Attraction Reviews,  Things to Do

Buckingham Palace Review: Fit for a King or a Royal Pain?

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The long standing idiom is that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” which I’ve always taken to mean that there is more than a lifetime’s worth of things to do in London. You’ve probably encountered this in planning your London trip: there are more attractions to see than can possibly be squeezed into a single itinerary, even if you’re visiting for two weeks!

Sometimes, the easiest way to plan a London trip is on a theme. Maybe you like history, good food, or are fascinated by the Monarchy that doesn’t exist in your home country. If the latter is definitely of interest, a visit to Buckingham Palace might be at the top of your list… but is visiting Buckingham Palace actually worth it?

Buckingham Palace Review Hero

There are many constraints and costs to visiting Buckingham Palace, and to help you decide if you want to fit it into your London trip plans, I’ve written this Buckingham Palace review. It covers the basics of visiting, the considerations I made for my family’s visit, what we saw during our guided tour of the state rooms, and my own thoughts on whether Buckingham Palace is worth it.

Hopefully, this answers the questions you have to decide whether to dedicate part of your London itinerary to this attraction; if I can help in any other ways, please reach out in the comments below! Ready to bow or curtsey your way into Britain’s most famous royal residence?

Bonus! While the London Pass doesn’t grant free admission to the Buckingham Palace State Rooms tour, it does get you free admission to the adjoining King’s Gallery. Click here to read my London Pass review and click here to buy your own London Pass and save during your London trip.

Basics of Visiting Buckingham Palace 

Before jumping into my own Buckingham Palace review, it’s important to cover a few logistics for visiting. Stick with me – this is essential to help you have a better visit if you decide that Buckingham Palace is worth it in your London itinerary.

Location & Transport

Buckingham Palace is in the City of Westminster in Central London. The nearest stations to the palace are Victoria, Green Park, St James’s Park, and Hyde Park Corner. 

  • Victoria is great for those who come outside London as the train station has regular services from South London, Surrey, Kent, Sussex, and Gatwick Airport. If you take the train to London Victoria, then it’s a 10-minute walk to Buckingham Palace. 
  • Alternatively, you can take the tube to Green Park, which entrances on both sides of Piccadilly. It is served by the Jubilee, Piccadilly, and Victoria lines.
  • Another option is St James’s Park Station, which is served by the Circle (yellow) and District (green) lines – this is the closest tube station to Buckingham Palace.
  • Last but not least, you can also take the tube to Hyde Park Corner on the Picadilly line (blue) and walk down Constitution Hill.  

There are, of course, also plenty of buses that service the area around Buckingham Palace (use a mapping app to plot your route) and taxis can get you there too.

Hours, Admission & Tickets

Buckingham Palace Review - Basics of Visiting

Buckingham Palace is primarily open to the public for ten weeks of the year, from mid-July to late September.

The opening dates for self-guided tours (the most popular way to visit) vary each year, and it is crucial to check the opening dates on the official website; in 2024, the dates are currently scheduled for July 11th to September 29th barring unforeseen events. The Palace will be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. All other days, the gates opened at 9:30 am, and the last entry was at 5:15 pm, with the gates closing at 7:30 pm. In terms of tickets, self-guided tours are priced from £32 if you book in advance (£35 at admission). 

There are also special Exclusive Guided Tours are £95 per person which are offered year-round, and Family Guided Tours (designed specifically for families with young children) are £60 per person (children under 5 are free for all tours).

Other Details of Visiting Buckingham Palace

  • Food & Drink: Except for bottled water, eating and drinking are not permitted within the Palace. There is a Garden Café on the West Terrace where you can order light bites, cakes, ice creams, and various drinks to enjoy as you admire the beautiful garden views. The refreshment facilities are situated at the end of the Palace visitor route.
  • Personal Comfort & Family Care: Toilets and baby-care facilities are available at the start and end of your tour. Prams and strollers are not allowed in the State Rooms; they can be checked in and collected at the end of your tour. Be sure to bring a sling for your baby or be prepared for them to walk or be carried
  • Gift Shop & Souvenirs: The Buckingham Palace gift shop is just a short stroll from the Royal residence. Here you will find a grand selection of gifts and souvenirs, including the late Queen’s favorite chocolate treats, luxury soaps and hand cream, coloring books, and cuddly toys.  

My Experience at Buckingham Palace 

Okay, now that we’ve gotten through all the important logistics, we’re at the important part: my review of Buckingham Palace. 

Your Buckingham Palace experience starts before you arrive; booking a tour is easily done through the palace website. I highly recommend doing it this way as you do save some on your booking, and you’re guaranteed admission at the time and on the day you want to visit – this is not guaranteed if you just turn up without a booking.

My family opted for the experienced guided tour and ended up with around 30 people in our group. It was more expensive to do it this way; the self-guided version is certainly more affordable – but it also means you won’t be in a separate group and it can be quite crowded doing the tour self-guided. From my perspective, our tour guide was very knowledgeable and welcomed our questions, so for us, the extra pounds were worth it. 

Our visit led us on a fascinating trip through some of the most significant areas of Buckingham Palace including the Green Drawing Room, Picture Gallery, The Grand Staircase, Ballroom, Throne Room, and the State Dining Room.

The guide shared interesting facts and stories at each location, and we were able to ask questions. There is something quite wonderful about seeing places where the most prominent members of the Royal Family have frequented! While we didn’t encounter any members of the Royal Family during our visit, it has been known to happen on occasion, and the palace is considered a “working palace,” so you might get lucky – or your route might be changed to accommodate some other Royal activity in the palace while visiting.

At the end of the tour, we browsed through the Royal Gift Shop, which was fascinating in itself, and enabled us to purchase some superb souvenirs including the cutest of soft toy corgis!

Unfortunately – but not surprisingly – no photography is allowed inside the Palace, which is why this post features generic photos and not ones specific to my visit. Think of your visit to Buckingham Palace as a unique opportunity to discover a part of London that you haven’t seen splashed all over social media already!

Buckingham Palace Review: Final Thoughts

Buckingham Palace Review - Gardens

So, is Buckingham Palace worth it? 

If you enjoy seeing and experiencing extraordinary architecture and famous buildings, if you love or are fascinated by the King and his extended family, or if you are simply curious about the pomp and pageantry of the Royals, then you will enjoy a visit to Buckingham Palace.  

As mentioned above, self-guided tours can become very crowded. As the palace only opens its door to the public for ten weeks of the year, a large number of tourists want to take the opportunity to tour here during this small window, which also means booking tickets in advance is essential. If your budget allows it, a guided or exclusive tour is definitely worth it in my opinion.

All of this said, there is no denying that the tickets are quite pricey, so if you have no interest in the Royals or are trying to visit London on a budget then perhaps this experience isn’t for you. Have any other questions about visiting Buckingham Palace or my Buckingham Palace review? Let me know in the comments below!

Don’t Forget! While the London Pass doesn’t grant free admission to the Buckingham Palace State Rooms tour, it does get you free admission to the adjoining King’s Gallery. Click here to read my London Pass review and click here to buy your own London Pass and save during your London trip.

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