What visit to London would be complete without a tour of Buckingham Palace, the official London residence and main administrative office of the British royal family since the 19th century. The Happy Tourist team think this is a ‘must-see’ attraction on your London visit bucket-list.
Buckingham Palace is one of few working royal palaces remaining in the world. As the Palace is still lived in, public access is limited, but it is worth booking an exclusive visit to see this remarkable famous British landmark.
While many tourists flock to view the beautifully crafted Palace exterior through the gates, an actual visit inside the palace has to be booked in advance. During the summer season, you can get an exclusive look inside some of the sumptuous state rooms, the opulent Throne Room, admire works of art by artists such as Rembrandt and Canaletto in Queen Victoria’s Picture Gallery, and you are even allowed to take a stroll through the palace gardens used by the Queen and the royal family.
See the Changing of the Guard Ceremony
The Changing of the Guard ceremony is a world-famous sight to see when the royal guards change shifts. The ceremony takes place daily at 11:30 am but can be cancelled during bad weather, so if you want to watch this ceremony and take in a tour of the interior of the palace, you will need to time your visit to the summer months.
The palace interior tours are only available from late June to late September. This is when the Queen usually takes her holiday in Scotland. You will know when the Queen is in residence at Buckingham Palace because the Royal Standard flag will be flying atop the palace. When she is not in residence, the Union Jack flag will be flown.
Visit St. James Park
Buckingham Palace is situated in the heart of St. James Park, so you can take in a lovely stroll through the park to the palace from some of London’s most iconic attractions, such as Big Ben and Westminster Cathedral.
The palace, Cathedral and Big Ben are often included in many London City walking tours as they are so closely grouped together and accessible by foot. St James’s Park covers an area of nearly 57 acres and includes The Mall and Horse Guards Parade, and is surrounded by famous landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, Clarence House and Whitehall.
To the front of Buckingham Palace are the park’s famous flower beds that make a wonderful floral backdrop to many royal pageants, including Trooping the Colour, official state visits and other ceremonial occasions.
See the park pelicans
St. James’s Park contains a beautiful lake and fountains where you can find the resident pelicans. You can get a traditional cream tea from St James’s Café and while away a summer afternoon in a deckchair in the park.
The famous park pelicans have lived in St James’s Park for close to 400 years. The original pelicans were a gift to King Charles II from Russian Ambassador of the time.