Buckingham Palace in the City of Westminster, London, is the administrative headquarters of the monarch of the United Kingdom and his official London residence.
The royal palace is a popular tourist destination and offers a variety of things for solo travelers, couples, and families. We've compiled a list of exciting things to do in Buckingham Palace.
Activities and Sights At Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace Palace has been the official residence of British monarchs since 1837 with the ascension of Queen Victoria.
The Palace was officially known as Buck House in the 1700s and had been built for the Duke of Buckingham.
The Palace was enlarged considerably over the years. George V commissioned the Palace's present-day Neoclassical appearance in 1913.
Like his mother, Queen Elizabeth, King Charles seldom uses Buckingham Palace as his residence. However, it's still the site of most National and Royal celebrations, including royal weddings.
Whenever the sovereign is in residence, the Royal Standard is flown over the Palace, and the Guards Division mounts a guard.
Buckingham Palace has been opened for public view, and tourists from all over the world can view the sumptuously furnished state rooms and royal collection of art contained within.
Here are just a few of the must-see and do activities at the Palace:
Attend the Changing of the Guard
The popular changing of the guard ceremony takes place at 11.30 am daily from April to July and on alternating days thereafter.
The guards change hands at the palace gates and form a precision drill accompanied by a marching band.
There's no cost to view the ceremony, but it can be very crowded as pedestrians make their way through Green Park and the Memorial Gardens.
The ceremony lasts around 40 minutes and can be viewed from the palace gates or nearby St. James's Park.
View the State Rooms
If you love history, book a Buckingham Palace tour that includes a visit to the State Rooms. The state rooms are open during the summer month and offer a great way to learn about the Palace's history, artworks, and rooms.
You can view the Throne room, White Drawing Room, and Grand Ballroom. Bear in mind that no photography is allowed in any of the State Rooms, although you can take snap pictures to your heart's content in the gardens.
See the Royal Mews
The Royal Mews is an interesting museum and showroom that features a display of royal carriages and horses, including the famous Glass Coach (used by the Prince of Wales during his wedding) and the Gold State Coach, used for coronations and state openings.
If you are lucky, you'll also see the famous Windsor Grey horses stabled at the Mews. Other items in the collection include the Australian State Coach and a number of rare Rolls Royce limousines, Bentleys, and Jaguars.
Visitors to Buckingham Palace between May and October can book 45-minute guided tours of the Royal Mews, led by Wardens dressed in official navy and red livery.
Buckingham Palace Gardens
Families searching for an interactive experience can enjoy a walking tour through the palace gardens.
The Buckingham Palace Gardens cover 39 acres of parkland, including a lake, helipad, and tennis courts.
You can learn about wildlife and plants during your tour. Children will enjoy the Palace's activity trail, which features exciting games and exhibits about the Royal Family.
See the Queen's Gallery
Art lovers will love the Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace. Exhibitions change regularly, but you can also view pieces from the late Queen's art collection, including old master paintings, rare furniture, photographs, and objets d'art.
There are more than 450 rare artworks in the Palace itself, so expect to see works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Claude, Monet, and Rubens throughout, along with sculptures from the likes of Canova and Chantrey.
Gift Shop and Café
After a full day of touring the vast grounds of Buckingham Palace, you can put your feet up at the Palace's gift shop and café. There are great souvenirs, gifts, and light refreshments to enjoy.
See the Grand Staircase
The Buckingham Palace's Grand Staircase was designed by John Nash as he remodeled the place for King George IV in 1825.
The staircase features a breathtaking double balustrade with a pattern of acanthus, oak, and laurel leaves. The stairs are lit by an etched glass dome in the ceiling.
Attractions Near Buckingham Palace
While you are in the area, there is plenty to see and do:
- From Buckingham Palace, you can easily access a number of Britain's Royal Parks, including Hyde Park, Green Park, and St James's Park. Here you can see the most senior Royal Palaces: St James's Palace, the Mall and Horse Guards Parade, Clarence House, and Whitehall.
- Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are just a brisk 5-minute walk away from Buckingham Palace via the Birdcage walk.
- Stop by Westminster Abbey or take a boat tour down the River Thames to see an entirely different view of the city, or buy a ticket for the London Eye for a bird's eye view of the London skyline.
- Visit the Imperial War Museum, where you can see impressive tanks, planes, and revolving military exhibitions from World War I and II.
Maximizing Your Visit: Tips and Tours for Buckingham Palace
When planning your visit to Buckingham Palace, maximize your experience with these helpful tips and recommended tours:
1. Book Your Tickets in Advance: To ensure a seamless visit, it's advisable to book your Buckingham Palace tickets in advance. This way, you can secure your preferred date and time slot, avoiding any disappointment.
2. Arrive Early: Beat the crowds by arriving early. Getting to Buckingham Palace in the morning allows you to explore at a more leisurely pace and capture stunning photos without the bustling crowds.
3. Witness the Changing of the Guard: Don't miss the iconic Changing of the Guard ceremony, a captivating display of pomp and tradition. Check the schedule in advance and plan your visit accordingly, arriving early to secure a prime viewing spot.
4. Take a Guided Tour: Enhance your visit with a guided tour. Knowledgeable guides provide fascinating insights into Buckingham Palace's history, architecture, and the lives of the British royal family. Immerse yourself in the stories that bring the palace to life.
5. Explore the Gardens and Parks: Take time to explore the exquisite gardens and nearby parks surrounding Buckingham Palace. Stroll through the serene landscapes of St. James's Park and Green Park, offering a peaceful retreat amidst the city.
6. Check for Special Exhibitions and Events: Keep an eye out for special exhibitions and events hosted at Buckingham Palace. These temporary showcases offer a deeper appreciation of art, history, and the royal collections. Check the palace's official website for updates on current exhibits.
7. Show Respect and Adhere to Guidelines: As you enjoy your visit, remember to be respectful of Buckingham Palace and its surroundings. Follow any guidelines or restrictions in place, ensuring a pleasant experience for yourself and fellow visitors.
By following these tips and taking advantage of the recommended tours, you'll make the most of your visit to Buckingham Palace.
Immerse yourself in the grandeur of this historic landmark and create lasting memories of your royal adventure.
Getting to Buckingham Palace
Getting to Buckingham Palace is fairly straightforward. The closest national rail station is Victoria, and the nearest tube stations are Victoria, Green Park, and Hyde Park Corner.
The nearest bus stops are Buckingham Palace Royal Mews, Bressenden Place, and Wilton Street.
FAQs: Exploring Buckingham Palace
What can people do at Buckingham Palace?
Visitors to Buckingham Palace can partake in various activities, including guided tours of the State Rooms during the summer months.
These tours provide a glimpse into the opulent interiors, art collections, and historical significance of the palace.
Additionally, witnessing the Changing of the Guard ceremony, strolling through the gardens, and exploring nearby attractions like The Royal Mews offer further opportunities for enjoyment.
What can you do at Buckingham Palace for free?
While entry to the State Rooms requires a ticket, there are still free activities to enjoy at Buckingham Palace.
Visitors can witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony outside the palace gates, a ceremonial spectacle that takes place regularly.
Exploring the picturesque gardens surrounding the palace, such as the Royal Parks, is also a delightful and cost-free way to experience the splendor of Buckingham Palace.
What is a famous activity that happens in Buckingham Palace?
One of the most famous activities that happens in Buckingham Palace is the Changing of the Guard ceremony.
This iconic event showcases the ceremonial handover of guard duties outside the palace and is accompanied by traditional music and marching.
It attracts crowds of spectators who gather to witness this quintessentially British spectacle.
Is food allowed in Buckingham Palace?
Food and beverages are not permitted inside Buckingham Palace, except for water.
However, there are nearby cafes and restaurants where visitors can enjoy refreshments before or after their visit to the palace.
It's best to plan your dining arrangements accordingly to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience at Buckingham Palace.
London is one of the world's most exciting and vibrant cities, and Buckingham Palace is one of its most popular attractions.
With plenty to see and do at the Palace and in the surrounding area, you cannot skip Buckingham Palace during your visit.