Walk around Buckingham Palace, London (Self Guided)

London is deservedly recognized as one of the cultural centres of the world. Among many cultural treasures found here are perfectly reserved ancients buildings, grandiose monuments and beautiful statues, as well as museums with wide collections of various objects, featuring traditions of different nations and epochs. This self guided walking tour around Buckingham Palace will reveal some of the most exciting London mysteries to you.
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Walk around Buckingham Palace Map

Guide Name: Walk around Buckingham Palace
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 km
Author: Xena
1
St. James's Royal Palace

1) St. James's Royal Palace

On Pall Mall to the North of St James Park, you will find St James Royal Palace, which is one of the oldest working palaces in the capital.

The palace was commissioned in 1536 by King Henry VIII and is still an official residence of the monarchy, even though no king or queen has lived there since 1837, when Queen Victoria made Buckingham Palace her official London residence.

The palace was built on the site of a sanatorium for lepers, dedicated to St James, hence the name of the palace. Built in the Tudor style of red brick, the palace has four courtyards and a gatehouse at its North end. The gatehouse is one of the few parts of the building that date back to Tudor times, along with a couple of rooms and the Chapel Royal. The main part of the palace was destroyed by fire in 1809, during the reign of King George III.

King Charles I was born there but during the Commonwealth Period, Oliver Cromwell had the place transformed into a prison and barracks. King Charles II restored the palace in 1680 and his brother James II lived there during his short reign as king.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were married in the Chapel Royal, which is open to the public. The heart and bowels of Queen Mary I are buried in the chapel. In front of the gatehouse you can have your photo taken next to the Guard from the Household Division.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Buckingham Palace

2) Buckingham Palace (must see)

Buckingham Palace is the official London residence of the British monarch. Prior to becoming a palace, it was Buckingham House - a large townhouse built for the Duke of Buckingham in 1703. In 1761, King George III acquired this property as a private home for Queen Charlotte. It finally became the official royal residence under Queen Victoria in 1837. It was also Victoria who started the tradition of the royals showing up on the balcony, when she appeared there for the first time during the opening of the Great Exhibition at Hyde Park in 1851.

The oldest part of the palace, dating back to 1760, is the wine vaults located below the west wing. During the 19th century, the palace had three wings added around a central courtyard. Eventually, Victoria realized that the palace wasn't big enough for official receptions, so she ordered that the Marble Arch, once set in front of the palace, be moved to the north east corner of Hyde Park, and then used the vacated space for the construction of the palace's fourth wing.

Buckingham Palace boasts the largest private garden in London, 39 acres. It is also home to the National Collection of mulberries. The Palace itself is built on a site once used by King James I for a mulberry garden planted in an attempt to rear silkworms in the 1600s.

Within the garden there is an oldest helicopter pad in London. The very first helicopter landed there just before the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. Half a century later, in the year 2000, an official helipad was built there to prevent the lawn from damaging. Instead of concrete, though, which didn't look too appealing, the Royal helipad is paved with a layer of matting underneath the grass.

Inside the palace itself, other than 775 rooms and various amenities, there is a Court Post Office run by Royal Mail, an ATM machine, and reportedly a swimming pool, doctor's office and a movie theater. Rumors also suggest there's a branch of the Post Office Railway running right beneath the palace and the underground tunnels linking Buckingham to various parts of London including the Whitehall and Houses of Parliament.

Why You Should Visit:
It's amazing to see parts of an actually working Palace, though you don't get to look around all its 700 rooms.

Tip:
If you don't bring a packed lunch thinking you can have some food in the local shops, you will be astonished at the prices.

Opening Hours:
9:30am-7:30pm, between the 22nd of July and 31st of August
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Queen's Gallery

3) Queen's Gallery (must see)

Everyone visiting London these days feels obliged to go to Buckingham Palace, as the matter of must, to see the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony. Few realize, though, that the palace is also renowned for its Queen’s Gallery which is very much a “must see” attraction in its own right. Interestingly enough, at some point, Buckingham House that once stood on the spot occupied by palace today, was considered a potential site for the British Museum, but was eventually discarded as too expensive.

During the Blitz, in 1941, the palace’s chapel was destroyed by a bomb, and when the reconstruction began, it was decided not to rebuild the chapel but to create a Royal Museum so that people could see items from the Royal Collection.

The Gallery was opened to the public in 1962. In total, it has over 450 items displayed at any given time, on a rotational basis: clothing, decorative art, furniture, paintings, photographs, porcelain, and sculptures. NOTE: if you wish to see the Crown Jewels, you have to go to the Tower of London! Also, if you visit with kids, you may want to take advantage of the Family Activity Bag which is designed to help the young ones understand the exhibits in a fun way.

Taking photos or filming inside the gallery is strictly forbidden and visitors are asked to turn off their mobile phones.

Tip:
You can get your ticket stamped at the end for a free return to other exhibitions within the next 12 months.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:30am-5:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
The Queen’s Gallery Shop

4) The Queen’s Gallery Shop

What to buy here: Buckingham Palace Hand Towel. Price: £19.95.

Live like royalty with this Buckingham Palace Hand Towel, part of a range of towels that are all boldly decorated in gold thread with the Buckingham Palace lion and unicorn emblem. This is the official royal coat of arms of the British monarch. The rampant lion with its crown represents England while the heraldic unicorn comes from the royal coat of arms for Scotland. Made from 100% cotton this high quality hand towel is finished to a very high standard with deep plush pile and a woven trim. It measures a generous 33 inches long by 19 inches wide and is sure to add a little touch of elegance to any bathroom. The pure white towel with its regal gold design will match any existing color scheme and makes a thoughtful gift to take home as a souvenir of your trip to Royal London.

Business Hours: Monday - Sunday: 10:00 am - 5:30 pm
5
The Royal Mews Shop

5) The Royal Mews Shop

What to buy here: Commemorative Pillbox.

This tastefully designed and decorated pillbox is part of a collection of items produced by Buckingham Palace to celebrate the wedding of Prince William to Katherine Middleton on April 29, 2011. The official Royal Wedding china collection is only available from the Buckingham Palace shops and makes a very special souvenir and collectible gift. The pillbox measures 2½ inches in diameter and stands one inch high. The removable lid has the couple’s initials entwined in gold and silver with the royal coronet above. The collection is handmade in the Potteries, Stoke-on-Trent using methods unchanged for over 250 years. After being decorated and embellished, the pillbox has several layers of burnished gold and platinum added before a final layer of 22-carat gold is applied by hand. For safe keeping the box is supplied in a presentation box and wrapped in tissue with designs inspired by wall hangings in Clarence House, one of the royal households. This lovely piece makes a thoughtful souvenir which is sure to become a family heirloom. Price: £25.

Business Hours: Daily 10am – 5 pm
6
Royal Mews

6) Royal Mews

The Royal Mews is a mews (combined stables, carriage house and, in recent times, also the garage) of the British Royal Family. In London the Royal Mews has occupied two main sites, formerly at Charing Cross, and since the 1820s at Buckingham Palace. The first set of stables to be referred to as mews was at Charing Cross at the western end of The Strand. The royal hawks were kept at that site since 1377 and the name derives from the fact that they were confined there during moulting (or “mew”) period.

The building was destroyed by fire in 1534 and rebuilt as a stables, keeping its former name while having acquired this new function.

The present Royal Mews is in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, to the south of Buckingham Palace Gardens, near Grosvenor Place. In the 1760s George III moved some of his day-to-day horses and carriages to the grounds of Buckingham House, which he had acquired in 1762 for his wife's use, but the main royal stables housing the ceremonial coaches and their horses remained at the Charing Cross. However, when his son George IV converted Buckingham Palace into the main royal residence in the 1820s, the whole stables establishment was moved. The old Mews at Charing Cross was demolished and Trafalgar Square was built on the site. The current Royal Mews was built to the designs by John Nashand completed in 1825 (though the Riding School, thought to be by William Chambers, dates from the 1760s). The buildings have been modified extensively since.

The Royal Mews is regularly open to the public. The state coaches and other carriages are kept there, along with about 30 horses, together with their modern counterparts, the state motor cars. Coachmen, grooms, chauffeurs and other staff are accommodated in flats above the carriage houses and stables. Mews are open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm (last admission 3:15 pm). Please keep in mind that a typical visit lasts 1 hour. Admission prices are (all include an audio tour): adult - £8.25; over 60 and student (with valid ID) - £7.50; under 17 - £5.20; under 5 – free; family (2 adults, 3 under 17) - £22.00.
Sight description based on wikipedia
7
The Guards Museum

7) The Guards Museum

The Guards Museum is a military museum in Central London, England. It is located in Wellington Barracks on Birdcage Walk close to Buckingham Palace, which is the home of five regiments of Foot Guards (the Grenadier Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards, and Welsh Guards). The museum first opened in 1988. It tells the story of the regiments it represents, from the 17th century to the present day. The displays include many samples of different Guards uniforms, (chronicling the evolution of the five regiments' dress over time) as well as paintings, weapons, models, sculptures, and other related artefacts, such as Mess Silver – vividly presenting to the visitor the history of the regiments and what it's like being a guardsman. The Museum operates seven days a week from 10 am to 4 pm (last admission at 3:30 pm). Entry fee: adults - £5.00; senior citizens of 65 and over, ex-military and students - £2.50; serving military personnel - £1.00; children (16 years of age and under) – free of charge.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in London, England

Create Your Own Walk in London

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London's Historic Pubs Walk

London's Historic Pubs Walk

If there’s anything more an iconic symbol for London than Big Ben or the London Eye, then it must be the traditional English pub and London is full of them, dating from pre-Victorian times to just about five minutes ago. With so much history surrounding London there is no shortage of historic pubs to choose from. Whether you fancy half timbered, rambling watering holes or small but perfectly...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.8 km
Bloomsbury Museums, Part 2

Bloomsbury Museums, Part 2

There are over 240 museums in London and they welcome about 42 million annual visitors nationwide. This wonderful tour will lead you to the most famous and significant museums of London Bloomsbury area, such as Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, Wellcome Collection, The Crypt Gallery and others.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 km
East City of London Walk

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The City is a notable part of central London. This neighborhood is colloquially known as the Square Mile, as it is 1.12 square miles (2.90 square km) in area. The City of London is able to offer great number of things to see. This tour will guide you from the Tower Bridge to the “30 St Mary Axe”, great achievements of architecture and engineering.

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Holborn/Covent Garden Walk

Holborn/Covent Garden Walk

During this self guided walking tour around Holborn and Covent Garden areas you will have a chance to visit such famous and interesting London attractions, as National Gallery, London Coliseum, London Transport Museum and many others. Don't miss your chance to explore the best of the Holborn and Covent Garden areas.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
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Souvenir Shopping

Souvenir Shopping

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Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
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Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.7 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip


London Souvenirs: 20 Distinctively British Products for Travelers

London Souvenirs: 20 Distinctively British Products for Travelers

Most visitors to London consider shopping as part of their must-do London experience. From street markets to Victorian arcades to snobbish Sloane Square to busy Oxford Street, there are a host of shops selling items which typically represent this vibrant city. Whether you are shopping for souvenirs...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in London for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best London has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes


To save yourself time and money visiting London's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the London Pass, London Explorer Pass, or iVenture Card.

A city pass combines all or multiple London's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels


Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of London hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: The Trafalgar St. James London Curio collection by Hilton, Corinthia Hotel London, The Grand at Trafalgar Square.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as London, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours


We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of London typically costs somewhere between US$30 and US$130 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker to enjoy sightseeing of London from the open top of the bus listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the six interconnecting routes, plus get on board the Thames River Sightseeing Cruise. The tickets are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours.

- Spend half a day pedaling your way around London Royal Parks on a guided bike tour to see the city's most spectacular highlights stopping at some for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning interesting facts about the attractions from a knowledgeable group leader.

- Commit yourself to a full-day of sightseeing to appreciate the English capital in its full splendor complete with its top (UNESCO-listed and other) attractions, plus to enjoy a sightseeing cruise down the River Thames, and more.

- Dive into Britain’s royal and political history on the Westminster Abbey & Houses of Parliament tour for an up-close view of the country's two most prominent landmarks that have been in place and duly served their purpose for almost a millennium.

- Explore the WWII chapter of the British history on a guided 2-hour walking tour of Churchill War Rooms & Westminster to see how they operated back in those days. Hear some little-known war tales and tidbits about London and the country's most celebrated leader, Winston Churchill.

- Satisfy your penchant for English tradition, glamour and food culture in style with an afternoon tea experience at the 5-star Grosvenor House Hotel in London complete with a full set of lovely cakes, sandwiches and tea!

- If you're into music, give yourself a treat, whilst in London, to the Musical Theater Show at Apollo Victoria Theatre presenting the alternate side of the famous Wizard of Oz story previously untold.

Day Trips


If you have a day to spare whilst in London, why not use it to explore some out-of-town destinations like the Warner Bros. Studio London, Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath, Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick Castle, Cotswolds, or Leeds Castle, Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury. For as little as circa US$100+ to US$120+ per person you will get a chance to explore the postcard-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage sights, get behind-the-scenes of the mystical world of Harry Potter, see what has been the home of the British Royals for the past 900 years, explore the ancient rock formations, Roman Baths and medieval castles, walk the streets of the charming hometown of William Shakespeare, check out one of the world’s most prestigious universities, get to see the picture-perfect region officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, otherwise known as “forever England,” renowned for its quaint villages and rolling hills, admire the symbolic White Cliffs of Dover, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up straight from your hotel in London and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned coach or train (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.