Where to go when Buckingham Palace is closed

The magnificent State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are only open to the public for two months a year, when the Queen is not in residence, usually between the end of July and late September.

If you're not in London when Buckingham Palace is open during the summer months, there are still plenty of other palaces and castles to visit all year round, and most of them are free to enter if you have a London Pass.

1. Windsor Castle

Take a day trip to Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, just half an hour from London by train. Visit the State Apartments and admire wonderful works of art from the Royal Collection. Don’t miss Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, the largest dolls’ house in the world.

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2. Tower of London

Visit the Tower of London and take a journey through 900 years of history as you explore one of the most famous fortresses in the world. As the Yeoman Warders guide you through passages and staircases, peek into a Medieval king’s bedchamber and stare in awe at the splendour of the Crown Jewels.

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3. Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace is one of the most intriguing Historic Royal Palaces. Learn fascinating anecdotes from Queen Victoria's life; master courtly games in the King's State Apartments; discover a modern princess in an exhibition of Diana's dresses; and have a glimpse of royal life in the Queen's State Apartments.

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4. Royal Mews

Gold State Coach at the Royal Mews

See how the Queen travels by visiting the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace. Housing horses, carriages and vehicles that are used during royal visits, official engagements and the State Opening of Parliament, the Royal Mews is full to the brim with historic coaches and carriages and is one of the finest working stables around.

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5. Hampton Court Palace

Discover Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII’s majestic residence, located in 60 acres of enchanting gardens. Visit the royal kitchens and have fun getting lost in the famous maze. Walk the same corridors as Henry’s six wives, and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of a bygone era.

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6. The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace

The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace stays open all year round. Catch masterpieces by artists such as Vermeer, Rembrandt and da Vinci. The Queen’s Gallery’s grand rooms host rotating exhibitions from the Royal Collection, so you can be sure to find something new every time you visit.

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7. Westminster Abbey

Join the one million people visiting Westminster Abbey each year, admire the gothic architecture, and step back in time to discover 700 years of turbulent history. The coronation Church of England, Westminster Abbey also witnessed the weddings of Queen Elizabeth II, and of Prince William to Kate.

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8. Lambeth Palace

Lambeth Palace has been the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury since the 13th century. Take a tour of the library, crypt and chapel, and admire the magnificent Guard Room with its 14th-century arch-braced roof. Enjoy a journey through British history as you explore the imposing State Drawing Room and Dining Room.

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9. The Household Cavalry Museum

Have a behind-the-scenes look at the ceremonies surrounding The Queen's Mounted Bodyguards, at The Household Cavalry Museum. The museum hosts displays of military artefacts in the impressive backdrop of the House Guards on Whitehall. Don't miss the daily Guard change at 10.50am.

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10. Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle is less than two hours from London by train. The fun and interactive displays make it an amazing place for families. Walk through 1,100 years of history as you explore its dungeons and climb up to the Princess’ Tower. Visit the park, where knight tournaments are arranged seasonally.

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11. Apsley House

Lose yourself in the glorious past enclosed in the halls of Apsley House, The Wellington Museum. Once home to the Duke of Wellington, this imposing Georgian building has changed very little since his victory at Waterloo in 1815. Celebrate the 200th anniversary of the battle, discover interesting anecdotes, and admire the outstanding collection of furniture and works of art among which feature masterpieces by Goya, Velázquez and Rubens.  

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