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Buckingham Palace Tours

Updated: January 21, 2024

This post covers how to take a tour of these areas of Buckingham Palace. It describes what you will see, and makes suggestions as to how to make the most of your visit to this most famous of London attractions.

Note that if you're interested in learning more about the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, read our post Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.


Buckingham Palace is both the formal residence of the British monarch and his administrative headquarters.

Part of the complex that makes up the palace includes the Buckingham Palace State Rooms, which are used for ceremonial purposes.

These include the Throne Room, the Picture Gallery, the Ballroom, the Music Room, and the White Drawing Room.

Also part of the complex is the Queen's Gallery which exhibits works from the Royal Collection and the Royal Mews which holds the Royal Family's horses and carriages.

This is one of the most historic sites in all of London, and there’s plenty to see and do while you’re visiting.

Due to its popularity, we recommend planning your trip well in advance.

In this section, we will discuss some of the best times to visit, how to get a ticket, where you’ll find the landmark, security information, and other important details you will need to know before taking a tour.

How to Get To Buckingham Palace

Visitors can reach Buckingham Palace from several Underground stations, bus routes, and other means.

The closest Underground stations are Green Park, Hyde Park Corner, and Victoria. Bus numbers 11, 221, C1 and C10 make stops on Buckingham Palace Road.

Click here to get directions for your choice of transportation from anywhere in London.

If you need help figuring out which tube to take, make sure to read our posts covering the London Underground and which tube pass you should buy.

If you are considering purchasing a hop-on-hop-off ticket while in London, then keep in mind that all companies offer a stop at the palace.

Buckingham Palace is located in the City of Westminster which is a separate jurisdictional area from the City of London located in the center of London.

The Palace has its own royal gardens on the west side of the building.

Two large and lovely parks, St. James Park on the east and Green Park on the north side are both worth taking a stroll in.

What You'll Find at Buckingham Palace

There are a few areas that are open to the general public.

The Queen’s Gallery is an incredible collection of artwork and antiques from throughout the history of England.

Admission includes a free audio tour to help visitors explore the area.

Their exhibits change from time to time, giving guests the opportunity to see new and interesting things with each visit.

Although the Royal Mews are closed during the winter, you can come and see them pretty much at any other time of the year.

This location handles all of the road travel arrangements for the Royal Family and this is where you will find the carriages used for special occasions.

Royal Mews London

During the summer months, you can also visit the State Rooms in Buckingham Palace.

These are public rooms that are used to entertain important guests from around the world.

Although photography is not allowed, they do provide an audio tour to make your experience much more enjoyable.

Weather permitting, visitors can also check out the Changing of the Guards, but there is so much to see nearby the palace. 

The Changing of the Guards takes place daily in the summer, but only every other day during the rest of the year.

NOTE:  From late July through September there is a combination ticket that includes the Queen's Gallery, the Royal Mews, and the State Rooms. 

How Long Does It Take to Visit Buckingham Palace

You can expect to spend around 1 ½ - 2 hours seeing everything on display at the gallery.

Expect to spend at least 60 minutes exploring the area and seeing all of the displays at the Royal Mews.

A visit to the palace and State Rooms will take about 2 - 2 ½ hours to see.

If you want to see the changing of the guards, plan on spending anywhere from 60-90 minutes waiting and watching the ceremony.

Timed Tickets to Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace tickets are timed.

Although the duration of your stay is not limited, you will need to purchase tickets for a specific time of day.

One-Year Pass to Buckingham Palace

Enjoy free re-admission for a year by asking a member of the staff to validate your ticket(s).

This allows re-entry for up to a year, so if you need to break up your visit at separate times, you can do so.

Gift Shops and Food at Buckingham Palace

There are gift shops at Buckingham Palace that sell souvenirs and bottled water.

You will also find garden café in the palace, and restaurants near the palace if you don’t feel like eating during your visit.

Buckingham Palace For Kids and Families.

Family activity bags are available free of charge, so be sure to ask for one when picking up your tickets.

In the State Rooms, there is a drawing and coloring room.

Toilets and baby-care facilities are available at the start and end of tours.

Baby carriers are available upon request.

Read our tips on visiting London with kids.

Wear Comfortable Shoes to Buckingham Palace

You will be doing a lot of walking while at Buckingham Palace. As such, we highly recommend wearing comfortable shoes during your visit.

This is also a good idea if you plan to take one of our walking tours in the area. Read our tour options below for more information. 

Buckingham Palace Security Information

The palace and all of its attractions have very strict security checkpoints.

The following items are not allowed on the premises, but they can be checked into a cloakroom and picked up later.

  • Pen Knives
  • Knives w/ blades under 3”
  • Scissors
  • Kirpans
  • Long Umbrellas
  • Pushchairs
  • Buggies
  • Alcohol
  • Paint
  • Large Bags
  • Food/Drink

You should avoid bringing any of the following items as they will not be allowed and cannot be checked into the cloakroom.

  • Bicycles
  • Roller skates
  • Skateboards
  • Pets/Animals
  • Knives w/ blades over 3”
  • Knives w/ lockable blades
  • Butterfly Knives
  • Flick Knives
  • Pepper Spray

Thankfully, visitors are allowed to bring a few practical items with them:

  • Smartphones
  • Service Animals
  • Handbags
  • Hearing Aids

In addition to these items, food and drink are provided at certain attractions such as the Garden Cafe. Baby carriers/hip-carriers are available upon request.

Although personal photos are allowed in locations such as the Garden, you are prohibited from taking any kind of pictures in the State Rooms. 

For more security details, make sure to visit the respective sections for each attracti


The Queen’s Gallery exhibits selected pieces of art from the Royal Collection. The collection is quite extensive.

It comprises over one million objects, including 7,000 paintings, 30,000 watercolors and drawings, and about 500,000 prints, as well as photographs, tapestries, furniture, ceramics, books, sculptures, and last but not least the Crown Jewels. 

This photo of The Queen's Gallery is courtesy of TripAdvisor.

Queen's Gallery Opening Times

The gallery is open year round.

  • Open: Thursday - Monday from 9:30 am - 17:30 (5:30 pm).
  • Closed: Tuesday and Wednesday, and as it's part of a working royal palace, there may be other closures that happen at short notice.

Queen's Gallery Admission Tickets

NOTE: Admission to the gallery is included free with the London Pass.

NOTE: There is also a Royal Day Out combination ticket that includes the Queen's Gallery, the Royal Mews, and the State Rooms.

Queen's Gallery Timed Tickets

When you book your tickets, you must select a time that you will begin your tour.  

Entry intervals are every 15 minutes throughout the day. You can spend as much time in the Gallery as you want.

Set aside additional time to pass through the airport-style security check. Large bags and backpacks must be checked in the cloakroom.

Read our security section for more information on prohibited items.

The gift shop has exclusive items inspired by works of art in the Royal Collection. The shop has housewares, china, clothing, jewelry, children’s toys, books, and postcards.

Proceeds of all purchases go to the care and upkeep of the Royal Collection. 

Queen's Gallery Highlights

The gallery has rotating exhibits centered on themes or particular artists. To see what the current exhibits are, check their website.

An audio guide is included in the cost of your ticket.

The commentary is excellent and you also have the option to listen to music selected for its suitability to the setting.

If you are an art aficionado, check out the official The Royal Collection podcast, which features news of current and forthcoming exhibitions and interviews.

Best Time to Visit Queen's Gallery

If you want to avoid crowds, consider making your trip sometime during the middle of the week.

These days are far less busy and you’ll have a much easier time seeing the various exhibits on display.

Best times to visit the Queens Gallery

Additionally, you’ll also want to consider arriving either early in the day or later in the afternoon.

The crowds begin to dissipate at about 4 pm, and you should have more than enough time to explore the gallery if you arrive at least 2 hours before closing.

Queen's Gallery Reviews

The majority of reviews on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide are positive and it is rated 4 out of 5 stars. Read the reviews.

Some say, however, that the Gallery’s limited size and small number of items on display at any given time (about 450) just aren’t enough.

Other Galleries to Visit in London

If you have limited time in London or are on a budget, you may also want to consider a visit to the free National Gallery which houses a very large collection.

It's one of the dozens of free museums in London.

Read our post on Itineraries for Museum Lovers for more great galleries and exhibitions in London.


The Royal Mews is a collection of working stables which house the Royal Family’s horses, carriages, and other vehicles.

On display in the Mews is an array of historic coaches and carriages, including some that are still used by the Royal Family on special occasions to this day.

If you're interested in learning more about how the Royal Family gets around, this attraction is almost like a living museum filled with all the methods of transportation they use.

Tickets to this attraction are sold separately from the Queen's Gallery, the State Rooms, and Buckingham Palace.

For more details about what you can expect to see and how to get admission, please read our post covering the Royal Mews.


There are nineteen State Rooms in all. Among them are the stunning White Drawing Room, the Music Room, the Picture Gallery, and the world-famous Throne Room, where all official wedding and coronation photos are taken.

There are dozens of fine art and objects on display including paintings by Van Dyck, Canaletto, Rubens, and Rembrandt.

There are also sculptures,  period furniture, rare porcelain and rotating exhibits.

State Rooms Opening Times

Every July to September, the Monarch goes on holiday which means that the doors to the public!

In 2024, the rooms are open from the 11th of July through the 29th of September.

  • Open: Thursday - Monday | 10:00 am - 17:00 (5 pm)
  • Closed: Tuesday and Wednesday

State Rooms Admission Tickets

Entry is “timed” meaning you must select a time. The start time frequency is every 15 minutes.

The best time to take this tour is early in the day to avoid crowds in later hours.

NOTE: There is also a Royal Day Out combination ticket that includes the Queen's Gallery, the Royal Mews, and the State Rooms.

State Rooms Tour

The Royal Day Out combination ticket includes an excellent 1-hour multimedia guide that provides commentary on each of the 19 State Rooms.

Though the audio tour is only one hour, you can move at your own pace.

You will find guides in each room who can answer questions and who may point out interesting features that are not mentioned on the audio tour, such as the King’s secret passageway/entrance behind a mirror.

You’ll also have the opportunity to stroll through the garden at Buckingham Palace at the end of your tour.

We recommend that you give yourself 2 - 2 ½ hours to make the most of this ticket.

State Rooms and Changing of the Guard Tour  

If you want a guided tour of the State Rooms, but you don’t want to miss the Changing of the Guards, this combination ticket may be your best option.

In addition to seeing the ceremony at 10:45 am, you will also receive a tour of 19 famous rooms inside Buckingham Palace.

This combined tour is only available from July - October, and it is an excellent opportunity to experience some of the most notable sights at this historic location.

Admission Tickets

NOTE: if you want to see the Changing of the Guards while avoiding the crowds at the State Rooms, consider doing so on a different day than your tour.

This is because the Changing of the Guards will take up your morning, thus you would have to take an afternoon State Room tour which is typically more crowded.

See our post on how to watch the Changing of the Guards.

State Rooms and Garden Highlights Tour  

This combined ticket gives you the opportunity to take a tour of the largest private garden in London after taking a stroll through the State Rooms.

You will be taken through select sections of the garden by an expert guide.

The tour includes the 3-acre lake, the Rose Garden, the enormous Waterloo Vase, and the Palace tennis court.

You will be given 2 hours and 15 minutes to explore the State Rooms before beginning your 1 hour and 15-minute tour in the Garden.

Each tour includes a multimedia guide.

2024 Advanced Price:

  • Adult £47.00
  • Young Person (18-24) £30.20
  • Child (5-17) £23.50
  • Disabled £23.50
  • Under 5 Free
  • Information and tickets

2024 On-the-Day Price:

  • Adult £50.00
  • Young Person (18-24) £32.20
  • Child (5-17) £25.00
  • Disabled £25.00
  • Under 5 Free
  • Information and tickets


This combination ticket provides entrance to the State Rooms, the Queen’s Gallery, and the Royal Mews.

It’s a great value if you want to make a full day out of your visit to Buckingham Palace.

Your Royal Day Out will last for approximately 4 - 4 ½ hours. When purchasing your ticket, the entry time you select will be for admission to the Queen’s Gallery first.

You will then be allocated an admission time for the State Rooms, which will be 2 ½ hours after you begin your visit at the Queen’s Gallery.

It makes sense to visit the Royal Mews right after, but make sure you finish both in time to walk over to the State Rooms at the time you have been assigned.

Royal Day Out Opening Times

This ticket can be used between 13th July and 29th September, 2024.

  • Open: Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Closed: Tuesday, Wednesday

Royal Day Out Tickets

There are a few options when it comes to these combination tickets.

2024 Advanced Price:

  • Adult £61.20
  • Young Person (18-24) £39.10
  • Child (5-17) £30.60
  • Disabled £30.60
  • Under 5 Free
  • Information and tickets

2024 On-the-Day Price:

  • Adult £65.70
  • Young Person (18-24) £41.80
  • Child (5-17) £32.80
  • Disabled £32.80
  • Under 5 Free
  • Information and tickets

NOTE: families that book directly with the website can save up to £28.00


More than 50,000 people visit the palace each year making it one of the most visited landmarks in the United Kingdom and one of the most visited royal palaces in Europe.

In preparation for a visit, a number of questions are asked. We've covered some of the most frequently asked questions below.

Who Was the First Soverign to Live in Buckingham Palace?

King George IV hired architect John Nash to enlarge what was originally called Buckingham House into a larger space.

Before the extension was completed, George IV died. It was Queen Victoria, and her husband Prince Albert, who oversaw completion of the Palace. She was the first soverign to rule from Buckingham Palace.

How Much Time Do You Need to Visit Buckingham Palace?

It takes around:

  • 1.5-2 hours to see the Queen's Gallery
  • 1 hour to see the Royal Mews
  • 2-2.5 hours to see the State Rooms
  • 60-90 minutes to see the Changing of the Guards (which includes a wait time)

Can Tourists Go Inside Buckingham Palace?

They sure can! Since 1993 the general public has been able to visit parts of the palace complex.

Can You Walk Around Buckingham Palace?

Yes, visitors can absolutely walk around parts of the palace: the Queen's Gallary, the State Rooms, the Royal Mews, and the Gardens.

When Can You Tour Buckingham Palace?

Guided tours are usually allowed from November - May on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Between July and September the State Rooms are open to the public. The dates and times change each year, and can be found here.

Can You Visit Buckingham Palace Without a Tour?

Visitors are not allowed to walk freely through the palace (or gardens) for security reasons. But they are allowed in certain areas, with timed tickets, and at least an audio tour.

Can You Visit Buckingham Palace for Free?

If you have London Pass admission to the Queen's Gallery and the Royal Mews are free.

You can also see the Changing of the Guards for free.

For more information about discount tickets and passes, see immediately below.


As you can see, tickets to see the inside of the Palace can be quite expensive. 

If you’re on a budget, there are ways you can save money and still enjoy the Palace by purchasing one of several tourist attraction discount passes that include palace tours. 

The following discount passes provide either a discount or free admission to the Royal Mews and Queen’s Gallery, in addition to covering ticket prices for some of the following activities and attractions:

  • Kew Gardens
  • Tower Bridge
  • Windsor Castle
  • Tower of London
  • Kensington Palace
  • St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Hampton Court Palace
  • And more!

Check out our comparison post for even more details about London tourist passes.


If you are on a budget or don't have the time for one of the above tours, but still want a taste of Royal London, we offer a pay-what-you-like Royal Walking tour which includes Buckingham Palace, The Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben.

Although you won’t be able to go inside the palace, you might catch the Changing of the Guards

Prefer to explore on your own? Enjoy our free self-guided tour. We also offer a self-guided GPS-enabled audio tour!


About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo,, and more.
Updated: January 21st, 2024
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