Who hasn’t heard of Buckingham Palace? The home of England’s royalty and an iconic city landmark, this extravagant palace is the jewel of Westminster and an absolute must for first-time tourists in London. 

If you’re planning to visit Buckingham Palace during your trip to London, you’re in for a one-of-a-kind treat. While it remains a working royal residence, Buckingham Palace is open for tours at certain times of the year, showcasing the magnificent State Rooms and their priceless contents.  

If you’re on a tight budget or don’t manage to book a ticket in time, no problem! Buckingham Palace is just as impressive from the outside. Head over and marvel at the intricate building from the street; look out for the flag which tells you whether or not The King is home! On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, be sure to get there in time for the Changing the Guard ceremony to elevate your experience.

What’s in this guide? 

How to get to Buckingham Palace 

Before you can start enjoying Buckingham Palace, you’ll need to get there. Thanks to London’s vast public transport, including busses, trains and an underground system (tube), this couldn’t be simpler. 

The closest train station to Buckingham Palace is London Victoria, which welcomes regular services from South London, Surrey, Kent, Sussex and Gatwick Airport. If you take the train to London Victoria, you can walk to Buckingham Palace in just 10 minutes. 

Alternatively, take the tube to St James’s Park station, on the Circle (yellow) and District (green) lines. This is the closest tube station to Buckingham Palace. Or, take the tube to Hyde Park Corner on the Picadilly line (blue) and walk down Constitution Hill.  

We recommend taking a National Rail, Bakerloo (brown) or Northern (black) line service to Charing Cross to approach the palace in style. From there, you can walk along The Mall, one of the most famous roads in London, connecting Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace. It’s about 20 minutes walk, but worth it for the memories. 

What to see at Buckingham Palace 

Inside Buckingham Palace is a treasure trove of elaborate rooms, each adorned with priceless artworks and furnishings fit for royalty. 

The State Rooms 

The State Rooms are the parts of Buckingham Palace where The Queen and members of the Royal Family entertain their official guests.  

There are 19 beautiful State Rooms in the palace, furnished with many great treasures from the Royal Collection. See some of the finest English and French furniture ever made, paintings by Van Dyk and Canaletto and priceless sculptures and porcelain. 

Highlights include the White Drawing Room, one of the grandest of all the State Rooms, where The Queen and her family gather before official events, and The Throne Room. The latter was the setting for The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s official wedding photos. 

The Ballroom 

No palace would be complete without an elegant ballroom, and this one’s no exception. The Ballroom at Buckingham Palace is the largest of the State Rooms, completed in 1855 during the reign of Queen Victoria. 

Rich red carpets and gilded gold walls set the scene for many of the monarchy’s most lavish events. There are two thrones in the Ballroom, made for the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1902. The triumphal arch at the head of the room is decorated with statues and sphinxes, topped with the profiles of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. That’s lots to look out for! 

The Picture Gallery 

The palace’s Picture Gallery is home to some of the most significant pieces in the Royal Collection. The paintings on display are changed regularly, as The Queen lends pieces to exhibitions around the UK and overseas. Artists often displayed include legends like Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck and Claude. 

The Grand Staircase 

If you’ve ever imagined entering a room down a sweeping staircase, the one in Buckingham Palace will be the stuff of your dreams. Designed by John Nash and inspired by his time in London theatres, this stunning staircase evokes drama from top to bottom. It’s adorned with full-length portraits of Queen Victoria’s family. 

Palace Gardens 

Whether it’s raining or shining on your trip to Buckingham Palace, be sure to explore the Palace Gardens to make the most of your time. The beautiful gardens stretch over 16 hectares and include a summer house, rose garden and tennis court. The Queen hosts elegant Garden Parties here in the summer; the space plays an essential role in the busy royal calendar. 

Boasting 325 wild plant species and over 1,000 trees, the Palace Gardens are a green oasis in the middle of London. The lake was initially fed from Hyde Park’s Serpentine, but today takes care of itself. It’s a nesting site for birds, including sandpipers, sedge warblers and whitethroats. 

Changing the Guard

The Changing the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace is a colourful spectacle and a must-see if it’s your first time visiting London. This iconic display sees one group of guards taking over from another. The New Guard becomes the Queen’s Guard during the ceremony, marching to Buckingham Palace from Wellington Barracks to a live marching song. 

To see the Changing the Guard in all its glory, be outside Buckingham Palace at 11:00 on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Sunday. The British Army set the schedule and might change it, but times are usually the same. 

Buckingham Palace history and facts 

Buckingham Palace has its roots in the early 17th century when King James I was responsible for a plantation of mulberries in what is now the Palace Gardens. A house already existed on the grounds, but it was nothing like the spectacular palace we know today. The property changed hands many times until it was let to John Sheffield, later the Duke of Buckingham. 

Buckingham House 

The Duke didn’t like the house, so he demolished it and built the new Buckingham House on the land. This stood where Buckingham Palace does today! 

Buckingham House belonged to the Duke of Buckingham until 1762 when George III bought it and its grounds as a home for his wife, Queen Charlotte, and their family. During this period, St James’ Palace was still the official seat of the court. 

George IV 

When George IV took the throne from his father, he brought on John Nash to transform Buckingham House into a palace. He grew the house into a striking U-shaped building with two wings and a grand court in the middle.  

When George died, Nash was dismissed from the project for overspending and Lord Duncannon, First Commissioner of Works, took over. The State Rooms were finished by 1834. 

Victoria and Albert 

In 1845, Queen Victoria told the Prime Minister, Robert Peele, that she was unhappy with the palace’s lack of accommodation and entertainment. Plans were prepared for a new wing, funded by the sale of Brighton Pavillion. 

These improvements saw the addition of a central balcony and a new main façade. From here, Queen Victoria made public appearances just like the Royal Family do today. 

Edward VII 

Next, King Edward redecorated Buckingham Palace with a white and gold scheme. This can be seen today in several State Rooms, including the Ballroom. 

George V 

George the V changed the appearance of the palace too. He updated the main façade, resurfacing it with hardwearing Portland stone, which is still there today. 

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip 

The Queen has made some changes to Buckingham Palace during her long reign. These include the addition of the Queen’s Gallery in the bombed-out ruins of the once private chapel. 

Restaurants, bars and shops near Buckingham Palace 

Buckingham Palace is in the City of Westminster, surrounded by many of London’s best cafés and restaurants, bars, pubs, and shops. Green Park and St James’ Park also neighbour the palace, making this one of the greenest parts of the city centre to enjoy a full day out.  

Buckingham Palace Garden Café 

Want to make the most of your trip to Buckingham Palace? Visit in the summer months, when the Garden Café is open. Enjoy a peaceful break from Central London while overlooking the Buckingham Palace lawn and lake, where the Royal Family host garden parties. 

The Buckingham Palace Garden Café serves a selection of hot and cold drinks and a tempting menu of picture-perfect cakes. Visitors can enjoy a selection of afternoon tea cakes for £10 or fresh sandwiches and salads for around £5. 

Opening times and ticket prices 

Buckingham Palace is open for guided tours on select dates throughout the year. You’ll need to book tickets in advance online and select a timeslot, then arrive around 10 minutes before your entry time to ensure a smooth visit. 

Opening times 

Generally, from July to August, the palace is open between 09:30 and 19:30. During September and October, visitors can enter between 09:39 and 18:30. The State Rooms are closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

Ticket prices 

When choosing your Buckingham Palace tickets, you can select palace entry only, including a State Rooms tour, or combine your access with a Royal Day Out. A Royal Day Out includes visiting the State Rooms and rare Japanese artwork and Samurai armour. You’ll also be able to see the carriages and cars used by the Royal Family. 


Buckingham Palace State Rooms

Combined with Royal Day Out 




Young person (18-24)



Child (5-17)






Infant (under 5)



You can also enjoy free readmission for a year if you ask for your first ticket to be treated as a donation. Ask a Warden on your way out of the palace, and they’ll stamp your ticket to turn it into a one-year pass. 

Travelling by train to London?

Thinking of spending some time in London and want more information on how to travel by train to London? You've come to the right place! Taking the train to London is simple due to the high-speed rail connections operated by 28 major train companies across the UK. You can travel to London from some of the most popular cities in the UK, including Manchester to London (2h 3m), Brighton to London (1h) and Birmingham to London (1h 21m).

Need more information about travelling to London by train? Check out our dedicated page to trains to London.