Tips for Visiting Hampton Court PalacePosted: 2011-02-17
I've just retuned from a family day out at Hampton Court Palace, one of the most heavily visited historic attractions in the Greater London area. I thought it might be worthwhile passing along a few tips that might help make your trip easier and more enjoyable if you've been planning a visit.
Like most of the Historic Royal Palaces (the others include Kensington Palace, Tower of London, the Banqueting House and Kew Palace) ticket prices at Hampton Court are on the high end. Our normal admission prices for a family of four would have been £42. However, my other half discovered that by shopping at a ubiquitous grocery store (mentioning no names, but it starts with T and ends with O) we could accumulate 'points' which could be redeemed for vouchers entitling us to a discount.
How much of a discount? Well, in our case we got £30 off normal entry, so we ended up paying only £12 for a family of four. Not bad, in my opinion. So, if you normally shop at Tescos (oh dear, I've given away the name), you might consider getting a discount card and piling up points.
You can, of course, get to Hampton Court by public transport. There is service via Southwest Trains from Waterloo station, or join the train at Wimbledon Underground Station. Buses 111, 216, 411, 461, R68, 513 serve Hampton Court, and there are regular tourist cruises along the river from Westminster, Richmond-upon-Thames, and Kingston-upon-Thames.
However, if you are coming by car you have two parking choices. The most obvious is the parking area at the Palace itself, but this is small, and can be crowded. If you drive a few hundred yards past the Palace, west on Hampton Court Road (on the north bank of the Thames) you come to a larger paid parking area which is cheaper than the main parking lot. Its a very short walk from this parking lot to the palace, and you are more likely to find spaces.
Give yourself plenty of time! We arrived before noon, and never did see all there was to see before the palace started to close. Especially if you have a family, you'll need plenty of time to see everything.
Mind you, we needed to rush out to make sure my shopaholic 10-year old had a fair go at the palace shop before it closed! Really, it could easily take all day if you go at a slow enough pace to actually see and enjoy everything there is to see.
Listen to the Costumed Guides
I normally avoid costumed character guides at historic attractions like the plague, though my kids like them. I generally enjoy poking about on my own instead. But I have to say, the 'Tudor' guides at Hampton Court were really excellent. They were entertaining, informative, and just a whole lot of fun to listen to.
I learned a lot about the palace and the people who lived there, in a quite enjoyable way. So if you have a chance to follow a costumed guide, or just to buttonhole one and ask questions, you'll find you get more out of your visit. I did.
There you have it - nothing earth-shaking, just a few ideas that will hopefully help you have an enjoyable day out. I quite enjoyed visiting the Palace, and can definitely recommend it.