Buckingham Palace

Attractions, Sightseeing St James's Park
4 out of 5 stars
(21user reviews)
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Photo © Michael Garnett, taken from the Time Out London Flickr group
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White drawing room, Derry Moore / Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013
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Photo © Michael Garnett, taken from the Time Out London Flickr group
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The throne room, Derry Moore / Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013
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Photo © Jamie Koster, taken from the Time Out London Flickr group
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Photo © Michael Garnett, taken from the Time Out London Flickr group
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The palace gates, Andrew Holt / Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013
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Photo © Michael Garnett, taken from the Time Out London Flickr group
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Photo © Prad Patel, taken from the Time Out London Flickr group
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The grand staircase, Derry Moore / Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013

A chance to see world famous art, glimpse regal opulence and get inside HRH’s HQ

Many a tourist and local alike know the iconic façade of Buckingham Palace, standing grandly at the end of The Mall. But it was only in 1913 that this epic addition was made, by King George V and Queen Mary. Before that, in 1633, the palace wasn’t even royal – it belonged to Lord Goring, who was forced to hand over ownership to the Royal Family (under King George III) due to a flaw in his contract. Whoops!

Still, if it weren’t for Lord Goring’s poor knowledge of residential law in seventeenth-century Britain, who knows where the Queen and co would reside. And as for greeting great hordes of onlookers from that renowned balcony, they have Queen Victoria to thank for that. She requested a large balcony from which she could send off and welcome back her troops. To this day, this is where the Monarch and Royal Family appear for a wave on big occasions.

However, it’s not just major events that’ll see the Royal Family at work here. Buckingham Palace is the genuine HQ for the Monarchy and meetings take place daily here, as well as ceremonial occasions with international heads of state. Plus, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh actually live here, but they’re on a very private side of the Palace, so don’t count on a a chance encounter.

That’s not to say there isn’t plenty for us norms to have a ganders at. All year long you can get a nosey round The Queen’s Gallery, where you’ll find pieces from the Royal Collection. Plus, from February to November the Royal Mews is open for strolling along, and the State Rooms are open throughout August and September (as well as for one-off tours during the year when the Queen isn’t home).

Read our full guide to visiting Buckingham Palace

By: Laura Lee Davies

Posted:

Venue name: Buckingham Palace
Contact:
Address: Buckingham Palace Rd
London
SW1A 1AA
Opening hours: Times vary
Transport: Tube: Victoria/Green Park/Hyde Park Corner Rail: Victoria
Price: Prices vary
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Average User Rating

4 / 5

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LiveReviews|21
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Long live the Queen! The palace is a staple tourist destination when visiting London.  You’ll get a chance to see the home of the queen as well as the old school changing guards if you’re lucky.  Sometimes they’ll just march back and forth.


This building is the equivalent of the White House for the U.S. but way more detail and gold ornamentation is put on it.  You’ll also have a great place to people watch.


tastemaker

What a magnificent palace, no wonder it's the most expensive property in the world! 

I absolutely loved the tour of the state rooms, with the magnificent gifts the Queen has received from Heads of State from all across the globe, neatly presented by continent and region. So funny how Kennedy's gift for Her Majesty was a signed portrait of himself (in nothing less but a silver Tiffany frame!). There is a free audio guide and a lot of additional information on the Royal Collection Trust's website, so be sure to check it out.

I've been to several other palaces in Europe, but their beauty pales when compared to that of the Royal British abode, its abundance of crystal chandeliers, gold friezes on every wall and every ceiling, the ornate ball rooms, the majestically theatrical throne room, and the art gallery containing over 1 million works of art (the maintenance of which apparently does not cost the taxpayers a penny, as it is entirely funded by the ticket sales). The gift shop has a wide range of trinkets and home-ware, from key-chains and leather pouches to fine bone china and cookbooks. The only unimpressive bit is the garden, just a green lawn with threes, no manicured mazes or rose gardens (as far as I could see). 

My favourite part? The fact that if you ask them to treat your ticket as a donation, you get free re-entry for a year. I'll definitely be back!

Tastemaker

Although I work just a short walk away from Buckingham Palace and see it from the outside frequently (the Queen is hardly ever in!), I had never gone inside until recently - I tend to stick to the free or 2 for 1 attractions.  My sister suggested going there for her birthday treat, so I agreed to go.


One word of warning before you go - there are no toilet facilities at the start.  We arrived there expecting to be able to 'go before you go' round the exhibition, but the only toilet facilities are at the end, once you have left the Palace.


We were given audio guides and had a two hour time slot to wander round.  The audio guides were very good, with additional information available should you wish to know more.  There was also a special exhibition on at the time of the Queen's dresses through the years which was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be, but this part was very busy and it was frustrating trying to get near enough to be able to read the information boards.


We also got to see a lot of the artwork and valuables collected over the years, which seemed to mainly have been purchased by George IV - another indication of how historically accurate Blackadder was, having Prince George as a bit of a spendthrift!


Even though we had a two hour time slot, we were not rushed and could have stayed longer except for the fact that we had booked tickets for a guided tour of the grounds afterwards, so we had to rush the last bit to get there on time.


I thought the garden tour would be good for a bit of an extended nose around the grounds, but it turned out to be very interesting.  We found out all about the plants and the ecology, I would recommend booking this as well.


There is also a café and souvenir shop (and toilets!) in the grounds.  Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take photographs, except for in the grounds after the tour of the Palace.


I was very pleased with this tour, even though it had a high price tag, I felt I got a lot for my money and helped do my bit towards funding the necessary repairs for the Palace.

Tastemaker

At the bequest of my mother, who was visiting London for the first time, we visited Buckingham Palace. To be perfectly honest, I've not been terribly inclined but she wanted to, so I love her enough to go. Think it's worth visiting once, if mostly because it's a historical palace. The flow of the visit is pretty well timed and laid out. There was very little bottle-necking of tourists and loads to see. Bit weird to think that people actually, genuinely live in this giant palace.. at the tax-payers pence, but that's neither here nor there. 


My favourite bit was at the end actually, sitting in the garden, having a cream tea with my Mama. :) 

tastemaker

If you are in London during the summer months don't waste the opportunity to step inside the palace. The state rooms tour is a must where you get to explore many working rooms of the royal family. You'll finish in the palace gardens where you can enjoy an afternoon tea to top of the visit.

Tastemaker

If you happen to be in London during the 2 months of the year when Buckingham Palace opens to the public, this is a must for tourists and locals alike. The rooms are beautifully elegant, and it's hard to describe the sheer size of the grounds.


The gardens are spectacular, although if you are visiting with children they may get a little frustrated that they are not allowed to play on the grass. In fact, this attraction would probably be more popular with adults, as there is little to entertain the kids. However, it is a truly iconic landmark and probably one of the most famous buildings in the world. Visit if you can!

tastemaker

I was pleased to get tickets to visit Buckingham Palace, in the only two months of the year opens.

The entry system was very efficient, we only had to wait approx 10 minutes for security. I was visiting with a family and we were disappointed with the baby carriers they provided, even though we had our own, they insisted we check it in and use theirs, which was annoying. 

The palace itself was stunning, the decor and exhibits were beautiful. The audio tour was informative and the family version was a huge hit with the children. The marquee for children was very well set up and unusually empty for the summer holidays. 

I was pleased and surprised that the tour ended with a walk around the gardens, which were stunning. A great few hours and a visit I'd recommend. 

tastemaker

Fascinating but slightly underwhelming at the same time. The state rooms are as grand and opulent as you would expect, but it all got a bit same-y after a while. The gardens at the back are beautiful, although you're not allowed to step on the grass. The exhibition area was packed! Buckingham Palace is worth a visit as it's such an iconic building but it didn't blow me away.

tastemaker

The Buckingham Palace state rooms tour is only open for 2 months of the year so for this one you need to plan ahead. It's worth getting this one sorted though as obviously it's an iconic building and one of the only remaining working palaces in the world.

On the tour you get to see the ball rooms, the throne room for state events, the banqueting rooms and the rooms that are filled with some amazing collections of art. You obviously don't get to see the entire site as the royals have to maintain a bit of their homefor themselves but what you do see is worth seeing.

You get an audio guide and therefore are able to do the tour in your own time which is great. There were also plenty of seats in each room in case you want to sit down and just take on the spectacle of each room. For £23 I think it's def worth doing

Tastemaker

I ventured onto the State Rooms visit while entertaining people in town and must say I wasn't disappointed. There's something a little magical in having a peak inside the royal rooms, although there are slim to none chances of some cheeky royalty spotting. This visit takes you to the social side of the palace, where you can have a glimpse of the endless rooms used to entertain state chiefs and the likings. Extra points for the banquet room, and for a little peak on how HRM dresses herself. As it's not open year round, it's important to keep an eye open for dates and travel light - security IS tight. At the end of the visit there's a little entertainment room for the little ones, as well an exit route through the rear garden of the palace.

Tastemaker

Buckingham Palace has surpassed my expectations. I was born in ex-USSR. We do grandeur well (all too well, perhaps, judging by the turbulent history), so it takes quite a palace to impress me. Buckingham Palace starts low (the entrance hall is almost unassuming given it's a working palace of the most famous monarch in the world) but John Nash, credited with the major design improvements in the 19th century, brings it to a swooping crescendo by the time you reach the Throne Room at the end of the tour. His theatrical credentials served him well. I entered unimpressed. I exited in a state of awe. It's a tasteful and well preserved affair throughout. The gilded work is mesmerising. It's also slightly surreal how many of those interiors look familiar thanks to all the public displays of the royal family life in the past years what with all the weddings, births and jubilees. Weather permitting, get yourself a scoop of royal ice cream and devour it watching the sun ripple the surface of the lake in the magnificent palace gardens. There's an excellent audio guide to accompany your visit, full of interesting commentary. Apparently, the Palace is run by an 800 strong staff and has over 700 rooms and 78 bathrooms. Which brings me to the two areas where the Royal Collection Trust, managing the property and overseeing visitor experience, miserably fails: the only visitor bathrooms are out in the park, reachable at the end of the tour, and there's no backtracking through the palace in case you were thinking to make a quick run for it and then back. I mean, really, we the mere mortals, are not worthy to take a poop in the palace? And the second bit is the lack of directions as you approach. Sure, there are a couple of obscure signs gracing the rails around the palace, but they are far in between and it's difficult to get an unobstructed view of them any way what with all the tourists in the Horse Guards Parade area. Surely they could spare a couple of members of staff to provide some guidance to desperate tourists out there? And may I just mention it costs £21 pound to enter the State Rooms. As magnificent as they are, surely the cost of admission is a factor in a city, that boasts some of the best free tourist experiences to be had.


Tastemaker

This palace is one of the most visited places among the tourists in London. Many people though don't know that this is the official residence of her Majest the Queen so if you are standing outside of the metal fence trying to take a nice selfie, she might also be looking at you hiding behind a curtain. Not only is Queen's official home but also is the place where are her offices and hundreds of people work inside. If you want a tour inside you will have to wait till mid July, when the Buckingham Palace State Rooms' opening take places and ticketed tours are available.

Tastemaker

One of the most famous attractions in London (not just because it is free) and also a site for many a celebration involving the royal family. The changing of the guard is probably the most busy time you can be here so if you want to get a photo that would not be the time to go. It is well located amongst other nearby attractions such as St James Park or even Trafalgar Square. A must-visit for all tourists and even locals (on the queen's birthday) alike.

Tastemaker

Nie to visit, but make sure you heck it's 1) open to te public and 2) not a school holiday!

Tastemaker

If you’re in London in August, you should go and try to get yourself some tickets. It’s quite enjoyable to be able to actually get in the palace instead of simply looking at the façade from the road. Cheeky pleasure in a way.

Do not expect to see the whole place though. You’ll only visit the State rooms. But that’s enough really. The décor is magnificent and you’ll discover where the Queen does all of her Queen stuff. Very interesting indeed.

And hopefully the weather will be good enough for you to enjoy the private gardens...


Great place to visit if you get the chance, its not open all year round so check before making the trip. State rooms are amazing, even the kids loved the tour.


It was a great day out! Took a girlfriend and we walked through all of the state rooms and got to go at our leisure! it was great to see inside the palace and was a fun little treat to know the Queen was home while we were there!


We had a lovely visit from start to finish. There was some inevitable queueing to get in with the security check, however, there was plenty of seating in the waiting area so it wasn't really a problem. The optional commentary was well worth having and I actually preferred the individual headset than having a guide, as I could hear everything really well and could take things at my own pace on the way round. There were plenty of stewards around to ask additional questions if you wanted to. Inside the palace itself was immaculate and it was great to see some of the rooms that you see on the news or in photographs for yourself. The Coronation exhibition was fabulous. It was lovely to see the clothes, jewellery etc. actually worn by the Royal Family on Coronation Day - never realised the Queen was so small!! When we got to the end of the exhibition, we finished by a tearoom and the gardens. We were going to go into the tearooms but I was a little disappointed that the tea was served in a paper cup, so we didn't bother!! We would probably have hung around a little longer in the gardens but it wasn't very warm so we just wandered through. I think the only negatives are the fact that I needed to go to the loo before we started, as there are no facilities until the end of the tour. I was then sent on a route march up the road, around the corner and into some public loos near Marks and Spencer. Some temporary loos near the beginning would have been welcome! Also, I would have loved to have gone on the Barracks tour too but didn't want to do it all on the same day - I think it's a little disappointing that you can do the Palace without the Barracks but not the other way round. However, overall this was a brilliant experience and I have already recommended it to many friends on my return home.


Overall it was what I expected. A BIG minus for Buckingham organization for putting a Brazilian flag instead of a Portuguese flag when referring to the Portuguese language. There is no such thing as Brazilian language! It is the same as English language were represented by the US flag or Spanish by the Mexican flag!! It is a shame that so many years of history, and friendship between Portugal and England seemed to be forgotten. England and the English should never forget that was a Portuguese Queen that brought the 5pm tea, the orange jelly and cutlery habit to the island. Despite this enormous linguistic/historical error, the visit went pretty well.


It was very difficult to find the ticket booth. There were signs inside the fences of Buckingham Palace, but they were easy to miss because they were hidden by the crowds and there are no staff around to ask. You have to walk around the left hand side of the palace and eventually you will spot the signs. The ticket buying process is very inefficient. We had already pre-booked ours but we still had to queue with others who hadn't to collect them. Once that was done we had to go back out and join another queue elsewhere to enter the venue! We visited the Mews first and they are quite a long walk away from the ticket office. We thought maybe we'd missed the entrance but we kept going and eventually found it - the signage wasn't very good again. Once inside the Mews were excellent, although there weren't enough horses for my liking. The carriages are really impressive as you'd expect, and the layout is very good. We found 40 minutes was plenty of time. We then had to go back out and queue again to get into the Palace, but once inside we had a wonderful time. The exhibits (for the coronation) were excellent and beautifully displayed. Despite the crowd there was plenty of room to walk around and we were still able to view everything properly. The staggered entry times certainly work! The Palace rooms are magnificent and very worth the visit. At the end of our stroll through the Palace we were able to walk through part of the garden which was very pleasant. We decided to sit on one of the benches and enjoy the scenery and sunshine for a little while (and eat an ice team). Overall we had a really great time and would recommend it, but be prepared for the inefficient queuing!