Buckingham Palace is one of the UK's most popular tourist attractions. Recognized around the world as the principal home of the monarch of Great Britain, Buckingham Palace is one of London's most iconic sights.
If Buckingham Palace were open year-round, it would be by far the most visited tourist attraction in Britain…” - Fodors
As well as being the weekday home of Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace plays host to prestigious celebrations like the Trooping the Colour Parade. For a taste of Britain's famous traditional pageantry, visitors can watch the Palace's Changing of the Guard ceremony every other day.
Visiting the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace is one of the top ten things to do in London and it certainly delivered, do take the time and make sure you have seen inside the infamous palace regardless if you're visiting or if you pass by it on your commute to work each day.” – DonnaWashington, Trip Advisor
Located in the heart of London, Buckingham Palace has been the principal royal residence since 1837. The first monarch to live there was Queen Victoria who added a whole new wing to cater to her growing family and the demands of courtly life.
Today, visitors to Buckingham Palace can tour the very rooms in which Queen Victoria entertained. Buckingham Palace's magnificent State Rooms are open to the public for just 10 weeks every summer so tickets are snapped up quickly. Act fast!
Today, Buckingham Palace is home to Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. Buckingham Palace is the Queen's working residence and while she lives there on weekdays during much of the year, she spends her weekends at Windsor Castle and her summers at Balmoral.
The Queen's schedule is fairly set so she is almost never at Buckingham Palace on weekends or during the months of August and September. A visual indicator of whether the Queen is home is provided by the Royal Standard. When the Royal Standard flies on the roof of Buckingham Palace, the Queen is home. When the Union Flag flies, she is not.
The Changing of the Guards is a colorful example of living history, witnessed by millions of people each year. But what is the Changing of the Guards and how can you see it?
The Queen's Guard
All official royal residences in the UK, including Buckingham Palace, are protected by the Queen's Guard. The Queen's Guard is made up of both Horse Guards (cavalry) and Foot Guards (infantry). At Buckingham Palace you will see Foot Guards dressed in iconic red tunics and tall, black bearskin hats. The Queen's Guard has existed in since the reign of King Charles II, although then known as the King's Guard. King Charles gave these regiments of the British Army responsibility for guarding the Sovereign's Palaces. A shrewd move considering the monarchy was briefly abolished under his predecessor, King Charles II's rule.
Many tourists assume that the Queen's Guard are stationed at Buckingham Palace for ceremonial purposes only. In fact, the Queen's Guard are highly-trained and fully-operational soldiers. These soldiers are hand-picked from one of the following army regiments:
How to Watch the Changing of the Guard
One of the most exciting sights you can see at Buckingham Palace is the Changing of the Guard.Also known as the Guard Mounting, the ceremony takes place at Buckingham Palace every day during the summer and four days per week in the winter.
At 10.45 the Guards and Bands start arriving at Buckingham Palace. The Changing of the Guard ceremony starts at 11.00 and lasts for around 45 minutes. Be sure to check this website on the day you intend to watch the ceremony. Sometimes the timings change or the ceremony takes place without music.
To get the most out of the entertainment, head to Wellington Palace at around 10.15 to watch the New Guard's inspection. You can watch the New Guard as they march, led by a regimental band, up to Buckingham Palace. Station yourself on The Mall, close to the junction with Marlborough Road. At around 11.35 the cavalry rides past and a few minutes later the New Guard finally reaches its new station at Buckingham Palace.
Three parts of Buckingham Palace are open to visitors.
Standard tickets give access to the State Rooms only. These are the Palace's public rooms, where the Queen receives and entertains guests and hosts official occasions. There are 19 State Rooms, all of which are decadently furnished in the Georgian style and furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection. On your visit, you can see the famous Throne Room, the grand White Drawing Room, and the epic Ballroom, once the largest room in London!
A Royal Day Out ticket gives you access to the State Rooms, the Royal Mews and Queen's Gallery. The Royal Mews is the part of the Palace responsible for all Royal travel and includes a display of historic royal carriages and one of the most impressive working stables in England. The Royal Mews is open to the public between February and November.
The Queen's Gallery hosts changing exhibitions that feature works from the vast Royal Collection. Open daily, the gallery shows old master paintings, fascinating photography and rare items of decorative art.
A visit to Buckingham Palace can take between 2 and 2.5 hours. There is a lot to see and the visitor's route takes you through half a mile of gorgeous palace gardens so comfortable footwear is a must. As the palace is only open to the public for ten weeks each year, demand to see its treasures is high. To avoid disappointment always book your tickets ahead of time.
*The following prices apply only to the 2019 summer period from 20 July - 29 September 2019
Royal Day Out
|Family (2 adults, 3 kids)||£64.00||£114.50|
A State Rooms ticket includes admission to the palace's 19 State Rooms and a special changing exhibition. The summer 2019 exhibition is “Queen Victoria's Palace”.
A Royal Day Out ticket includes admission to the State Rooms, the Royal Mews and the Queens Gallery.
Both tickets include a multimedia tour.
You must select a time when you purchase your ticket. It is possible to upgrade your ticket to an annual pass at no extra cost. At the end of your visit, ask the warden to stamp your ticket to convert it to a 1-year pass. The palace will treat your purchase as a donation.
20th July 2019 – 31st August 2019
09.30 to 19.30 (last admission 17.15)
1st September 2019 – 19th September 2019
09.30 to 18.30 (Last admission 16.15)
During the rest of the year, the palace only opens to the public for exclusive tours priced at £35 per adult.
The address for Buckingham Palace is as follows:
London's public transport network is very comprehensive and offers a number of ways to get to Buckingham Palace.
Most people in London use the underground. The four stops closest to the palace are Victoria, Green Park, St James' Park and Hyde Park. St James' Park is the closest.
Buckingham Palace has its own bus stop and is serviced by the 11, 211, C1 and C10. If you're taking a coach from another part of the UK you can disembark at Victoria coach station. From there, Buckingham Palace is a ten minute walk.
London Victoria and London Charing Cross train stations are both walking distance from Buckingham Palace. To minimise walking, hop on a bus or the underground to get closer.
As always, google map your journey to make sure you're taking the more direct and easiest route.
TOP TIP: Always get an Oyster card as soon as you arrive in London. You can use this card on the underground and buses. It will make your life 100 times easier, we promise!
Hop On Hop Off Bus
If the thought of navigating London's public transport system fills you with dread, consider buying a ticket to one of London's many Hop on Hop off buses. They all stop at Buckingham Palace.
All of the principal rooms in Buckingham Palace are located on the piano nobile on the Palace's first floor.
Grand Hall and Staircase
Visitors enter Buckingham Palace via the Grand Hall. The Grand Hall features a Belle Epoque cream and gold colour scheme and the famous Grand Staircase, installed by Queen Victoria in 1898.
Green Drawing Room
Next you enter the Green Drawing Room, so named for its green silk wallpaper. Originally chosen by Queen Adelaide, the wallpaper is replaced every 30 years.
The Green Drawing Room is an ante-chamber to the Throne Room, Buckingham Palace's most ostentatious room and backdrop to today's Royal wedding photos.
Next you'll wander through the Picture Gallery next, hung with works by Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto and Holbein.
The ballroom was Queen Victoria's most impressive addition to Buckingham Palace. Once the largest room in London, the room is an epic 46ft (14m) high and 111ft (34m) long.
Blue Drawing Room
After the Ballroom you can explore the rest of the State Rooms at your leisure. Three rooms look out from the West façade of Buckingham Palace, one of which is the elegant Blue Drawing Room.
The Music Room has hosted several royal christenings.
White Drawing Room
The White Drawing Room is one of the most sumptuous rooms in the palace and features a piano on which Queen Victoria was taught to play.
Yellow Drawing Room
The Yellow Drawing Room is one of the rooms in the East wing of the Palace with a distinctly oriental feel.
Centre Room (with balcony)
The Centre Room opens out onto the Palace's famous balcony. Sadly, the balcony on which the monarch has addressed their public for decades is not open to the public.
Chinese Luncheon Room
The Chinese Luncheon Room was decorated around 1850 and features a dramatic red and blue color scheme.
Located on the ground floor underneath the State Rooms are the semi-state apartments. These rooms are not open to the public and are mostly used for entertaining. Visiting dignitaries such as foreign heads of state are also housed on the ground floor of Buckingham Palace in a large suite of rooms known as the Belgium Suite. The Bow Room at the centre of the ground floor suite is seen by thousands of guests each year as part of the Queen's annual Garden Parties. Guests pass through the Bow Room on their way to the beautiful gardens beyond.
The approach to Buckingham Palace is known as The Mall. This giant ceremonial driveway is used by motorcades of visiting heads of state and during state celebrations.
The Royal Mews
Alongside Buckingham Palace is the Royal Mews. This is where the Royal coach and horses used at royal processions are housed. You can visit the Royal Mews with a Royal Day Out ticket.
Buckingham Palace Gardens
The Palace's gorgeous park-like gardens are at the rear of the Palace. The largest private garden in London, the Queen's garden has its own private lake and is made up of 40 acres of beautifully cultivated greenery.
When planning your trip to Buckingham Palace you can save time and money by following our advice and recommendations below:
We highly recommend booking your tickets for Buckingham Palace in advance. As the attraction is only open to the public for ten weeks each year, demand for these tickets is high! Tickets are subject to timed entry so you must choose what time you'd like to visit when purchasing tickets online.
Book tickets through the Royal Collection Trust here.
There are no official skip-the-line tickets for Buckingham Palace. If you visit the Palace as part of an organised tour, rather than as an individual, you may be able to access the Palace without needing to line up but there is no guarantee.
All visitors must pass through metal detectors at Buckingham Palace's security point which can take 10-30 minutes.
As the Palace is only open to the public for 10 weeks each year, there is not a great deal of flexibility in terms of when you visit.
For a great experience, time your visit to coincide with the Changing of the Guards ceremony that takes place between 10.45am and 11.15am each day. This is likely the busiest time to visit the Palace.
If you prefer a less tourist-heavy experience, visit the Palace on a day with bad weather. The Changing of the Guards ceremony is cancelled on such days so visitor numbers tend to be lower. Otherwise, the full allocation of available tickets to visit Buckingham Palace usually sells out so no one time is much busier than another.
Every ticket to Buckingham Palace comes with its own multimedia guide. The guide is introduced by HRH the Prince of Wales and is available in the following languages:
A different family-focussed multimedia guide is also available for families with children under the age of 12. This guide is only available in English.
The Palace also offers two popular guided tours.
1) The State Rooms and Garden Highlights Tour
This tour includes
2) The State Rooms and Glorious Gardens and Amazing Adventures Tour
Designed for children and families this tour includes:
Arrive at least 10 minutes before your allocated time. Line-ups are usually moderate but it can take 10-30 minutes to pass through the Palace security.
Palace security checks are similar to those at the airport. You must remove all metal objects from your person before going through the security arch and your belongings will be scanned. To avoid delay, bring as little as possible with you into the Palace.
Smoking, including e-cigarettes, is not permitted in the Palace.
Photography and filming is not permitted inside the State Rooms. Palace staff prefer you to turn off your mobile phone when inside. However, photography is encouraged in the Palace Gardens and grounds.
There is no dress code at the Palace. We recommend wearing comfortable clothes and shoes as a visit will require a lot of walking.
The Palace has an English audio descriptive tour for blind and partially sighted visitors and a BSL video tour is available for those hard of hearing.
There is no eating and drinking permitted within Buckingham Palace. The only place you can get refreshments is in the Garden Café.
Pushchairs and strollers cannot be taken into the State Rooms. The Palace asks that they are checking in on arrival and parents take a baby carrier free of charge.
There are toilets with baby-change facilities located in the Palace Gardens.
Visitors with disabilities are advised to contact the Palace prior to their visit to ensure all needs are met. Email the team on email@example.com or call on +44(0)303 123 7324.
Buckingham Palace is located in the heart of London and there are many places to visit within walking distance. Simply download a London attractions map and circle the ones you'd like to see! These are a few attractions you won't want to miss.
Westminster Abbey is the perfect counterpart to a visit to Buckingham Palace. This royal church is a World Heritage Site thanks to its 1,000 years of history. Known for its dramatic Gothic façade, Westminster Abbey hosted the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge but also offers daily services to the public.
Hyde Park is one of London's must-sees. One of London's four Royal Parks, Hyde Park is usually a quiet spot to relax but in the summer plays host to various events and music festivals.
The UK's National Gallery is located in Trafalgar Square in Central London. The gallery's collection of over 2,300 paintings is open to the public free of charge.
Top Tip: There are dozens of free things to do in London. Most things in London, like transport, food and drink, are expensive so save money where you can!
Piccadilly Circus is another popular tourist attraction and is instantly recognisable thanks to its huge Time Square-esque advertising panels. There are so many things to do in London at night but one of the most enjoyable is simple wandering the streets and hopping from bar to bar. Londoners often use the nearby statue of Eros as a meeting point then wander down to Leicester Square, Shaftesbury Avenue or Regent Street.
Of course, if you're in London you're not going to want to miss a Harry Potter Studio London Tour too!
To get the most out of your visit to Buckingham Palace, book a ticket for the State Rooms and be sure to see free bonus, the Changing of the Guards.
Consider a Hop-on-Hop-off bus ticket to avoid negotiating London's busy public transport ticket. Give yourself at least two hours to tour the palace then hop back on the bus to your next attraction!
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