Kensington Palace is not only one of London’s major tourist attractions to see. It also serves as a residence for some of the Royal Family. While only a section of the Palace is open to the public there is still a lot to see inside. One of my first memories of Kensington Palace was seeing all the floral tributes piled up on the golden iron gates on TV. It was to honour the late Lady Diana, Princess of Wales. Who had lived at the Palace before her tragic death.
About Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace is split into two sections, the offices and private accommodation areas (where Royal Family live). Then the public areas of old state apartments are and the exhibition is held. The private offices and accommodations of the Royal family are managed by the Royal Household.
While the independent charity Historic Royal Palaces manage the public area of Kensington Palace. One of the other places included in the collection is the Tower of London, which is also worth a visit.
Location of Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace is located in Kensington gardens an exclusive street in Kensington, west London. High street Kensington is the closest tube station and is only a 5-minute walk away. Nearby you have Hyde Park, Princess Diana Memorial Fountain and Buckingham Palace.
Alternatively, you can get a bus which can be used with an oyster card or contactless bank card. You can also get around the top London sites by a hop-on-hop-off bus.
What to see inside Kensington Palace
There are 4 main areas across 3 floors to see inside Kensington Palace as a part of your entry ticket. King’s State Apartments, Queens State Apartments, Victoria Revealed and Diana (Her Fashion Story).
When you enter inside you can pick up one of the free maps that shows where you can explore, with each area colour coded. The routeing system inside is pretty easy to follow and you won’t get lost as they lead back to the staircase main area. It should only take you around 1-2hrs to see everything inside Kensington Palace.
The King’s Staircase
One of my favourite parts of the palace and one of the first things you will see is the King’s staircase with a grand chandelier. As it is on your way to the state apartments. It is painted with life-sized characters from King George I’s court hosting lavish parties. If you look up close, you will see a young portrait of William Kent on the ceiling, in a brown artist’s cap and holding a palette.
The State Apartments
A good starting point is both the King’s State Apartments and the Queen’s State Apartments which are located on the second floor of Kensington Palace. The State Apartments comprise several individual rooms, each with its own unique charms like the Cupola Room.
The interior of the State Apartments is impressive and unlike your normal domestic rooms were used for audiences and meetings. Even the Queen’s Dining Room where Mary and William would dine together, out of the public eye, is a stunning room.
The Queen’s State Apartments
There are 5 rooms that make up the Queen’s State Apartments (Queen’s Drawing Room, Bedroom, Dining Room, Close and Gallery). This area is considered to be the oldest part of the palace and it was created for Queen Mary II, who ruled with King William III.
As you can imagine these rooms have many stories to tell especially as this is where the royals slept, had their meals, and entertained their friends and distinguished guests. The Queen’s Bedroom is also where Queen Mary II passed away from smallpox at 32 years of age. Picture what it used to be like when Mary lived there when walking through the Queen’s Gallery.
What to see outside Kensington Palace
Once you have finished seeing everything inside Kensington Palace, then head outside. Where you will see the Palace gardens that feature the Diana Princess of Wales Statue in the sunken gardens, while you walk along the cradle wall.
The gardens should only take around 30 minutes to walk around. Then head to either the cafe or restaurant afterwards for something to eat. Another great historical site that has amazing gardens worth a visit is Hever Castle, the home of Anne Boylen.
The Palace Gardens
There are three areas that make up the palace gardens, the Sunken Garden, Cradle Walk, and Formal Gardens. You can walk around and enjoy the Palace gardens for free and do not have to buy a ticket to Kensington Palace unless you would like to go inside.
The Sunken Garden
The pretty Sunken Garden is modeled on a similar garden at Hampton Court Palace and celebrated a style of gardening from the 18th century. Surrounding an ornamental pond with water cisterns the garden is terraced with paving and ornamental flower beds
There is a tradition that still continues today that the palace rotates the flower displays in the spring and summer, keeping everything looking up to date and fresh. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement to the world at the Sunken garden.
The Cradle walk is an arched arbor of red-twigged lime, the walk surrounds the Sunken Garden which offers various viewpoints especially of the sunken garden in the middle. If looking for somewhere to take photos in the area, this is where I see Instagrammers taking their photos all the time.
Located in between both the palace Pavilion and the Orangery Restaurant is the formal gardens. The garden setting and graceful architecture made it a perfect venue for royal events. They were originally part of Hyde Park and when Anne became Queen in 1702, she created an English-style garden.
In 1704 the Orangery was added, an elaborate greenhouse built in the style of an elegant palace to protect Anne’s citrus trees from the harsh frosts of winter. Currently, the Orangery restaurant is closed due to renovation. However, you can still enjoy afternoon tea or a drink at the pavilion and take in the garden views.
How to get to Kensington Palace
Situated in West London in Kensington Gardens and only a 5-10minute walk away from Hyde Park is Kensington Palace. With such an ideal location, getting there is accessible in various ways from the Underground to various buses.
Underground Trains (Tube Stations)
You have a number of options in regard to Tube Stations near Kensington Palace, depending on which line you are using. These are High Street Kensington station, Queensway station or Notting Hill Gate station, all rang from 10-30minutes walk. Both the Circle (yellow) and District lines line (green) and is about a 10-15 minute walk.
What bus to catch to Kensington
There are a number of buses that stop near Kensington Palace. However, it will depend on which direction you are coming from. These buses are routes 70, 94, 148, 390 (to Bayswater Road) and routes 9, 10, 49, 52, 70, and 452 (to Kensington High Street). You can also take a Hop-On Hop-Off Open Top Bus which goes past Kensington Palace.
Related Kensington Palace Tours
Additional Information about seeing Kensington Palace
- Duration – It should take you around 3-4hours to get around Kensington Palace
- Opening Time – from 10 am to 4 pm daily (Summer) 10 am to 6 pm daily (Winter)
- The last entry – is an hour before closing
- Closed – 24th-26th Dec
- Online Bookings – You can book your tickets online to save time and money. Make sure you print them out before you go.
- Multimedia Guides – You can one at an additional cost.
Top Tip before heading to the Palace
- Kensington Palace offers free WIFI inside
- If you want to ride, there are cycle racks available at the Sunken Gardens entrance
- Stay connected with 4G SIM Card while visiting the United Kingdom to keep update with maps and things to do.
- After looking around the Palace, how about have a delicious afternoon tea in the Pavilion restaurant?
- You can leave your backpacks and large bags in the guest reception.
- You can use your camera & mobile phone without flash
See inside free with Historic Royal Palaces
You can see inside Kensington Palace for free if you have a membership in the Historic Royal Palaces collection. It is an independent charity that manages some of the unoccupied royal palaces in Great Britain. Other properties that are a part of the Historic Royal Palaces collection are Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London
One of the things to think about getting if you are planning on visiting Kensington Palace is the Historic Royal Palaces membership. It will work out a lot cheaper, especially if you are going to the other famous royal palaces that are part of the collection. I had a Historic Royal Palaces card and it is definitely worth it as I used it more than once.
Tickets to see Kensington Palace
Another option to go inside Kensington Palace is to get a London Pass. It is a great idea if you are visiting the capital and want to go to other historical landmark sites. A London Pass includes over 80 attractions and you can purchase a 1-10 day Pass.
The Sunken Garden at Kensington Palace, London
Other historical places to see in London
Are you going to see any other historical places while in London? Then head to my history page for some inspiration or read the helpful articles on the following attractions in England.
Thank you for reading this article ‘What to see and do at Kensington Palace London’. I hope it helped you to decide what to do while visiting Kensington Palace London.
If you are lucky, you might even see one of the Royal residences, like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
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⇒ Looking to discover other parts of London, please feel free to head to my England page.
Have you been to Kensington Palace London before? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments below.
Disclaimer: I paid to visit Kensington Palace, London, and all views are my own and based on my own experience.