Favorite London Palaces and Castles that You Should Tour

Windsor Castle

London Palaces and Castles

I absolutely love castles;they make my heart swoon. And I was thrilled when a trip to London provided a wonderful opportunity to theme our vacation around London palaces and castles.

London Castles and Palaces.

Fairy tales, English folklore, and even Disney cartoons inspire us to admire these magnificent structures. While we dream of turrets and romantic ballrooms, castles were typically built as fortified structures. Yet, palaces were often grand but not fortified. No matter how you define them, these buildings are fascinating to visit and should be included in your London-based travel plans, especially if any of these sites are on your travel bucket list.

Let’s look at my favorite London Palaces and Castles so you can add them to your Palaces and Castles themed outing.

Buckingham Palace

Of course the royal residences of the United Kingdom’s sovereigns are well known. Located within London and with 775 rooms, Buckingham Palace is not only a home to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip but also the center of national celebrations.

Buckingham Palace Gates in London
Buckingham Palace Gates

Don’t forget to see if the Royal Standard is flying above Buckingham Palace. If it is, the Queen is home!

Royal Standard Flag above Buckingham Palace
When the Royal Standard flag is flying, the Queen is home!

We wished we were the lucky occupants of this car getting to travel inside the gates!

Security at Buckingham Palace
Security checking a car outside Buckingham Palace.

To see the inside of this palatial building, plan a visit well in advance for the summer months and for select tours during December, January, and Easter. Unfortunately, we visited in late May when the Palace was still closed to visitors. I figure, it’s a good excuse for a return trip, right?!

Buckingham Palace in London
Buckingham Palace.

Since our hotel was within walking distance of Buckingham Palace, we were able to take a stroll there on our first night in London. It was a perfect beginning to an incredible London vacation!

Tip: Before setting off to tour London, get a London Pass.

Kensington Palace

Designed by Christopher Wren, Kensington Palace sits on the western edge of London and is the current home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Kensington Palace South View London
South View of Kensington Palace

Many people will recognize Kensington Palace as it was home to the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

Kensington Palace Stairway
Kensington Palace Stairway

Our London Pass included entry to Kensington Palace so we toured during an afternoon including a stroll through some of Kensington Gardens.

Kensington Gardens in London
Kensington Gardens

Palace of Westminster

Big Ben is the focal point of Elizabeth Tower and part of the stunning Gothic architecture of the Palace of Westminster. Housing Parliament, the palace is situated on the north bank of the River Thames.

Palace of Westminster with Big Ben
Palace of Westminster with Big Ben

I was in awe every time we got a glimpse of Big Ben while touring London. Of course, getting to hear the bells chime was also memorable.

The Tower of London

Steeped in history, this historic castle houses the Crown Jewels. However, the Tower of London is equally notable for the famous prisoners like Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Thomas More that were kept (and some beheaded) here.

Tower of London
Tower of London

Included in the London Pass, the Tower of London is a must visit for any history buffs. As such, it gets quite crowded so arrive early in the day before the tour buses roll in.

Tower of London
Tower of London

Hampton Court Palace

As a principal residence of Henry VIII, Hampton Court Palace is filled with Royal history. We arrived before opening and were able to explore the palace with no wait.

Hampton Court Palace
A rainy day at Hampton Court Palace

From Henry VIII’s kitchens to the Great Hall, touring Hampton Court Palace was a highlight of our trip.

Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace

Since we visited on a rainy day, we chose not to explore the garden maze but if you are there on a pleasant day you may want to extend your tour. We hear it’s extremely fun!

Windsor Castle

As a royal residence, Windsor Castle hosts throngs of visitors. So plan ahead, take the hour-long train ride from London to Windsor, and arrive early in the morning.

Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle

As this is a favorite residence of the Queen, I also recommend checking the website to make sure the castle will be open on your preferred touring day.

To enhance your London vacation options, stay tuned to The Castle Concierge for more in-depth reviews.

If you are looking for a fun outing and are lucky enough to live within driving distance of a castle, plan a day trip or weekend exploration. If you are planning to travel to an area that is known for castles, be sure to include at least one in your touring plans.

Want help with your own castle-inspired destination? Email me at [email protected] for a no-obligation, free quote.

What is your favorite London Palace or Castle? Share your thoughts in the comments below or drop us an email.

Kimberly LaPaglia

Kimberly shared her passion for Disney when she was selected for the inaugural Walt Disney World Moms Panel and then as the first Disney Cruise Line panelist. As a Disney Mom, she helped countless families plan their own dream-filled journeys. Blending her love for research, travel, and writing, Kim has been an editor for Disney Food Blog for nearly 8 years. At The Castle Concierge, she blogs about travel, parenting, celebrations, and the road to empty nesting.

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