Fodor's Expert Review Buckingham Palace

St. James's Castle/Palace/Chateau Fodor's Choice
Buckingham Palace, St. James's, London, England, Europe

If Buckingham Palace were open year-round, it would be by far the most visited tourist attraction in Britain; as it is, the Queen’s main residence, home to every British monarch since Victoria in 1837, opens its doors to the public only in the summertime, with a handful of other dates throughout the year. The Queen is almost never there at the time—traditionally she heads off to Scotland for a couple of months every summer, where she takes up residence at Balmoral Castle. (Here’s a quick way to tell if the Queen's at home: if she's in residence, the Royal Standard flies above the palace; if not, it's the more famous red, white, and blue Union Jack.) The tour covers the palace's 19 State Rooms, with their fabulous gilt moldings and walls adorned with Old Masters. The Grand Hall, followed by the Grand Staircase and Guard Room, are visions in marble and gold leaf, filled with massive, twinkling chandeliers. Don't miss the theatrical Throne Room, with the original 1953 coronation... READ MORE

If Buckingham Palace were open year-round, it would be by far the most visited tourist attraction in Britain; as it is, the Queen’s main residence, home to every British monarch since Victoria in 1837, opens its doors to the public only in the summertime, with a handful of other dates throughout the year. The Queen is almost never there at the time—traditionally she heads off to Scotland for a couple of months every summer, where she takes up residence at Balmoral Castle. (Here’s a quick way to tell if the Queen's at home: if she's in residence, the Royal Standard flies above the palace; if not, it's the more famous red, white, and blue Union Jack.) The tour covers the palace's 19 State Rooms, with their fabulous gilt moldings and walls adorned with Old Masters. The Grand Hall, followed by the Grand Staircase and Guard Room, are visions in marble and gold leaf, filled with massive, twinkling chandeliers. Don't miss the theatrical Throne Room, with the original 1953 coronation throne, or the sword in the Ballroom, used by the Queen to bestow knighthoods and other honors with a touch on the recipient's shoulders. Royal portraits line the State Dining Room, and the Blue Drawing Room is dazzling in its splendor. The bow-shape Music Room features lapis lazuli columns between arched floor-to-ceiling windows, and the alabaster-and-gold plasterwork of the White Drawing Room is a dramatic statement of wealth and power. Admission is by timed-entry ticket every 15 minutes throughout the day. It's also worth adding a guided tour of the sprawling gardens to your visit. Allow up to two hours to take it all in. Changing the Guard remains one of London's best free shows and culminates in front of the palace. Marching to live military bands, the old guard proceed up the Mall from St. James's Palace to Buckingham Palace. Shortly afterward, the new guard approach from Wellington Barracks. Then within the forecourt, the captains of the old and new guards symbolically transfer the keys to the palace. Get there early for the best view.

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Quick Facts

Buckingham Palace Rd.
London, Greater London  SW1A 1AA, England

020-7766–7300

www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: £21.50 (£30.50 including garden highlights tour); joint ticket with Queen\'s Gallery and Royal Mews £37, £24 (£33 including garden highlights tour), Closed Oct.–July except on selected dates, From £25

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