National Maritime Museum

Museums , Military and maritime Greenwich
Critics' choice
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • 5 out of 5 stars
(3 user reviews)
49 Love It
Save it
Matt Carr / Time Out
Britta Jaschinski / Time Out

From Nelson’s heroics to ocean-liner glamour to pirate escapades, this museum has something to fascinate all ages

Free to visit, the National Maritime Museum is at the heart of the Royal Museums Greenwich (which also includes the Queen’s House next door, Cutty Sark about five minutes away, and the Royal Observatory up the hill).

For hundreds of years, Greenwich was at the heart of maritime Britain – for commerce, travel and naval interests. As a result, the collection at the National Maritime Museum is an unparalleled treasure trove of artefacts, models, maps, art and memorabilia, and thanks to extensive refurbishment, its galleries offer something for everyone – from students of maritime history to toddlers who want to imagine they’re at the seaside.

Not surprisingly, there is an extensive gallery called ‘Nelson, Navy, Nation’. It tells a story stretching from the Glorious Revolution to the defeat of Napoleon: the shipbuilding, the battles, the public adulation of Admiral Lord Nelson, and historic pieces that reveal what life would have been like for a sailor over 200 years ago. The display even includes the uniform Nelson was wearing during the Battle of Trafalgar when he was fatally wounded. (Big hero, but, judging by the uniform, a surprisingly little guy.)

There is also a section of the museum that recounts James Cook’s North-West Passage expedition in the late 1770s, a display about the trade history of the East India Company, and a Forgotten Fighters gallery, which tells the stories of those who served at sea during World War I.

For families, it’s worth heading straight for the Ahoy! gallery. This is a play area within the main museum building that is especially designed for babies and children aged up to seven. Its themed zones include a vast model of the deck and cabins of a ship, a beach scene, a fresh fish shop, and games which allow you to fire cannon and play iceberg ‘ice hockey’.

The All Hands interactive gallery is for ages six to 12. Here older children can test their skills defending against a pirate attack, use maritime technology and load a cargo ship before it sets sail.

Venue name: National Maritime Museum
Address: Romney Rd
SE10 9NF
Opening hours: Daily 10am–5pm. Closed Dec 24–26
Transport: Rail: Cutty Sark DLR/Greenwich rail
Price: Free, some exhibitions and events ticketed
Do you own this business?
  • Is it possible to make a film that evokes both ‘Barry Lyndon’ and ‘National Lampoon’s European Vacation’? Sofia Coppola has had a decent stab at it. Her schtick in writing and directing this dreamy evocation of the Versailles life of Marie Antoine...
    Read more

Pick a date

  • Exhibitions Until Monday August 29 2016
    Read more
  • Tuesday July 26 2016
    Read more
  • Stand-up Wednesday July 27 2016
    Read more
  • Stand-up Thursday July 28 2016
    Read more
  • Stand-up Saturday July 30 2016
    Read more
  • Saturday July 30 2016
    Read more
  • Stand-up Sunday July 31 2016
    Read more
  • Thursday August 4 2016 - Saturday September 24 2016
    Read more
  • Late openings Thursday September 1 2016
    Read more

Average User Rating

4.7 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening
Tom Bruce

Expansive and impressive. Worth a trip on its own to explore the three floors and see whatever exhibitions may be on. The Samuel Pepys 'Plague, Fire, Revolution' is on right now and is immensely popular. You do have to shell out the cash, £12 per adult, although entry to the Maritime museum itself is free. Even if only passing through on the way to the Royal Observatory, you may as well have a glance at what's to see on the ground floor. The most striking display was a restored water speed record-breaking boat, Miss England III, a magnificent 007-alike construction of shiny chrome and a hundred thousand rivets which was built in 1937. 

Naval enthusiasts will be in paradise, as most of the museum's holdings relate to war on the high seas, tracking historical waves of technological progress from canoes up to the battle cruisers of modernia. The gift shop has some inventive items for sale, but as they are on the pricey side, you may want to wait for them to set sale...

Sarah D

The Ahoy! gallery is a really fun, imaginitive and immersive experience for kids, taking them straight to the heart of maritime life - my toddler loved it. With several different areas and loads to get involved in, from fishing in an arctic ice pool to shopping in the fish market and stoking the coal in the belly of a ship, kids can enjoy themselves in here for a good hour or more. Toddlers and babies were loving the cosy little enclave that makes up the sensory area too, with its lights, bubble machine and marine life soft toys, creating a feeling of being at the bottom of the sea. We visited on a Saturday and although it can get a little busy it is plenty big enough to accommodate everyone. For a free attraction we were really impressed with Ahoy! The museum has the added benefit of a lovely cafe, which we visited afterwards. We will defintiely be visiting again soon.

Kritt N

Another wonderful and free museum in Maritime Greenwich! Housed in a grand building and a lot quieter than it's sibling museums in central London, the Maritime Museum, as the name suggest, explores Britain's national maritime museum from medieval times all the way through to modern day. It's explore the might of the British navy, her trade with the rest of the world, artifact, models of ships and famous sea captains. There is also a an area for kids where maritime activities are regularly hosted. There are three floors to explore. Be sure to check out the stained glass of the baltic Exchange which is found on the 1st floor and the gift shop for maritime themed gifts and clothes. Perfect family day for the whole family and loads to learn from.