Buckingham Palace is a great place to visit. Built in 1703, few attractions in London boast as much history and prestige as this iconic masterpiece. In fact, if it’s your first time touring London, you will be short changing yourself by skipping the Royal Family’s main London residence.
The palace is centrally located in the British capital, within walking distance of other famous attractions like Big Ben, The River Thames, Trafalgar Square, St. James Palace and more.
With 775 rooms – including 92 offices, 52 royal, and guest bedrooms, 188 staff rooms, 19, and 78 bathrooms – this is an enormous palace with a lot to offer once you’re done with the ritual that is taking photos outside of its iconic façade.
Whether it’s taking a trip around the staterooms or witnessing a Change of the Queen’s Guard, here are 15 best Buckingham Palace tours that are definitely worth a try.
1. Royal Mews Tour
The Royal Mews is one of the star attractions at Buckingham Palace. This will feel like a step back in time – back to the reign of Queen Victoria.
The Royal Mews is where road transport for Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family is arranged – whether that be motor transport or horse-drawn carriage.
It is fascinating in the sense that this is where you’ll find the finest working stables we have today.
You will find all the royal carriages and coaches on display in their full splendor. These include the Gold State Coach, which has been used at every coronation for close to 200 years, as well as the magnificent Diamond Jubilee State Coach.
The topping on the cake has to be the elegant Windsor Greys and Cleveland Bays, the horses that draw the carriages and which have been bred by the Royal Family since the 1800’s.
2. Enter the Queen’s Gallery
Based at the south-west corner of Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s Gallery was designed by John Nash and originally completed in 1831.
Queen Victoria used it as her private chapel before it was destroyed in 1940 during an air raid. It has since been restored and was opened in 2002 in its current guise, during Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee.
The Queen’s Gallery hosts a series of exhibitions that run for six months. They delve into exhibitions from the Royal Collection which reveal the garden’s changing character from the 16th century through to the early 1900’s.
Leonardo da Vinci’s works are featured here, so are Maria Sibylla Merian’s and Carl Fabergé’s.
During this tour, you will also discover numerous other paintings, drawings, botanical studies, decorative arts, manuscripts, and books.
3. Westminster Abbey and Changing of The Guard Tour
A trip to Buckingham Palace is not complete without a tour to Westminster Abbey, a 700-year-old structure that is at the core of British history.
The site on which the stately building stands has been the site of royal coronations for a thousand years, dating way back to the time of William the Conqueror. The Coronation Chair – commissioned by Edward the Confessor in 1296 – is also housed here, and so is his shrine.
Many will recognize Westminster Abbey as the site of royal weddings, but it has also been used as a burial site for members of the British monarchy (17 in number) as well as a number of illustrious British poets who rest at the Poet’s Corner.
This package also covers a visit to the world-famous event that is the Changing of the Guard.
4. Changing of the Guard and Buckingham Palace Tour
This tour will give you the rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of the most historic ceremonies of the Royal Family – the Changing of the Queen’s Guard.
A local guide will detail what the ceremony is all about as you wait to marvel at the precision of the Queen’s Foot Guards.
After the ceremony, this ticket will throw the doors of the splendid palace wide open for you.
Inside Bucks Palace, you will get to feast your eyes on some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection. An official audio guide is provided to detail the history of these treasured ornaments and furnishings.
It is a great tour that will reveal how the high and mighty used to dine, complete with some of the most eye-popping chandeliers you will ever see.
5. London Tour with Changing of The Guard & River Cruise Ticket
This full-day tour will get you acquainted with the city of London, taking you on a panoramic tour that whisks you around the city’s iconic gems such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and Parliament Square.
This ticket also encompasses other must-visit attractions in London, including Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, and London’s Theatre District.
From there, you will get to witness a Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, before embarking on a guided tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are housed.
Wrap up the tour by taking a cruise on the River Thames, which will meander from the Tower to Westminster Pier.
6. Private Royal London Tour
If you want to satisfy your royal intrigues, this tour will give you a comprehensive insight into the British Royal Family.
7. Take a Royal Walking Tour at Buckingham Palace that Includes Afternoon Tea
This tour takes you on a four-hour expedition of Buckingham Palace which should shed a little light on living life as a royal.
A guide will talk you through the history of the palace and its residents before gaining entry to see its lavish interior.
This includes a visit to the Royal Collection, where an audio guide divulges the history of the rare porcelain and fine English and French furniture which you will find.
From there, you will re-join your guide who will escort you to savor a key part of English tradition: a cup of afternoon tea replete with freshly baked cakes and pastries, classic scones with clotted cream, finger sandwiches, and homemade preserves.
8. Take the Kids on a Child-friendly Tour of Westminster
The Westminster tour for kids is not awash with stories that will bore the young ones stiff.
Rather, the walking tour will see a City of Westminster guide narrate to the children exciting stories, past and present, that are certain to pique their interest.
They will know how to tell when the Queen is home (or not), learn about the Royal Green Park, as well as the Seven Noses of Soho.
It is a two-hour discovery tour that will cover Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and the Horse Guards Parade.
If time allows, the children might catch a glimpse of the entrance to Harry Potter’s Ministry of Magic, a remarkable experience that is bound to leave a lasting impact on them.
9. Explore the Lavish State Apartments
The State Rooms are a suite of 19 opulent public rooms in the palace where Her Majesty receives, entertains and rewards her subjects and dignitaries.
Open for 10 weeks each year, these rooms are swathed in marble columns, damask wallpaper, plush carpets, sparkling candelabra, impressive furniture, sculptures, and other unique art pieces.
A guide will detail the history of the rooms, including the artworks from the Royal Collection that are on display. These include masterworks from the likes of Canaletto, Rembrandt, and Rubens.
10. Admire Sèvres Porcelain
Buckingham Palace is home to a splendid collection of Sèvres Porcelain, famed for being one of the finest in the world.
A good deal of the pieces in the collection are traced to the celebrated French manufacturer and were mostly acquired in the years between 1783 and 1830. King George IV especially is said to have had a big hand in amassing the collection.
You will get a chance to see gilded and finely painted wares that include saucers, cups, dejeuners, broth basins, and dining services, not to mention breath-taking ornamental vases, porcelain busts and bibelots.
11. Peek into the Throne Room
To say the Throne Room is a great experience is quite the understatement. Raised on a platform in the majestic room are the red and gold chairs embroidered with the initials of Her Majesty and Prince Philip.
During the reign of Queen Victoria, this served as a ballroom. Today, though, it is mostly used as a backdrop for royal wedding photography.
Indeed, you may recognize it from some public royal wedding photos, including the Queen’s and Duke of Edinburgh’s in 1947 and the 2011 wedding between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The Throne Room is definitely worth a visit when touring Buckingham Palace.
12. Take a Walking Tour of The Crown
Lovers of The Crown series will be happy to hear there is a tour that allows them to get a view of over 10 filming locations from the Netflix hit show.
These include the location of the Ambassador’s Ball at the time Princess Margaret was deputizing for the Queen, the novelized offices where the National and English Review was based and the actual Clarence House.
This ticket will take you on a 2-2.5-hour walking tour that starts at the Temple Station and ends at Buckingham Palace, revealing many of The Crown’s filming locations in Central London.
Think of it as a real-life behind-the-scenes experience of the award-winning TV show, which not only lifts a lid on the scandals that gripped the Royal Family but also shows how the production team managed to transform modern-day London into a city from many decades ago.
13. Walk about The Mall and St. James Park
This guided walking tour takes you on a royal tour of London, including a stop at the stunning St. James Park – the smallest of the eight royal parks.
But size counts for little here; the 23-hectare park happens to be the most manicured space in London.
The tour passes by Clarence House – the residence of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall – and takes you to The Mall, the grand processional route carved in honor of Queen Victoria, where countless royal processions have taken place.
The 2.5-hour trip also covers the interior of Buckingham Palace, ensuring you get a good picture of the prominent palace inside and out.
14. Panoramic Tour of London and Visit to Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is one of the most awe-inspiring castles in the United Kingdom.
This 10-hour tour will give you all the time in the world to take in the majestic splendor of what is the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world.
Catch a short drive from London through the Royal County of Berkshire and start off the day at the wooded valley of Runnymede. This is the site of the last rebellion of Baron’s Revolt, which culminated in the creation of the Magna Carta.
From there, the program will take you on a meticulous tour of Windsor, which will be accompanied by a quick lunch.
This will then be followed by a trip down the Thames, the perfect way to enjoy a good view of the attractions along the river – from the medieval, such as Westminster Abbey to the new, such as the London Eye and the Shard.
Need we mention this tour will pass dozens of points of interest, many of which have been cast in both film and literature? Not to mention photo stops at Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, and the Tower of London.
It is the ultimate package if you want to see it all in a day.
15. Gain Free Entry to 60 Attractions with The London Pass
The London Pass is a comprehensive ticket that grants you a free pass to more than 60 top attractions in London, spread 10 days.
If you are looking to holiday in the British capital and want to cover it fully in less than a fortnight, this ticket is your wild card.
It will take you everywhere – from palaces, cathedrals, and museums to schools like Eton, art galleries, banqueting houses, distillery tours, sports stadiums ranging from football to tennis, zoos, gardens, city cruises – basically everything London has to offer.
If you don’t have 10 days, worry not. The reasonably priced London Pass also comes with the option of 1-day, 2-day, 3-day or 6-day.
What’s more, it comes bundled with other great offers, such as discounted dining and shopping, theatre tickets and more, with a six-language, 160-page guidebook that tells all you need to know before you get to your destination.