Discover London’s royal past and present, from historic towers to working palaces where the royal family reside, plus the parks and places they frequently visit. Here’s your guide to the most famous royal sights in and around London, making the perfect royal tour!
1. Buckingham Palace
As the Queen’s official London residence, this is the most popular tourist attractions in the whole city and reason enough to book flights to London. Everyone wants to get a look at this place and it’s amazing, especially when the guards change. The palace includes an impressive 775 different rooms and is one of the few working palaces left in the world. The State Rooms are open to the public during the summer months but the adjoining Queen’s Gallery is open year-round.
2. Kensington Palace
This palace highlights the history of Britain’s royal women, with special emphasis on Queen Victoria and Princess Diana, the palace’s two most prominent residents. Discover what life was like for 18th century royalty as costumed actors wander from room to room acting out typical scenarios from the time. The palace’s newest exhibition, “Diana: Her Fashion Story” is not to be missed.
3. Tower of London
You may have heard the stories about the Tower of London’s grim history as a place for torture and death but there’s so much more to this place than those scary stories! Discover the Tower’s history as a royal palace, learn about the legend of the ravens, try on a real suit of armour and see the Crown Jewels up close.
4. The Royal Mews
The Royal Mews was one of the first working stables in the world and is now home to the royal collection of carriages and coaches. The horse-drawn carriages and vintage motorcars are spectacular up close and you will learn about all the different occasions each vehicle was used for, from weddings to coronations, state visits and more. The prize of the collection is without a doubt the Gold State Coach, which was used as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations.
5. Westminster Abbey
If you’re interested in royal history, then this 700-year old church is a must. Countless kings and queens were coronated here and it’s also the burial ground of just as many of them in the Royal Tombs (well, 17 of them). Sixteen royal weddings have taken place here, including Will & Kate’s. As this is an active place of worship, make sure you check the tourist visiting times in advance and remember there are no tours on Sundays.
6. Hampton Court Palace
Henry VIII’s favorite royal residence is nothing short of magnificent. You’ll need a whole day to discover this place, as its gardens and grounds are also expansive and totally stunning. Henry’s State Rooms are grande and golden while the Tudor kitchen will give you a glimpse into what it might have been like to be a kitchen hand or a cook at the time. Audio guides are included in the palace ticket price.
7. Kew Palace
This is certainly one of the most intimate (read: small) of royal palaces. It was built originally in the 1600s as a private home and was used by the royal family from 1729 to 1818 by George III and Queen Charlotte, along with their 15 children. The rooms are brightly decorated in typical Georgian fashion, while the upper floor looks as if it hasn’t been touched for hundreds of years. The Royal Kitchens show exactly how the kitchen was in 1818 when Queen Charlotte passed away.
8. The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk
This 7-mile trail will take you through four of London’s most popular parks including St James’ Park, Green Park, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, past three palaces and two mansions that were important in Diana’s life, including Spencer House, the London home of the Spencer family and where Prince Harry still has an apartment. Save this walking trail for a sunny day, because there’s nothing sweeter than spending a nice day in a London park!
9. The Goring
If you’re after a luxurious stay in London, fit for a princess, then The Goring Hotel is it. Located in exclusive Belgravia, the hotel is the perfect spot for afternoon tea in the famous Bar & Lounge or a meal in the Dining Room. The Duchess of Cambridge spent the night before her wedding here, along with the rest of her family.
10. Windsor Castle
While not in London, Windsor is an hour away by train and can be visited as a day trip. Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. It has been a royal residence for more than 900 years and is still a working palace today as the Queen frequently stays there when she’s not in London at Buckingham Palace or in Scotland at Sandringham. Tour the beautiful State Apartments, Queen Mary’s Doll’s House and the Chapel.