** We visited Windsor Castle in June 2016. This post was updated in October 2019 to reflect accurate information.
Whether it’s your first and tenth visit to London there’s so much more to explore here than just the big city. One of our favourite things to do in London is get out of the city for a little bit and explore some more of the English countryside.
Some of the most popular places in England, including Oxford, Bath, Stonehenge or Hampshire are easily accessible as a quick getaway from the city, perfect for a weekend getaway or even a day trip. But Windsor Castle might just take the cake as one of the best places to visit if you’re looking for a quick trip out of London.
About Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is an official royal residence in the English county of Berkshire. It has an extremely long history with both the English and later the British royal family and is known for it’s beautiful architecture.
The Castle was originally built in the 11th century after the invasion of England by William the Conqueror and since then has been used as military headquarters and a royal residence.
The castle is still used for royal events today, in fact St George’s Chapel on the castle grounds is where Prince Harry and Meaghan Markle got married in 2018! The Queen also visits regularly and often hosts events on the castle grounds. In fact, she was there one day before our visit, hosting a birthday party and parade at the castle! It would have been amazing if we have of known and could have planned our visit on the same day.
I mean, it would have been crazy, but amazing.
In fact, according to the Windsor website the Queen herself actually likes to spend most of her private weekends at the castle. So if there’s an extra lot of fuss happening during your visit, maybe she’s come down for the weekend. Look for a flag flying from the castle’s Round Tower to know if she’s visiting at the same time as you.
Highlights of Windsor Castle
It only takes about two hours to see the best of Windsor Castle, and in that time you can easily fit in all the highlights from around the castle grounds. Some of the highlights of Windsor Castle include –
St George’s Chapel – wedding venue for Harry and Meaghan this beautiful chapel is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England. It is home to the tombs of several monarchs and has actually been the venue for 14 royal weddings. The chapel is closed to visitors on Sundays.
Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House – the largest and most famous doll house in the whole world, Queen Mary’s was built in the early 1920’s and is full of incredibly perfect mini replicas of the actual castle.
State Apartments – furnished with some of the most incredible pieces from the royal collection, the state apartments are not to be missed when visiting the castle.
Changing of the Guard – a wonderful place to watch the traditional changing of the guard ritual. The changing of the guard takes about 30 minutes and takes place at 11am daily during the summer months and a few times a week during the winter months. Make sure you check the schedule for your visit before you go because times and dates can often change.
Getting to Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is only an hour away from central London and is very easy to get to. There are quite a few different transportation options to get you there –
By train – there are direct trains to Windsor and Eton Riverside Station departing regularly from London Waterloo or London Paddington Stations. You can either use your Oyster Card for the trip or purchase an individual ticket.
By coach – catch the green line on their daily service from London Victoria Coach Station.
By car – if you have rented a car for your visit to England leave the M4 at Junction 6 and follow the signs into Windsor centre, but there is no visitor car park at the castle so you’ll have to plan your parking situation before you arrive.
Admission to Windsor Castle
Tickets to Windsor Castle cost £22.50 per adult (approximately $40.75 AUD), with discounts for families, children, disabled visitors, students and seniors.
Opening times to Windsor Castle change regularly throughout the year depending on the season and whether there are any royal events taking place.
Generally during the summer/shoulder season from the 1st of March until the 31st of October the castle is open from 9:30am until 5:15pm from Monday to Sunday. From November through to February the closing time is brought forward to 4:15pm.
Last admission is about 75 minutes before closing. To avoid any disappointment make sure you check the exact times before you go, as they’re often subject to change.
After you’ve checked out Windsor Castle make sure you take the time to explore a little more of the town of Windsor. There is a beautiful shopping complex just near the train station called Windsor Royal Shopping which is definitely worth having a look around.
The town of Windsor is made up of narrow cobbles streets, with lots of super cute restaurants, shops and theatres to check out just a short walk from the castle. For the ultimate English countryside experience make sure you stop somewhere in Windsor for a traditional English morning tea of scones and cucumber sandwiches.