Visitors to London are often blown away by the sheer grandeur of this wonderful city, with its rich and interesting heritage leading many to seek out out attractions that are steeped in local history.
When it comes to the millions of visitors that head to London every year, it is therefore unsurprising that many will be enthralled by the British monarchy and their position within UK culture.
Not just the head of state, Queen Elizabeth II is one of the world’s longest serving monarchs and is also an institutional icon. She fascinates visitors from around the world, while London’s royal residences are some of the most popular attractions in the English capital.
Here we offer insight into some of the most well-visited royal attractions that London has to offer.
Address: London SW1A 1AA
The official London residence of Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip, Buckingham Palace is one of the biggest cultural attractions in the whole of the city.
Visitors can enjoy such spectacles as the Changing of the Guard, while also having the chance to explore many of the palace’s exquisite state rooms, which are open to the public on specific dates.
Designed by principal architects John Nash and Edward Blore, the palace was converted from a large townhouse owned by the Duke of Buckingham in 1703 and was subsequently acquired by King George III in 1761.
It remains a stunning example of classical British architecture and a focal point for London tourism to this day.
Opening times: 9.15 am to 7.45 pm daily, seven days per week.
Address: Kensington Gardens, London W8 4PX
With its origins in the Jacobean era, Kensington Palace is a stylish inner city residence that visitors to London are drawn to equally for its lavish interior, but also its exquisite and well-maintained gardens.
Top attractions of Kensington Palace include The King’s Staircase, the Queen’s State Apartments, the Sunken Garden and the King’s Gallery, plus much more.
Located in the exclusive district of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the palace is truly breathtaking and an imposing sight for all who visit. It also remains the official London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
Opening times: 10 am to 5 pm, seven days per week.
The Royal Parks
The Royal Parks of London are some of the most breathtaking and attractive outdoor spaces in the whole of the English capital, with an array of fine attractions on offer in each for visitors to enjoy.
A total of 11 royal parks can be found in the city, offering more than 5,000 acres of green space in the heart of London. Parks include:
- Hyde Park
- Kensington Gardens
- Richmond Park
- Bushy Park
- St James’s Park
- The Green Park
- The Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill
- Greenwich Park
- Brompton Cemetery
- Victoria Tower Gardens
- Grosvenor Square Garden
Opening times: Individual parks vary in the times they are open to the public, but they are generally available to visit between the hours of 7 am and sunset.
Tower of London
Address: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB
Officially named Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, the tower holds a certain macabre appeal to visitors to London, having been the scene of many an unsavory episode over the years.
From its beginnings as a defensive tower for the capital during the time of William the Conqueror to its incarceration of such famous names as King Richard II and second wife of the notorious King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, it is a structure that has chilled and delighted visitors in equal measure.
Today, the tower is a popular tourist attraction, with expert guides on hand to talk visitors through the attraction’s rich and compelling history.
Opening times: 9 am to 4.30 pm Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10 am to 4.30 pm Sundays and Mondays.
Hampton Court Palace
Address: East Molesey, Surrey KT8 9AU
Located in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Hampton Court Palace has not been a royal residence since the mid 18th century, but it remains a popular place to visit for all those with a penchant for regal history.
Top attractions of the palace include its Great Hall, which saw sumptuous banquets and gatherings during its heyday, as well as the Cumberland Art Gallery, the Privy Garden, the only surviving Royal Chocolate Kitchens in the UK and the famous Hampton Court Maze.
Visitors can get lost for hours in the wonderfully-maintained planted maze, but rest assured that guides will come in to find them if needed. It remains the UK’s oldest surviving hedge maze and a wonderful way to spend some time when visiting Hampton Court Palace.
Opening times: 10 am to 4.30 pm, seven days per week.