What to see at Kensington Palace London
One of my first memories of Kensington Palace London was seeing all the floral tributes piled up on the golden iron gates on the TV. It was to honour the late Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, who had lived there before her tragic passing in 1997. Fast forward to today and is now one of the capital’s major tourist attractions, as well as the residence of the British Royal Family.
Having an annual membership to the Royal Palaces I thought I would take advantage of it and visit Kensington Palace not once but twice.
Kensington Palace is split into two sections, the offices and private accommodation areas (where British Royal Family live ) and the public areas. The offices and private accommodation areas are the responsibility of the Royal Household. The Public areas are managed by the independent charity Historic Royal Palaces (refer below for more details on the membership).
Read More – What to Do at the Tower of London England
There are 4 main public areas that you can explore with your entry to Kensington Palace that is spread out across 3 levels. King’s State Apartments, Queens State Apartments, Victoria Revealed and Diana (Her Fashion Story). All routes around these areas are created that you always lead back to the staircase and main area, where a map will be provided.
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, which is on your way to the to the state apartments. The stunning paintings were created by William Kent and shows the life-sized characters from King George I 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 that 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 in the State Apartments are 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 past away from smallpox at 32 years of age.
- Take a walk through the Queen’s Gallery and picture what it used to be like when Mary lived there.
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 for Kensington Palace unless you would like to go inside.
The Sunken Garden
The pretty Sunken Garden is modelled on a similar garden at Hampton Court Palace and celebrated a style of gardening from the 18th century. The garden is terraced with paving and ornamental flower beds, surrounding an ornamental pond with water cisterns.
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. The Sunken Garden is also where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced to the world that they were in engaged.
The Cradle walk is an arched arbour 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.
The formal gardens are situated in between both the palace Pavilion and the Orangery Restaurant. 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.
- The gardens are a great option after you have been inside the Palace, especially if you like something to eat afterwards.
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 Underground to various buses.
Underground Trains (Tube Stations)
You have a number of option in regards 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.
I usually walk from High Street Kensington tube station which is on both the Circle (yellow) and District lines line (green) and is about 10-15 minute walk.
There are a number of buses that stop near Kensington Palace but it will depend on which direction you are coming from. These buses are as follows:
- Routes 70, 94, 148, 390 (to Bayswater Road)
- Routes 9, 10, 49, 52, 70, 452 (to Kensington High Street)
- Kensington Palace offers free WIFI inside
- If you want to ride, there are cycle racks available at the Sunken Gardens entrance
- 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
- 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)
- 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.
Tower of London is one of 6 properties that is part of the Historic Royal Palaces collection. The Historic Royal Palaces is an independent charity that manages some of the unoccupied royal palaces in Great Britain.
Read More – Hampton Court Palace England
If you are planning on visiting one of the other properties like Tower Bridge or even Hampton Court Palace. It might work out cheaper for you to obtain a membership instead of paying individually for each palace.
I have a Historic Royal Palaces card and I have visited all of the properties, some of them more than once. It is definitely worth it if you are planning to visit more than one of the properties.
Discover more of England
Thank you for reading this article ‘What to see at Kensington Palace London’, I hope it helped you to decide what to to do while visiting the Kensington Palace London.
If you lucky, you might even see one of the Royal residences, like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge or even Princess Eugenie and her husband Jack Brooksbank
How about some these activities around the Kensington Palace London
Disclaimer: I paid to visit Kensington Palace, London and all views are my own and based on my own experience.