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Royal Naval College

Greenwich walking tour

Far from the hustle and bustle of London proper, Greenwich has an almost village-like atmosphere. Yet this leafy, affluent borough is littered with fine architecture and has lofty connections to the maritime and scientific worlds. Its magnificent buildings and historic importance have made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site and strolling through its parks, museums and tree-lined walkways leaves you in no doubt about its importance.

A privately guided half-day walk through Greenwich is a great way to explore the area, taking things at your own pace, lingering at the spots you find most interesting and having an expert at your side to explain everything you see in detail.

Meet your guide at your hotel for the 45-minute journey down the Thames by clipper to Greenwich. Once you arrive all the main sights are within easy walking distance, the pace is relaxed in comparison to the city and the attractions diverse.

Royal patronage allowed most of the major architects of the 17th and 18th centuries to work at Greenwich and their legacy is a cluster of magnificent buildings that capture the spirit of enlightenment of their day.

One of the key sights here is the Royal Observatory, which offers a fascinating overview of the history of global navigation and timekeeping. It was here in 1884 that Greenwich became the world's prime meridian and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was established. You can stand with your feet straddling the hemispheres and see a display of John Harrison’s marine chronometers, which solved the problem of calculating longitude at sea.

The walk up to the Royal Observatory is quite steep, but you're rewarded by wonderful views across the River Thames to Canary Wharf, the new financial district, and as far away as St Paul’s Cathedral.

Heading back down the hill you'll come to the National Maritime Museum, an august neoclassical building by Inigo Jones, which houses a vast collection of maritime paraphernalia including the uniform worn by Nelson when he was shot at the Battle of Trafalgar. Next door is the Palladian Queen's House which has 22 rooms filled with art spanning over 400 years.

Farther on, on the waterfront, is the Old Royal Naval College, which was designed by Christopher Wren and is now part of the University of Greenwich. You can go inside to see the magnificent chapel and the incredibly intricate Painted Hall, London's answer to the Sistine Chapel.

Nearby is the beautiful 19th-century Cutty Sark, the world’s last surviving tea clipper and once the fastest ship in the world. You can wander its decks, explore the sailors' quarters, see a large collection of prints, paintings and figureheads in the hold and learn about her record-breaking passages around the globe.

Once your tour is complete you can opt to explore more of Greenwich under your own steam or return to central London with your guide, taking the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) or Tube.

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