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Royal Observatory

Attractions, Towers and viewpoints Greenwich
4 out of 5 stars
(14user reviews)
 (© National Maritime Museum, London)
© National Maritime Museum, London
 (© National Maritime Museum, London)
© National Maritime Museum, London
 (© Rob Greig)
© Rob GreigRoyal Observatory
 (© National Maritime Museum, London)
© National Maritime Museum, London
 (© National Maritime Museum, London)
© National Maritime Museum, London
 (© National Maritime Museum)
© National Maritime Museum
 (© National Maritime Museum, London)
© National Maritime Museum, London
 (© NMM)
 (© National Maritime Museum, London)
© National Maritime Museum, London
 (© National Maritime Museum London)
© National Maritime Museum London
 (© NASA/JPL-Caltech)
© NASA/JPL-Caltech

Overlooking the rest of the Royal Museums from the peak of the park, the northern section of this attraction of two halves looks at Greenwich’s connections with time.

In the courtyard of Flamsteed House (AKA the observatory built in 1675 on the orders of Charles II) you’re likely to be met by numerous tourists and their flashing cameras, snapping themselves straddling the Prime Meridian. But beyond the bustle are the apartments of Sir John Flamsteed and other Astronomers Royal, as well as a timeline of timekeeping since the fourteenth century. Meanwhile, in the ‘onion’ dome is the country’s largest (28-inch) refracting telescope, which was completed in 1893.

The Astronomy Centre on the south site contains the free-entry Weller Astronomy Galleries, where visitors can marvel at a 4.5-billion-year-old meteorite before popping into a star show at the Peter Harrison Planetarium. For those with a keen interest in space will appreciate the 120-seater planetarium’s architecture, which cleverly reflects its astrological position: the semi-submerged cone tilts at 51.5 degrees, the latitude of Greenwich, pointing to the north star, and its reflective disc is aligned with the celestial equator.

Discover more great things to do in Greenwich.


Venue name: Royal Observatory
Address: Blackheath Avenue
SE10 8XJ
Opening hours: Daily 10am-5pm (last admission 4.30pm)
Transport: Cutty Sark/Greenwich DLR
Price: Astronomy Centre: free. Flamsteed House & Meridian Courtyard: £9.50, £7.50 concs, £5 ages 5-15, under-fives free, £15-£22 family. Planetarium: £7.50, £6.50 concs, £5.50 ages 3-15, under-threes free, £15.50-£20 family.
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Average User Rating

4.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:4
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

I have been wanting to come here for quite some time to stand on the GMT line, so I was quite surprised by just how good the museum was and how much I learnt. I am not a big museum person but I really enjoyed this and I want to go back again soon to get some more detail out of the visit too. For £9.50 you get entry to the observatory and also an audio guide. The audio guide was super helpful, although I did at times struggle to match the location to the audio. I would recommend having your own headphones handy, otherwise you have to listen to it like a walkie talkie and it's a bit more cumbersome. Time took on new meaning for me after this visit! Unfortunately the time ball wasn't functioning the day we were there so I will have to go back as it is to see it drop at 1pm!


We visited the Royal Observatory to see the origin of the GMT line. We wandered around the building and exhibitions with an audioguide which was included within the price of the ticket. There was a queue to see the sign for the origin of the line and it took forever to see it with people constantly trying to push in. This was quite frustrating as the fee to enter is quite high so you would expect there to be someone there to manage the queue.

However saying that, it's quite interesting to learn the history of how it was discovered and the relationship with space. We missed the planetarium which is in another building.


Highly recommend attending but would be best for children age 5 and above. The graphics are superb and very comfortable in which you could easily fall soundly to sleep.

Pre-book tickets a few days in advance is usually sufficient.

The only downside is that it lasts for 30-40minutes. I could have easily looked at the stars all night :( 

I will definitely go again.


I've not ventured to Greenwich as much as I'd like to and on this particular gloomy Sunday in January I am so glad that I did! The walk from Cutty Sark to the Royal Observatory is a delight. We wondered through Greenwich Market (and happily came back to for some treats) and past the university and into Greenwich Park to get to the observatory. The view from the top is spectacular and on that day is was pretty dramatic and stormy which made for some great instagram photos. They are currently showcasing the Astronomy Photographer of the Year which is a free exhibition and is absolutely breathtaking, I really recommend going to see it before it ends. 

The star of the show (yes, pun intended) was seeing the Prime Meridian line, it's pretty special and so fascinating to learn the history of it. 

So if you're looking for something different to do, go visit the Royal Observatory!


can't believe I've more or less lived in London my whole life and I've never been here before. It's been on my to do list for a long while. We booked to see The Sky Tonight show and apart from the narrator being rude at the beginning, it was well worth seeing. I was sat near the middle rows and transferred from my wheelchair to the seat at the end of the aisle. He wouldn't allow me to have my wheelchair next to me as he said it was blocking the fire exit path and that I should have sat at the back. My logic was that I would be blocking people from leaving anyway because someone would have to go get my wheelchair before I could get out of the way for others to leave.  It made more sense to have it next to me than at the back (there was enough space for people to get through with chair next to me at the end of the aisle).  As a someone who is not able to walk at all, I like having my only method of transport next to me in case something happens.  His comments were not helpful and gave me the impression that if there was a fire, I would be left there as I wouldn't be able to get out. I do understand there are rules in place for emergency situations, but it was his attitude and response which I didn't like. Ok rant over. Even though I was annoyed at the narrator, he did gauge interest and made it funny and enjoyable to watch. I love star gazing and hearing about outer space.  If it wasn't for that, I would have given this 4*.

The Meridian Line, however, was a bit overrated and the lifts were not working in some of the buildings so it wasn't accessible on the day, but it was still a good experience and I'm glad I can tick this off my list.


Had been meaning to go for a long time and was not disappointed. Specifically I would recommend the show that focuses on the night sky the previous day as its lead by a very knowledgable and friendly astronomer. It is a great museum with loads of different things to do, but I would like it if the actual museum part was a little bigger, as I felt that for the price it was slightly small and you do have to pay more for all the other activities. 


If you are fan of outer space, stars and asteroids, you will absolutely love the Royal Observatory and the Planetarium. The excibition inside along with the audio guide, will give a good taste of what is going up there, above our heads. In the outside area, you will queue to have a photo in the meridian line - the spot where time starts and ends. You can easily spend a whole day here - The Royal Observatory is just on top of the hill in front of the Greenwich Park; don't forget to take your picnic equipment!


If you're a bit of a galaxy/space geek I cannot recommend enough going to see the current show about asteroids.  Detailing our space exploration to date and how scientists hope to be able to travel in space in the future!  There are also some unbelievable captured moments in the Photographer's Gallery about space.  Perfect way to spend an afternoon.

Lump in an astro ticket and you can actually spend a rather nice day in Greenwich going to the museum about time.  I went straight from here to go watch Star Trek and it was amazing!


Greenwich is spectacular. I’ve walked to it from Tower Bridge along the Thames and also memorably taken the TFL river boat (no booking required and you can use your Oyster Card) from Embankment to Greenwich (top tip – sit at the back of the boat and you’ll see all the sights along the way as you sit in the sunshine). 

I have been twice and the first time was in term time, the second time in school holidays and OMG you could tell the difference. I highly advise you avoid school holidays because I literally couldn’t get near a single thing the second time, and on the first I was absolutely amazed by all the stories and history of time. The Royal Observatory is really interesting and make sure you pick up the audio guide so you can immerse yourself into the story. Take a look at the meridian line (stand astride for usual tourist type shot of course) and marvel at how much time (pun intended) and perseverance was required to where we are today. Head to the Planetarium next to learn more about space and literally continue to blow your mind. All of this is situated at the top of a hill where this photo was taken. Make sure you have a full day to appreciate completely and you’ll need to pay for entry into the Royal Observatory, and make sure you book in advance if you want to see a show at the Planetarium. 


Once you’ve done that epic climb that feels like you’ve just conquered Everest (no seriously, it kills), then you will arrive at the Royal Observatory- perched gloriously upon a hill in Greenwich park. After my boyfriend explained to me what the Meridian line was and how the British set the Greenwich Mean Time, I found the whole place to be thoroughly fascinating and I did learn quite a bit (and this is coming from someone who has no interest in science at all!) There’s lots of things to look at and read here, so I would set aside at least 2 hours minimum to get around everything (and that doesn’t include the Planetarium show). Oh and the view of London is stunning might I add. The time and longitude gallery was particularly interesting with its beautiful paintings and stunning time pieces. The astronomy centre is cool too and features some spectacular entries in the 2015 Astronomy Photographer of the Year comp. Like I said, there’s much to explore here and I left knowing more about astronomy than I ever learnt at school!

Tip 1: If you want to check out a show at the world famous Planetarium, don’t do what we did- check for the show times before hand. We arrived quite early in the day but the next show that was more suited for adults was hours away which wasn’t convenient for us. However, there was more than enough to keep us contented.

Tip 2: Be sure to take that obligatory Instagram snap of your feet either side of the Prime Meridian Line! How often do you get to be in the Eastern and Western hemisphere at the same time?

Tip 3: For great value for money, get a combined ticket ((£18.50, £16.80 without voluntary donation) for the nearby Cutty Sark as well. You can make a day of it and get a double whammy of British history.

Would I come here again? Sure, but after much leg and thigh training to make it up that ruddy hill!


Greenwich's Royal Observatory is marvelous testament to British science and ingenuity. Astronomy (not to be confused with the black magic, astrology), helioseismology (study of the sun), planetary mapping, and navigation were the primary focuses of the research institution commissioned by King Charles II, and from the 1700s to midway through the 20th century, the most prescient, dedicated scientific minds worked here to revolutionise human understanding of the universe and our place within it. Now it is no longer in active use as a place of study because as the requirements of the field became more advanced the site's researchers moved onto more modern facilities. It is lucky for the public that the observatory has been preserved in such a fine way.

Anyone can go to the Royal Observatory, which has become more of a historical and architectural curiosity these days. However, most people do not come to learn about the solar system in the planetarium or to view exhibitions about time or the art of navigation and cartography. Most people - that is, tourists - come to straddle the Post Meridian Line, the internationally recognised pinpoint place at which the east and west longitudes are divided and measured from, as well as the centre for Greenwich Mean Time, the only clock measurement worth paying attention to. Getting to the PML costs £10 for non-concessions, which you can avoid either by climbing a twenty foot wall or by tracking down the freely accessible extension which runs down the back wall beyond the obervatory's main courtyard and onto a public footpath to the right of the front hillside approach. 

Some things are totally free, including various talks given throughout the day, but anyone used to the £0 entry at Central London museums and galleries is in for an unpleasant surprise. All Greenwich's royal museums appear to charge the public, and if you intend to see everything then paying for one of the combination deals (includes three museums, and the Cutty Sark ship tour) would be the best way to do so.

The atmosphere at the Royal Observatory is lively and fun, as families and groups of tourist groups are all mingling together. Many come to the hilltop for the view alone. On my last visit, Martin Lewis from Money Saving Expert was shooting an informational piece about credit cards. On a crisp, cold Winter day such as that one was, it's hard to argue against claims that this offers the best views of the City of London you're likely to get while on terra firma. 


I absolutely love coming to Greenwich and part of it’s attraction is the Royal Observatory Greenwich. It’s a real gem!

You’ll be able to be in two places at once by standing on both side of the Prime Meridian Line, you’ll explore the historical Flamsteed House built in 1695 where astronomer Sir John Flamsteed solved the problem of longitude, and see instruments of timekeeping from the 14th century. They don’t call it the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) for nothing!

What I love most is the location. Situated above serene Greenwich Park, the Royal Observatory also offers a breath-taking panoramic view of London’ skyline (get your camera out moment) and once you’re done exploring the Royal Observatory, head to the Peter Harrison Planetarium which is only moments away, is London only Planetarium, and where you can also see a 4.5-billion-year old meteorite. It’s also free!

Try to come in the summer if you can when Greenwich is at it’s prettiest (possible picnic in the park too?). It's easy to reach via the DLR and it’s a great place for the whole family to visit and to inspire the kids. I highly recommend a visit.

Absolutely blew me into space...I cannot believe I only made my first visit at the start of the year. The Astronomy Photography is magical and the shows are beyond breathtaking, presented by a live astronomer, who guides you through outer space. For well under £15 this deserves to be on every Londoners list of 'Places to visit'.



The astronomy photographer of the year exhibition is so absolutely incredible and beautiful in equal measures it is well worth a visit. The photographs are spellbinding and good for helping to put things into perspective. In the past few years the tickets have been free so I'm hoping its the same this year. As an added bonus the view when you get outside is stunning. 

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