Buckingham Palace summer opening: our top tips for visiting

With the summer in full swing, have you made a trip to Buckingham Palace yet? Have a read of our top tips when visiting Buckingham Palace.

buckingham palace is open from July until September, while the queen is in scotland (shutterstock)

  1. Staff

The staff at Buckingham Palace have been trained to be very knowledgeable and helpful along the tour and using the facilities. Ask them questions along the way! They can tell you about the exhibition on display, the history of the palace and a bit about the Royal Family too. Every staff member we encountered was friendly and accommodating so don’t be shy!

For 2018, the special exhibition is a collection of pieces chosen by Prince Charles in honour of his 70th birthday; read more about the pieces chosen and our preview here.

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  1. Book your tickets

Tickets for the tour of the Palace sell out quickly. One staff member informed us that the first few days of the summer opening were completely sold out. Avoid disappointment by booking at a suitable time.

You can get tickets here. Remember Clarence House is also open for the month of August, too!

  1. Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard is a fantastic experience. Taking place at 11am Monday – Saturday and 10am on Sunday, it lasts around 30 minutes. To get a good spot, we recommend arriving 45 minutes before the ceremony is due to begin. Anywhere on the palace railings or Victoria monument should work well, but note the troops usually come from Wellington barracks, thus enter from the left if you are looking at the palace.

Changing of the Guard can be extremely busy, and for security reasons there is little chance of being able to cross the front of the palace towards where the entrance to the tour begins. Therefore, it is recommended to avoid booking tickets for during or immediately after Changing of the Guard.

Plan your visit to include Changing of the Guard.

  1. Headset

Your headset is your best friend; there a few signs around the palace with information about the rooms and art, so the headset is vital to get the most out of your visit. There are two options on the headset: adult and family. The family option is brilliant for children and adds a lot of fun to the visit. Listen out for special introductions recorded by The Prince of Wales!

  1. Facilities

There are toilets at the end the tour by the palace gardens. There is also a large bag drop off, should you need it.

Naturally, there are airport-style security checks in place before entering the palace, which adds a short time onto the beginning of your visit.

  1. Café, Gift Shop and Ice Cream

The café is located just outside the Bow Room on the terrace to the Palace gardens. Some of the items on the menu are a little pricey, but many people have remarked that it is worth it to say you had afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace!

The gift shop is located in the palace gardens. Here you can find an array of gifts and treats suitable for all ages. A Buckingham Palace chocolate bar is £3.95, and a fluffy Corgi is £18.95. This year, there are a range of special memorabilia to celebrate the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex including a DVD of the wedding coverage. We found the Harry and Meghan range quite pricey – a small ‘H&M’ embroidered Christmas tree ornament will set you back £25, which is nearly double the amount for other Christmas ornaments on sale.


The ice cream stand is not well-signed but is definitely worth a visit! Located further down the garden path, off to the left on your way to the exit, the stand serves 8-10 different flavours of delicious ice cream at very reasonable prices for central London.

  1. The Family Pavilion

Located on the West Terrace, the Family Pavilion has worked with three of The Prince of Wales’ charities to create fantastic games which explore the work of the charity. Children can experiment with colour with the Royal Drawing School, take on a tessellating challenge with The Prince’s Foundation School for Traditional Arts and explore Afghanistan with Turquoise Mountain. There are also all sorts of fun games which explore the working life of Buckingham Palace.

There is an area designed for games and toys for under 5s, as well as a wide array of costumes to try. Children can become kings, queens, princesses and guards!

There is a special area full of books, as well as colouring sheets and listening stations which tell stories about State Investitures.

  1. Special Events

Look out for special events taking place at the palace over the summer. On Friday 31st August there is a Splendours Sensory Day designed for families with additional needs to explore the stories of the exhibition through sights, signs and textures.

  1. 1 Year Pass

Go to the ticket booth location in the palace gardens with your ticket (near the exit). Staff will treat your ticket purchase as a donation, and you will be able to enjoy free re-admission for a year. By doing this, you will also be given 10% off if you decide to visit Windsor Castle.

  1. Sensible shoes

We recommend wearing sensible shoes for the visit. The tour ends with a half-mile walk through the gardens, so sturdy shoes are important.

Buckingham Palace Gardens

  1. Times

We recommend giving the visit to Buckingham Palace around 2 hours. If you have children who want to explore the Family Pavilion, then 2 and a half hours should be fine.

The entrance to the palace for visitors is on Buckingham Gate, up towards The Queen’s Gallery, which is open year-round; this is the left-hand-side of the palace if you are looking at the front.



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