How to visit Buckingham Palace in London

With it’s huge gates and imposing facade, Buckingham Palace is a sight that many tourists coming to London will never forget. Add in the contrasting red uniformed guards outside, marching as they change with the next shift, and it makes the most perfect place to come and see London in all its royal glory!

Buckingham Palace is one of the places in London that I always like to visit if I can as it then makes me feel like I’ve been in the city! In the countless times I’ve visited since I was a child, I always seem to see the palace when I’m there! So it feels odd to not add it in to an itinerary.

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If, like me, you really want to add in Buckingham Palace to your London trip then this post is for you! Read on for your options to visit Buckingham Palace and see where the King lives in London!

A note from the writer: Hey! I’m Kirsty and I’m a London travel expert – after being so many times over the years I keep returning! Shout (or comment below) if you have any questions about your next trip and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

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Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace

Best time to visit Buckingham Palace

If you’re just wanting to get a glimpse of the palace then you can visit at any time. It gets very busy in the morning from around 10am as crowds begin to gather for the Changing of the Guard Ceremony (on days that it takes place). It can be busy throughout the day, but this can be exceptionally busy.

The Changing of the Guard Ceremony only takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays through the year, although it moves to daily in June and July.

If you want to visit inside Buckingham Palace then you need to be aware that tours only take place in a ten week period through summer.

Remember that there are so many more Royal things to do and see in London so don’t feel bad if you miss out the ceremony or visiting inside.

how to visit buckingham palace in london
Buckingham Palace in November – still a lot of crowds around! Be careful on the roads when taking selfies!

How to visit Buckingham Palace

There are three main ways you can visit Buckingham Palace which I’ll outline here. Not everyone wants or is able to see inside and not everyone will be able to watch the changing of the guard. Decide which way is right for you or have a read of them all and figure out the best way to see Buckingham Palace:

  • Go on a tour of the inside of the palace
  • Just visit outside and view the palace from the gate
  • Time it right and watch the changing of the guard ceremony

Tours of the gardens and state rooms

The ultimate way to visit Buckingham Palace is to actually visit inside, but if you’re not invited by the King the only way to do that is to buy tickets for the state room tours that they do each summer.

The tours run for 10 weeks each summer (2023 dates are from 14th July – 24th September) so if you’re planning to visit London in Summer months then you’re in luck.

What can you see inside?

You can’t visit everywhere inside Buckingham Palace. After all, it’s still a working palace and the King’s official residence. What is open for tourists are some of the State Rooms.

The State Rooms are not just some random rooms they’ve decided to open up – you’ll see the White Drawing Room, The Throne Room, The Ballroom amongst many others. Each one is incredibly ornate and with so many details to see and pick up on.

You’ll be able to have an audio guide when you visit which will also let you know all about what you can see as you walk through the palace.

Finally you’ll be able to explore the Palace Gardens, famously where garden parties held by Queen Elizabeth II took place!

Since the palace is only open for a short time it’s a good idea to book tickets well in advance – get your tickets here

Royal Things to do in London
Get a break from the crowds by heading towards St James’s Park – you’ll get good views from here

Visiting outside

This is the easiest way to visit Buckingham Palace in London because you can do it at your own pace and explore as an how you want to.

Buckingham Palace is not really something that you can miss in London, so if you just want to tick off that you’ve seen it you can do that easy enough.

I’ve detailed below how to get to the palace – but when you’re outside you can simply explore all round the railings outside. A good place to get pictures is from across the road towards St James’s Park so you’ll get the Victoria Memorial in the shot too. It will also give you a little bit of breathing room from the rest of the crowds!

The roads around the palace can be a little busy so do be aware of that – not everyone will be tolerant of tourists standing to get the perfect shot!

Another way to enjoy the majestic nature of the palace is to approach it from Admiralty Arch and down the beautiful tree-lined Mall. Again this is a busy road, but there are paths on either side to walk on and you’ll see the palace getting closer as you walk.

Changing of the guard

Watching the Changing of the Guard

Military guards surround Buckingham Palace and you can see them in their positions at the front of the palace through the day.

When the guards change shifts they do so with some pomp and ceremony in what’s called the ‘Changing of the Guard’ ceremony. It’s a big display with music and marching and as you can imagine it draws quite the crowd!

Here’s what you need to know about the Changing of the Guard:

  • It happens daily in June and July
  • At other times of the year it happens Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday
  • You can watch the changing of the guard for free – there’s no charge!
  • It starts at around 10.45am
  • In bad weather there might be cancellations
  • A tour guide can be helpful to get you to the best spots – see out guide to Changing of the Guard Tours here

As I mentioned before, it can be incredibly busy around the palace when the Changing of the Guard takes place. You’ll want to get yourself there nice and early to get yourself a good spot.

To make the best of the day I really recommend a tour like this one – they aren’t too expensive and they can really give you a good insight on the history and meaning of what’s happening as well as making sure you’re in the best spot to see it all.

How to get to Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace lies in the centre of London and like much of London getting around by public transport is recommended.

Nearest tube stop:

St James’s Park – on the Circle and District Lines

Green Park – on the Jubilee, Picaddily, Victoria lines

Charing Cross (to arrive and walk down the Mall) – Bakerloo and Northern lines


Bus numbers 11, 211, C1 and C10 stop on Buckingham Palace Road (by the Royal Mews)


They can drop you right next to the palace if you need to – be aware that busy central London can mean expensive taxi fares!

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🇬🇧💂‍♀️ London Travel FAQ 💂‍♀️🇬🇧

Do I need insurance for traveling to London?

YES! I always recommend people take travel insurance when exploring the world!

Check Travel Insurance Master for quote comparisons from different providers.

Do I need a car for visiting London?

NO – If you’re just visiting London then a car is not recommended and can be more of a hindrance than a help.

If you plan to explore more of the UK then I recommend DiscoverCars to compare car rental prices

How to book accommodation in London?

For hotels I recommend

For apartments and cottages check out VRBO

Will my phone work in London?

Perhaps – it depends if you have roaming enabled and beware this can be an expensive way to use your phone.

If you need a SIM for use in the UK I recommend GiffGaff which you can get and set up before traveling.

What’s the best guidebook for London?

I really like the Lonely Planet Guidebooks

Where to get flights for London

Expedia is my first port of call for finding cheap flights to London.

Do I need a visa for London?

Many countries don’t need a visa for visiting England as tourists (USA, Canada, Aus, NZ and Europe) – it’s always best to check first though.

Photo of author

Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty Bartholomew is a travel expert and has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for over 10 of those. She loves to help people explore her favourite places in Scotland, England and beyond. She cannot stay away from historical sites.

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