For a royal day out, you simply need to visit some of the most spectacular palaces in England. From the iconic royal residences of London to Bishopthorpe Palace in York, there are countless amazing English palaces to discover.
England is home to some of the world’s most fascinating and beautiful palaces. These magnificent structures have witnessed countless significant events and provided homes to numerous influential figures, making them not just architectural marvels, but also cultural treasures.
London may boast England’s best-known palaces – like Buckingham Palace and Kew Gardens – but you’ll find countless palaces throughout the nation, from medieval fortresses to ornate Baroque mansions.
Whether you’re a royalty devotee, history buff or architecture enthusiast, one of the best palaces in England promises a day out that will leave a lasting impression.
Most Incredible Palaces in England
Visit the most famous palaces in England to get a glimpse into the rich and illustrious history of the nation’s most powerful figures.
1. Buckingham Palace, London
Buckingham Palace is one of the most iconic palaces in the world and one of the most visited palaces in England. It’s been the primary royal residence since the reign of Queen Victoria, though the property itself dates back to 1703.
Buckingham Palace’s neoclassical exterior features a symmetrical façade with Corinthian columns and a central block flanked by two wings. The interior of the palace is just as opulent – book a tour of the State Rooms to gain an insight into the life and work of the royal family.
Other highlights of Buckingham Palace include the Queen’s Gallery and the 39-acre manicured gardens. Head to the Royal Mews to browse the royal family’s collection of horses, carriages and coaches, including the famous Gold State Coach.
If you fancy a royal day out in London, Buckingham Palace makes a good starting point. You don’t need to spend a penny to appreciate the palace’s exterior. Watching the Changing of the Guard ceremony is also one of the best free things to do in London.
2. Kensington Palace, London
Originally constructed in 1605, Kensington Palace became a royal residence when it was purchased by King William III and Queen Mary II in 1689. Since then, it’s provided a home to Queen Victoria, Princess Diana, and the current Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The palace’s exterior reflects a range of architectural styles, including Jacobean and Rococo. Inside, you can browse galleries that showcase the history of the palace, its residents and the royal family. Take a stroll through Kensington Gardens to see statues, memorials, manicured greens and the Round Pond.
After exploring this famous landmark in London, head to the adjacent Hyde Park for activities such as boating and cycling.
3. Kew Palace, London
For a glimpse into the private lives of the royal family during the Georgian era, head over to Kew Palace. While not the largest of royal residences, the palace’s red symmetrical façade is especially striking.
Kew Palace was originally built in 1631 by wealthy silk merchant Samuel Fortrey. It gained royal attention during the 1720s, when George II and Queen Caroline started using it as a weekend retreat. Much of the interior has remained unchanged since the 18th century.
4. Hampton Court Palace, Surrey
The Hampton Court Palace is one of the most famous Tudor palaces in England. While royals including William of Orange and Mary II have called it home, the place is best known for being the favourite house of Henry VIII.
Book a tour of the Hampton Court Palace if you want to explore the Base Court, Tudor Kitchens, and State Rooms and Apartments. You can browse a range of Tudor portraits in the Haunted Gallery, where many visitors have claimed to witness the ghost of Catherine Howard, Henry VIII’s fifth wife.
While exploring the 60-acre gardens, you’ll discover the world’s oldest puzzle maze, beautiful greenspaces and the Wildnerness Meadows.
You’ll find the Hampton Court Palace on the southwestern edge of London, making it an ideal place to visit on a day out in Surrey.
5. Windsor Castle, Berkshire
While not technically a palace, Windsor Castle is one of the most famous royal residences in England. It’s also the world’s longest occupied castle.
Windsor Castle was founded by William the Conqueror during the 11th century. Since then, 40 monarchs have lived within its walls. Besides its fabulous exterior, the highlights of Windsor Castle include the historic State Rooms, the Moat Room, Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House and Saint George’s Chapel. We also recommend watching the Changing of the Guard ceremony.
If you want to explore one of England’s most fascinating castles, Windsor Castle is a must-visit – it’s one of the most recognizable landmarks in the UK. Find out how to make the most of a day trip to Windsor Castle. While you’re here, you might want to visit more of Berkshire’s top attractions.
6. Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
One of England’s finest examples of Baroque architecture, Blenheim Palace boasts over three centuries of history. It’s well known for being the former home of Sir Winston Churchill, and it remains in the possession of the Dukes of Marlborough to this day.
Christmas at Blenheim Palace is something to behold!
Inside this Grade I listed building, you can discover the State Rooms, the Sir Winston Churchill Exhibition and the Private Apartments. While strolling through the estate’s 2,000 acres of parkland, you’ll see the award-winning Formal Gardens. You can also ride through the family-friendly Walled Garden on a miniature train.
On top of being one of the best days out in Oxfordshire, Blenheim palace is one of the most famous UNESCO sites in England. It’s certainly not a place to miss if you’re a fan of England’s stately homes.
7. The Royal Pavillion, East Sussex
The Royal Pavillion in Brighton is one of the most distinctive palaces in England, characterised by its Regency grandeur, Chinese-influenced interiors and Indian architecture.
This extravagant palace was constructed under the orders of George, Prince of Wales in 1787. The prince’s larger-than-life personality is evident in every inch of the palace’s design.
Book a tour of the Royal Pavillion, and you’ll get to see Queen Victoria’s Apartments, the King’s Apartments, the Long Gallery and the Great Kitchen. Outside, the garden has recently been restored to reflect John Nash’s original designs.
The Royal Pavillion is one of the most famous palaces in England outside of London, and it’s probably the most unique palace in the UK. You can reach the Royal Pavillion on a day trip from central London by train in under 1 hour and 20 minutes. While visiting Brighton, check out one of England’s best beaches. We can easily spend the full day here on a day out in East Sussex.
8. Osborne House, Isle of Wight
Take a trip to Osborne House on the Isle of Wight to admire the former family home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Inside Osbourne House, you can peruse the opulent private apartments to gain a glimpse into royal life. In the grand reception rooms, you’ll see works of art from the Royal Collection. Outside, you can wander through flower-filled gardens and browse the quirky Swiss Cottage. You can even grab a space for yourself on the beach to relax under the sun.
There’s so much to see on this beautiful island that you might want to spend a night or two here. You’ll find some amazing and unusual places to stay on the Isle of Wight.
9. Apethorpe Palace, Northamptonshire
While technically a country house, Apethorpe Palace is one of England’s most prestigious former royal residences. It was once owned by a string of Tudor and Stuart monarchs, including Elizabeth I and Henry VIII.
The most famous state rooms inside Apethorpe Palace include the Long Gallery and the King’s Bedchamber, both of which remain mostly unaltered since the Jacobean era. While the property is a private residence, you can book a guided tour of Apethorpe Palace, which will last around 1.5 hours. We can almost guarantee it’ll be a highlight of your day trip to Northamptonshire.
10. Bishopthorpe Palace, York
Constructed between 1241 and 1250, the Grade I listed Bishopthorpe Palace is the Archbishop of York’s official residence. On top of being the Archbishop’s home, Bishopthorpe Palace hosts open days, dinners, retreats and village fetes.
Most of the palace’s architecture that you can see today is in the Gothic style. Some of the most impressive rooms include the Brewster’s cottage, the brewhouse and the gatehouse.
After visiting Bishopthorpe Palace, make the most of your day out in York by visiting historical landmarks such as Clifford’s Tower and the York City Walls. Or, visit some more attractions in North Yorkshire – it’s home to some of England’s best National Parks.
11. Palace of Beaulieu, Essex
Dating all the way back to the 13th century, the Palace of Beaulieu in Essex is a former royal palace that was purchased by King Henry VIII in 1516. Today, the property is home to a school called New Hall.
Henry VIII started to see the palace as outdated towards the end of his reign and it was alienated as a Crown possession during the reign of Elizabeth I. While much of the original palace was demolished in the 18th century, much of the original north wing remains, which is a great example of Tudor brickwork.
What are your favourite palaces in England?
As you can see, there are plenty of spectacular palaces in England outside of London, many of which are open to the public and boast hundreds of years of royal history. If you’re staying in the capital, you might want to check out the palaces of Lambeth, Richmond, Eltham and Winchester. Wherever you are in England, there’s a fascinating palace, stately home or castle just around the corner.
Are there any palaces or royal residences you think deserve a mention on our list? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Quick list of the most incredible palaces in England
- Buckingham Palace, London
- Kensington Palace, London
- Kew Palace, London
- Hampton Court Palace, Surrey
- Windsor Castle, Berkshire
- Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
- The Royal Pavillion, East Sussex
- Osbourne House, Isle of Wight
- Apethorpe Palace, Northamptonshire
- Bishopthorpe Palace, York
- Palace of Beaulieu, Essex