If you're thinking about visiting the Buckingham Palace Summer Opening, then you might like to stump up a bit more money and include a tour of the Buckingham Palace gardens as well.
The Summer Opening allows you to see inside 19 of the State Rooms where all of the official functions are held. The self-guided tour begins in the Quadrangle and then enters the Grand Entrance and up the Grand Staircase to the Ball Supper Room and Ballroom (where they hold the investitures).
After that comes the State Dining Room, Blue Drawing Room, Music Room, White Drawing Room, and into the Picture Gallery with paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer and Canaletto.
Then you get to see Her Majesty's Throne Room, before descending the stairs into the Marble Hall and Bow Room, before stepping out onto the veranda overlooking the vast lawn.
At this point we would normally recommend enjoying a cup of Earl Grey tea in their tented cafe, before strolling to the exit via the western path of the garden (which is very bland and boring). But if you pay for a Garden Highlights Tour then you will be able to explore the eastern half of the garden instead, which is where all the landscaped grounds and flowerbeds can be found. This path runs roughly parallel with Constitution Hill towards Wellington Arch, and the guide will explain the history of all the plants and the garden buildings as you walk along.
Craig has been to the Summer Opening on numerous occasions (read his most recent review) and has also tried the Garden Highlights tour as well. You can read his review of the Garden Tour on our Buckingham Palace page.
donald – “Of all the tourist sites I've been too (and I'm not a tourist -- I've lived here for 20 years) the Palace is the most interesting by far. The place just impresses the moment you step through the door. The audio guide is superb and gives you an insight into everything from the events and state visist held here, to the formal dinners, investitures and awards etc. It probably takes a good 2 hours to enjoy the inside of the Palace to its full, and then you can have a rest with a cup of tea on the terrace, and look out over the gardens where they hold the famous garden parties.”
pearlyqueen – “Having already been to Windsor Castle and loved it, I was already knowing the kind of spendour to expect, but to say that Buckingham Palace took my breath away is an understatement! What an amazing palace. And it is even more impressive inside given that the outside is rather less than impressive. You walk in not really expecting to see the kind of riches that you do. Everything, from the furniture, ceilings (and even the wallpaper!) is sumptious. You really do appreciate the kind of impression that visiting foreign heads of state must get when they meet the Queen. Everything is designed to impress, from the scale, to the views, to the service (each guest gets their own personal butler!) Being a bit of a dimbo, a lot of the history on the audio guide went over my head, but I can see that it would be very interesting if you're into that kind of thing. But even if you're not, you can still look at the palace and dream of being a princess”
Craig’s review – “There's an excited line of tourists outside Buckingham Palace. Half of us are dressed for a society ball and the other half the shops. There are people here who seem to believe you need to dress up to get inside. (Trust me, you don't.) The Queen must dread the Summer Opening. It's a bit like having a million in-laws come round your house at Christmas. But she's got a… continued”
Sunday football on Hackney Marshes – Every Sun – Hackney Marshes is the home of Sunday league football, with over 70 matches played between dozens of amateur teams.
Listen to a speech at Speakers’ Corner – Every Sun (around noon) – If you visit Speakers' Corner at Sunday lunchtime you can listen to an orator stand up and discuss whatever they like -- all in the name of free speech.
Hire a deckchair in one of London’s parks – 1 Mar to 31 Oct 2018 – Have a nice, relaxing sit-down and doing a bit of people-watching in one of London's Royal parks, by hiring out a deckchair.
Hire a pedal boat on the Serpentine lake – 1 Apr to 31 Oct 2018 – Spend a pleasant afternoon pedalling around in a little hire boat on the Serpentine, or catch the sun-powered SolarShuttle.
If you enjoy Buckingham Palace then you might like to visit Clarence House (you can walk it in 6 mins), Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace (catch the train from St James’s Park to Kensington Palace), Royal Mews (you can walk it in 4 mins) and Windsor Castle
Disclaimer: Event details can change at short notice and you should reconfirm everything before making plans