5 Royal Palaces You Should Add to Your Travel Bucket List
Plan a Trip to Explore These 5 Impressive Palaces
We’ve all been buzzing about the big wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. And after seeing hundreds of spectators converge on Windsor Castle, it’s no surprise that fans enjoy following in the footsteps of the Royals – from their ornate residences to their favorite travel destinations. Now, we just want to know where the happy couple will go for their honeymoon… maybe a safari in Botswana or post-nuptial jaunt to Madagascar or the Seychelles? Time will tell. Well, in the meantime… for travelers who want to explore some of the most amazing royal palaces in the world, we’ve got a list for you! One of Vacation’s expert travel agents can help you plan a royal tour to these palatial pads, including a popular palace that Harry and Meghan will visit more often after they tie the knot.
Mysore Palace (India)
In few palaces can you walk in the footsteps of the Maharajas through the corridors of the royal house. The Amba Vilas Palace is one such place. Commonly known as the Mysore Palace, it’s a relatively young structure, completed in 1912 after a fire devastated the previous palace complex.
Its popularity lies in the extravagant artistry of its interiors. A mosaic, stained-glass ceiling dome diffuses colored light into the octagonal-shaped center of the ceremonial hall, held up by iron pillars. Elaborate hand-carved doors, hand-painted murals and exquisite antiques add an air of opulence to the palace, which is now in the hands of the state.
What makes the palace a true beauty, however, is how it lights up at night. Each evening, during the spectacular Dasara festival, 97,000 light bulbs illuminate the building’s exterior, twinkling for 45 minutes and testing the power grid during an event that attracts thousands.
Don’t Miss: The famous wooden elephant howdah, a ceremonial saddle built for riding elephants, decorated with 185 pounds of gold.
There is no palace quite as glamorous as the gilded halls of Versailles. Located in the outskirts of Paris, the opulent palace started as a royal hunting lodge, became the center stage for the pageantry of the Royal Court, played a starring role in the French Revolution, and today, welcomes the masses as one of Europe’s grandest museums.
While the fate of those with a taste for high living who called this place home is well known, once you’ve walked through the Hall of Mirrors, it’s hard not to become mesmerized by lavish and indulgent trimmings of the house.
The chateau itself is considered to be the best example of French architectural style, but those who find the interiors to be a bit over the top can find respite in the exquisite gardens. Expertly landscaped, the gardens surrounding the chateau bring the necessary spatial balance to the heavy structure, transforming the bold building into a magnificent palace.
Don’t Miss: In the summer, Versailles hosts an exclusively ticketed musical fountain show, set in the gardens designed by Andre Le Notre.
The crimson castle of Alhambra has captivated travelers for centuries. Over time, the intricate network of palaces concealed within its walls have acted as a home for the sultans, a fortress for the emirs, a convent for conquistadors, a refuge for squatters, and now, Grenada’s premier tourist attraction.
Today, the UNESCO World Heritage site stands as the largest surviving medieval Islamic palace complex in the world – and to step inside is to truly step back in time. The structure’s survival is in part thanks to the travelers who romanticized the castle in the 1800s, decrying its neglect and spreading the word of a national treasure fallen into despair. Alhambra’s popularity would then shift its status to become a national monument, and today, tickets often sell out far in advance. A few scenes of the popular TV show, “Game of Thrones,” were shot here, renewing interest in the historical site.
Carved wooden ceilings, walls adorned with intricate Arabic calligraphy, archways and lavish Moorish baths are complimented by a green oasis of landscaped gardens, shaded walkways, bright patios, cascading water fountains and brilliant reflective pools.
Don’t Miss: Overlooked by most visitors is a visit to the Generalife, the meticulously landscaped and beautiful gardens.
Winter Palace (Russia)
It is difficult to not feel humbled by the Winter Palace. Architecturally, there is the magnificent structure itself, the epitome of Russian baroque style and lavishly trimmed inside with all the finery fit for a Russian tsar.
In any history book you can read how the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace in one of the key events of the Russian Revolution, bringing an end to the Romanov dynasty, but only the astute visitor will notice how the hands on the clock in the White Dining Room stopped at the precise moment when the palace fell.
And then there is the appeal of the Winter Palace as it is today – trustee and gatekeeper to one of the world’s greatest collections of art. Reincarnated as the Hermitage museum, the Winter Palace displays work by artists from Matisse and Monet to Renoir and Rembrandt. And it’s also the custodian to a whole room full of Rubens! From any perspective, the Winter Palace is a remarkable place with a truly remarkable story.
Don’t Miss: The 600-ton, 1,560-foot Alexander Column in Cathedral Square, carved from a single block of red granite.
Buckingham Palace (United Kingdom)
Seeing the changing of the guard in front of Buckingham Palace has been a firm favorite amongst visitors to London for decades, but it wasn’t until the summer of 1993 that the public was able to go beyond the golden gates of Buckingham Palace to see the London residence of Queen Elizabeth II.
Every summer, a limited number of people gain admittance to a small selection of the palace’s 19 State Rooms. Despite its plain exterior, the interior is significant for its elegance and refinement, from the elaborate chandeliers gracing the blue drawing room to the powerful deep velvet red of the throne room and the extensive collection of 17th century art in the painting room, including works by Titan and Rembrandt.
What sets Buckingham Palace apart from all other royal houses, however, is that it is a working palace: one still used by a robust monarchy hosting celebrations, ceremonies and state receptions, and a place of business for the palace staff. It’s also home to the world’s longest reigning monarch.
Don’t Miss: After a tour of the palace, indulge in a cup of tea on the lawn.
Inspired by this article and want to speak with an expert travel agent about how you can plan a trip to one or more of these palatial pads? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts match you with an expert travel agent to customize an itinerary you’re gonna love.