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Home > Articles > Country Spotlight > Top royal attractions in the UK
Country Spotlight 

Top royal attractions in the UK

Image: Visit Britain

As the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday, Tom Beetham rounds up the top royal attractions to incorporate into a trip to the UK

 

1. Buckingham Palace

The Queen’s official London residence is the most famous royal attraction in the country. In the summer months, a guided tour of the garden and State Rooms is available. Although this is only a fraction of the 775-room residence, these areas are where visiting dignitaries are entertained, so the decor is suitably lavish. The world-famous Changing the Guard ceremony can be glimpsed for free outside the palace gates daily from May to July, and on alternate days for the rest of the year. royalcollection.org.uk/visit/the-state-rooms-buckingham-palace

2. Palace of Holyroodhouse

Located at the bottom of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, Holyroodhouse Palace is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Famously once home to the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots, her apartments are now part of a tour that also includes access to the State Apartments, the gardens and the Queen’s Gallery, which showcases works from the Royal Collection. royalcollection.org.uk/visit/palace-of-holyroodhouse

Westminster Abbey

Image: Visit Britain

3. Westminster Abbey

This stunning Gothic church, located to the west of the Palace of Westminster is steeped in history and tradition, having been a fixture of British life for almost 1,000 years. As well as hosting the coronation of every monarch since 1066, 16 royal weddings have also taken place underneath its vaulted ceilings — making it one of the defining institutions of the British monarchy. westminster-abbey.org

Portsmouth Historical Dockyard

Image: Visit Britain

4. Portsmouth Historical Dockyard

Britain was for hundreds of years the nation that ruled the waves. Those days may be long gone but the historical artefacts from the county’s naval past are, thankfully, well preserved. Nowhere is this more evident than in the city of Portsmouth, on the South coast, about two hours from London. As well as being the current home of the Royal Navy, the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is host to a myriad of engaging and informative historic sites such as the Mary Rose, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Royal Marines Museum, making for a great family day out. historicdockyard.co.uk

Sandringham Estate

Image: Visit Britain

5. Sandringham Estate

The Norfolk estate of Sandringham is where the Queen spends Christmas with her family. Sandringham has been the private home of four generations of British monarchs, and is now partially open to the public from April to November. Surrounded on all sides by stunning lawns and immaculate hedges, the large Victorian country house was referred to by King George V as ‘dear old Sandringham’ and the house still remains a favorite with the Royal Family today. sandringhamestate.co.uk

6. Royal Mews

Located at Buckingham Palace, the Royal Mews are working stables, and home to the royal collection of historic coaches and carriages, as well as the various cars used for state occasions. The Gold State Coach, the official transport during the Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002, is one of the most eye-catching pieces in this fascinating collection. royalcollection.org.uk/visit/royalmews

7. Victoria and Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum is one of the world’s greatest art and design, museum, presenting more than 3,000 years of human production and creativity. Created in 1852 and later renamed the Victoria and Albert museum by Queen Victoria in memory of her late husband, who’d been an avid supporter of the museum and the arts. The stunning museum offers an outstanding selection of free, permanent exhibits covering everything from British history to the Renaissance, as well as a program of temporary exhibitions. vam.ac.uk

Windsor Castle

Image: Visit Britain

8. Windsor Castle

Thirty minutes by train from London, Windsor Castle is said to be the Queen’s favorite residence, and with Windsor, Eton, and the Windsor Great Park on its doorstep, it’s easy to see why. The castle is believed to be the oldest occupied castle in the world, and in addition, boasts the burial ground of 10 monarchs in St George’s Chapel, magnificent State Apartments and Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. royalcollection.org.uk/visit/windsorcastle

9. Hampton Court Palace

The magnificent Hampton Court Palace found in west London is arguably the most eye-catching of the royal residences. Although no longer lived in, the palace was of great importance during the Tudor period, which it now pays homage to with a museum. Immerse yourself in a bygone era in the kitchens of King Henry VIII, or wander the palace gardens — renowned as some of the most beautiful in the world. hrp.org.uk/hamptoncourtpalace

10. Tower of London

The iconic Tower of London has one of the most fascinating and chequered histories of any royal building in Britain. Over the past 900 years, it’s been used as a royal palace, prison, place of execution, jewel house, zoo and an arsenal. The Tower currently houses the Crown Jewels and is also the spot where two of King Henry VIII’s unfortunate wives were beheaded. The iconic Yeoman Warders, or ‘Beefeaters’, provide tours around this magical fortress, bringing to life its rich and bloodied past. hrp.org.uk/toweroflondon

Read our ultimate guide to London here. 

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