Ready to explore London south of the river? Our Greenwich taxi driver’s guide is the ideal way to discover this historic corner of south east London. Ready? OK, let’s go.
While Greenwich the borough includes some of London’s less attractive parts of town (Isle of Dogs, we’re looking at you), it is still for the most part a relatively untouched and leafy village. And one that draws much of its beauty from its proximity to the river Thames.
If Greenwich is famous for one thing above all, it’s making time. And we don’t mean that in the way Addison Lee make time with our speedy and reliable service either. We mean they literally ‘make time’. How do they manage this remarkable feat? With the Prime Meridian.
Most of us know about Greenwich Mean Time so we won’t patronise you by explaining it, but did you know you can visit the actual Meridian line at the Royal Observatory? Not only that, but it was the site of the very first weather forecast ever issued in 1848. Whether it’s the science, the history or just the general loveliness of the area, there’s something near magical about Greenwich.
Of course, on the other side of the river it’s all change. The Docklands provide a stark and contrasting backdrop to the unspoilt charm of Greenwich village. But that’s not to say they’re an area without their own appeal. Even if it is of a quite different kind.
Whether you call it the Millennium Dome, The O2 or any other of its sponsorship led names, The giant dome on the other side of the river is an unmissable attraction. As a stage, it hosts some of the biggest names in entertainment, and even doubles up as a sporting venue from time to time (American NBA games are played here each year).
We’ve taken the time to uncover the best bars, gastropubs, bistros and brasseries in the area so you’ll know exactly where you’re going. It’s all here in our Greenwich taxi driver’s guide.
Where to drink
If Greenwich is a village – and most would have you believe it is, then The Vanbrugh is its beating heart. It’s large, full of craft beer and a wonderful place to go for a Sunday lunch. They’ve got no less than five ales on draft as well as some seventeen bottled enigmas. For those of you aren’t so inclined to beer and lager, there’s also an extensive wine list and a great number of soft drinks to choose from. There’s also a weekly pub quiz which is usually good fun if you’re with a group.
91 Colomb St, SE10 9EZ
Whereas some pubs are good in the summer or great in the winter, there aren’t many that can manage both. Step forward Richard I. This solid local favourite has been serving the people of Greenwich since 1923. Although it wasn’t until London brewery Young’s stepped in and gave the place a bit of polish that it really took off. Today it boasts a long and welcoming bar as well as a modern feeling dining room in its conservatory. Come the warmer months the garden at the back is usually full of thirsty sun seeking patrons. There are few better pub gardens in all of south London.
52-54 Royal Hill, SE10 8RT
The Old Brewery
It might seem odd to suggest that the one bar on our list that’s an old brewery is actually more of a restaurant but such is the curious nature of the industry these days. Nevertheless, on the merit of them brewing beer here, we’re including The Old Brewery on our list. Set around the corner from the historic Cutty sark, this place was once the site of Christopher Wren’s Old Navy College. Today it’s a large restaurant with an enormous terrace for eating and drinking throughout the year. As you might expect beer is top of the order here, and local brewery Meantime are probably the most visible. Although the selection does go beyond that.
The Pepys Building, The Old Royal Naval College SE10 9LW
Where to eat
Short of jellied eels there are few more iconic London dishes than good old pie and mash. And if that just so happens to be your thing, get yourself over to Goddard’s immediately. These guys have been serving Londoners with a range of delicious pies since the 1890s, making one of London’s oldest proprietors of this fabled meal. The restaurant is anything but fancy, and you’ll quite often find a fair few tourists in here – soaking up the London experience – but if you’re serious about your grub, there aren’t many other places in the world like it. Also, they have a liquor licence, so you can wash it all down with a local ale when you’re done.
22 King William Walk , SE10 9HU
It may be a far cry from the sleepy rural village of Greenwich but Craft (on the other side of the Thames) is still worth going out for. A British restaurant that relies on modern cooking techniques and seasonal produce to create ingenious dishes, Craft has been widely applauded for its daring flavour combinations and gastronomic panache ever since it opened a couple of years ago. Everything from the glass and steel furniture through to the pine smoked pigeon seems to be a few steps ahead of the cultural curve. They’re also in possession of a rather exciting cocktail menu – which is never a problem.
1 Green Pl, SE10 0PE
The Rivington Grill is classic Greenwich. The food is pretty much all British, or at the very least British inspired and the ingredients pulled together to make their sumptuous food is highly seasonal and purchased from independent retailers and suppliers. To match this British feel, the restaurant itself is decked out with warm wooden tables and panelling as well as crisp, clean white linen. They host jazz nights, gin nights, kids eat free throughout the week and there’s even a BYO Monday. For a restaurant of such enduring appeal, they certainly know how to play the populist card without ever cheapening themselves.
178 Greenwich High Rd, SE10 8NN
What to do
Greenwich Park is a beautiful place. It’s large, sprawling and boasts an undulating meadow to match that of Hampstead Heath. But there’s one particular feature that makes it stand out above the rest – The Royal Observatory. Peering majestically over the River Thames, this historic building wasn’t just the site of a number of major astronomical discoveries, it’s also the location of the Prime Meridian. The line from where time differences are counted outwards from. Visit to see the line, or take a full tour of the observatory itself. There’s even an incredible planetarium which offers a unique insight into our universe.
Blackheath Ave, SE10 8XJ
We’ll admit it – there are some London attractions which aren’t maybe quite as exciting as tour guides make them out to be. For our money, The Cutty Sark is not one of those. This great Clipper (that’s a type of boat to landlubbers) was once the world’s fastest, and even though she suffered a terrible fire in 2007, experts were able to restore The Cutty Sark to most of her former glories. Today all 963 tons of this majestic ship are suspended above a massive glass frame which allows visitors to witness the tremendous hull right up close.
King William Walk, SE10 9HT