Looking for a royal day out in London? Look no further than the historical wonders of Hampton Court Palace. This stunning example of Tudor-meets-Baroque architecture is one of only two surviving palaces that Henry VIII called home.
This Grade I-listed royal home has been an English attraction since the reign of Queen Victoria, when it was first opened to the public. With over 60 acres of gardens, Britain’s oldest surviving shrub maze (dating back to the 1700s) and, of course, the unique architecture of the palace itself, it’s no wonder that Hampton Court Palace is one of the nation’s oldest and most popular tourist destinations, with over 5 million visitors each year.
Located less than an hour from central London, Hampton Court Palace is a fantastic day out family and friends will enjoy. Whether you’re looking to immerse yourself in history or unwind in natural splendor, here’s everything you need to know about this popular destination.
Where is Hampton Court Palace?
Hampton Court Palace is located on the River Thames in the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, 12 miles southwest of Central London. Kingston upon Thames and Surbiton are both nearby, as is the beautiful nature of Richmond Park.
If you’d like to stretch your legs or cool off after your visit, Bushy Park and it’s beautiful Hampton Pool are both within a 30-minute walk of the palace.
Getting to Hampton Court Palace
To avoid queueing for parking, it’s recommended to travel by public transport. And if you travel by train with a National Rail ticket, you can even get 2FOR1 entry at the palace. Some dates might not be included in this offer, so it’s worth checking before you make the trip.
Travelling by train
The nearest train station to Hampton Court Palace is Hampton Court, which is just a five minute walk from the entrance. Popular routes include travelling from Basingstoke, Bournemouth, Winchester, and Southampton.
Check out our flexible range of ticket types and find the best one for your trip. Get cheap train tickets to Hampton Court by travelling during off-peak hours, or book in advance to get the lowest ticket price. You could also save money on your journey with a Railcard.
Avoid waiting in line at the ticket office with a Tap2Go smartcard: simply touch in and touch out at the station.
Travelling from London
Direct trains from London Waterloo to Hampton Court depart roughly every half an hour, though always check train times before you travel. The journey takes around 35 minutes, and you can also hop on at Vauxhall, Clapham Junction and Wimbledon.
Hampton Court is in London fare zone 6, so you can get there using a London Travelcard, an Oyster card or contactless. You won’t be able to get 2FOR1 entry to Hampton Court Palace if you travel using an Oyster card or contactless, and your London Travelcard must be bought from a National Rail station and not issued from Transport for London to get this offer.
Things to do in Hampton Court Palace
With 60 acres of formal gardens and 750 acres of historic parkland, Hampton Court Palace is one of the greatest architectural wonders of the world. Deemed as one of the symbols of the House of Tudor, Hampton Court Palace is one of the royal castles that should not be missed.
Hampton Court began life in 1515 as a home for then-Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, before being gifted to King Henry VIII. It's unique mix of Tudor and Baroque styles, all captured in beautiful pink brick, makes it one of the most beautiful of the royal palaces.
Film fans may also recognise it as the setting of some famous films and TV shows, including Sherlock Holmes, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Young Victoria, Amazing Grace and many more! Once you’re done enjoying the architecture and overwhelming art collection, take a wander through the wonderful gardens and the palace’s famous maze.
Here are some of our favourite things to do in Hampton Court Palace.
Hampton Court Palace is renowned for its gardens, and there’s so much to see and explore. With over 12 different gardens to enjoy, there’s a perfect spot for every time of the year. Head to the Great Vine for the summer grape harvest, the Tiltyard for autumnal colours, or the Privy Garden for winter topiary. The Wilderness is the perfect stop for spring, with over a million flowering bulbs. You can also bring a picnic to enjoy in the iconic gardens.
Art lovers will be bowled over by the artwork from the Royal Collection, which includes paintings from Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and van Dyck. The Cumberland Art Gallery hosts a changing display of artworks throughout the year, while the Mantegna Gallery holds nine giant paintings that make up the Triumphs of Cesar, one of the most iconic achievements of Renaissance art.
As well as permanent fixtures like magnificent gardens and grand royal galleries, Hampton Court Palace also hosts many activities for families, groups, and individuals. From festive activities to iconic Hampton Court attractions, there’s sure to be something to catch your attention during your time at the palace. Why not try out a Tudor cooking class, or see if you and the family can beat the world-famous Hampton Court Maze?
Things to see
As one of the most iconic royal palaces, there’s so much to see and experience at Hampton Court Palace. Let yourself wander through historical chapels, the largest functioning 16th century kitchen in the world, and even past a recreation of Henry VIII’s crown. Alternatively, opt for a guided tour of the palace to learn all of the stories behind this incredible royal residence.
Hampton Court Palace hosts a number of special events throughout the year. Winter visitors can enjoy festive events including the Hampton Court Palace Ice Rink or the Festive Fayre, which always wins over the hearts of foodies. The late summer sees the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival in full swing: a fun-filled celebration the whole family will love. Audiences should also look out for events that pop up in the regular schedule, such as live music festivals, outdoor cinema and the Summer Food Festival.
Food, drink, and shops
Whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a full sit-down meal, visitors can enjoy three different eateries in Hampton Court Palace.
The Tiltyard Café offers lunch, tea and coffee, cakes, cookies and a great range of pastries for a quick snack. Right in the middle of the palace, the Privy Kitchen is another great spot for quick bite, serving hot drinks and sweet treats as well as Tudor-style pies and soups for those wanting a truly historical experience.
If you’re looking for a sit-down meal with family or friends, then you can enjoy a relaxing break at The Fountain Court Café. With a wide range of options, you can enjoy light lunches, sweet and savoury treats, and afternoon teas. Or for a snack to go, you’ll also find the Wilderness Kiosk, serving ice cream, snacks, teas and filter coffees.
Don’t forget to stop at the Palace Shop before you head home. There you’ll find all sorts of souvenirs, jewellery, gifts, toys, and books to remember your trip. You can also take a look at the online shop.
Places to stay in Hampton Court
There are many accommodation options around Hampton Court Palace. So whether you’re looking for a luxury weekend or a cheap stopover, you’ll find somewhere to suit you.
For accommodation fit for royalty, take a look at the Hampton Court Hotel, Hampton Court Apartments, or Hampton Court Riverside Apartments, all within a few hundred metres of the palace entrance. The Lion Gate Apartments, Mitre Hotel and Hampton Court - Kings Rest are also all fantastic options for a luxury stay.
If you’d prefer more budget-friendly accommodation, take a look at the OYO Hampton Court Hotel and The Kings Arms Hotel, both within easy walking distance of the palace. If you don’t mind staying a bit further out, you might prefer the Premier Inn or Travelodge in the centre of Kingston-Upon-Thames, a beautiful town 35 minutes’ walk, or a 10-minute bus ride, from the palace.
Hampton Court Palace tickets
Tickets to Hampton Court Palace can be bought online in advance or in-person at the palace. There’s a variety of tickets available including discounts for children, concessions and families.
Don’t forget, you can get 2FOR1 entry to the palace when you travel by train with a National Rail ticket booked through our website or app.