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London Day Trip: Greenwich

Below Decks Aboard the Cutty Sark (Scarborough photo)The history-stuffed village of Greenwich is an easy day or half-day trip from London, downstream on the River Thames.

Do some investigating at the tourist Web site and decide what you and your family would like to see, but also think about how you want to get there.

I recommend taking a boat on the Thames, leaving from one of the piers at the Tower of London, Chelsea, Westminster or Thames Barrier.

You can come back to central London on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR.)

Our family’s favorite Greenwich sights include the magnificently restored tea clipper Cutty Sark, launched in 1869 and now in drydock next to the Thames. Kids love climbing all over the historic vessel.

We also enjoyed seeing where East meets West at 0 degrees longitude, the imaginary line around the globe that cuts through the Greenwich Royal Observatory and is known as the Prime Meridian.

This is where we get the term “Greenwich Mean Time” or GMT. Astride the Prime Meridian, Greenwich UK

Finally, pay a visit to the National Maritime Museum for all sorts of nautical exhibits befitting Britannia. Admission is free.

If you’d like some guidance, the always-reliable London Walks tours have the Historic Greenwich walk amongst their Tuesday offerings.

Update 11 October 2006: There’s a nice Greenwich overview article out on Frommer’s.

Update 24 August 2007: The ship suffered a horrific fire in May 2007, but crews are working frantically to restore it. The Visitor’s Center is open; click here for an update.