Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence and administrative office of the British royal family since the 19th century and is one of the few remaining working royal palaces in the world. Access for the public is limited and exclusive but worthwhile for those who arrange a visit.
Buckingham Palace is one of England's most famous landmarks. Visitors can always view its opulent exterior through the gates, but visits must be timed right to tour the interior. During its summer opening, travelers can peek into the state rooms, see the Throne Room, stroll through the palace gardens, and admire masterpieces by artists such as Rembrandt and Canaletto in Queen Victoria's Picture Gallery.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The palace is a must for history buffs and royal enthusiasts.
- Pair a stop at Buckingham Palace with the Changing of the Guard ceremony and afternoon tea for a quintessential London experience.
- Tours of the palace interior are only available in summer from late June to late September, while the queen is on holiday in Scotland.
- If the Royal Standard flag is flying atop the palace, it means the queen is in residence; otherwise, the Union Jack flag is flown.
How to Get There
Buckingham Palace is located in central London at the heart of St. James Park. It's a pleasant stroll from London attractions such as Westminster Cathedral and Big Ben and is often included as a stop on city walking tours.
When to Get There
The best time to visit Buckingham Palace is during the legendary Changing of the Guard ceremony, when the royal guards change shifts. This takes place daily at 11:30am but can be canceled in bad weather. The palace interior is only open to the public during summer, from late July until the end of September, with tours running daily from 9:30am to 7:30pm (until 6:30pm in September). You'll want to book this coveted experience in advance.
Nearby Royal Sites
Windsor Castle is the nearest queen's residence to Buckingham, located just outside London. It can be visited on a quick, half-day trip from the city. And although not royal in nature, Westminster Abbey is the resting place of many English monarchs and the site of some royal family weddings (including that of Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge).