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Buckingham Palace: things you should know BEFORE visiting

Visitor Guide June 20, 2023

 

Almost every traveler to London has Buckingham Palace on their “must-see” list. This grand building symbolizes everything British. From the Union Jack flags to the changing guard's ceremony every morning. From Georges IV to Queen Victoria, the Royal Family has considered it one of their royal residences for centuries.

If you plan on visiting this iconic place, read this guide to learn all you need to know. This guide includes practical information, things to do in the area, and some fun lesser-known facts about this royal palace.

 

When is Buckingham Palace open?

Many people ignore this, but this palace doesn't only serve as the British monarch's official residence. Buckingham Palace has also served as the administrative headquarters for the Royal Family for several years.

If you're planning a visit, keep in mind that Buckingham Palace is open to the public during the summer months. This differs slightly year-on-year, as it is managed by the Royal Collection Trust. In 2023, the Palace is open to visitors from Friday, 14 July to Sunday, 24 September.

When visiting the palace, many visitors hope to witness the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony in front of Buckingham. It takes place daily at 11:00 a.m. from April to July. Weather permitting, the ceremony is on alternate days for the rest of the year.

 

 

What to see in Buckingham Palace?

Visitors can enjoy the regal beauty of the State Rooms, which showcase an exquisite collection of art, furniture, and decorations. The Royal Mews (the Palace Stable Quarters), the Throne Room, the Grand Staircase, and the Queen’s Gallery are also fascinating.

Entry to Buckingham Palace requires purchasing a ticket in advance. And it is highly recommended to book tickets early due to high demand.

Check out the website to book Buckingham Palace tickets and info about multimedia guides and visitor entrances.

You should also be prepared for security checks upon entry. Make sure to arrive a bit earlier to allow for the screening process.

 

Transport to Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is easily accessible by public transportation. Several nearby tube stations and bus stops. The nearest tube stations are Victoria, Green Park, and Hyde Park Corner, all of which are served by multiple lines.

From these stations, you can take a short walk to the palace.

To guarantee you a good experience, remember to respect the rules and guidelines set by the palace authorities

 

Top 10 Things to do near Buckingham Palace

Have you already had a tour of Buckingham Palace? Perhaps you came in the morning to see the changing of the guard? If you're wondering what to do next, there’s plenty to do and see in this central part of the city.

 

The National Gallery

Explore a treasure trove of art with masterpieces by da Vinci and Van Gogh. Get lost in the beauty of paintings and sculptures, and don't miss the fascinating exhibitions that showcase diverse artistic styles. It’s located just a short walk from Buckingham Palace, in Trafalgar Square.

 

Westminster Abbey

A Buckingham Palace visit would not be complete without a stop by Westminster. As you tour the Royal residence, you'll be glad to immerse yourself in history at this iconic Gothic marvel where British monarchs are crowned and laid to rest. Check out the stunning architecture in this stunning sacred site which dates back nearly 1000 years. It's nearly impossible not to feel the weight of history here, as you're surrounded by the tombs of some famous figures. We'll never say this enough, but Westminster is for sure a place you must see, even if you only have a few hours to spend in London.

 

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

What about discovering the Houses of Parliament? This symbol of British democracy is your chance to see the iconic Big Ben clock tower! From there, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Thames. And if you book online in advance, you can get a tour.

 

St. James's Park

Escape the bustling city and find tranquility in St. James's Park. Take leisurely walks along the serene lake, enjoy picturesque views of lush greenery, and spot wildlife. This 57-acre royal park is ideal for a peaceful picnic or a moment of relaxation.

 

Trafalgar Square

One of the busiest spots in London is the grandiose Trafalgar Square, home to the iconic lion statues and Nelson's Column. You won't have time to get bored between street performances and cultural events. Admire the beautiful fountains while surrounded by the buzz of city life and huge, imposing buildings.

 

Catch a Play in the West End

Consider catching a play in the historic West End! Some of the world's most prestigious theaters and opera houses are set in Covent Garden and Soho neighborhoods, including Leicester Square. This could be your chance to go see a play or a show in the famous “theatreland.”

 

National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery allows you to step into the world of portraiture while at the National Portrait Gallery. You'll be amazed by captivating portraits of famous Britons that bring history to life.

This could also be your chance to come face to face with William Shakespeare or British Monarchs. The gallery's extensive collection spans from medieval times to the present day.

 

Chinatown

Indulge in a burst of colors, flavors, and cultural festivities in London's Chinatown. Chinatown is the perfect spot to sample delicious Chinese cuisine! Admire the vibrant decorations, and experience the lively energy of this bustling neighborhood.

 

Hyde Park

Find respite in the expansive Hyde Park, a green oasis in the heart of the city. Take a leisurely stroll, go for a jog, or relax amidst nature. Its beautiful landscapes, serene lakes, and many activities make it a great place to spend an hour or two. Check out Speaker’s Corner to hear some hot political and social takes!

 

British Museum

Embark on a journey through human history at the British Museum, where entry is free. Marvel at the vast collection of artifacts from around the world, including the Rosetta Stone and ancient Egyptian mummies. Explore diverse cultures and civilizations that have shaped our world in this amazing museum - the building itself is worth a visit

 

Where to leave your luggage if you’re planning a visit to Buckingham Palace?

Any bags you bring through to the Palace on your visit will be subject to airport-style security checks. However, they still have strict rules on what is and is not allowed into the Palace. For example, backpacks cannot be worn inside; small ones are allowed if you carry them by your side.

Suitcases and any luggage that exceeds 45 cm × 20 cm × 30 cm will not be allowed inside the palace. Therefore, you'll need luggage storage if you find yourself at the Palace with a large bag.

There are a few options to store a bag nearby if needs be ahead of your visit to Buckingham Palace. One alternative that might be convenient is to store it at Victoria Station nearby, especially if this is where you have been traveling in and out of.

There is an official luggage storage service provided by the station, but this is pretty expensive compared to other options at £7.50 for one hour and £15 for a day’s storage. A cheaper way to do it is to use online luggage storage services, which connect you to nearby shops, restaurants, etc., with storage facilities.

You've got options like LuggageHero, Stasher, and Bounce. These apps may seem cheap at first, but they charge some extra fees, which means that the overall cost could be more than expected.

But if you're after a cost-effective and secure luggage storage solution, we highly recommend Nannybag luggage storage in London. They offer a flat rate of €6 per item per day, and there are no hidden expenses to worry about. Plus, with Nannybag, you'll also receive up to €1000 in financial protection, which is great for peace of mind.

The reservation process is super easy, and all of their partner locations are verified and secure. Travelers have given Nannybag fantastic feedback, so you can trust that you'll be in good hands.

 

Lesser-known facts about Buckingham Palace (bookmark this for trivia night!)

We’ve gone through the practical information about your visit, but how about some lesser-known facts about the place?

For example, while many visitors are familiar with the Changing of the Guard ceremony, fewer people know that this tradition started in 1660 when King Charles II returned to the throne after the civil war and the brief abolishment of the monarchy.

The palace also houses the largest private gardens in London; Buckingham Palace's garden span an impressive 39 acres. It features a lake, a tennis court, and a helipad.

Few people know this, but Buckingham Palace even has its very own post office, known as the Buckingham Palace Post Office. This service handles all the mail that is sent to and from the palace. It also has its own gin, called Buckingham Palace Gin! This gin is made using plants from the palace gardens, including lemon verbena, hawthorn berries, and mulberry leaves.

Last, did you know that the sovereign throws three garden parties in Buckingham Gardens each summer? And no, by that, not all royal parties have to be royal weddings. It might be tough to get invited, though, since you must get a nomination from the Lord-Lieutenant first!

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