Greenwich Park is the sprawling green lung of the centuries-old London neighborhood of Greenwich. Courting couples, dog walkers, joggers, local workers on their lunch breaks and picnicking families all flock to Greenwich Park. Admire its flower gardens, visit landmark buildings, spot wildlife, attend concerts and watch cricket matches.
The split-level park covers 180 acres (74 hectares) and is a former hunting estate of British monarchs. In 1427, it became the first of the Royal Parks of London to be enclosed. It’s also part of the UNESCO-protected Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. In keeping with the hunting traditions, you can see red and fallow deer, in addition to bats, birdlife and fox, in The Wilderness woodland area.
Walk alongside London’s longest herbaceous border, which runs for 656 feet (200 meters) in front of the National Maritime Museum building. Breathe in the aromas of an orderly herb garden, set close to a statue of King William IV. Climbing frames, slides and swings provide fun for children at a playground and paddleboats are available for rent from April to October at a boating lake. Centuries-old fruit trees decorate the Queen’s Orchard, which is open to visitors every Sunday in summer.
Pathways lead up to the Royal Observatory, a planetarium and museum set at the park’s highest point. Stand on the Prime Meridian Line, which marks the dividing point of the eastern and western hemispheres. The views outside the observatory stretch down over Greenwich, the River Thames and central London. J.M.W Turner paid homage to this view in his painting London from Greenwich Park.
Be sure to visit Queen Elizabeth’s Oak, an oak tree that dates back to the 1100s. Legend states that King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn danced around the tree in the 16th century. A short stroll from here is a collection of Roman ruins. Free afternoon big band, jazz and symphony concerts are held at the bandstand during the summer months.
Greenwich Park is a short walk from the Greenwich and Maze Hill train stations. Metered parking is available close to the bandstand. The park’s official website has information on upcoming events.