Tempting as it is to restrict yourself solely to attractions in the heart of the city, you'd be missing out on some of London's finest treasures. Beyond the heartland are fabulous parks and gardens, vast royal palaces, and quirky little museums and galleries well worth taking the time to visit. The great botanical gardens of Kew and Hampton Court, in particular, are absolute must-sees, if you have a free day. Although some of the attractions listed here can be reached only by overground rail, all are within easy reach of central London. Your destination may look far away on the map, but trust us, you'll probably be there in half an hour. And, if you're in no particular hurry, there's no finer way to reach Kew or Hampton Court than on a riverboat from Westminster.
With the great skyscrapers of Canary Wharf to the north, and waves of faceless suburbia to the south, Greenwich seems almost out of place -- a royal theme park smuggled into London's backwaters. It makes a great escape from the center of town, with a look and ambience all its own. For the full effect, try arriving by Thames Clipper boat, which shows off the riverside architecture to its best effect.
For centuries Greenwich was a major hub of British seafaring and many of its attractions have a nautical theme, including the Old Royal Naval College and the National Maritime Museum, which traces the history of Britain's mastery of the sea. You should also be sure to check out the progress of the Cutty Sark, one of the fastest sail ships of the 19th century, currently recovering from a devastating fire in its dry dock and, at the time of writing, due to reopen in 2012.
Greenwich Park is the real heart of the village, and a wonderful place to unwind, particularly after a hard morning's sightseeing and market shopping. Then head uphill to enjoy a space show at the Royal Observatory -- and to get a photo of yourself straddling the Prime Meridian (0° longitude), of course.
Kew & Richmond
About 9 1/2 miles southwest of central London, the pretty suburban "village" of Kew is the site of several attractions, including one of the world's great botanical gardens. Adjacent Richmond is just one stop farther along on the Tube.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.