Buckingham Palace#3 in Best Things To Do in London
Price & Hours
Buckingham Palace, the London home of Queen Elizabeth II, is open for tour (except for the queen's private quarters, of course) in the summers and select dates during the winter and spring. On the tour, you'll have access to the 19 State Rooms where the queen and members of the royal family host guests for state, ceremonial and official affairs. Opulently accented with chandeliers, candelabra, paintings by Rembrandt and Rubens, and exquisite English and French furniture, these rooms display some of the most magnificent pieces from the Royal Collection. Along with the grand interiors, the State Rooms are also a witness to history. Those who followed the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton closely will recognize the Throne Room, which served as the backdrop for the official wedding photographs of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
For tours in the summer, recent travelers suggested taking advantage of the audio guide (included with admission), so that you hear a detailed history of each room at your own pace. The palace advises you set aside at least two hours to see the State Rooms (and that you wear comfortable shoes), while recent travelers advised that you use the facilities prior to the start of the tour; there are no public restrooms available until you reach the garden. Tour tickets start at 24 pounds (about $33.50) for adults; 22 pounds (about $30.75) for seniors (older than 60) and students; 13.50 pounds (about $18.90) for kids younger than 17; children younger than 5 enter for free. You can tour the palace from 9:30 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m. depending on the month (the palace is open from late July to late September). Visitors can also spring for the Royal Day Out Ticket, which also includes entrance to the Queen's Gallery and Royal Mews, but it will cost you.
If you'd rather skip the admission fees altogether, you can still experience Buckingham Palace by witnessing the storied Changing of the Guard (also referred to as Guard Mounting), which occurs daily at 11 a.m., from April until late July, and on alternate days the rest of the year (except during inclement weather). Make sure to get there early, as many previous visitors say the area gets crowded very quickly, making it hard to see anything if you arrive shortly before the ceremony starts. You'll find Buckingham Palace off Green Park, Hyde Park Corner or St. James Park Tube stops. Bus Nos. 11, 211, C1 and C10 stop on Buckingham Palace Road. For more information, visit the Royal Collection Trust website.
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