no alt text

Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 20 February, 2024
Expert travel writer: Sarah Barrell

Adopted as the British monarch’s official London residence on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, the world’s most famous – if architecturally bland – royal palace is viewed by most visitors from the outside only. Walk up the Mall to get the most impressive view, and once you’ve mingled with the crowds, dip into leafy St James’ Park for coffee with the squirrels, who eat out of the hands of passersby.

In the summer months, the State Rooms and gardens open up to visitors; you can take your own picnic if visiting the gardens, and there are pre-bookable Gardener’s Tours for green-fingered visitors.

While you’re there

The Queen’s Guard, the poker-faced chaps in the big fuzzy bearskin hats, change posts with great fanfare outside the palace – check exact times for this Changing of the Guard during the month you’re visiting.

The Queen’s Gallery is open year-round, exhibiting treasures from the Queen’s personal art collection, including works by Rubens and Rembrandt.

Recommendations

2

The Royal Mews

London, United Kingdom (UK)

The Diamond Jubilee State Coach in the daytime

These grand old stables are home to royal transport in all its finery: gilded carriages, the nodding heads of Windsor Greys and some vintage Bentley State Limousines.

Adult price: £14

Best for ages 18+

Queen’s Gallery

London, United Kingdom (UK)

A bright red exhibition room with statues and furniture with gold accents

The main public art gallery of Buckingham Palace, the Queens Gallery exhibits works of art from the Royal collection on a rotating basis – there are usually around 450 works on show.

Adult price: £8.50

Best for ages 18+

Website >
More details >

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 8+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The closest Underground station is Victoria (Victoria Line).

‘Royal Day Out’ tickets allow access to all three public areas – the State Rooms, the Queen’s Gallery and the Royal Mews – otherwise ticketing is separate. Free hour-long audio guides are provided for each of the three attractions within Buckingham Palace.

Head to the Garden Café on the Palace’s West Terrace for very English refreshments such as macaroons, scones and tea.

When to do it

The State Rooms summer opening times are changeable – check the website. As a general rule, visit between July and September to catch the State Rooms, checking the website in advance for any exceptions and closing dates. The Queen’s Gallery and Royal Mews are open all year round, from Thursday to Monday. Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Who to go with: organised tours

5

Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Changing of the Guard Guided Walking Tour in London

London

Changing of the Guard Guided Walking Tour in London
The most fun 1.5-hour tour in London. Watch the Changing of the Guard with an experienced and acclaimed guide, where you'll be taken to the best places to see the ceremony. Along the way you'll see palaces, royal parks, royal residences and even have an opportunity to march alongside the guards. The walk is interesting for adults, fun for kids, and will almost certainly be the highlight of your stay in London. Please note that you will not see the section of the ceremony on the courtyard of Buckingham Palace, but rather the other highlights of the ceremony.

Price: £22

Min age: 5

Rating 4.89 / 5 [1091 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Buckingham Palace Entrance Ticket & Changing of the Guard Tour

London

Buckingham Palace Entrance Ticket & Changing of the Guard Tour
Experience London’s royal heritage and pageantry on a 2.5-hour experience that combines a visit to Buckingham Palace with the Changing of the Guard. Enjoy the colorful spectacle of the Changing of the Guard ceremony, and then enter the magnificent palace with a tour host for an independent audio tour of the State Rooms, an experience only available for two months of the year. Admire the lavish rooms that are used by the royals for State and ceremonial events, as you discover the palace’s history from the audio guide. Please note: Buckingham Palace is only open to the public for approx. eight weeks each year. Tickets sell out fast, so book now to avoid disappointment

Price: £72

Min age: 0

Rating 4.19 / 5 [827 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Changing of the Guard Walking Tour Experience

London

Changing of the Guard Walking Tour Experience
See British tradition come to life on this fully-guided Changing of the Guard walking tour that ensures you get the very best views of this spectacular ceremony!  Don’t make the same mistake that so many visitors often – and understandably – make, believing the prime vantage point from where to experience this time-honoured tradition is outside Buckingham Palace. These spectators’ enthusiasm quickly turns to disappointment when they realise that they have waited for hours only to see the very end of this unique performance, their view often blocked by the throngs of people crowding around them. Instead, follow your guide on a dynamic journey that takes in the entire Changing of the Guard from beginning to end as they expertly navigate the crowds to take you to the best – and most photographable – viewpoints.

Price: £14

Min age: 0

Rating 4.29 / 5 [443 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Changing of the Guard Walking Tour in London

London

Changing of the Guard Walking Tour in London
Get up close to the world famous Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace! The Changing of the Guard is the changeover of the Royal guard and, on this London walking tour, you'll stand in the best spots to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony, march next to the guards and get fantastic photos! Throughout the tour your local guide will explain each step of the Changing of the Guard ceremony process as you watch the Royal Guards, the Household Cavalry and the Regimental Musical Bands march towards Buckingham Palace in one of the most inspiring & traditional British events in all its glorious pomp & pageantry. You’ll also learn about Royal landmarks including Buckingham Palace, St James's Palace and Clarence House as well as discover the home of British Royalty and Government at Big Ben, Westminster Abbey & Houses of Parliament. The Changing of the Guard is one of the most historical and cultural London events and now you can enjoy it up close on one of the best tours in London.

Price: £10

Min age: 5

Rating 4.87 / 5 [316 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

The Changing of the Guard Guided Walking Tour - Semi-Private 8ppl Max

London

The Changing of the Guard Guided Walking Tour - Semi-Private 8ppl Max
During this 2 hour, semi-private (8 Guest Maximum) guided walking tour you'll learn about and witness the event live with an expert guide, who will help you score excellent photos without having to navigate the heaving crowds. Experience one of the most quintessential British events, the changing of the guards, in the heart of London.

Price: €101

Min age: 0

Rating 4.91 / 5 [86 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo

Destination guides

1

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

London

Greater London, United Kingdom (UK)

view of houses of parliament at night

World-class culture, fashion, music, food and history – and a mind-boggling array of bucket list experiences – packed into one extraordinary, incomparable destination. 

Round-ups

1

Round-ups that include this experience

100 World’s greatest historic buildings

The great civilisations of the past have left a legacy of constructions that still stand out and inspire. Built without the wonders of 20th-century technology, many are also monumental feats of engineering; others offer such grace and beauty, that they’ll literally take your breath away.