10 Royal Residences You Can Actually Visit

By Briana Seftel

Has the recent news from Buckingham Palace given you a case of royal fever? You're in luck, because around the world, commoners like us can get a glimpse into royal life. Check out these ten residences around the world fit for a king or queen!

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Himeji Castle • Himeji, Japan

Widely considered the most beautiful and best preserved castle in Japan, Himeji Castle's origins date all the way back to 1333. The stunning castle with its white exterior is also known as Hakuro-jō or Shirasagi-jō (White Heron Castle) because it resembles a bird taking flight.

Royal Palace • Madrid, Spain

Get a taste of Spanish royalty at the Royal Palace of Madrid. While the Royal Family resides at the more modest Palace of Zarzuela, this palace continues to be their official residence. Completed in 1764 by the order of Philip V, visitors can tour its many lavish rooms, the Hall of Mirrors, Campo del Moro Gardens, and paintings by Velazquez, Goya and El Greco.

Buckingham Palace • London, England

Right in the heart of London, Buckingham Palace is where Queen Elizabeth calls home. See the famous Changing of the Guards, then take a tour of the palace - as long as the Royal Family is away. Just outside of London is the Queen's preferred weekend getaway, Windsor Castle.

Topkapi Palace • Istanbul, Turkey

The former court of the Ottoman Empire is as colorful on the outside as the history it sheltered for more than 400 years. Transformed into a museum in 1924, the palace is home to such magnificent sights like the imperial harem and jewel-filled treasury. Wandering through its maze of courtyards and gardens will have you dreaming of a bygone era of sultans and secrets.

Schönbrunn Palace • Vienna, Austria

Imperial Vienna is a royal lover's dream: in the city alone, there are three opulent palaces, one of the most famous being Schloss Schönbrunn. This 1441-room baroque palace was the summer residence of the mighty Habsburgs from 1642 to 1918. In addition to the interiors and gardens, Schönbrunn is home to the world's oldest zoo.

Grand Palace • Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok's Grand Palace was the home of Thai royalty for 150 years, and to this today it is considered the spiritual heart of the country. Within the palace complex are several impressive structures including Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall, and the Royal Monastery.

Keep in mind: the Grand Palace is one of the most sacred places in Thailand, so act accordingly and avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts.

Catherine Palace • St. Petersburg, Russia

Just south of St. Petersburg lies Catherine Palace, the summer residence of Russian tsars. Named after Catherine I, wife of Peter the Great, the palace was transformed into all of its pale blue and white glory by Catherine's daughter, Empress Elizabeth. Tour the world-famous Amber Room, Great Hall, Arabesque Hall, and the Cavalier's Dining Room - all lovingly restored after the destruction of WWII.

Palace of Fontainebleau • Fontainebleau, France

A popular day trip from Paris, the Palace of Fontainebleau is the only royal château to have been continuously inhabited for seven centuries, from Louis VII to Napoleon III. With 1500 rooms set over 130 acres, it is one of the largest royal chateaux in France. From forested grounds to the Queen's bedroom, you can't help but say "c'est magnifique!"

Wawel Castle • Krakow, Poland

Dominating the medieval city of Krakow, Wawel Castle was once the political and cultural heart of Poland. Dating back to the 11th century, Wawel has had many lives as a royal residence and is now a museum containing five distinct sections. It is also home to one of Poland's premier art collections including works by Delacroix, Rubens, and Dossi.

Forbidden City • Beijing, China

As the world’s largest palace complex, the Forbidden City in Beijing can be quite an overwhelming sight for first-time visitors. Home to emperors for nearly 500 years, the complex houses a staggering 9999 rooms over 178 acres. Surrounded by scarlet citadel walls, you could spend several days exploring this fascinating site including the Gate of Heavenly Peace and the Three Great Halls.

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