Buckingham Palace

Royal Things to do in London

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The Royal Family is a major part of British culture, attracting millions of tourists each year. As the British capital, London is steeped in royal history, with many visiting the city to see its regal heritage. Notably, Buckingham Palace alone welcomed over 300,000 visitors in 2023, while more than 97,000 people explored the Queen’s Gallery. 

For those intrigued by the monarchy, London offers a wide range of things to do. Whether you wish to marvel at royal palaces, delve into history within museums and galleries or enjoy a stroll through a royal park, there’s something for everyone. We’ve handpicked some of the best royal things to do in London.

Royal Palaces in London

When you think about royals, one of the first things that springs to mind is the palaces they grace. London is home to multiple royal palaces; here are some of the best to visit.

Buckingham Palace 

Buckingham Palace

London, SW1A 1AA

The most famous palace of them all, Buckingham Palace is His Majesty The King’s official London residence. Embark on a thrilling guided tour, visiting the iconic State Rooms, which feature treasures from the Royal Collection. If you’re planning a summer visit, you can explore the Palace Gardens, while the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place at 11am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

How to get there: From London Waterloo, take the Jubilee line tube to Green Park; it’s a 12-minute walk from the station to Buckingham Palace.

Kensington Palace 

Kensington Palace

Kensington Gardens, London, W8 4PX

Another iconic royal palace in London, Kensington Palace is known for being the birthplace of Queen Victoria. It’s been home to young royals for over 300 years, and you can walk in their footsteps, visiting the King’s and Queen’s State Apartments and a recreation of Victoria’s childhood rooms.

Opening times Ticket prices
 Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 16:00 (last admission 15:00)  £20 adults (concessions available)

How to get there: It’s a 34-minute journey from London Waterloo to Kensington Palace. From Waterloo, catch the Jubilee line to Bond Street. Switch to the Central line and head to Lancaster Gate, a 16-minute walk through Kensington Gardens to the palace.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Ct Way, Molesey, East Molesey KT8 9AU

Step into one of Henry VIII’s favourite residences and experience what life was like for the famous Tudor king. Marvel at magnificent tapestries in the Great Hall, pass through the Tudor kitchens and explore the beautiful 60-acre gardens.

Opening times Ticket prices
 Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 16:00  £26.30 adults (concessions available)
How to get there: Hampton Court Palace is just an 11-minute walk from Hampton Court station, which is easily accessible via trains from London Waterloo.

St. James’s Palace 

Marlborough Rd, St. James's, London SW1A 1BQ

Opening in 1536, St. James’s Palace is the oldest royal palace in London. It’s been the setting for many key royal events and is currently the London residence of Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice, and Princess Alexandra.

While you can’t go inside St. James’s Palace, it’s worth visiting to see the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place in Friary Court. How to get there: Catch the Northern line from London Waterloo to Charing Cross, walking 11 minutes from there. Alternatively, hop on the Jubilee line tube from Waterloo to Green Park, which is a 10-minute walk from St. James’s Palace. 

Richmond Palace

Richmond TW9 1NT

Perhaps one of London’s lesser-known royal homes, Richmond Palace was built in 1501 by Henry VII, the Earl of Richmond at the time. Royalty lived there until 1649, and it was well-loved by Elizabeth I, particularly, who hunted nearby. 

It’s now privately owned, and large parts have been destroyed. But you can still wander around and check out surviving structures, including the Wardrobe, Trumpeters’ House and Gate House, all of which are Grade I listed.

How to get there: Richmond is the nearest station to Richmond Palace, a 9-minute scenic walk away through Richmond Green. 

Royal History in London 

Looking to brush up on your royal history? London offers an array of fantastic museums and galleries, and we’ve picked our top four you should visit. 

Household Cavalry Museum

66 Horse Guards Ave, Whitehall, London SW1A 2AX

Sitting within Horse Guards in Whitehall, the Household Cavalry Museum is a living museum showing off the Household Cavalry’s role in British royal history. You’ll be able to look in on the working stables before seeing the regiment in action, with hourly sentry changes and daily afternoon Garrison inspections. There’s even an opportunity to put on all the gear and dress like a Cavalryman. 

Opening times Ticket prices
 Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 17:00 (last admission 16:00)  £10 adults (concessions available)
How to get there: From London Waterloo, ride the Northern line for two stops to Charing Cross; it’s a 6-minute walk from the station to the Household Cavalry Museum.

The Queen’s Gallery 

Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA

Nestled within Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s Gallery is a must-see for fans of royal art. Explore changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection, from historic masterpieces to exquisite rare furniture. Engage with the art on a deeper level through enlightening lectures before visiting the shop, where you can pick up gifts inspired by the Royal Collection.
Opening times Ticket prices
 Thursday to Monday, 10:00 to 17:30 (last admission 16:15)  £19 adults (concessions available)

How to get there: Take the Jubilee line from London Waterloo to Green Park, which is a 15-minute walk from The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace.

Queen’s House

Romney Rd, London SE10 9NF

Discover an internationally acclaimed art collection at the Queen’s House. This historic site is home to iconic masterpieces, such as the Armada Portrait of Elizabeth I, alongside captivating architectural features like the Tulip Stairs – Britain’s first-ever unsupported spiral staircase.

Opening times Ticket prive
 Monday to Sunday, 10:00 to 17:00 (last admission 16:30) Free

How to get there: It takes around 42 minutes to get to Queen’s House from London Waterloo. Jump on the Jubilee line to North Greenwich before walking to North Greenwich Station (Stop C). Catch the 188 bus, get off at Trafalgar Estate and walk 3 minutes from there.

Royal Observatory

Blackheath Ave, London SE10 8XJ

Discover the home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) at the Royal Observatory. See the historic Prime Meridian Line – the place where the world’s time zones begin – and stand simultaneously in the eastern and western hemispheres. Check out the UK’s largest telescope and learn more about the stars with planetarium shows led by expert astronomers. 

Get 10% off tickets for the Royal Observatory with SWR Rewards.

 Opening times Ticket prices
 Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 17:00 (last admission 16:10) £18 adults (concessions available) 
How to get there: From London Waterloo, catch the Jubilee line to North Greenwich. Head to North Greenwich Station (Stop C) and board the 188 bus to Trafalgar Estate, which is a 13-minute walk from the Royal Observatory. 

Royal Parks in London

London houses eight Royal Parks, offering tranquil escapes from the city's hustle and bustle. Many of them also include a range of fun activities, buzzy cafés and iconic monuments.

Richmond Park

Richmond Park

You’ll find green space aplenty at Richmond Park, London’s largest Royal Park. Spanning almost 2,500 acres, it boasts ancient woodlands and a thriving wildlife population, including around 650 deer. Inside, you’ll find Pembroke Lodge, a Georgian mansion transformed into charming tea rooms, as well as the stunning Isabella Plantation and the historic King Henry’s Mound.

How to get there: Catch a train to Richmond station and walk 20 minutes to Richmond Park. Alternatively, you can travel to North Sheen, which is also just a short walk away.

Bushy Park

Bushy Park is known for its wildlife, housing everything from deer to skylarks. It covers over 5,000 acres and is steeped in history. Not only did Henry VIII used to hunt here – he lived next door at Hampton Court Palace – but it’s also where General Dwight D. Eisenhower planned the D-Day landings.

How to get there: You can walk from Teddington to Bushy Park in just 6 minutes.

Kensington Gardens

Kensington Gardens

These historic gardens date back to the 18th century and Queen Caroline. It’s a lush green space full of beauty, with blossoming flower walks at every turn. You’ll also find Peter Pan hanging out by the Long Water with the swans and ducks. And the magic doesn’t end there. The famous Albert Memorial stands tall, while the Diana Memorial Playground offers a perfect escape for the kids.

How to get there: From London Waterloo, hop on the Jubilee line to Bond Street. Change here and catch the Central line to Queensway, which is a 3-minute walk from Kensington Gardens. 

The Regent’s Park

A horticulturist’s paradise, Regent’s Park comes alive during summer. Over 12,000 roses thrive within Queen Mary’s Gardens, while historic fountains surrounded by vibrant floral displays grace Avenue Gardens. It’s also perfect for sports lovers, boasting the largest outdoor sports area in London.

How to get there: Catch the Bakerloo or Jubilee line from London Waterloo to Baker Street, a 5-minute walk from the southern entrance to Regent’s Park.

Hyde Park

Hyde Park

As one of Henry VIII’s private hunting grounds, Hyde Park has plenty of royal history. You’ll always have things to do when visiting, with highlights including Marble Arch, Speakers’ Corner and the Diana Memorial Fountain. Looking for something more active? Head to Serpentine Lake, where you can hire a boat or take a swim.

How to get there: Take the Jubilee line from London Waterloo to Green Park. Once there, enjoy a scenic 16-minute walk to Hyde Park.

Greenwich Park

Grenwich Park

Explore a range of historical landmarks in Greenwich Park, including the remains of a Roman Temple and an Anglo-Saxon cemetery. This scenic park also includes a picturesque Flower Garden, while a walk to the top of One Tree Hill leads to beautiful views of London’s skyline.

How to get there: Catch the Jubilee line from London Waterloo to North Greenwich. Walk 2 minutes to North Greenwich Station (Stop C) and ride the 188 bus to Trafalgar Road / Maze Hill. From there, Greenwich Park is a 2-minute walk away.

St. James’s Park

You can’t get more royal than St. James’s Park. Surrounded by three royal palaces, the park has been used for ceremonial events in London for years, including royal weddings and jubilees. You’ll spot plenty of iconic landmarks from here, including Admiralty Arch, Horse Guards Parade and Buckingham Palace.

How to get there: St. James’s Park is a 16-minute journey from London Waterloo. Jump on the Northern line to Charing Cross, an 8-minute walk from your destination.

Ready to plan a royal trip to London? Grab train tickets to all your favourite royal places in the English capital. For more savings, discover our Railcards and discounts and GroupSave, or travel on any train with flexible Sunday Out tickets .

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