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Top sights in London
Built in 1703, Buckingham Palace is the Queen's London residence and one of the last working royal palaces in the world. A highlight of any visit to London, its splendor fully lives up to one's childhood royal fantasies. Here are 5 of the palace's highlights.
The most popular attraction of Buckingham Palace is, of course, the world-famous changing of the guard. Lasting about 45 minutes, it's a spectacular display of British pageantry.
Possibly the most famous part of the palace is, surprisingly, a staircase. Opulent and exquisitely decorated, its balustrade boasts some of the finest bronze casting in the world.
A treat for art lovers, this public gallery displays a rotating exhibition of 450 works from the Royal Collection, the monarch's impressive collection of artworks.
If there's ever been a room deserving to be called majestic, then it's this one. Lavishly decked out, it's used for ceremonial receptions and can also be converted into a ballroom.
The palace gardens are absolutely ravishing. Immaculately kept and covering an area of 39 acres, they're home to over 350 types of wildflowers, some 200 trees and a 3-acre lake.
The changing of the guard takes place everyday at 11:30am from April through July, and on alternate days the rest of the year. Due to its popularity, the changing of the guard attracts massive crowds. If you want to secure a spot near the fence to get the best view of the spectacle, it's necessary to show up at least a couple of hours in advance.
Visiting the inside of Buckingham Palace is only possible during summer, usually August and September. Tickets go fast, so make sure to book well in advance. It takes about 2 to 3 hours to see everything and the palace visiting hours are 9:30am to 7:30pm in August, while in September it's open from 9:30am to 6:30pm. Note that to also visit the gardens, you have to buy the appropriate ticket, as regular tickets only grant access to the interiors.
Those curious to know whether the Queen is at home need only check the roof of the palace. If the Royal Standard flag (red, yellow and blue) is flying, then it means the Queen is home, otherwise the Union Jack is raised instead.
- When should I visit?
- Normally open daily 9:30AM - 5:30PM (last admission at 4:15PM). Be sure to check variable opening times before going!
- Is it expensive?
- Free to look at from the outside. Standard adult ticket costs £10
- Will I need a guide?
- Free audio tour included in admission price!
- How to get there
- By Tube: Green Park or Hyde Park Corner. By bus: Numbers 11, 211, C1 and C10 (stop on Buckingham Palace Road).
- Additional information
- You cannot eat or drink in the palace.
- To see the changing of the guard, make sure to arrive early!
What people are saying about Buckingham Palace
Protesters in London caused all Tour Buses lots of problems on our trip. But the staff that greeted us at The Aldwich were professional and efficient. Once the bus arrived Shane took over and he was fantastic. What a great asset to your company. He apologised many times for events that were totally out of his control (protesters/diversions) We were on the bus much longer than we intended and missed a few things due to the diversions. The weather changed in an instant from blue skies and sunshine to heavy rain but my friends and I stayed put with Shane on the top deck, he stood up throughout. He entertained with great information and humour and even played "Its Raining Men" for us when we were totally soaked. He apologised again & kept us informed when he got off it was so very different. We could not really hear Luke and didn't actually see him - he sat somewhere but we didn't know where. It was disappointing that our £34 each trip was so badly disrupted but Shane made it great fun!
We were a group of four, with 3-day tickets. We saw everything we wanted to see. The life commentary on the red tour was instructive and fun. The river cruise to Greenwich was included, again, the commentary was interesting. The traffic in London was bad due to roadworks, but the tour buses made a good job of it. However, we were not informed in time that one of the stops was not open, and so we had to walk back a while to get where we wanted to be. There had been a lengthy raft of instructions, as well as a change of bus, and so what was being said may have made sense to the staff, but we did not hear it. That was the only negative of the three day experience.
Danni had us placed in the best spots; front row at all our stops to see this famous traditional event. Her great historical knowledge set the scene and allowed for a greater appreciation and understanding than if we had gone to the palace on our own!
Even though our trip was somewhat interrupted by major protests on the streets Big Bus did there best trying to navigate the unexpected road closers. We have been on other tours they offer in other city’s and have always had good service.
Were disappointed that agents selling your tickets on the street were very unhelpful and rude in helping us locate bus stop to start and get tickets. When we FOUND lady at Piccadilly she was most helpful.