Visit Buckingham Palace

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Buckingham Palace map
Buckingham Palace, The Mall SW1A 1AA
0303 123 7300

Opening times and price

Opening hours:
State Rooms only: 9.30 AM to 7 PM (Mon-Sun, last week of Jul and Aug); 9.30 AM to 6 PM (Mon-Sun, Sep); Last entry 1¾ hours before closing – State Rooms and gardens: 9.45 AM to 2.45 PM (last week of Jul to Sep)
Ticket cost:
Adults £25.00; Children £14.00 (5-16); Infants free entry (under-5); Family ticket £64.00
Visiting hours and entry charges are subject to change
Time required:
A typical visit to Buckingham Palace lasts 2-2½ hours (approx)

Pubs and restaurants

Pubs and restaurants near Buckingham Palace

Getting to Buckingham Palace

Service stations and parking near Buckingham Palace
Minicab firms close to Buckingham Palace
11, 211, C1, C10 – London bus prices
Green Park JUB PCL VIC, St. James’s Park CRC DSC, Victoria CRC DSC VIC
The nearest train station to Buckingham Palace is St Jamess Park
Plan your journey from Earl’s Court, Euston, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Marylebone, Paddington, Victoria, Waterloo or another London Underground station:
Train journey to Buckingham Palace
London train tickets · Oyster cards · Travelcard tickets · Contactless cards
Accommodation near Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace is #3 in our London Bucket List
Good for kids? Value for money? Worth a visit?

Craig recommends… Here’s my latest Buckingham Palace review. You might like to read my reviews of the Evening tour and Changing the Guard as well. There are several other Royal palaces in London that are worth visiting. The best one is Windsor Castle, followed by Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace. If you’re interested in the monarchy then you might like the Queen’s Gallery, Royal Mews and Clarence House as well.

Buckingham Palace is No.6 in our list of London’s must-see landmarks, and No.9 in our list of best London photos.

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

History of Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace was built by the 1st Duke of Buckingham as a country mansion at the edge of St. James’s Park. George III purchased it in 1762 and embellishments by George IV and John Nash transformed it into a royal home.

Most of what you see today is relatively new. The front facade was only built in the 1850s, and Queen Victoria added the famous balcony where the British Royal Family wave at the crowds.

Royal Family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace

Summer Opening tours at Buckingham Palace

Tourists can see inside Buckingham Palace during the Summer Opening. The Summer Opening is usually held from late-July to September, when the public can buy a ticket and see inside Buckingham Palace on a sightseeing tour. During the winter they sometimes hold guided tours of the palace in the evening, but the tickets are very expensive.

The State Rooms (including the famous Throne Room, Ballroom, State Dining Room and Music Room) are used on official occasions like State visits by foreign leaders, and most of them are open to the public during the Summer Opening. The Queen’s private rooms are in the north wing, overlooking the 40-acre gardens, and are not open to visits by the public.

Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace

Changing of the Guard

The famous Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place at 11.30 AM on the Buckingham Palace forecourt, and lasts for approximately 40 minutes.

Craig’s review of the tour

This review originally appeared in his blog

It’s that time of year again… the Buckingham Palace Summer Opening. I upgraded my ticket this year to include a tour of the Buckingham Palace gardens as well. So I have seen the entire palace now, and I can confirm that is a) posh and b) very nice.

Buckingham Palace forecourt

After you’ve been through the airport-style security and picked up your audio guide, the whole thing starts round the lefthand side at the Ambassador’s Entrance. This is basically the non-posh entrance for all the total nobodies (ie. politicians). It’s got a few paintings and busts but nothing special. Then you come out to your first view of the Quadrangle (the interior courtyard). This is the bit where the Queen’s carriage disappears too once she’s passed through the central arch.

Then it’s up the little stairs and into what I reckon is my favourite room of all – the Grand Entrance and Grand Hall. It’s the first room that everyone sees when they enter the Palace, and it’s a blinder. Unfortunately they don’t allow you to take any pictures of the inside, so you’ll just have to take my word for it (you can trust me though, I’m not lying). I don’t know how much the rent is, but I would be happy living in this one room alone.

After that you wind your way up the Grand Staircase with the golden ballustrade, which is just as impressive, and into the tiny Guard Chamber and Green Drawing Room. Then it’s the Throne Room, which you’ve probably already seen on the telly (it’s the red room where they always take the wedding photos and family snaps).

While all of this is going on you are listening to your audio guide, which is explaining the history of each room, what it’s used for, and a bit about the architect and Queen who commissioned it. It whips along at quite a pace I thought, the guide, because they are trying to stop people dawdling and holding others up. The whole thing only took me an hour this time, which was pretty speedy.

After the Throne Room you come to the long Picture Gallery, which is hung with stuff by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer and Canaletto. The you’re into the East Gallery and the Ball Supper Room.

The Ball Supper Room is where they hold a little exhibition. Last year it was all about Faberge Eggs. This year it was all about diamonds, in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It was pretty boring for a bloke (I’m a bloke), but I’m sure the ladies would love it. They like looking at all those sparkly rings and things.

After that you come to the Ballroom. This is where the do all the investitures… giving out the knighthoods and gongs. It’s also where they host all the State Banquets. Then you move onto the West Gallery, the State Dining Room (which is not where they hold the State Banquets, confusingly), Blue Drawing Room and Music Room. The Music Room is one of the stand-out rooms of the tour, because it bows out and overlooks the gardens.

Then you come to the White Drawing Room, which has got to be the most garish room in the Palace. It’s all white, yellow and gold, like you’re sitting inside a sunflower. Imagine having all your seats and furntiture painted bright yellow. That is what it is like.

Tea in the cafe at Buckingham Palace

The final bit of the tour takes you down the Minister’s Staircase, which is basically a poor man’s version of the Grand Staircase for the politicians, and through the Marble Hall. The Hall is a kind of like a twin to the Picture Gallery upstairs, but contains the Queen’s collection of fine white statues and marble sculptures. Then it’s past the Grand Hall again and out of the Bow Room, and into the garden.

Buckingham Palace gardens

Tour of the Palace Gardens

Once you are into the garden it’s time for a rest, because they’ve set up a little cafe on the veranda selling very expensive tea and cakes. But how can you resist having a cup of tea on the Buckingham Palace veranda? I had a tuna roll too, which set me back about a million quid. If you’ve got any money left after that then you can have a look around the shop as well, and take some shots of the lawn. (This is the only part of the palace tour where they allow you to take photos.)

Tour of the Buckingham Palace Gardens

It was at this point of the Summer Opening tour that I went home last year, but I’d splashed out on a tour of the Buckingham Palace gardens as well this time, so I had to wait around for an hour for that to start.

You always get to see a little bit of the garden even if you don’t take the tour, because the exit route takes you down the lefthand-side of the grounds. Unfortunately you don’t see much, just the lawn and glimpses of the lake. When you do the tour you go down the righthand-side instead, past the Queen’s private apartments (although you can’t actually see into them, of course).

The guide then takes you all the way round (roughly parallel to Constitution Hill) and up past Wellington Arch. You then bend round the back to the same exit as before.

Our guide was a posh guy called Mr Wild, and he was exactly the kind of bloke that you would imagine working at the Palace.

He told us all about the flowers and shrubs, which Queen planted which tree, and who built the little buildings, etc. There was a lot of history to cover, and he kept it interesting. But I think it would mainly appeal to gardeners. If you like flowers then you will be well happy. You also get to see parts of the garden that no one else does, but you don’t quite get to see it all because you’re never allowed to leave the path. But there’s more than enough there to make it worthwhile.

  • 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 .”

> Talk about Buckingham Palace

> Craig’s review of Buckingham Palace – “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”

Events at Buckingham Palace

Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace to

Buckingham Palace Summer Opening to

Buckingham Palace and Garden Highlights to

If you enjoy this then try: Clarence House (you can walk it in 6 mins); Hampton Court Palace; Kensington Palace (catch the tube from St James’s Park to Kensington Palace); Royal Mews (you can walk it in 6 mins) and Windsor Castle.

Buckingham Palace and Garden Highlights Why not combine a visit to the Buckingham Palace Summer Opening with a tour of the Queen's gardens as well?
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41-gun salute to mark the Queens Coronation The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery will be firing a 41-gun salute to mark the 66th anniversary of the Queen's Coronation.
62-gun salute to mark Prince Philips birthday The HAC will be firing off a 62-gun salute by Gun Wharf at the Tower of London to honour Prince Philip's 98th birthday.
Review Buckingham Palace 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 d…
Review Royal Mews You really have to be a fan of the Royals to like the Royal Mews. Either that or you need to love horses, because there's not a lot to see inside. I'm a bit of a Royal nut, but even I would…
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