Very often people ask us about the iconic monuments in and around London. With so much to see and do, it is easy to get overwhelmed when trying to put together an itinerary. We know you want to make the most of your time in this historic city. So to help, we’ve put together a list of a handful of frequently asked questions and answered them ourselves.
Q: Can I visit Buckingham Palace?
A: Yes, you can visit Buckingham Palace, but parts of the Palace are only opened to the public during certain times of year. Because Buckingham Palace is the official residence of Her Majesty the Queen, the Palace’s nineteen State Rooms are only opened to the public for eight weeks per year, when the Queen makes her annual visit to Scotland. This year, the State Rooms will be open to visitors from 27 July to 29 September, with tickets available for purchase here. The Royal Mews and the Queen’s Gallery are open daily throughout the year, and tickets can be purchased through their respective ticket offices.
Q: Can I visit Big Ben?
A: Only permanent UK residents may tour the Elizabethan Tower (popularly known as Big Ben) at this time. For UK residents, tours are free of charge and may be booked by contacting your local MP or Member of the House of Lords, though it is recommended they be booked well in advance as tours are now fully booked until the end of September 2013.
Q: Can I see the inside of Stonehenge?
A: Although not possible during normal opening hours, you may visit the inside of Stonehenge by pre-booking with Stonehenge Circle Access. Visits take place in the early morning or late evening only and last for one hour, with a maximum of 26 participants on each visit. Stonehenge Circle Access is not available on Tuesday or Wednesday mornings, as the site is closed for maintenance, and should be booked well in advance of when you plan to visit. Those interested in booking must complete an Application Form. All enquiries concerning availability may be made at +44 (0)870 333 0605 Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm.
Q: What is the Changing of the Guard and do I need tickets for it?
A: The Changing of the Guard, also known as the Guard Mounting, is the process of the old guard exchanging duty with the new guard: the St. James Place detachment of the Old Guard marches along the Mall to meet with the remainder of the Old Guard at Buckingham Palace. The New Guard then marches into the Palace Forecourt and is symbolically handed the Palace keys before the Old Guard retires to the barracks. Tickets are not required for viewing the ceremony. For most of the year Guard Mounting takes place on alternate dates, but it is held daily (except Sundays) from April to July. Guard Mounting takes places at 11.30am at Buckingham Palace and at 11.00am at Windsor Castle. For those wanting to enhance the experience of watching the ceremony, the Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace App is available for purchase from the App Store here and offers behind-the-scenes videos, an interactive map, a timetable of events, and even a guide to spotting the different regiments.
Q: Can I do a cruise along the Thames?
A: Yes. London’s foremost River Bus, a fleet of high-speed catamarans owned by KPMG Thames Clippers, offers you the opportunity to traverse the city while gaining spectacular views of several of London’s most prominent landmarks. With a variety of suggested itineraries and information about attractions situated minutes from the river, the Thames Clippers provides a unique, competitively-priced experience for everyone from the commuter to the corporate jetsetter. Corporate and private hire is available. Route maps, timetables, and ticketing information can be found here.