Updated: Sep 26, 2019
Everyone who visits London naturally wants to make a stop by Buckingham Palace. The palace in conveniently located in central London and is quite close to many major tourist sites, so it is easy to include a stop by the gates on your walk around the city. One question I always hear from my clients when they visit London is "how do I get to see the inside of Buckingham Palace?" Well, its not so easy. For most of the year you cannot see the inside of the palace since the place is kept buzzing with activity, but if you plan ahead for your trip to London, there are a few times when you can get inside to see the State Rooms. The State Rooms are the official rooms of the palace where all ceremonial occasions and official entertaining takes place. In Buckingham Palace you will see the Throne Room and some of the Royal Collection's greatest treasures on display all under gilded ceilings and glittering chandeliers. You will undoubtedly recognize many of these rooms from photos of royal weddings, state banquets, and other events over the years.
The easiest way is to visit London during the Summer Opening which takes place when Her Majesty is on her summer break up at Balmoral. You will have a timed entrance to the palace as well as an audio guide to take with you as you enjoy the 19 spectacular State Rooms. You will end the tour with a visit to the gift shop in the garden where you can grab a cup of tea and revel in the experience of taking tea at the palace before you make your way back out to the real world. In my opinion, the infinitely more enjoyable way to see the State Rooms is during the Exclusive Evening Tours that take place after the palace has been closed to the crowds for the evening. On these tours you will be seeing the magnificent State Rooms with a small group of 14 people, and you will have an expert guide to take you through instead of an audio guide. The guides are truly a wealth of information on the palace, its history, and the treasures on display. You will not be disappointed by one of these tours! The tour will end with a glass of champagne in the Marble Hall where you may linger awhile and enjoy yourself before doing a bit of browsing in the gift shop where you are given a discount for being on the evening tour.
While you're in London, keep in mind that there are also other tours specifically of the gardens or for particular exhibitions which can be very interesting as well. The garden highlights tour gives you a good overview of the palace gardens, including the lake, rose garden, and tennis court where King George VI and Fred Perry would play in the 30's. Also worth a visit is the Queen's Gallery and the Royal Mews. Both are open outside the dates of the summer opening if you happen to be in London at another time of year. The Mews is worth a visit to see the beautiful cars and carriages of the Royal family. The Gold State Coach is one of the most iconic symbols of the Sovereign, and is quite spectacular to see in person. Sometimes there will be other limited opening for the Evening Tours, so it is always good to keep that in mind prior to planning your trip to London. You never know when there might be a week of Evening Tours taking place in December!