Buckingham Palace: A complete tourist’s guide


Few tourist attractions in London carry as much history and prestige as Buckingham Palace, the Royal Family’s main London residence. Whether you just want to get a picture of the front while imagining Queenie inside drinking her 10am gin and tonic, or if you want to explore the incredible Staterooms, you’ll want to take a look at our extensive guide below. 

Getting there

There’s no way you’ll be able to enjoy the delights Buckingham Palace has to offer without getting there in the first place. There are a number of Underground stations in the vicinity that allow for a quick and simple journey to the palace. The best option is perhaps Green Park – the walk through verdant and emerald surroundings is thoroughly pleasant. Simply emerge from the exit, cross the road if necessary and continue straight on into the park. The palace is straight ahead.

A slightly longer – but no less pleasant – option is Hyde Park Corner, which once again takes you through grassy surrounds on a trip to the palace. While you can’t quite see the building from the exit of the Tube station, there are only three paths available to you and the Palace is clearly signposted. The walk should take no more than 15 minutes.

Another option is to travel to London Victoria. Emerge from the station opposite the Shakespeare pub, cross over the road and turn the corner opposite Grosvenor Square. Continue right and walk past the Rubens at the Palace Hotel (instantly identifiable thanks to its living wall) until you reach a crossroads. Turn left and proceed through the gate to find Buckingham Palace. London Victoria is the best connected of all the stations with access to various Underground lines, national rail services and even coaches that depart for destinations across the country. On the flipside, however, the Tube station is currently undergoing refurbishment (due for completion in 2018) and it becomes absolutely chaotic during busy periods. If you require easier access, opt for Green Park or Hotel Near Hyde Park Corner.

Worthwhile attractions

When it comes to actually exploring the palace, it’s worth considering the plethora of options available. The State Rooms are open for tours during both the summer and the winter, although numbers are dramatically reduced in the cooler months. This being England, that’s from October all the way through until May. So you’ll need to check the list of selected dates on the Palace website if you’re interested in visiting during this time.

Choose the attraction you want to visit. Do you fancy a look inside the State Rooms? Or would you rather take a trip along the nearby Royal Mews? The Queen’s Gallery is another worthwhile attraction, as is the legendary Clarence House, a royal residence situated a stone’s throw away from the Palace on the Mall. The last of these is only open during the month of August, however, when much of the Royal Family is up in Scotland.

It’s also worth seeing if you can gain access to the Royal Residence’s gardens (and we don’t mean by scaling the walls – that sort of thing will get you locked up). They are particularly pleasant during the warmer months and you never know – you might even spy the Queen’s corgis (Willow and Holly) and dorgis (Candy and Vulcan) being walked.

Ticket prices for these attractions vary depending on the time of year but particular enthusiasts will find that a so-called ‘group’ ticket will allow them access to several of them. It’s probably worthwhile if you intend to visit more than one royal attraction during your stay.

Another great activity is the Changing of the Guard, which takes place on certain days every month and allows visitors to watch a fantastic display from the crimson-clad furry-headed guardsmen that are so iconic. On the days that the performance takes place, the fun usually kicks off at 11:15, with the guards and bands arriving for the official start time of 11:30. It’s all finished by 12 noon.

For kids

Buckingham Palace is great for children and there are plenty of family activities during the UK half-term periods taking place at the prestigious venue. Ever fancied going on an Easter egg hunt at the Royal Mews? This is just one example – check the website for details about the exciting programme of events for 2015.

Tours around the various royal venues always include plenty for the children to do, with tour guides asking them if they can spot the secret entrance from the State Rooms that leads straight to the Queen’s quarters. They will no doubt love learning about the intricacies and eccentricities of Britain’s fascinating Royal family, demonstrated in an exciting and engaging way. They’ll ask questions all the way home – count on it.

Nearby attractions to Buckingham Palace

There is no shortage of exciting things to do near Buckingham Palace. The long road that stretches directly in front of the main gates is called the Mall and it leads directly into Trafalgar Square, the Strand and the glittering West End of London. Whether you’re looking for an evening at the theatre, a bite to eat or perhaps even to attend a festival, this is definitely the place to be. Wander up to Piccadilly and experience high-end shopping on Regent Street, Carnaby Street or Oxford Street. Seek out the British Museum and gaze upon the many artefacts accumulated by the nation during its incredible stint as the most powerful empire in the world.

If it’s cinema near Buckingham Palace that you’re after, there are a number of venues in Leicester Square where films usually have their UK premieres. Otherwise, there’s a conveniently-located Curzon in Victoria where you can settle down with the locals amongst the popcorn and fizzy drinks. Speaking of Victoria, the area is home to two of the most popular West End shows – Broadway import Wicked with its belting anthems and mindblowing glitz and glamour, or Billy Elliot with its heart-melting story and super-talented young lead actors.