Are you planning a family trip to London and want to see the famous Buckingham Palace with kids? In this blog post, I’ll share with you some tips and tricks on how to visit the royal residence with kids and have a blast. Let’s get started!
Preparing your visit
Here are some tips to help you prepare for a fun and memorable day at the palace.
- Choose the best time of the day. One of the highlights of visiting the palace is seeing the changing of the guard, which happens every day at 11 a.m. from April to July, and on alternate days for the rest of the year. This is a ceremonial event where a group of soldiers in red uniforms and bearskin hats replace another group as the King’s guards. You’ll also hear some music played by a military band. The best time and place to see this is about 10 minutes before 11 a.m. at the front of the palace, where you can get a good view of the guards and the band. However, this spot can also be very crowded, so you might want to arrive earlier or find another spot along the route of the parade, such as near St James’s Park or The Mall.
- Take advantage of special occasions. If you want to see something extra special, plan your visit around some of the palace’s annual events, such as Trooping the Colour, which marks the King’s official birthday in June. You’ll get to see a spectacular parade of soldiers, horses and bands, as well as a flypast by the Royal Air Force. Another event worth seeing is the State Opening of Parliament, which usually takes place in May or June. You’ll get to see the King and other members of the royal family arrive in horse-drawn carriages and enter the palace through the Sovereign’s Entrance.
- Organise a treasure hunt. The area around Buckingham Palace is great for treasure hunts. Create your own treasure hunt in advance, or check out the St James Park treasure trail for a fun and active day out in London.
- Take a quiz. A great way to keep your kids interested and curious about the palace is to ask them some questions before, during and after your visit. Check out our Buckingham Palace Quiz for Kids, one of our many London quizzes.
- Print a colouring page. Another fun activity in preparation for your London visit is to print out a colouring page of the palace and let them unleash their creativity. You can find some free printable pages online or buy a colouring book from the palace’s gift shop. You can also encourage them to draw their own picture of the palace or their favourite part of it. This will help them remember their visit and express their feelings about it.
How to get there
Buckingham Palace is located in the heart of London, near St James’s Park and Green Park. You can easily get there by public transport, such as the Tube, the bus, or the train. The closest Tube stations are Victoria, Green Park, Hyde Park Corner, and St James’s Park. You can also take the bus routes 11, 211, C1, or C10 to Buckingham Palace Road. If you’re coming by train, the nearest station is Victoria. Check our blog post on taking the underground with kids for more tips and tricks.
What to see
Buckingham Palace is one of the most iconic landmarks in London and has been the official residence of the British monarch since 1837. It has 775 rooms, including 19 staterooms, 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms. You can visit the state rooms, which are open to the public from late July to early October every year. The staterooms are lavishly decorated with paintings, sculptures, furniture, and other treasures from the Royal Collection. You can also see some special exhibitions that showcase different aspects of the royal history and culture.
To visit the staterooms, you need to book your tickets in advance online or by phone. The tickets cost £26.50 for adults, £24 for seniors and students, £14.50 for children under 17, and £67.50 for a family of two adults and three children.
You can also buy a combined ticket that includes access to the Royal Mews and the Queen’s Gallery for £49.50 for adults, £45 for seniors and students, £26.50 for children under 17, and £126.50 for a family of two adults and three children. The Royal Mews is where you can see some of the royal carriages and horses, while the Queen’s Gallery is where you can admire some of the finest artworks from the Royal Collection.
Changing of the Guards
You can admire the palace from the outside and watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place every day at 11 a.m. from April to July and on alternate days for the rest of the year. I remember when I visited Buckingham Palace with my family last summer, we were so excited to see the Changing of the Guard. We got there around 10:30 am and managed to find a spot near the palace gates. My kids were fascinated by the soldiers and their uniforms, and they even tried to imitate their marching steps.
How to see the royals
If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the King or other members of the royal family as they leave or enter the palace. However, there is no guarantee that you will see them, as their schedules are not made public. The best chance to see them is during special occasions, such as Trooping the Colour, which is a military parade that celebrates the King’s birthday in June, or the State Opening of Parliament, which is when the King delivers a speech to mark the start of a new parliamentary session in October or November. You can also try to spot them on the balcony of the palace during major national events, such as royal weddings or jubilees.
- The State Opening of Parliament usually takes place in May or June. You’ll get to see the King and other members of the royal family arrive in horse-drawn carriages and enter the palace through the Sovereign’s Entrance.
- Trooping the Colour, which marks the King’s official birthday in June. You’ll get to see a spectacular parade of soldiers, horses and bands, as well as a flypast by the Royal Air Force.
- Garden Parties, which are hosted by the King in May and June. Each year over 30,000 guests are invited to enjoy tea and sandwiches in the palace gardens.
Fun things for kids near Buckingham Palace
Are you looking for some family-friendly things to do near Buckingham Palace? Whether you’re a tourist or a local, there are plenty of options to enjoy the royal surroundings and the beautiful parks. Here are some of my favourite activities that you can try on your next visit!
- Make a picnic. Nothing beats a relaxing picnic on a sunny day, and the parks surrounding Buckingham Palace are just perfect to relax in with kids. You can bring your own food and drinks, or buy some from the nearby shops and cafes. There are plenty of benches and grassy areas to sit on, and you can enjoy the views of the palace and the monuments. Don’t forget to take some pictures with the squirrels!
- Go cycling. Take advantage of the green belt through London, making it possible to organise a relatively safe cycle route through central London. We’ve mapped out several cycle routes for families to make it easy to get started.
- Watch the swans in St James Park. If you love nature and wildlife, you’ll love St James Park. It’s home to many birds, including pelicans, ducks, geese, and of course, swans. You can also walk around the lake and see the flowers and trees, or visit the playground if you have kids with you.
- Walk down The Mall towards Piccadilly Circus. If you want to see some of the most iconic sights of London, you can walk down The Mall, the ceremonial road that leads to Buckingham Palace. You’ll pass by many landmarks, such as the Admiralty Arch, Trafalgar Square, Nelson’s Column, and the National Gallery. You’ll also see the flags and the guards along the way. When you reach Piccadilly Circus, you can explore the shops, restaurants, theatres, and museums in the area.
- Go for a paddle boat ride in Hyde Park. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something different, you can rent a paddle boat in Hyde Park and have some fun on the water. You can choose from different types of boats, such as pedalos, rowboats, or electric boats. You can also see the famous Serpentine Lake, the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, and the Serpentine Gallery. It’s a great way to enjoy the park from a different perspective.