National Maritime Museum

Visiting the National Maritime Museum with children

When we started planning our trip to London in August and our stay in Greenwich, we didn’t really know what there was to do or what would be suitable for Erin. However, we found that actually, there was a lot to do and a lot of great museums to visit, including the National Maritime Museum.

Location

The National Maritime Museum can be found just off of Romney Road in central Greenwich. Transport links are fantastic as the Cutty Sark DLR station is a 5-10 minute walk away and there is a bus stop pretty much right outside which serves bus numbers 129, 177, 180, 188, 286, 386 and the N1. A nice way to reach the The National Maritime Museum is to walk through the Royal Naval College Gardens which will then lead you right to it.

Here, you will also find the Queen’s House, Greenwich Park and a short walk to the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

Tickets

At the time of our visit it was recommended that tickets be booked online, in advance, to guarantee entry to the museum. We found this really easy to do and with lots of times lots available we were able to choose exactly when we wanted to go. You do need to either print your ticket out or have it available on your phone on arrival so the barcode can be scanned.

Although we booked tickets in advance there was plenty of people turning up on the day and being let in so I don’t think you necessarily have to book online now.

The National Maritime Museum is open from 10-5 daily.

Erin outside the National Maritime Museum

What to see

Before I even start about our visit I want to mention the AHOY! children’s gallery, somewhere we didn’t know about in advance. This area is for under 7s and free on weekdays but £3 on weekends and school holidays. Sadly, this was completely full for the day when we arrived so it wasn’t possible for us to go in and I wished I’d known about it in advance. Erin was quite sad she couldn’t go in.

Ground floor

As soon as we started walking around the ground floor Erin was a little bit amazed. Of course, being the National Maritime Museum you’ll find a lot of sea and ship themed collections and this starts right at the beginning. On the ground floor we were able to learn about the badges on ships and different designs that were used. Erin really enjoyed looking at all of the different ones and we spent quite some time picking out our favourites. There was even an interactive screen where you can learn more about each one and then go find it on the wall.

National Maritime Museum interactive element

1st floor

On the 1st floor the highlight has got to be The Great Map, which is just up the stairs or easily found by using any of the lifts. The Great Map really is that, with a huge map of the world covering the floor. Children, especially younger children, sometimes don’t really have a good idea about how big the world is and where other countries are so this was a great way of showing them.

National Maritime Museum the Great Map

Another favourite with Erin on this floor was the ‘Sea Things’ gallery. This included all sorts of things like helmets that divers would use, bits and pieces that have come from a ship and lots of models of ships. This gallery is quite open and you’re able to get up close to a lot of the pieces and really have a good look at them which is why Erin liked it so much I think.

2nd floor

We love a museum that makes things fun for children and the National Maritime Museum did this really well. On the 2nd floor you’ll find the All Hands Children’s Gallery which doesn’t need to be booked unlike the AHOY! children’s gallery.

National Maritime Museum Erin firing cannons

Erin was able to learn about Morse Code and how it could be done with lights as well as sounds and she tried to send messages to us from the other side of the room. You can also fire a canon in a game to take down a pirate ship (this was one of Erin’s favourites) and also load cargo and move it to different locations using a crane.

We visited this area last just before having to leave so I know Erin would have liked more time there. It would be a great stopping point if you find your children have about had enough or need a break from walking around.

Other areas

Of course, being with Erin meant that we didn’t get to look at everything in close detail and we had to walk quite quickly through some areas. I think this is inevitable when you take children to a museum though and we really didn’t mind as long as Erin was having fun.

Other areas in the museum include Pacific Encounters, Taders, Atlantic Worlds, Polar Worlds and Nelson, Navy, Nation, just to name a few!

National Maritime Museum

Our verdict…

The National Maritime Museum ended up being one of our favourite places in Greenwich during our visit. I wasn’t expecting Erin to get so involved or be so interested in what there was to see but she seemed to enjoy it here over other places we visited. Considering this is a free museum there is so much to do and see.

You can find out more about what there is to see and do on the National Maritime Museum website.

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Visiting the National Maritime Museum with children

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