A car-free adventure throughWoolwich, Docklands and GreenwichLondon

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From bolted steel sculptures on the riverfront in post-industrial Woolwich to elegant Italian-style architecture in glorious Greenwich, here is an unapologetically urban odyssey via boat, rail, bus, foot and cable car. This packed itinerary celebrates London’s maritime heritage and sees the city from new angles. You could fit most of it into a fun, but hectic afternoon, spread it over a more leisurely staycation, or pick and mix the bits that take your fancy. For those who want to stay in the area, there are more tips at the end. A travelcard, oyster card or contactless debit card will come in very handy.

  • County: London
  • Great for: architecture | art | boat trips | cable car | family | industrial heritage | maritime heritage | riverside walks |
  • Refreshments: dozens of options at every stop!
  • Please note: researched/updated July 2019. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch: features@goodjourney.org.uk
  1. 4. Walk around Thames Barrier Park and Victoria Dock

    This 1½ mile route through the heart of Docklands gives a powerful flavour of a unique area and a good choice of places to eat and drink. There’s a map below.

    • Get off bus 474 at the ‘Thames Barrier’ stop (see 3 above). You can also arrive by DLR to the Pontoon Dock station. Walk back a few steps from the bus stop, turn right before the cafe and right again through a gate near the river to reach the Thames Barrier Park opened for the millennium in 2000.
    • Turn left for a look at the Thames Barrier. Stroll through park beside the river and then head back towards the lime green café, above or through the striking wave-form hedges in the centre of the park.
    • Leave the park and cross the main road. Turn left along the far side and then right up Mill Road towards a brick chimney. There are plans afoot to develop this area and turn it into a “new Brooklyn”. Keep straight past derelict Millennium Mills towards the distinctive red lightship and turn left beside the water.
    • Cross right over the Royal Victoria Dock on the dramatic pedestrian bridge suspended high above the water. On the far side is to ExCel, a venue for huge international events like Grand Designs Live or the über-geeky annual Comic Con – a mecca for fans of sci-fi, cosplay, anime and gaming.
    • At the foot of the steps, turn left along the far side of the dock, passing several cafés. There’s even a pleasant casual restaurant inside the intriguing waterside Good Hotel, a floating platform with a social conscience, shipped over from Amsterdam to continue its projects.
    • Before you set off again, by cable car, you might like to visit one of the world’s most sustainable buildings. The Crystal, designed by Siemens for an exhibition about urban living, is full of interactive displays, living walls, waterfalls, and a glowing pumpkin-like cinema. It’s closed for refurb over summer 2019, but should be open again later this year.
  1. 5. Fly on the cable car

    London’s cable car, next door to the Crystal, takes seven minutes to lift you high over the Thames to the Greenwich peninsula and the O2 arena. After 7pm every day, the cable car travels more slowly, giving you more time to enjoy the night-time views; in summer (and on Fridays and Saturdays all year) it runs until 11pm at night.

    • With an Oyster or contactless card, it costs just £3.50 for a single journey – or when you show a railway travelcard at the ticket office.
    • Unlike the much more expensive London Eye, there’s rarely ever much of a queue to hop on the cable car. Just climb the steps and relax in one of pods.
    • At 90 metres high, it has great views of the surrounding area and there’s a new on-board video about the East London sights below you.
    • On the far side, follow signs to the North Greenwich Pier where a boats set off for Westminster via Greenwich every twenty minutes. The nearby sculpture, Quantum Cloud, is by Anthony Gormley.
    • Before you head off to the green slopes and neoclassical elegance of Greenwich, there is one more ultra-cool urban experience you might enjoy in the area: the Docklands’ “arts quarter” Trinity Buoy Wharf is just five minutes away over the water.
    • A ferry leaves for the wharf from North Greenwich on weekdays and costs £2 each way. You can call them from either side of the water on 07947 637 925.
  1. 6. Catch the boat to Greenwich

    The sleek, speedy Thames Clippers are one of the most luxurious ways to travel through London. With an on-board bar, comfortable seats and huge picture windows looking out onto the water, this is a great chance to enjoy London from a different angle.

    • From the North Greenwich pier to Greenwich itself costs £4.10 if you touch in and out with a contactless or Oyster card or show a travelcard and buy a ticket at the ticket office.
    • Arriving in Greenwich, two people can visit the Cutty Sark for the price of one when you show a train ticket and voucher. The Fan Museum also has 2-for-1 deals.
    • If you have enough energy left, climb up through Greenwich Park towards the observatory for classic London views and the chance to stand on the meridian line, from which all global measurements begin.
    • Don’t miss the painted ceilings in the old Naval College, the fabulous, free Maritime Museum and the newly refurbished Queen’s House next door. Completed by architect Inigo Jones in 1636, it was the first Italian-style building in England. Inside (it’s free and open 10-5 daily), you can see the perfectly-proportioned Great Hall and loggias, an elegant spiral staircase, and a wealth of Tudor paintings, including the famous Armada portrait of Queen Elisabeth I.
    • When it’s time for a break, there’s a choice of cafés and riverside pubs in Greenwich. You can even take a tour of the Meantime Brewery.
  1. 7. On the way back into town

    There are lots of ways to head for central London again: boats, buses, trains and even the Thames Path. It’s 8 miles walk from here to Tower Bridge. The quickest route is by the Docklands Light Railway from Cutty Sark station. This branch of the DLR takes a great route, with lots of watery views and further sights along the way – there’s always more to see in this area.

    • The DLR line from Cutty Sark passes Crossharbour station after three stops, which is close to Mudchute City Farm on the Isle of Dogs, open every day and free to visit. The farm, which has no visitor parking, is 10 minutes walk from the station and has a café, the Mudchute Kitchen.
    • Four stops further on, 2 minutes walk from West India Quay DLR station, is the Museum of London Docklands, also open free every day.
    • In the same former warehouse as the Docklands Museum, the Rum and Sugar café offers jerk chicken, Cajun fries or coconut curried veg with thirst-quenching classic mojitos. Cheers!
  1. Buses, bikes and places to stay

    Here are some more tips for having a Greenwich-based mini break.

    • Travelcards are very useful for this kind of trip as they give you unlimited travel at any time on buses, tubes, the DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and National Rail services all over London. They also give you a discount on the cable car and boat trips.
    • Travelcards are particularly good value when added to train tickets from outside London. Simply buy a travelcard at your local station.
    • You can rent bikes from the Flight Centre.
    • There is a Travelodge right next to Greenwich DLR and railway station.
    • For something a bit different, the Good Hotel, moored at Royal Victoria Dock has cool, minimalist bedrooms on the water from £69/night. Royal Victoria DLR is just round the corner and the cable car is next door.
  • Boat - Woolwich, Docklands and Greenwich car-free adventures.
  • Woolwich, Docklands and Greenwich car-free adventures.
  • Cable car - Woolwich, Docklands and Greenwich car-free adventures.
  • Cutty sark - Woolwich, Docklands and Greenwich car-free adventures.
  • Greewich queens house - Woolwich, Docklands and Greenwich car-free adventures.
  • Painted ceiling - Woolwich, Docklands and Greenwich car-free adventures.
  • Greenwich observatory view - Woolwich, Docklands and Greenwich car-free adventures.
  • Thames Path - Woolwich, Docklands and Greenwich car-free adventures.