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Best Places to Visit in London for A Relaxing Weekend


Fri 26 Nov 21

A weekend in London conjures up images of shoppers in Mayfair, crowds milling about Hyde Park, or squeezing into a spot on the cobbles for a coffee in Notting Hill. But where to go when you’re after a more restful, regenerative excursion? The Old Royal Naval College is the best place to visit in London as part of a a relaxing weekend. From its location – sitting on the banks of The River Thames – to its immersive artworks and insightful film tours, this is the hot ticket for a chilled weekend in the city.

Best places to visit in London: The Painted Hall
Lower Hall Ceiling of the Painted Hall © Sam Whittaker

Get Lost in Epic Artworks

A 200 character cast telling the story of Britain’s naval exploits and political turmoil may not sound relaxing, but the Painted Hall is truly a dreamlike place to be. James Thornhill’s epic Baroque masterpiece has been hailed as Britain’s answer to the Sistine Chapel. Gaze up at the ceiling as an Old Royal Naval College expert talks you through the history and stories that are unfolding above you. This is one of the best places to visit in London to soak up a grand painting – it took Thornhill 19 years from commission to completion. Part of what makes it so captivating is the painterly techniques he employed, particularly Thornhill’s use of illusory architecture and chiaroscuro – the contrast of light and dark.

Talks in the Painted Hall take place between 11am and 4pm.

Best places to visit in London: Old Royal Naval College

Got to the Movies

The Old Royal Naval College is one of the best places to visit in London for film buffs. If your weekend plans usually revolve around watching films and TV on the sofa, mix it up with a trip to Greenwich. Here, you’ll take a leisurely stroll in the footsteps of industry giants on a Blockbuster Film Tour. Once you catch a glimpse of this UNESCO World Heritage site up close, you’ll see why directors have been so keen to feature it on screen. Set by the water with manicured grounds and magnificent buildings, it’s been the backdrop of choice for films like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Les Misérables and Thor: The Dark World. It’s also taken a regal turn in The Duchess and The Crown.

Tours run on the weekend and last for an hour. They begin at 12.30pm and 2.30pm, book in advance.

Stroll in The Grounds

The Old Royal Naval College’s location certainly secures it a spot on the list of the best places to visit in London for a relaxing weekend. Firstly, it’s by the water’s edge, positioned on the south bank of the river in Greenwich, a prime position for watching boats bob along and waves lap at the banks.

Turn away from the water and you’ll spot the Queen’s House and Royal Observatory just beyond the leafy grounds. Once you’ve taken a stroll around the site, finish your visit with a stop at the Painted Hall Café for a cream tea, the Visitor Centre to pick up a memento, or to learn more about our rich history on the Discover Greenwich section.