Best things to do in Windsor, England

by Jan

Are you planning a visit to England and want to know the best things to do in Windsor?  Or maybe you live here and want to know what to do on a day trip to Windsor?

The royal town of Windsor is a must-see visit for anyone visiting England.  It’s in the south-east of England and home to Windsor Castle, Queen Elizabeth’s weekend home.

Windsor has a rich mix of history and culture. It’s a great place for a day out from London or a short break.  Of course, everyone knows about the world-famous Windsor Castle, but Windsor has many more attractions and things to see.

Visit the royal castle

Windsor Castle is the top attraction for a visit to Windsor.  It is a magnificent building, looking down on the town from its regal position on the hill.  If you’re a first time visitor to Windsor, it is impossible to miss.

William the Conqueror founded Windsor Castle in the 11th Century and it has since been home to 39 monarchs.  Today, it’s the oldest, largest inhabited castle in the world.  It’s no wonder it is one of the most iconic historic landmarks in England.

If you are on a budget, you can enjoy walking round the perimeters of the castle and admiring it from outside.

However, I recommend paying for a visit inside Windsor Castle, as it really is very impressive.  You’ll get to see the magnificent state rooms, opulent furnishings and priceless art.   Not only does it have thousands of years of history in one place, it is still the weekend residence of HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

Windsor Castle, Windsor, UK

If you buy your ticket in advance online, you will be able to skip the queue.  Plus, your ticket is valid for a year, so you can return for a second visit.

For more details on a visit to Windsor Castle, read our post:

A Christmas trip to Windsor Castle

Go to St George's Chapel

St Georges Chapel, Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berkshire, England

Your ticket to Windsor Castle includes admission to St George’s Chapel.  This stunning gothic church stands in the grounds of Windsor Castle.  It was built in 1475 and is still in regular use.

St George’s Chapel is notably the venue for many royal weddings, including HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.  More recently, both Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie have married there.

As well as weddings, St George’s Chapel is the site of many prominent royals.  Most famously King Henry VIII is buried here in a vault alongside his beloved wife, Jane Seymour.

Peek inside Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House

Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House is the largest and most famous dolls’ house in the world.  It was built in 1921 for Queen Mary, with contributions from some of the finest craftsmen in the world.  You’ll see the intricate details that have been put into making the rooms of this royal residence look like the real thing.  The furniture is exquisite and it even has its own crown jewels – in a royal safe, of course!

Your ticket to Windsor Castle includes admission to Queen Mary’s dolls’ house.

Watch the Changing the Guard

One of the unmissable traditional sights in Windsor is the changing of the guard ceremony outside the castle.

The ceremony takes place in Windsor on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11am.  The guards march up the hill from Victoria Barracks and enter Windsor Castle.  Here they hand over their duties to another set of guards, who then return.

It is a very British tradition, which has been running since 1660.  I have seen it many times and never tire of it.

Top Tip:  You can get a very good view from Windsor High Street, without buying a ticket to get into the castle.

The changing of the guards, Windsor Castle, UK

Admire the statues

As you’d expect from such a royal town, Windsor has plenty of statues and memorials paying tribute to our historic past.  The most iconic is the Queen Victoria Statue, which is directly in front of Windsor Castle.

If you head to the other side of the castle, you’ll find the Irish Guardsman Statue.  This 6ft figure was commissioned by the Irish Guards and pays tribute to Irish soldiers lost in the war. It has been cast in bronze salvaged from the Iraq war.

Queen Victoria Statue, Windsor, Berkshire, England
Fallen Irish Guardsmen bronze Statue, Windsor, Berkshire, England

Stroll up Britain’s shortest street

As you stroll the streets surrounding the castle, look out for Queen Charlotte Street.  At fifty-one feet and ten inches in length, it is the shortest street in Britain.

Take a selfie at Windsor’s crooked house

At the end of Queen Charlotte Street is a quirky, crooked house which is tilting heavily to one side.

The Grade II listed building dates back to 1687, when the original building was demolished.  It is now the oldest tea house in England.  The house was reconstructed in 1718, but stands on a slant.  It is currently the home to Jersey Pearls.

The Crooked House of Windsor, Berkshire, England

Visit the Windsor Museum at the Guildhall

Windsor Guildhall is an elegant building next to the castle, with a collection of fine art gifted by the Royal Family.  It has hosted a number of wedding ceremonies, including that of HRH The Prince of Wales and Sir Elton John’s civil partnership.

Upstairs is the small, family-friendly Windsor Museum with a collection of objects relating to the history of Windsor.  Admission cost for adults is only £2.

Step back in time at the Royal Station

Windsor Royal Station, Entrance, Windsor, Berkshire, England

Directly opposite the castle, you’ll see the former Windsor Royal Station.   Today it is a stylish arcade with shops, cafés and restaurants.

This historic station still has many of its original architectural features, including the Jubilee Arch, built in 1897.  Head to the far end of the arcade to see one of the original steam trains, “The Queen”.  On the wall is a mosaic of Harry and Meghan, made completely of Lego squares.

If you want to continue shopping the rail station arcade loops round to join Peascod Street, where you’ll find many more high street shops.

Take a cruise

One of the best ways to enjoy Windsor is to take a river cruise on the River Thames.

Turn right out of the castle to follow the path down to the riverside.    From here you can book a river cruise with French Brothers Boats.  If it’s a sunny day,  hire a rowing boat or have a guided kayak tour with London Kayak Tours.

Alternatively, you could stroll along the Thames and feed the many swans.

Cross the bridge to Eton

No visit to Windsor is complete without a visit to Eton, home to the prestigious Eton College.  It is easy to reach this pretty historic village on foot, by crossing the bridge.

King Henry VI originally founded Eton College as a charity school for poor boys.  However, it is now the world’s most famous public school and chief educator for the British Royal Family and aristocracy.  Both Princes William and Harry attended.

As well as its esteemed college, Eton has a selection of independent gift shops, galleries and stylish restaurants.

Eton Bridge, River Thames, Windsor, Berkshire, England

Take a tour of the town

Windsor Duck Tours, Windsor, Berkshire, England

Windsor is a great place to visit, as everywhere is accessible by foot.

However, if you want to find out more about the history of the town and the local area, you could take an Open Top Bus tour or a Duck tour.  The Duck tour will give you a guided tour of Windsor by road.  It will then head for the water and give you a Thames river cruise.

Enjoy the green spaces

If you are looking for green spaces in Windsor, head to Alexander Gardens or take the Long Walk to Windsor Park.

As its name suggests, the Long Walk is a long walk of 2.64 miles.  It leads from Windsor Castle to the top of Snow Hill, which will give you fantastic views looking back at the castle.  It is still the route for special royal occasions such as weddings and is used by royals for the carriage ride to Ascot Races.

If you have more time, head out of town for a walk at Virginia Water Lake or historic Runnymede.

How do you get to Windsor?

By train

It is very easy to get from London to Windsor by train.  Regular, direct trains from London Paddington or Waterloo take just over an hour.  The Paddington train is faster and more popular.

There are 2 train stations, “Windsor & Eton Central” and “Windsor & Eton Riverside”.  Visit national rail enquiries for details of times and prices.

From the station you can easily walk to Windsor Castle or Windsor town centre.

By car

By bus or coach

You can take the Green Line 702 from Greenline Coach Station, near Victoria station, London.

Alternatively, local buses run frequently from Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 to Windsor.

Windsor is easily accessibly by car.  You can take the M4 from London in about 40 minutes.

There are lots of pay and display car parks, but they do get busy at the weekend and can be expensive.

 

Have you been to Windsor?  What were your best things to do?  Please feel free to comment below.

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