A few weekends each year, the expansive gardens surrounding Hampton Court Palace are open to visitors for free.

As it happens, the gardens used to be free to wander around every morning, but that changed after the pandemic, and now they’re only open a few days a year — but the upside is that they’re open for the entire day.

The gardens are huge and exceptionally varied, ranging from neat formal box hedged spaces to wide open lawns and even the so-called wilderness, which is pretty well maintained for a wilderness. There’s a long lake which is technically outside the estate but still gives an impressive spot for a photo and numerous paths to wander around and discover new spots.

The free open days don’t include the maze or the children’s magic garden — nor the main palace itself. However, that still leaves enough ornamental garden to wander around and you can comfortably spend half a day there.

Visiting is easy – just turn up and when you approach the Palace, turn left to go into gardens. You don’t need a ticket to go in.

There have been local petitions to reopen the gardens, but Historic Royal Palaces has said that post-pandemic, they need to extra income from charging for garden access. The concession is the handful of free days each year—and fortunately for visitors, mostly at weekends. Some parts of the gardens can be closed for events or maintenance, but even then, you’re likely to get 90% of the space open to wander around.

The free open days for 2024 are on:

There are toilets and a cafe in the gardens.

Getting to Hampton Court Palace

The easiest way is to catch the train to Hampton Court station, which is just a few minutes walk from the Palace. I’d recommend checking the departure times home though, as there are usually just two trains an hour. This way, you can time your departure from the gardens so you’re not waiting around for a train.


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