Everything you need to know to plan and book your visit to Kensington Palace
- Everything you need to know to plan and book your visit to Kensington Palace
- Visiting Kensington Palace – Tickets & Tours
- Visiting Kensington Palace
- Kensington Palace Opening Times
- When is the best time to visit Kensington Palace?
- What to see at Kensington Palace
- What other UK attractions are located near Kensington Palace?
- Tips for planning your visit to Kensington Palace
- Visit these other London attractions and landmarks – tickets, tours & FAQs
Visiting Kensington Palace – Tickets & Tours
Nearest Tube station – High Street Kensington (Circle and District lines) or Queensway (Central line)
How long to set aside for your visit?
It will take about two hours or more to explore the palace and its glorious gardens.
Do note that some tours may not include entry to Kensington Palace, but only the gardens
Visiting Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace Facts and Figures
- Princess Diana lived at Kensington Palace. Princes William and Harry also spent some of their early years here. After their mother’s sudden death in 1997, the grounds outside the grand building were carpeted in floral tributes from members of the public.
- Queen Victoria grew up at Kensington Palace. She also first met Prince Albert there. The V&A (Victoria and Albert) Museum in nearby South Kensington is named after the lovestruck Royal couple. Victoria lived there until she became Queen.
- The so-called Kensington System was a stringent and detailed set of rules laid out by Victoria, Duchess of Kent and the mother of Queen Victoria. The system was meant to increase the young royal’s dependency on her mother, but in fact made her more strong-willed and independent than ever.
- The late Princess Margaret, the sister of Queen Elizabeth II and the Countess of Snowdon, was one of the true socialites of Kensington Palace. She held lots of parties there during the 1960s, which were attended by the likes of the Beatles, actor Peter Sellers, ballet dancers Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev, actresses Britt Ekland and Elizabeth Taylor and even comedian Spike Milligan.
- King William III first bought Kensington Palace for health reasons. His fragile disposition reacted badly to the fog, dampness and smoke of central London, so he bought the building, which was then located in a village outside the capital. Ironically he died of pneumonia at the palace. It was formerly known simply as Nottingham House.
- A book of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci was discovered at the palace in 1770. This was over 180 years after the Mona Lisa artist died. Drawings by Henry VIII’s court painter were also discovered during the 1700s – two centuries later.
- The palace was used for practical purposes during both World Wars. In World War I, it was used for clerical reasons and the staff concerned had to adhere to rationing. When World War II was going on, Kensington Palace Gardens were used for military defence, but were also hit by a bomb which damaged parts of the palace, including the State Apartments.
- Did you know that one of the Peter Pan books was set in Kensington Gardens? Author J. M. Barrie penned Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens as he lived locally. Various parts of the gardens feature in the fictional tale about the boy who never wanted to grow up. The Peter Pan statue in the gardens dates from 1912, only a few years after the book’s publication.
- Despite her unhappy childhood spent at the palace, Queen Victoria saved the iconic palace during the final years of her life. Due to neglect, there was talk of the palace being razed to the ground in around 1897, but the Queen managed to turn its fortunes around. By 1899, the restored State Rooms at the palace were open to the public.
- You can hire parts of the palace for a Royal (style) wedding or another event. Spaces such as the King’s Drawing Room, the Cupola, the Queen’s Gallery, the Privy Chamber and the King’s Gallery can be rented out.
Kensington Palace Opening Times
Kensington Palace is open between Wednesday and Sunday, apart from planned closures such as exhibition preparation, restoration work or Royal events like the coronation of King Charles III.
The palace opens between 10 am and 6 pm, with the last entry an hour earlier. It’s closed to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays.
The gardens are open to the public from 6 am daily. Closing times vary throughout the year. They range between 4.15 pm during most of December to 9.45 pm between early June and mid-July.
The times reflect the hours of darkness in London. This is why they are seasonal. The UK’s shortest day is in mid to late December, and the longest in mid to late June. Entry to the gardens alone is free.
When is the best time to visit Kensington Palace?
- Kensington Palace is open from Wednesday to Sunday and is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
- If you can, visit on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday rather than on Saturday or Sunday. This is because weekends are busier.
- The summer season is also a busy time for the palace. The UK school holidays run from mid-July to the start of September, so you can expect the palace to be busy during this period.
- For a more peaceful experience, get there before the palace opens for the day. Alternatively, visit in the afternoon, around two hours before closing time.
- If you want to visit Kensington Palace Gardens only, or separately, you can do this between 6 am and nightfall. Closing times for the gardens vary according to the season and sunset times, though they are always open to pedestrians at 6 am. Entry to the gardens is free.
What to see at Kensington Palace
There is plenty to see at Kensington Palace, plus you also have the gardens to explore. Inside, the King’s State Apartments, the Queen’s State Apartments, the King’s Staircase, the Jewel Room and the King’s Gallery are among the main attractions.
Kensington Palace also hosts a regular programme of events. At the time of writing, for example, events included a Crown to Couture exhibition about historic and contemporary costumes. Victoria: A Royal Childhood also told the tale of the famous Queen’s formative years.
Kensington Gardens is also a major attraction in its own right. Some of the highlights of this outside space include the Sunken Garden, the wildflower meadow in spring and summer, the shady Cradle Walk (aka Nanny Walk) and the Formal Gardens.
What other UK attractions are located near Kensington Palace?
- The Serpentine Galleries (in Kensington Gardens)
- The V&A (Victoria and Albert) Museum
- The Natural History Museum
- The Science Museum
- The Design Museum
- The Leighton House Museum
- The Royal Albert Hall
- Kensington High Street
- The Churchill Arms
- Holland Park
- Knightsbridge – Harrods!
- Hyde Park
- Notting Hill
Tips for planning your visit to Kensington Palace
- If you can, buy tickets for Kensington Palace in advance. This means you can avoid queueing up to get in. It’s often busy here, especially in summer and at weekends.
- The palace is closed for two days each week, on Mondays and Tuesdays. Part or all of it can also close for restoration work, the setting up of exhibitions and Royal events.
- Though you’ll have to pay to tour the palace, entry to the gardens is free. They open daily at 6 am and close at around sunset. You can see the palace from the outside here.
- Book an afternoon tea at the palace if you have time. It’s a splendid setting for such a quintessential British tradition. You can book this alongside your ticket via the links given at the top of this guide.
- You can experience afternoon tea at the Kensington Palace Pavilion but if you prefer you can also find plenty of places to pick up food and drinks or eat at on Kensington High Street.
- Do allow time for the gardens. They’re one of the highlights of the palace experience. They are free to enter, though, so returning on another day may be an option you could consider.
- If you’re a fan of the late Princess Diana – the first wife of King Charles III – then don’t miss the Sunken Garden. This is said to have been one of her favourite spots of all.
- It’s worth thinking about which London museums you want to visit before planning your day at the palace. Several prominent museums – including the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the V&A are also in the Kensington area. This can save on travel time and costs. Entry is free to all three, though it’s worth checking whether online booking is required.
- Take the tube to the palace. High Street Kensington is a good one to go for, as it’s on both the Circle and District lines. You can also find lots of shops, cafes and so on right by the station. If you have access to the Central line, though, Queensway could be more convenient.
- Try to plan your visit for a sunny day, if possible. This is tricky in a country with an often-wet climate, but exploring Kensington Gardens is far more pleasant when the sun is shining!
Visit these other London attractions and landmarks – tickets, tours & FAQs
- The Tower of London
- Westminster Abbey
- The London Eye
- Windsor Castle
- Hampton Court Palace
- St Paul’s Cathedral