The most iconic city in the world, London has been home to the Royal Family for a long time. London is full of palaces and other iconic buildings; there is just so much to see. What makes this city so special is the great historical heritage in every corner. Your visit to London is incomplete without a visit to the iconic palaces in London. London palaces, like so many other buildings, range from the ancient to the relatively modern and are often tangled up with the histories of various monarchs. It’s difficult to narrow down any selection to the most popular of them all as all are unique in their own ways.

Here’s Our Pick Of The Top 10 London Palaces You Absolutely Cannot Miss

Buckingham Palace

You can’t talk about London palaces without mentioning the iconic Buckingham Palace. Home to British monarchs since 1837, it was actually bought from the Duke of Buckingham (hence the name). Today it is the main residence of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. It’s also the administrative headquarters of the monarchy. Visitors can tour the magnificent State Rooms only between July and October. There are 775 rooms in this extensive private garden but the most recognizable portion of Buckingham Palace is the famous balcony. This is where the royal family stands to greet the crowds after major events, to celebrate the Queen’s birthday or even during moments of national grief.

Some Interesting Facts

  • Buckingham Palace has survived nine German bomb attacks during world war two.
  • In 1883 the ballroom in Buckingham Palace was the first room to have electricity installed.
  • The palace is a self-sufficient village that includes a post office, Movie Theater, police station, ATM and a clinic.
royal palaces in london
London, Buckingham Palace

The Tower of London

The iconic Tower of London has served as both a royal palace and an infamous prison. One of the popular tourist attractions in the country, The Tower of London is a complex of several different buildings. With almost 1,000 years of history this place has played many different roles and has been the site of many important historical events. Originally built by William the Conqueror in 1078, it was later expanded upon. Cells and torture chambers were added. It has also served as the Royal Mint. Today, its home to the world-famous Crown Jewels, the biggest cut diamond in the world and also home to around 23,000 other gemstones. Other attractions here are the Royal Menagerie, Church of St. Peter and the tower’s famous prisons.

Some Interesting Facts

  • The tower of London was London’s first zoo from the 1200s to 1835.
  • Many popular faces who resided here are said to haunt the walls of the Tower.
  • The official name of the building is ‘Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London’.
London palaces
Tower of London

Lambeth Palace

Lambeth Palace is another one of the best and oldest Royal palaces in London. Palaces aren’t just for royalty. Lambeth Palace has been used as the residence of The Archbishop of Canterbury for almost 800 years. It has been built up over the centuries, resulting in a surprisingly harmonious mix of styles and architecture that reflects the very history of London. The main attractions here are the beautiful gardens where a host of different events are held every summer. One should also visit the Lambeth Palace Library which has over 120,000 books and religious records which dates back to the 12th century. Do check out its Great Hall, Chapel, Crypt, St. Mary-at-Lambeth church and the Tudor gatehouse which was built in the 1490’s.

Some Interesting Facts

  • Archbishop Parker is buried under the chapel floor of the Palace.
  • The shell of a 120 yr old tortoise is displayed at Lambeth Palace.
  • The oldest part of the palace is used to store beer and wine. It was also used as an air raid shelter during World War II.
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Lambeth Palace, London

Also Read: Did You Know These 12 Fascinating Facts About London

Hampton Court Palace

Nestled in south-west of London, Hampton Court Palace is one of the best palaces in London to explore. This Tudor palace was one of the many homes of King Henry VIII. One of his most extravagant palaces, it once stood amidst rural lands used for hunting. The Tudor and Baroque architectural style makes Hampton Court Palace one of the unique Royal palaces in London. Its massive Great House of Easement (the communal toilet) is famous for being able to seat 28 people at a time! Make sure to check out the maze in its wonderfully landscaped grounds. You can also check out the Abraham Tapestries in its magnificent Grand Hall, its Magic Garden and even a historic tennis court. It’s now uninhabited and open to the public on most days of the year.

Some Interesting Facts

  • The roof of the Hampton Court Palace has dozens of chimneys poking up from the tiles.
  • A wine fountain was installed by King Henry to make sure that his guests would not get bored while waiting for him.
  • In 1603, William Shakespeare stayed here for Christmas.
best palaces in london
Hampton Court Palace

St James’s Palace

Built in the 18th Century, St. James’s Palace is situated just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace. Most of the building is built with the original red-bricks.  Another of Henry VIII’s palaces, St. James’s Palace has been an official residence of the British monarchy since the 1500s. The Prince of Wales, Princess Anne, and Princess Alexandra all keep residences here. It is also the site of many royal events and ceremonial occasions, such as the christening of Prince George in 2013. As the home and office of several members of the Royal Family, St James’s Palace hosts up to 100 receptions each year for charities. St. James’s Palace remains a busy working palace even today.

Some Interesting Facts

  • This is where Queen Elizabeth II was proclaimed and gave her first speech as Queen.
  • Prior to his execution in 1649, Charles I spent his last evening here in St. James’s Palace.
  • The State Apartments contain many precious materials, such as tapestries made out of silver; chandeliers with Gold, vases with precious Malachite, and tables made from marble.
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St. James Palace London

Kensington Palace

Adapted as the primary royal residence for King William III and Queen Mary II in the 17th century, Kensington Palace is now home to many members of the Royal Family. Being one of the best palaces in London UK, the royal family has been using this as one of their residences for nearly 300 years. It is the current residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It will also be the home of the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Many rooms of the Kensington Palace have also been converted into museums containing many royal paintings and artifacts. Main highlight here is an exhibit dedicated to Princess Diana and her fashion choices over the years. Only certain sections of the palace are open to the public throughout the year.

Some Interesting Facts

  • This Palace was Princess Diana’s home after her separation from Prince Charles.
  • Kensington Palace is said to be unlucky for women.
  • You can experience the life of a royal for a day by renting out Kensington Palace.
palaces in london england
Kensington Palace London

Kew Palace

The Kew Palace is the smallest and a little less known of all the Royal palaces in London. This summer palace well known as the home of King George III is perched near the banks of the River Thames. Originally Kew Palace was a more massive structure than what we see today. But one can still see the beautiful mansion full of majesty and wonder. One of the main attractions here is its royal kitchens which have remained relatively unchanged for the last 200 years. Also explore the royal princesses’ bedrooms and the incredible Kew Gardens while you’re here. Keep in mind to visit this place only in summer as it’s one of the best palaces in London that closes in the winter season.

Some Interesting Facts

  • The Kew Gardens are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Kew Palace is a 17th-century palace which was a royal residence for Britain’s Georgian monarchs.
  • The bedroom of the unmarried daughters of George III is restored for us to see how they might have appeared in the 19th century.
best palaces in london
Kew Palace, London

Palace of Westminster

The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament is where the two Houses (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) meet to conduct their business. This thousand year old palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames. It was the home of the kings until 1547 but then after it was destroyed in a fire it was converted into the Parliaments home, making it one of the most important palaces in London. The four floor building has approximately 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases, and 3 miles of passageways. The Palace of Westminster’s two most famous towers are the Victoria Tower and the Clock Tower. One can easily view the Palace of Westminster from the outside but it is difficult for tourists to explore inside. But one can always take a free walk around the small gardens surrounding the Palace of Westminster.

Some Interesting Facts

  • A huge fire in 1834 destroyed two-thirds of the original Palace of Westminster.
  • Smoking is not allowed inside the building but one can find a snuff box inside the House of Commons.
  • The inside of the palace has approximately 4,000 stained glass windows.
 palaces in london uk
Palace of Westminster

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle, the royal residence of the Queen is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Most of her weekends, a month over Easter and a few weeks in summer were spent here. This beautiful Castle is in Windsor, a small town on the banks of river Thames. This is where Harry and Meghan got married. When you are here, do visit Queen Mary’s Doll’s House, St. George’s Chapel, Royal Gardens and the Royal collection of art. Especially for fans of the royal family this is one of the perfect palaces in London to spend your day. Initially, Windsor Castle was constructed for William the Conqueror in the 11th century but today it’s the official residence for many.

Some Interesting Facts

  • The flag pole above the famous Round Tower will tell you if the Queen is there or not. The Royal Standard is raised when she is there and lowered once she leaves.
  • The Changing of the Guard can be witnessed at Windsor Castle at 11:00am every day from April to July.
  • It was rumored that Adolf Hitler wanted to make it his British home; hence Windsor Castle was never bombed during World War II.

palaces in london to visit
Windsor Castle

Eltham Palace

Eltham Palace is definitely one of the best royal palaces in London England. The palace was given to Edward I in 1305 and remained a royal residence until the 16th century. This palace has an eccentric mix of Art Deco and Medieval features. Eltham Palace is totally different from all the other royal houses and palaces in London due to its intriguing design. Today Eltham Palace is managed by English Heritage which gives us a glimpse into Britain’s history. Highlights of this place include original furniture, family photographs, beautiful gardens with spring bulb display and the wisteria cascading over the classical pergola in summer. Best time to visit Eltham Palace is during Christmas time to experience the extravagant Christmas celebrations.

Some Interesting Facts

  • Henry IV spent 10 out of his 13 Christmases at Eltham Palace as king.
  • Eltham Palace suffered greatly during the English Civil War. It was Stephen Courtauld and his wife Virginia who gave it a new lease of life.
  • Many films have used this Palace as a location for their shoot, including ‘I Capture the Castle’, ‘Revolver’ and ‘Brides head Revisited’.
royal palaces in london
Eltham Palace

All About The Royal Palace Pass

The London Royal Palace Pass will help you travel back to the Royal times. These passes are valid for 2 years and hence do not bind you with a fixed itinerary. You can experience the Royal Palaces in London and other London sightseeing at your leisure. There are three London Royal Palace Passes available. Each pass allows you to choose a specific number of palaces that you can visit. Different types of London Royal Palace Passes to choose from are as below:

  • Central London Pass – This pass includes admission to all exhibitions within each palace (Tower of London | Banqueting House | Kensington Palace) where each palace can be visited only once.
  • Three Palace Royal Pass London – This pass includes admission to all exhibitions within each palace (Tower of London | Hampton Court Palace | Kensington Palace) where each palace can be visited only once.
  • Four Palace Royal Pass London –   This pass also includes admission to all exhibitions within each of the four palaces (Tower of London | Hampton Court Palace | Banqueting House | Kensington Palace) where each palace can be visited only once.

Things To Keep In Mind While Using The London Royal Palace Pass

  • As The London Royal Palace Pass grants you access to all the temporary and permanent exhibitions, check what exhibitions are going on in advance to make the most of your pass.
  • If you are visiting London for a short time, then suggest you visit the Tower of London and Banqueting House in one day and then visit the Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace on two different days.
  • Do not hurry up and visit all palaces in one day as it will be tiresome as there is a lot to see in each of the palaces.
  • Please note that with three Palace passes one can avail an audio guide only to Hampton Court Palace.
  • The London Royal Palace Pass cannot be canceled or rescheduled.
  • With so many fabulous royal palaces in London to visit, nothing can stop you now from experiencing the lives of the kings and queens of England. Book your tickets to this all-time favorite tour of London’s royal palaces for an experience like never before.
When is the Best Time to Visit London Palaces?

The best time to visit palaces in London is definitely in summer as some royal palaces open only in summer.

What is the oldest royal palace in England?

Windsor Castle which has been the family home of British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years is the oldest royal palace in England.

Which is the official residence of the Queen today?

Since the start of the pandemic, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II has been living at Windsor Castle.

What is the biggest palace in London?

St James’s Palace is the biggest palace in London.

Why is Buckingham Palace so special?

As Buckingham Palace has been the official London residence of Britain’s monarchy since 1837, this place is special in many ways.

What is the number 1 attraction in London?

Visit to Buckingham Palace and watching the changing of the Guard is the top attraction in London.


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