London has no shortage of phenomenal sites to visit. There’s so much to see and do here that would fill years worth of travel. During your stay, I definitely recommend seeing some of the historic palaces and castles dotted in and around London. Here’s a few of my favourites I think are worth visiting!
Buckingham Palace, the official Royal Residence of Her Majesty the Queen, is a must see during your time in London. The gorgeous stately home is an iconic London landmark and has been the Royal Residence of the British Monarch since 1837 when Queen Victoria came to the throne and moved here from Kensington Palace. There is a breadth of history that lies behind Buckingham Palace and today it’s used for several events, celebrations, official visits and parties. In the summer time, you can visit the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, which is an incredible experience! When my mom and sisters visited a few years ago, we went inside Buckingham Palace and it was one of those ‘pinch me’ type of experiences. No photos are allowed inside, but it is breathtakingly beautiful inside. If only the walls could talk! I would recommend going early in the morning to avoid the queues and the crowds as it does get very busy inside. If you’re a real Anglophile, go for it. If not, I would still walk past Buckingham Palace and see it in all its splendour!
Take a stroll around the gorgeous gardens of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens and you will find yourself at Kensington Palace, home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and the soon-to-be princess, Meghan Markle. Queen Victoria, one of the longest reining monarchs, was born and raised at Kensington Palace until she moved to Buckingham Palace to carry out her duties as Queen. The majority of the palace is open to the public and they have a few exhibitions on each year. Right now, the Princes Diana “Her Fashion Story” exhibition is on, where you can see all of her beautiful gowns and outfits throughout the years, including the iconic Victor Edelstein ink blue velvet gown she wore to the White House.
Tower of London
Easily one of London’s most popular tourist attractions, Tower of London has been used throughout history as a royal palace, an armoury, a prison, an execution chamber, a zoo and a jewel house. Visiting will give you insight into 1000 years of history. The ancient fortress is best known for the executions that were carried out there, including several of King Henry VIII’s wives as well as a torture chamber. A walk through the Tower will undoubtedly be quite bone chilling and many are convinced it’s haunted. Also, take note of the ravens, that have been there since the 1660s! He said that the Tower will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the fortress. Today, there are seven ravens that fly around the palace. Order your tickets in advance as there is always a HUGE queue. I would also recommend going during off peak hours if you can to avoid the crowds.
Hampton Court Palace
One of my favourite palaces to visit is Hampton Court Palace in Surrey. Most notably, it was one of the primary residences of King Henry VIII and his many wives! If you ever watched The Tudors, Hampton Court Palace is a must-see. There was so much scandal that happened at this palace and it’s incredible to read and see all of the history that unfolded here. King Henry acquired the palace in 1540 and made some rather grand extensions that you can explore including a huge medieval kitchen, a great hall to fast in, Royal tennis courts, a maze, a great Vine and beautiful vast gardens. The palace itself is situated on 60 acres of land. Make a day trip out of it, starting in Richmond. In the summertime, jump on the Turks boats that will lead you down the River Thames to Hampton Court Palace. Alternately, you can get directly to HCP via Waterloo.
Another favourite of mine is Windsor Castle. A 45 minute train ride from London, it’s the ideal day trip. Windsor Castle has been a Royal home and fortress for more than 900 years! It’s the largest occupied castle in the world and remains a working palace today. The Queen uses the castle as a private home on the weekends and as an official Royal residence. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be getting married at St. George’s Chapel, which is one of the prettiest churches I’ve been in. Spend a few hours walking around the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s famous doll house, and the Albert Memorial Chapel. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the Changing of the Guard in the quadrangle, which is quite exciting for visitors.
What are some of your favourite palaces/castles around London? Leave a comment below and let me know!
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