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.
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.
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
Don’t forget to see if the Royal Standard is flying above Buckingham Palace. If it is, the Queen is home!
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 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?!
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.
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.
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
Our London Pass included entry to Kensington Palace so we toured during an afternoon including a stroll through some of 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
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
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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@example.com 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.
50 Travel Bucket List Items to Inspire Your Vacations
Before you “kick the bucket”, you probably have a few things that you still want to accomplish and thus, you’ve placed them on your travel bucket list. If you’re not terrified of heights (like me), you may want to climb Mount Everest. Or perhaps you want to escape to a wilderness cabin. If you aren’t sure what to put on your travel bucket list, I have some inspiration for you gathered from 50 travel bucket list items that I’ve crossed off my list. (Except for the ones I want to do again!) 😉
50 Travel Bucket List Items
I’m truly grateful that these items have been crossed off my list. I hope you add some of these to your list too.
1. Visited Stonehenge on a day trip from London.
2. Visited Carthage and Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia, Africa.
3. Explored Pompeii in Italy.
Pompeii was amazing.
4. Sailed into the port at Valletta, Malta.
Sailing into the Grand Harbor, Malta.
5. Toured The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota.
6. Saw the Roman Colosseum.
7. Stared in awe at Niagara Falls from both the U.S. and Canada sides.
8. Walked around Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.
9. Spent time horse back riding in Wyoming.
Horseback riding at Bill Cody Ranch in Wyoming
10. Saw amazing wildlife in Yellowstone National Park.
11. Gazed out on the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
12. Saw cherry blossoms in full bloom at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC.
13. Went whale watching from Provincetown, MA.
14. Drove through the Badlands National Park, South Dakota.
15. Hiked in Zion National Park, Utah.
The Virgin River on the Emerald Pools Trail in Zion.
16. Contemplated logistics in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas.
17. Took a picture of a ghost at Farnsworth House, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
18. Looked for aliens in Roswell, New Mexico.
19. Saw Phantom of the Opera in Toronto, Canada.
20. Saw a Broadway play in NYC.
21. Swam with dolphins while visiting Grand Bahama Island.
22. Took our son for his first ocean trip to Ocean City, Maryland.
First trip to the ocean
23. Rented beautiful beach houses in the Outer Banks, NC.
24. Snorkeled in the Bahamas.
25. Traveled solo on a seven night Caribbean cruise with Disney Cruise Line.
26. Traveled by train to Pisa and saw the Leaning Tower.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
27. Kissed my husband under the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
28. Gazed up at the oculus in the Pantheon, Rome, Italy.
29. Spent a beautiful day at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.
30. Visited the British Museum in London.
31. Toured the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa in Paris, France.
There she is!
32. Visited the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Castles and Royalty
33. Saw the Queen of England in London.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh leave Buckingham Palace for the State Opening of Parliament
34. Saw Princess Diana’s wedding gown on display in St. Louis, Missouri.
35. Contemplated history at the Tower of London.
36. Visited Windsor castle.
Movies and Literature
37. Rode a train then double decker bus to the Warner Bros. Studios Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.
Choose YOUR travel themed vacation!
38. Descended into the Delta-01 Launch Control Facility at the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site in South Dakota.
39. Went aboard the USS Midway in San Diego, California.
40. Toured the Churchill War Rooms in London.
Walk in Churchill’s footsteps.
41. Rode a trolley in San Francisco.
Food and Beverages
42. Drank hot chocolate in Barcelona, Spain.
43. Visited the D-Day beaches, near Normandy, France.
Remembering D-Day at Utah Beach.
44. Enjoyed living history at Jamestown Settlement in Williamsburg, VA.
45. Experienced a candlelit evening of colonial dance at the Governor’s Palace, Williamsburg, Virginia.
46. Went to a Memorial Day ceremony in the dark at Mount Rushmore.
47. Saw the Milky Way from Bryce Canyon.
48. Saw a rocket launch (twice) from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
New Horizons Rocket Launch, January 2006.
49. Rode in Cinderella’s Coach between Disney’s Grand Floridan Resort and Disney’s Wedding Pavilion at Walt Disney for our vow renewal.
Cinderella’s Coach arrives The Wedding Pavilion for our 10th Anniversary Vow Renewal
50. Stayed at Prince of Wales Hotel at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada.
Now I can’t wait to hear what’s on your travel bucket list. Tell me one unique item on your list!