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Qs re Greenwich and Tower of London

Am wondering if this sounds like a reasonable and enjoyable Sunday in London:

--boat ride from center of London to Greenwich
--11 am chapel service
--Cutty Sark and Maritime Museum (Naval Observatory gets negative reviews on TripAdvisor). Both close at 5...then back to Kensington for dinner.

Also, I once spent half a day at the Tower of London and it remains the best thing I've done in England, and I've seen everything in Greater London....but can anyone speak to the "Ceremony of the Keys" at night? It's free (and booked into August!), but is it worth it? It's less than an hour, right?


Posted by
29253 posts

Don't be influenced by what other people like - or in the case you mention, dislike.

If you like - lovely views from the top of a hill, or geography where you will be at the exact zero meridian, or time - it is the source of time - then you may find that you actually like the Royal Observatory. I know I did, plenty.

Posted by
9110 posts

You can't have it both ways:
Blow off the Observatory because one crowd doesn't like it, then ask another crowd about something else.

Idle questions:
How in the heck have you managed to have see everything in 'Greater London'?
How many lifetimes were involved?

Posted by
211 posts

I've done the Ceremony of the Keys. It's pretty neat to be there after hours. You do get a little bit of a guided tour and the Beefeaters explain the ceremony of locking up the Tower and you watch while it happens.

Posted by
29253 posts

I've seen everything in Greater London

Do you like Arts and Crafts? Have you visited the Red House?


Have you been to a concert on the lawn at Kenwood House? Or a guided tour of Eltham Palace?

Three very distinctive and very interesting architectural periods and icons.

If you have visited those, do you have some feedback for those who haven't?

Posted by
9110 posts


I was thinking about a simple pre-dawn breakfast at Smithfield Market just to satisfy the lard craving.

Posted by
132 posts

We did not spend a lot of time a Greenwich, it just didn't hold our interest like we thought it would. We did spend a couple of hours and it was worth it. There are lovely views. The Tower of London, though, we loved. We went 3 times in 2 weeks, including the ceremony of keys. I love history and it felt like we got to be a part of something special. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would go again. Plus it was rather peaceful, something you don't often get at the tower.

Posted by
4861 posts

I'd call the TA reviews on the Royal Observatory mixed rather than outright negative. It was a victim of its own success when admission was made totally free making it frequently overcrowded with associated ongoing maintenance issues and damage. The charge was to throttle back crowds in the worst affected areas and to bring in revenue for necessary repairs and improvements. It is also a popular destination for school visits, which make it less attractive to others there at the time, but that is common at any attraction of this kind. The admission is valid for a calendar year, although obviously of no importance to one-off visitors. Quite a lot of the observatory area is still without admission charge.

Note that the Harrison’s timepieces have been relocated to the National Maritime Museum until Jan 2015 with a £8.50 admission charge to the temporary Longitude exhibition.

Posted by
2297 posts

My first trip to London was based out of Greenwich. My husband had been to London many times before and while he hadn't seen it "all" he wanted a change of scenery. And it actually worked well! We enjoyed the Maritime museum and also the Observatory. Mind you, he is very much into astronomy but even for me it was pleasant enough.

In addition, Greenwich is a nice place for a stroll. I even scored a dress from the 1960s for just 5 pounds in a second hand store that used to be a gas station and took it home as my favourite souvenir of the trip.

Posted by
100 posts

First, I appreciate all the quick responses! I will plan to go through with this day as described, but if time allows will consider adding the Royal Observatory. A few quick individual responses:

Lee and Emma—The ceremony sounds good! I hope to do it some year!

Keith – I’ve also noticed the odd rankings…I don’t know how they determine the order when so many places get many terrific reviews. I don’t usually notice that number, however, and look at each place’s range of scores.

Nigel and Ed – I’m not having anything both ways…I read forums like this one and TA with full knowledge that any one hotel, attraction or restaurant gets both very good, and very bad, reviews. I look for trends.

As for whether I’ve seen “everything” in Greater London, let me re-phrase myself…after 10 Wimbledons I have seen almost all the major (and some minor) attractions in greater London: Tower of London (the best), Changing of Guards (great pageantry), tour inside Buckingham Palace, Big Ben/Parliament (the best photo spot), Churchill War Rooms (excellent), Westminster Abbey (terrific), St. Pauls, V&A, Prince Albert Memorial, British Museum, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Mews (twice, loved it), Imperial War Museum (Fabulous!), the tour at Fullers Brewery (samples!), Harrods and a daytrip to Hampton Court (well worth it)….and many that most probably don’t bother with (mostly with good reason): Museum of London, Cavalry Museum, Ben Franklin House, Tower Bridge, Jewel Tower, Guards Museum, and a Sunday service at St. Martin in the Fields. I’ve taken the Big Bus Tour around town, and walked around Hyde Park, St.James Park, Regent Park, Kensington Gardens, Covent Garden, the cemetery on Old Brompton Road near Earls Court, and the center of Richmond. I’ve taken a lovely boat ride from Richmond to central London where I’ve seen lots all the key landmarks, even the Ronald Reagan statue and 9/11 memorial next to the US embassy. Plus I’ve enjoyed three daytrips via Evan Evans: Windsor Castle/Bath/Stonehenge, Leeds Castle/Canterbury/Dover, and Warwick Castle/Stratford/Oxford (I rank them in that order). Last year I did the E-E daytrip to Paris. If you want my thoughts on numerous restaurants (mostly South Kensington, Earls Court, Kens High Street and Wimbledon Village), check out TA (“nagled”).

So although I haven’t done (nor heard of) the things you suggest and have no doubt they are lovely, I think I’m safe in saying I’ve seen almost everything noteworthy (especially since I have no interest in the Zoo, Natural History Museum, a wax museum or the Big Ferris Wheel). This year, in addition to my outing to Greenwich, I plan to go to the Portobello Market in Notting Hill and to attend church in Chelsea and explore the nearby parks. And yes, I should get to the Tate Modern and the Ceremony of the Keys some year. And would love if a concert at Royal Albert Hall would work out someday with my schedule. My really big ideas are to do a few days in Edinburgh some year, and also the 5-day Viator tour of the Southwest of England.

But thanks for your point of view, reminding me of the many charms of London.