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Holyrood Palace – tickets, prices, timings, what to expect

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Holyrood Palace is the British Queen’s official residence in Scotland.

It is located at the end of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, near the foot of the extinct volcano, Arthur’s Seat.

More than 1.5 million tourists visit this Scottish attraction yearly to explore 14 stunning State Apartments, the ruins of 12th-century Holyrood Abbey, the Royal Gardens, and the ongoing exhibitions in the Queen’s Gallery.

It is known by many names, such as the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Holyrood Castle, Holyrood House, Holyrood Palace Edinburgh, etc.

This article shares everything you must know before booking your tickets for the Holyroodhouse Palace tour.

What to expect at Palace of Holyroodhouse

A visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse offers a glimpse into the history, art, and royal life associated with the Scottish monarchy.

Explore the grand State Apartments used for official ceremonies and events.

These rooms are richly decorated and showcase the luxury and history of the palace.

Some notable rooms include the Mary, Queen of Scots Chambers, Throne Room and Privy Chamber, King’s Bedchamber, Holyrood Abbey, Great Gallery, Palace Gardens, and more.

The Queen’s Gallery hosts changing exhibitions of items from the Royal Collection.

These exhibitions often include paintings, drawings, and other works of art from the vast royal holdings.

Holyrood Abbey dates back to the 12th century and provides a picturesque backdrop to the palace.

Visitors can walk through the abbey’s grounds and learn about its history.

The gardens are well-maintained and offer a peaceful retreat, providing views of Arthur’s Seat and the surrounding landscape.

The palace offers amenities such as a gift shop and a café, providing opportunities to purchase souvenirs and refreshments during your visit.

Where to book tickets

Tickets for Holyrood Palace are available online or at the box office.

Online ticket prices tend to be cheaper than tickets at the venue.

When you buy online, you can avoid the long queues at the attraction’s ticket counters.

Because the attraction sells limited tickets, they may sell out during peak days. Booking early helps avoid last-minute disappointments.

How online tickets work

Once you purchase Palace of Holyroodhouse tickets, they get delivered to your email address.

There is no need to get printouts of the ticket.

On the day of your visit, show your e-voucher on your smartphone on arrival at the Palace of Holyroodhouse ticket office to exchange for an entrance ticket.


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Holyrood Palace ticket prices

The Palace of Holyroodhouse entry ticket is priced at £20 for all visitors aged 25 years and above.

The ticket price for youth between 18 and 24 years is discounted, and they pay £13 to enter.

Children between five and 17 years also pay a discounted price of £10 for entry.

Infants aged four years and below can enter for free.

Holyrood Palace tickets

This popular online ticket offers the cheapest Holyrood Palace tour. 

The ticket gets you access to everything in Edinburgh’s Holyroodhouse complex, including the State Apartments, Mary Queen of Scots’ historic chambers, the Throne Room, Holyrood Abbey, the Royal Gardens, etc. 

You also get a complimentary 1-hour audio guide in Spanish, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, or Scots Gaelic. 

At the end of your multimedia tour, enjoy a refreshing drink or light lunch (at your expense) at the Café at the Palace.

Note: If you wish to visit the exhibitions at the Queen’s Gallery, you must buy an additional ticket. 

Ticket Prices

Adult Ticket (25+ years): £20
Youth Ticket (18 to 24 years): £13
Child Ticket (5 to 17 years): £10
Infant Ticket (up to 4 years): Free entry

Royal Attractions + Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour

This ticket includes 48-hour unlimited travel on three of Edinburgh’s hop-on-hop-off bus tours: Edinburgh City Sightseeing, Edinburgh Tour, and Majestic Tour.

If you are visiting Edinburgh for the first time, we highly recommend this Royal attractions combo. 

This ticket gets you to access three of the best attractions in the city:

  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Royal Yacht Britannia
  • Palace of Holyroodhouse

Use your bus ticket to reach the top attractions, leaving the city behind and heading to the coast at Newhaven through Edinburgh’s New Town. As the bus returns, you can jump off at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Canongate section of the Royal Mile to walk up to Edinburgh Castle. 

Combo ticket

The attractions, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Great Tapestry of Scotland are near each other and can be covered in one day. After visiting the Palace of Holyroodhouse, you can see the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

Both the attractions are only 58 km (36 miles) apart, and for most users, it takes only 30 to 35 minutes to reach by car.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Great Tapestry of Scotland are two of the most visited attractions in Edinburgh.

Book this combo ticket to get the most out of your visit to the city.


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How to reach Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace is Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, opposite Edinburgh Castle.

Address: Palace of Holyroodhouse, Canongate, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH8 8DX

Key of the Royal Mile map above:

  1. Edinburgh Castle
  2. Ramsay Garden
  3. Castle Hill
  4. Gladstone’s Land
  5. Bordie’s Close
  6. St. Giles Cathedral
  7. Cockburn Street
  8. The Storytelling Cafe
  9. John Knox House
  10. Canongate Tolbooth
  11. Canongate Church
  12. Parliament Building
  13. Palace & Abbey of Holyroodhouse
  14. Holyrood Park

You can reach the attraction by car or public transport.

By Bus

To get to Holyroodhouse Palace, you must board bus number 35 (of the Lothian bus service).

The bus must be on its way from Sighthill to Ocean Terminal. 

You can get down at Abbeyhill Crescent or the Scottish Parliament bus stop.

Both are within a three-minute walk from Holyrood Castle.

Both the popular hop-on, hop-off bus tours in the city – the Edinburgh Bus Tour and City Sightseeing’s Bus Tour stop at the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

By Tram

Trams are an efficient but slow means to get to Holyrood House. 

The latest times and fares are available on the official website of Edinburgh Trams.

It is best to get down at York Place Tram Stop, 1.5 km (a mile) from Holyrood House, available trams are 1, 4, 19, 34, 5, 45. 

From York Place, a brisk 20-minute walk can get you to your destination.

By Train

Edinburgh Waverley is the closest train station to Holyrood Palace with available trains – Avanti West Coast, Caledonian Sleeper, CrossCountry, LNER, ScotRail, lumo, Transpennine Express.

Edinburgh Waverley station to Holyrood Palace
Map Courtesy: Thetrainline.com

You can get the latest times and ticket prices from National Rail Enquiries.

By Car

When you travel by car turn on Google Maps and get started.

Holyrood Palace parking

Parking is available at Broad Pavement, St Margaret’s Loch, Dunsapie Loch, and Duddingston Loch car parks.

Broad Pavement parking is closest to Holyrood Palace and has 140 slots. 

On weekdays the cost of parking is £1 an hour, and it is free on weekends and holidays such as Good Friday, Easter Monday, Christmas, Boxing Day, and New Year. 

The parking charges apply from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm.

Accessible parking

A small number of accessible public parking spaces are available on Horse Wynd

All Blue Badge holders can use these parking bays, managed by the City of Edinburgh Council.

There are numerous parking spaces around the attraction.


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Holyrood Palace’s opening times

During the peak months (1 April to 31 October), the Palace of Holyroodhouse opens at 9.30 am and closes at 6 pm. The last admission is at 4.30 pm. 

During the lean months (1 November to 31 March), the Holyrood Palace hours are from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm, and the last admission is at 3.15 pm. 

Since the Holyroodhouse is a working royal palace, closures are sometimes announced at short notice.

The Holyrood Palace is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, except during July, August and September, when they are open seven days a week. 

How long does Holyrood Palace take

Visitors explore the beautiful State Apartments at Holyrood Palace and the ruins of 12th-century Holyrood Abbey in two to three hours. 

The complimentary Holyrood Palace audio guide lasts around an hour.

If you plan to see the exhibitions in the Queen’s Gallery, you will need an additional hour, and to explore the Royal Gardens, you will require yet another hour. 

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the Holyrood Palace is when it opens for the day at 9.30 am.

Spring is a lovely time to visit as the weather begins to warm up and the gardens surrounding Holyrood Palace bloom.

The tourist season is also starting but still needs to peak, so you may encounter fewer crowds than in the summer months.

Summer is the peak tourist season in Edinburgh, with longer days and milder temperatures. It is the busiest time, and Holyrood Palace can be crowded.

If you are okay with the crowds and want to experience the city at its liveliest, summer could be a good choice.


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What to see at Holyrood Palace?

Holyrood Palace’s interior and exterior are masterclass in Baroque decoration. 

And it is only natural to want to know what lies inside the Palace of Holyroodhouse before booking your tickets. 

State Apartments

The State Apartments at Holyroodhouse are famous for their beautiful plasterwork on the ceilings and French and Flemish tapestries hanging from the walls. 

The King’s Bedchamber

Only the most important guests were allowed in the King’s Bed Chamber, dominated by a State Bed.

The bed has been in the room since 1684.

In the 1970s, the bed was refurbished, and the original material still exists on the headboard, cornice, and canopy.

A few things to look out for in the King’s Bed Chamber are the Chinese porcelain bowl (made between 1680 and 1700), the painting of The Infant Hercules Strangling Serpents, and the 17th century Case Clock. 

Royal Dining Room

Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Royal Family used this as their dining room when they stayed at the Palace. 

King George V and Queen Mary got the silver on display on the dining table as a present in 1935.

Early 17th-century Scottish examples inspired their design. 

Throne Room

The Royals used the Throne Room for receptions and other State occasions. 

Don’t miss out on the two thrones commissioned for Holyroodhouse by King George V in 1911.

When The Queen visited Scotland, she hosted lunch in the Throne Room for the Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Thistle.

Privy Chamber

The Privy Chamber is a room designed in the 1600s and was used by the Queen for private audiences when she is visiting. 

Visitors can’t afford to miss Dutchman Jan van Santvoort’s mark on the intricate panel carvings around the room.

Don’t miss out on the painting Bathing Scene by a River and the French tapestries, which tell Diana’s story, the hunting goddess.

The tapestries are more than 350 years old – they were bought for Charles II in 1668 and have hung in the Privy Chamber since 1796. 

Mary, Queen of Scots’ Chambers

Even though she lived here briefly (1561-1567), Holyrood Palace’s Mary Queen of Scots is the most famous person associated with the Palace. 

Her time at the Palace was full of intrigue, tragedy, and murder, and you can feel it all when you reach the section of Holyrood Castle, where she lived, via the narrow, steep, and winding staircase.

Bedchamber

Mary, Queen of Scots’ Bedchamber is the most famous room in Scotland.

Watch out for the low doorway of the Bedchamber when you enter. It is kind of funny because Mary was six feet tall. 

Don’t miss out on the decorative oak ceiling and the painted frieze.

Supper Room

The Supper Room of Holyrood House was witness to the gruesome murder of Queen Mary’s private Secretary. 

On 9 Mar 1566, when Mary was dining with a few of her lady friends and Secretary David Rizzio, her jealous husband Lord Darnley barged in with a group of Scottish Lords.

In front of the Queen, who was then six months pregnant, her Secretary was stabbed 56 times and killed. 

During your visit, you can try to spot the bloodstains from Rizzio’s body in the outer chamber.

Outer Chamber

Queen Mary received guests in the Outer Chamber. 

In this room, the Roman Catholic Queen has engaged in many debates with John Knox, the Scottish Protestant cleric. 

Check out her oak-paneled Oratory, St Andrew’s cross in the ceiling, and the Darnley Jewel.

Bonnie Prince Charlie

Bonnie Prince Charlie’s real name was Prince Charles Edward Stuart. 

He stayed at the Palace of Holyroodhouse for about six weeks in 1745.

Charles had come to Scotland to win back Great Britain’s throne for his father, James Francis Edward Stuart, who was in exile.

He was welcomed with open arms by the locals. 

During his stay at the Palace, the public was allowed to watch him even as he dined in the ante-chamber.

Great Gallery is 44 meters (144 feet) long, making it the largest room in the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

It showcases paintings of 95 Kings and one Queen. 

The portraits depict the long line of the Stuart dynasty, starting with Fergus I, the founder of Scotland.

Mary, Queen of Scots, is the only Queen to adorn the walls of the Great Gallery.

Nowadays, the British Queen uses the Great Gallery to host state banquets, dinners, and receptions during her visit to Scotland. 

Holyrood Abbey

Where is Holyrood Abbey

Holyrood Abbey is right next to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse ticket gets you entry to the Holyrood Abbey as well. 

Before it became the ruins it is today, Holyrood Abbey was once one of Scotland’s most beautiful medieval abbeys.

While you appreciate the beauty of the ancient building, don’t miss out on the following – 

  • Wander through the Abbey’s roofless nave
  • Check out the East processional doorway, the only part David I built in 1128 that’s still surviving
  • Spend time looking at the West front, which has Gothic facades and windows
  • See the royal vault, the resting place of many Scottish greats

Free Holyrood Abbey tours

Palace Wardens run a free guided tour of Holyrood Abbey every hour, and Holyroodhouse ticket holders can join in.

The tours start inside the Abbey ruins, and the guide narrates the place’s history, stories, myths, and legends.

Palace Gardens

Palace Gardens at Holyroodhouse
Image: Rct.uk

The beautiful 4-hectare manicured enclosure at the Palace of Holyroodhouse is also known as the Palace Gardens.

The Gardens sit within the much larger Holyrood Park.

During your visit, check out Queen Mary’s sundial, which was made for Charles I’s Scottish coronation in 1633. 

Access to the Palace Gardens is part of the Holyroodhouse entrance ticket. However, they aren’t open all through the year. 

Timings: Holyroodhouse Palace Gardens are open every day from 1 April to 31 October, and from 1 November to 31 March.  


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Holyrood Palace audio guide

The Palace of Holyroodhouse’s complimentary multimedia tour lasts approximately one hour.

The audio guide, which you can collect at the entrance, is available in English, Gaelic, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Mandarin, and British Sign Language. 

You can also collect a printed version of the tour transcript instead of the audio guide. 

Holyrood Palace also offers an audio guide customized for children aged 7 to 11.

This ‘family audio guide’ is available only in English. 

Warden Short Talks

Warden short talks at Holyrood Castle
Image: Rct.uk

At regular intervals, the wardens at Holyrood Castle offer Short Talks, narrating quick stories about the Palace life.

Look out for Short Talk signs on the visitor route, or you can ask one of the wardens for more details.


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Food at Holyrood Palace

Eating and drinking are not allowed inside the Palace of Holyroodhouse. 

If you carry food and drinks, the guards will ask you to pack them in closed bags before entering the Palace. 

To reenergize yourself during or after your tour, visit the Café at the Palace in the Mews Courtyard.

The restaurant serves a selection of soups, main courses, delicious salads, sandwiches, home-baked cakes, etc. 

Holyrood Palace afternoon tea

If you fancy afternoon tea at Holyrood Palace, the Cafe at the Palace is perfect. 

From 1 April to 31 October, afternoon tea is served daily between 12 noon to 4 pm, and from 1 November to 31 March, tea is served from 12 noon to 3 pm. 

When you book an afternoon tea, along with your choice of loose-leaf tea, you also enjoy home-made cakes, pastries, sandwiches, etc. 

Price of afternoon tea

Traditional afternoon Tea: £30 per person
Afternoon tea with sparkling wine: £35 per person
Children’s Afternoon Tea: £10 per person


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Visiting Holyrood Palace with children

Holyrood Palace Edinburgh is a kid-friendly Scottish attraction. 

We list a few of the ways the Palace tries to make the kids feel welcome –

Audio Guide for kids

The free interactive multimedia tour for families lets kids and adults learn about the Palace and its residents.

The whole family can look together for unusual furniture, sparkling jewels, etc. 

Parents who have used the family audio guide believe it got their kids interested in the history and details of the Palace and helped them absorb more information. 

The Family Room

This room is a dedicated space for families to relax and re-energize. 

You and your kids can engage in fun stories, games, period costumes, creative activities, etc.

Don’t miss out on the arts and crafts sessions.

Family Garden Trail

Family Garden Tours at Holyroodhouse Palace

There are lots of things about the Palace Gardens that can amuse a curious child.

You and your child can follow the Family Garden Trail to explore woodland paths and giant lawns.

And try to figure out where and why a lion lived in the Garden Palace grounds. Image: Rct.uk

Family Abbey Trail

With the Holyrood Abbey Family Trail, you can explore the 900-years-old building with your child. 

You get to find out how it got its name, about the Monks who lived in the building, and many famous events.

You can download the Family Garden Trail worksheets from here, or pick them up from the Family Room (at the end of the Palace tour) before you step out to the Gardens and the Abbey ruins.


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Queen's Gallery at Holyroodhouse Palace
Image: Rct.uk

The Queen’s Gallery at the Palace of Holyroodhouse hosts themed exhibitions, which are continuously changing. 

Exhibits such as paintings, rare furniture, decorative arts, photographs, etc., get picked from the Royal Collection and put together for the visitors. 

These are also called Holyrood Palace exhibitions; to visit them, one needs to buy the Queen’s Gallery ticket

Tourists can experience these exhibitions with the help of a complimentary audio tour available in English.

Some of the exhibition themes in recent times have been –

Eastern Encounters: Paintings and manuscripts from Indian sub-continent
George IV: Art & Spectacle
George Washington Wilson: Queen Victoria’s photographer in Scotland

Queen’s Gallery with kids

Queen's Gallery Family Activity Bag

To appeal to families with children aged 5 to 11, the Queen’s Gallery offers an Art Spy Family Activity Bag.

The Family Activity Bag is free with the Queen’s Gallery Exhibition ticket, and you can pick them up at the Exhibition entrance. Image: Rct.uk


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Holyrood Park

At 650 acres, Holyrood Park is the most abundant green space in Edinburgh.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Palace Gardens are in one corner of Holyrood Park. 

Holyrood, also a royal park, started as a twelfth-century royal hunting estate.

Holyrood Park sees an equal number of tourists and locals.

Some tourists prefer to explore Holyrood Park after seeing the Palace, while others prefer to make it a separate activity.

We list out a few things you can see and do at Holyrood Park – 

Climb one of the hills

There are a few peaks to conquer in the Park, and Arthur’s Seat is the most popular of them all. 

At 251 meters (820 feet), Arthur’s Seat is Edinburgh’s highest point.

Sportier tourists tend to climb the Aurthr’s seat to take in the views of the city. 

Locals believe the other hills in the Park, especially Salisbury Crags, offer better views.

But since they aren’t as tall as Arthur’s Seat, they don’t get the attention. 

Things to see

There are lots of attractions to see in the massive Holyrood Park.

St Margaret’s Loch: Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert, built this loch to improve the Park during her reign.

St Anthony’s Chapel: Dedicated to St Anthony of Egypt, this Chapel was built in the early 1400s. 

Hunter’s Bog: JJohn Huntar was Canongate’s Treasurer and Holyrood Park’s Keeper from 1566 to 67. Back then, it used to be called Grundles Myre. Mary, Queen of Scots, requested him to drain the King’s Meadow and, in return, gave him a 19-year lease on the area that would go on to be called Holyrood Park.

Piper’s path: In 1778, some soldiers mutinied over rumors that the King was sending them abroad. As a means of protest, they went up Arthur’s Seat, and it was during this time, that a piper played his pipe to keep up their spirit. The path he walked is still called Piper’s path.

Iron Age hill fort: The fort and an old field boundary stand out in this snowy view looking West across the Park. 

Cultivation terraces: Crow Hill has a well-preserved series of cultivation terraces. The terraces in Holyrood Park were created in the early medieval period.

FAQs about the Holyrood Palace

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Holyrood Palace:

Do I need to purchase tickets in advance for Holyrood Palace?

Depending on the season and expected crowd levels, it is advisable to purchase tickets in advance to avoid long lines and disappointment. Online booking options are highly recommended.

Are any combination tickets available for Holyrood Palace and other attractions in the area?

Some locations offer combination tickets that provide access to multiple attractions at a discounted rate. You can book a combo of Holyrood Palace + Entry to Great Tapestry of Scotland.

Is there a refund policy for purchased tickets?

Free cancellation is available, and you can cancel your ticket up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund.

Is Holyrood Palace accessible for individuals with disabilities?

The Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh is mostly accessible, with some restrictions. Most of the building and gardens are wheelchair accessible, but a spiral staircase can only access Mary, Queen of Scots Chambers.

Can I take photos inside Holyrood Palace?

Photography inside the Palace is not permitted.

Sources
# Rct.uk
# Visitscotland.com
# Wikipedia.org
# Townandcountrymag.com

The travel specialists at TheBetterVacation.com use only high-quality sources while researching & writing their articles. We make every attempt to keep our content current, reliable and trustworthy.

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