Windsor, England is an easy day trip from London and a great place to get a taste of England outside of the urban sophistication of London. The town of Windsor is quaint and quintessentially English, and Windsor Castle is a monument of living royal history as one of Queen Elizabeth II’s residences. Click through to see more on how you can make the most a day out in Windsor, England!
From London, trains depart for Windsor throughout the day from Waterloo or Paddington train stations. Travel time is under an hour, and you can book tickets online using Trainline. As of the date of this blog post, prices vary starting from £11.70 for off-peak (i.e., weekend or evening) travel to £19.30 for a same-day return (round-trip) ticket. Trains arrive either into Windsor & Eton Riverside station or Windsor & Eton Central station. Both stations are essentially the same distance from Windsor Castle, the main attraction in Windsor, requiring about a 7-8 minute walk.
WHAT TO SEE
Of course, the main attraction for a day out in Windsor is Windsor Castle, one of the current residences of Queen Elizabeth II. Admission is £19.70 for adults, £12.30 for children (free for kids under 5). It’s best to purchase your tickets online in advance because queues (a British word for “lines”) tend to be pretty long, even first thing in the morning. It’s important to note that Windsor Castle isn’t just a single building; it’s actually a complex with multiple buildings, including St. George’s Chapel where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were actually married. It takes a while to work through all of the places to see at Windsor Castle, so you should budget half a day at a minimum just to make sure you have plenty of time.
Tickets also include an audio guide, including a kid-friendly version that really helps to hold their attention. Don’t miss Queen Mary’s doll house, an exceptionally detailed doll house filled with thousands of real-life objects, and make sure to arrive well before the Changing of the Guard, which happens on the castle grounds at 11:00 am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (subject to change; check the British Army website here for updates).
For little ones, a day out in Windsor also should include a stop at Alexandra Gardens on a hot summer day is a great way to shake the sillies out before going into the staid, ornate interiors of Windsor Castle. The Gardens are on the way to Windsor Castle from Windsor & Eton Riverside train station, and in summers a water play area is available for cooling off. Legoland Windsor Resort is also just a short 20-minute ride from Windsor & Eton Central station via the Greenline 702 bus (or a 10 minute taxi ride). Legoland Windsor is a relatively compact amusement park, so it’s possible to combine a morning out at Windsor Castle with an afternoon at Legoland. Alternatively, you can turn your day out in Windsor to an overnight stay (recommendations below) to maximize your time at Windsor Castle.
WHAT TO EAT
Windsor has no shortage of quaint restaurants and cozy pubs to try during your day out. Wandering off the Castle grounds also gives you a chance to explore the town and imagine Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s carriage parading through the narrow streets. The Two Brewers’ Pub on Park Street dates back to 1792 and has all the trappings of a classic English pub: low walls, cozy fires, and traditional English fare. The pub’s cozy quarters might be a little too cozy for you if you’re traveling with family, though — kids under 16 are not allowed inside.
Alternatively, Lilly’s Cafe on Peascod Street serves warm sultana (large raisin) scones, simple breakfast plates and homemade desserts. Don’t miss a cup of Union Coffee, a smooth, hand-roasted coffee. Alternatively, after finishing your tour of Windsor Castle, stop in at Nell Gwynn Tea Room for one of their famous “cream teas,” an abbreviated version of English afternoon tea consisting of scones, clotted cream, jam and tea of your choice. Families and large groups can stop at Funky Wood for crowd-pleasing pizzas, sandwiches, barbecue and chicken wings.
WHERE TO STAY
The Hilton St. Anne’s Manor in Bracknell is a gorgeous converted manor estate with modern amenities, including an indoor pool. Rooms start at £75 for a single and £85 for doubles. The hotel is about a 25-minute drive to Windsor Castle, so if you’re planning on traveling to Windsor by train, the hotel may not be the most convenient option. In town, the Alma House has five rooms starting at £75 for singles and up to £120 per night for a family of 4, including breakfast. The Castle Hotel Windsor by Sofitel offers a 4-star experience in the center of town with rooms starting at £134/night for doubles.
- For more information on events happening in Windsor, check the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead‘s website here.
- Want to read more about the royal wedding? Check my recap here.
- Not able to cross the pond anytime soon? Check out my roundup of gear to throw your own British-themed party here.
- Just want a hot scone? I’ve got you covered.