A front view of the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

  • The Royal Observatory Greenwich is reopening and implementing new health and safety measures in line with government advice regarding COVID-19.
  • Delve into time and space at the Royal Observatory and stand on the meridian line at the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
  • Experience a mind-blowing show at the London planetarium that's out of this world!

Calling all mini space cadets and astronomers! Head to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich to explore time and space. Since 1884, the Greenwich Observatory has been home to the Prime Meridian of the World. Learn all about the famous Prime Meridian in London, and discover interesting facts and stories about astronomy, space and the stars. Make sure you download the free Royal Observatory family trail during your visit too.

Founded by King Charles II in 1675 for navigational purposes, kids and adults alike will love learning about the fascinating history of the Royal Observatory. Did you know that for almost 150 years, Greenwich has been the place where zero degrees longitude is marked? This means that the world's time zones are marked according to how far east or west they a location is from this line. Take a memorable selfie of the whole family standing astride the Greenwich meridian line – you’ll have one foot in the eastern hemisphere and the other in the west. It's your chance to be in two places at once!

A crafted gold Hunter pocket watch.

There's a variety of things to do for children at this London observatory. Watch the bright red time ball drop at exactly 1pm - unbelievably, it's one of the world’s earliest public time signals that still drops daily. Afterwards, check out the elegant Flamsteed House, which was the first part of the observatory to be built in 1675 by Sir Christopher Wren and home to Britain’s Astronomers Royal.

Don't miss the Big Bang theory in the interactive galleries, and budding astrologists can discover fascinating facts about the solar system and learn about space at the Peter Harrison Planetarium. There are also fun drop-in workshops themed around space science and exploration for young astronomers, as well as a Morning Stars planetarium show, which is specifically for children with an autistic spectrum condition.

Why not explore the other Royal Museums Greenwich Attractions afterwards, including the Cutty Sark, Queen’s House and National Maritime Museum. Kidadler Katy says, "We had a brilliant and mostly indoor day out in Greenwich last weekend. DLR to get there is really fun if you can get a seat near the front as the kids think they are driving the train. Planetarium, Maritime Museum play space and Cutty Sark all great for 3 year olds."

What to know before you go

  • New COVID-safety guidelines are in place at the Cutty Sark. It is now necessary to pre-book tickets in advance to ensure social distancing. Card payments will only be accepted and some of the interactive activities and audio guides will be unavailable. Please adhere to these rules during your visit.
  • The Peter Harrison Planetarium is currently closed to visitors due to current government guidelines. But there are currently some great live astronomy Q&A sessions online and virtual planetarium shows hosted by Royal Observatory astronomers.
  • Factor in 2 hours to explore the Royal Observatory if you are planning to visit other attractions in Greenwich on the day.
  • The Royal Observatory is mostly wheelchair accessible. Access is limited in older buildings, with limited access to the Meridian building ground floor,
  • to the meridian line, the Astronomer’s Garden and Camera Obscura. Flamsteed House and Great Equatorial telescope have no access. There are some manual wheelchairs available to borrow free of charge from the information desk.
  • Baby-changing facilities, toilets and accessible toilets can be found in the Astronomy Café. They can also be found on the right-hand side after leaving the admissions area.
  • You can’t take buggies to Flamsteed House or the planetarium but buggy parks are located outside both.  
  • Travel lightly as there are no cloakroom facilities at the Royal Observatory.
  • If you're hungry, you can enjoy a tasty treat at the Royal Observatory Astronomy cafe, which serves hot and cold drinks, hearty soups and fresh seasonal salads. Or, you could take a picnic to Greenwich Park and enjoy incredible views across the city.

Getting there

  • The Royal Observatory is situated at Blackheath Avenue, Greenwich SE10 8XJ. It is located at the top of a fairly steep hill in Royal Greenwich Park. A buggy and wheelchair-accessible route is available.
  • If you are going by public transport, Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich (DLR), Maze Hill (National Rail) and Greenwich (DLR and National Rail) stations are around a 15-minute walk away.
  • Both Cutty Sark and Greenwich are in zones 2/3, while Blackheath and Maze Hill are in zone 3.
  • If you are taking the DLR, it’s great fun for kids to sit in the first carriage and pretend they are driving the train.
  • By boat, the Thames Clipper service stops at Greenwich Pier, which is located next to the Cutty Sark.
  • Please follow the latest government guidelines if travelling by public transport.
  • If you are driving to Greenwich, please be aware that parking is limited, especially at weekends. Greenwich Park has off-street pay-and-display parking spaces.

Location

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Disclaimer

At Kidadl we pride ourselves on offering families original ideas to make the most of time spent together at home or out and about, wherever you are in the world. We strive to recommend the very best things, that are suggested by our community and are things we would do ourselves - our aim is to be the trusted friend to parents. 

We try our very best, but cannot guarantee perfection. We will always aim to give you accurate information at the date of publication - however, information does change, so it's important you do your own research, double-check and make the decision that is right for your family.  

Kidadl provides inspiration for everything from family days out to online classes, arts, crafts and science experiments. We recognise that not all activities and ideas are appropriate and suitable for all children and families or in all circumstances. Our recommended activities are based on age but these are a guide. We recommend that these ideas are used as inspiration, that ideas are undertaken with appropriate adult supervision, and that each adult uses their own discretion and knowledge of their children to consider the safety and suitability.

Kidadl cannot accept liability for the execution of these ideas, and parental supervision is advised at all times, as safety is paramount. Anyone using the information provided by Kidadl does so at their own risk and we can not accept liability if things go wrong. 

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Royal Museums Greenwich

Royal Museums Greenwich has been named one of the top ten UK visitor attractions, consisting of the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House art gallery and the iconic Cutty Sark ship, which you can climb aboard and then discover its museum space. As the location point of Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT - the mean solar time that sets our time zones, Maritime Greenwich is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and all of the Royal Museums Greenwich sites sit within this easily-walkable area.

The Maritime Museum Greenwich is one of the top London museums for families, with tonnes of interactive activities, and the historic Cutty Sark has been rebuilt by RMG following its devastating fire to become a better venue than ever. All set around the delightful Royal Greenwich Park and sitting right along the River Thames, Royal Museums Greenwich offers some of the most educational attractions and most impressive architecture (that you’ll recognise from a number of global films) just southeast of Central London.

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