the price.
- It’s possible to get discounted tickets for top tourist attractions when you purchase the tickets in advance and online.
- Are there any travel cards available to purchase that allow discounted entry to certain places?
- Are there any multiple entry tickets for a number of attractions in the area?
- What tourist attractions are free, or have concessions for a certain day that is free. For example, every 4th Sunday is free entry.
To help you plan your trip to Greenwich on a budget, we have detailed some of the things to do in Greenwich, along with information on any discounts you could pick up or free tourist attractions.
Things to do in Greenwich for free
What is the best way to visit Greenwich on a budget? Simple! Visiting the free things to do in Greenwich. And there’s a few free things to do:
Greenwich foot tunnel
Opening times: 24/7
The dizzy spiralling staircase take you down about 50 feet to the foot of the tunnel, before walking about 1,215 feet under the River Thames to the opposite side.
The damp and cold tunnel connects the south banks of Greenwich with the Isle of Dogs on the north. It was constructed in the early 20th century to connect south Londoners with the docklands.
On our visit only one lift was in use in Greenwich, which makes it challenging for anyone with accessibility issues. It certainly didn’t stop cyclists taking the tunnel, but carrying their bike up and down the busy staircase couldn’t have been easy. But it didn’t stop them non the less.
The foot tunnel was a great way to connect us from Canary Warf and Greenwich, especially the great views from Island Gardens.
Be in Island gardens for about 12:50 to see the red ball at the top of the Royal Observatory move into position ready for its drop at 1pm.
You’ll also have great views of The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich Park and the Royal Observatory.
Opening times: Monday to Friday 10am – 5:30pm
This busy market was open in the 1700s with 60 stalls. At the time half the stalls were butchers selling their best cut meats, there was one grocer, and a baker. But this wasn’t its original location. It was first located and formed part of Greenwich Hospital, also known as the Old Royal Naval College.
The market later moved to its current location, with stalls selling meat, fish, eggs, butter, poultry, fruit and vegetables. Market stalls at the edge of the market would have sold china and glass.
Today, many of the original buildings are still visible, but the stalls and the roof have been updated. But you may not find the best cut of meat, fruit and vegetable now. Instead, you’ll find arts, crafts, handmade gifts, fashion and jewellery stalls. Ideal if you are looking for that special gift for someone, or just a souvenir.
Feeling a bit peckish? You don’t have to travel the world to taste food from around the world at the many different food stalls serving hot and cold dishes.
Even if you don’t want to purchase anything, it’s still worth wandering around and admiring some of the incredible stalls offering their wares.
The smells from the different food stalls makes the mouth water, make sure you’re hungry as you won’t want to leave without eating something.
Opening times: Monday to Friday 6am – 9:30pm
Henry VIII introduced deer to this former hunting park during James I rein and enclosed it with a wall. Much of that wall remains today.
Climb the steep hill in Greenwich Park to the Royal Observatory for unbelievable views across the River Thames and into the city of London. You could get that perfect Instagram photo from the top of Greenwich Park.
Find a spot in Greenwich Park for a relaxing picnic during the summer months. Are you travelling as a family? There’s plenty to keep the kids entertained, with a play area in the lower level of the park.
Bring your bat and ball or racket, to play cricket on the cricket pitch or tennis on the tennis courts. Learn more about herbs in the herb garden or feed the ducks in the duck pond, there’s so many more things to do in Greenwich Park.
National Maritime Museum
Opening times: 10am – 5pm
Sea navigation has played an important role at Greenwich. The Romans landed here, Henry VIII lived here and it’s also been a school for children of seafarers.
The museum covers two floors with everything that’s connected to maritime history.
On the ground floor, life size boats are on display. Learn more about Miss Britain III, the first boat to exceed 100mph on salt water.
But the highlight is Prince Frederick’s Barge. The detail on the barge is so incredible. Dragons adorn the boat and the regal gold to signify the importance of the barge, fit for a king.
Families will enjoy the second floor. Interactive treasure troves that take them through some of our history from discovering more on the polar exploration and the indigenous communities that live in the Arctic and Antarctic, sail around the globe with Christopher Columbus, take a look at the equipment they would have used during the period.
There’s even the jacket of Horatio Nelson on display with the bullet hole from where he got shot.
There so much more to discover at the National Maritime Museum.
Don’t forget to purchase your tickets online and in advance. Weekends are the busiest, so don’t be disappointed and make sure you book your tickets in advance.
Opening times: Monday to Friday 10am – 11pm
Built to commemorate the turn of the third century and opened on 1st January 2000 until 31st December 2000. The Millennium Dome as it was named on opening, held exhibitions to celebrate the century just gone.
After the Millennium Domes closure, the O2 took over and converted it into a music venue. It has hosted the ATP World Tour Finals and other such events.
You don’t need to visit the O2 just to see a concert or a sports event, you could just have a bite to eat in the many restaurants, have a few cooling beers in the pubs at the O2, watch one of the latest movies in the cinema, or go bowling.
If you’re looking for an adventure and aren’t afraid of heights, then why not climb the O2 arena. Strap yourself in to the harnesses and up you climb. Once at the top, admire the breath-taking views of the city of London.
To climb the O2, will set you back £32.00 (€37.38 – $44.28) per person.
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Opening times: 10am – 5pm
A former Royal residence and birthplace of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Mary, but now holds some of the most beautiful art works and some captivating architecture.
Portraits of many reigning Monarchs including the iconic Armada portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, who was born in the original Greenwich Palace.
You might be here for the art work on display, but don’t forget to admire some of the attractive architecture. Peer your gaze up in the Great Hall that’s the centre piece of the building. Enjoy the delights of the delicate gold leaf ceiling fresco.
Henriette Maria’s bedroom that’s now home to the Armada painting has a marvellous ceiling design. It is unclear who painted the ceiling but all is known is the name ‘Aurora dispersing the shades of the night’.
One of the most popular Instagramable images, is the Tulip Stairs. The staircase is the first self-supporting spiral stairs in Britain. Take the perfect picture at the bottom of the staircase as you look up. The bright blue rails stand out, from the pure white stairs, with the light pouring in from the window at the top.
Where to stay in Greenwich
Accommodation can be one of the biggest things that eat into your budget.
London is an expensive city to visit after all. Accommodation prices can range from the cheap hostels, to the expensive luxury hotels.
The cheapest places to stay while on a budget in Greenwich will be a hostel. Hostels are the most affordable way to keep to a tight budget and have somewhere to sleep. You can book a bed in a dorm room for about £12.00 (€13.98 – $16.53), or £29.00 (€33.78 – $39.95) for a private room per night.
Hostels are a great way to meet fellow travellers. But many hostels will have the basic facilities, such as a dorm room, communal showers and toilets and some may include breakfast.
If staying in a hostel isn’t your thing, then your next option could be a B&B or a hotel.
By booking accommodation further from central London, accommodation prices will drop. But you will need to take public transport to get to the sights you want to see for that day. This must be factored in when planning where to stay in Greenwich.
You could also stay at an Airbnb. Airbnb offer accommodation be it an entire apartment or house, to a bed in the spare room. Staying in an Airbnb is a great way to learn more about the local culture.
Here are some suggestions on places to stay in London or Greenwich, that you could book right away.
How to get around Greenwich
The cheapest way to get around Greenwich is to walk. The benefits of walking mean you can see all those hidden gems that you might have missed on public transport. Think of the health benefits and the environment, but most importantly, how much money you’ll save.
To help you plan your trip to Greenwich on a budget, we have details on the different methods of transport.
There are five airports in and around the surrounding area of London. These are: London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted, London Luton and London City.
London Heathrow and London Gatwick are the main hubs for European and International flights. The remaining three airports cater for the budget airlines that charter to Europe.
Most travellers will arrive at either Heathrow or Gatwick airport. In our opinion, the closest and easiest airport to arrive to, will be Heathrow. Heathrow has easy connections with central London via the tube, buses and taxis. However, flights to Heathrow are not the cheapest.
Alternatively. You could arrive at Gatwick, before catching the train or a bus into central London. Flights are cheaper, but you must take into account the cost for public transport to get you to Greenwich.
Once you are in central London, there’s public transport that will connect you with Greenwich with ease.
There are trains and bus route to Central London from Stansted, Luton and London City.
Victoria Bus station provides connections internationally and long-distance routes.
London has many routes connecting Greenwich with other areas and boroughs in London
The Eurostar connects London St Pancras with other European destinations.
The UK have a great network of train lines that connect London with other large cities and villages around the country.
Greenwich is connected by Southeastern Railway, Thameslink Railway, DLR (Docklands Light Railway), making Greenwich easy to get around.
On our trip to Greenwich, we took the Southeastern train on the Hastings Line up to London Waterloo East, before taking a tube from Southwark to Canary Warf and then on the DLR to Island Gardens.
In the UK, we call the underground trains the tube. Americans call this the subway. The tube are 11 coloured lines that connect different areas of London together.
There’re a few tube lines within the Greenwich area, which are quick. During off peak, the tube runs trains every 10-15 minutes, but during peak, trains run every 2-5 minutes.
We took the tube on the Jubilee line to Canary Warf, before catching the DLR to Island Gardens.
In our opinion, you really should not hire or drive a car to Greenwich. Traffic can be busy, if you don’t know the road very well, it is quite easy to get lost or take the wrong turn. You’ll need to consider if there’s any one-way routes and, in our opinion, it really isn’t worth the hassle. Especially when there’s plenty of public transport that will get you around easily.
Parking can also be a problem and expensive. If you’re travelling on a budget, this could quite easily eat into your budget, especially if you get a parking ticket or driving ticket.
This is the best way to get around Greenwich. Walking around Greenwich is the cheapest, healthiest and better for the environment.
Greenwich is mostly flat, except Greenwich Park. The steep incline up to the Royal Observatory will leave you a little breathless, but it is well worth it.
We love walking around Greenwich, it was the best way to discover all the things to do.
When travelling around London, we would recommend getting an Oyster card. An Oyster card is an electronic card that stores money to pay for your travel journey. As you travel around, you will need to top the card up with more money.
Each station within London will have either gates or a box that you must tap the Oyster card to pay for your travel. You must tap the card on entry and exit of the station. If you don’t, you’ll get charged the full days rate.
A deposit is required to get the Oyster, but this is refundable on return of the card.
The Oyster card in our opinion is the cheapest and easiest way to get around London. It is only available in London and can be used on most forms of public transport.
Looking day trip ideas from London, then check out these best places to visit.
Tips on visiting Greenwich on a budget
Travelling to Greenwich really doesn’t have to be expensive, as long as you reseach, plan, save and budget for your trip.
But how do you budget for your trip to Greenwich? Check out these super tips on how to travel on a budget.
Travelling really doesn’t have to be expensive, we have implemented these simple steps to allow us to still travel but have that adventure and so can you!
Check out the below to help you budget for your trip to Greenwich.London Travel Costs
Where to eat in Greenwich
Why spend money on eating out in Greenwich, when you could make your own food. If you purchase the food from the local grocery store and make it, not only will it be healthy, but it is a good way to cut your budget in half.
We would recommend making sandwiches, pasta, salads, for your lunch and evening meals, while packing fruit and healthy snacks for on the go, while you are out exploring the things to do in Greenwich. Most of these foods are cheap to buy, easy to make and pack, ready for your Greenwich Adventures.
If you are travelling as a couple or family/group, you could set your food budget for about £10.00 for a day rather than £10.00+ per person per meal.
I’m on holiday, why would I want to make my own food, when I could eat out in restaurants or cafes? Eating out in Greenwich can get expensive, especially if you are travelling as a family.
You need to decide what is more important. Spending all your savings on one adventure, or saving money, keeping to a tight budget, but still having an adventure and then having another travel adventure later in the year.
The best way to keep within your budget, is researching the places to eat before you go. Go online and check where you could eat and check their menus before you travel. This will give you a good idea on the prices for a main meal and drinks. If the price of a meal in a café or restaurant is above your budget, move onto the next place until you find somewhere that’s within your budget.
To help you plan your trip, why not download our FREE travel planner, that way you can plan and budget for your holiday.
Don’t forget you need to maintain your hydration. This will increase your food and drinks budget. To keep things to a minimum, drink more water. Water is free and easy to come by. We have a water pouch plus reusable water bottles that we fill to keep us hydrated.
Not everyone likes plain water, so add a little bit of fruit juice, again it is cheap and the best way to stay within your budget.
You can easily set a budget of £10.00 per person per meal just as we do.
Do you need ideas on where to eat in Greenwich on a budget? Then check out these places:
Greenwich Street Eats
Located beside the Cutty Sark is Greenwich Street Eats.
A choice of both savoury and sweet street food of flavours from all around the world.
The smell of the food will soon make you hungry, so order something delicious before finding a glorious seat along the River Thames and admire the views while you eat.
Our recommendation would be Greek from Mr. Greek. A choice between chicken, lamb or vegetarian, with flatbread, salad and fries packed into a box ready to eat now or later.
After exploring the wonders of the Maritime Museum, take a break at the Museum Café for a nice hot cup of tea or coffee, with a slice of cake.
As you can probably tell, us Brits love our tea. Do what us Brits do and enjoy a cup of the hot stuff, relax back, give your feet a break and enjoy that cuppa (cup of tea) you deserve it.
If you don’t fancy a cuppa, but feel hungry, enjoy something from there small selection of hot and cold meals.
We enjoyed our cup of tea and a warm scone with cream and jam.
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What to pack
Packing is essential when going on holiday, but you have to be smart about what to pack.
England is seasonal, so depending on when you travel will depend on what you will need to pack.
It isn’t just the clothing you need to consider; you’ll need to pack the correct documents such as passport and visa if this is required.
Why not head over to our post on what to pack for a trip to the UK. In this, we provide an extensive list of all the important things to pack. You can also download, a check list to help you pack the right things and never miss an item.
We really enjoyed visiting Greenwich. Our highlight was admiring the views of the City from Greenwich Park and exploring the various museums learning so much more about maritime and even space. And the bonus, are the free museums we could explore.
If you want to get out of the big smoke, then you really must visit these things to do in Greenwich.
We don’t want you to miss out on an experience just because of the financial implications. By following these simple tips you’ll also visit Greenwich on a budget.
We hope that you enjoy visiting Greenwich as much as we do.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.
Have you visited Greenwich? What was your highlight? Was there somewhere you visited that we didn’t cover? Let us know, with a comment below.
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