If you’re looking for a majestic getaway, get ready to be swept away by the beauty and history of Windsor Castle. You may have got an idea of what the inside of this royal residence looks like during season four of The Crown, but did you know that you can see the real thing? Queen Elizabeth’s weekend retreat welcomes the public throughout the year, and the castle receives 1.65 million visitors annually from around the world. With over 1,000 years of architectural history, the iconic changing of the guard and stunning displays of royal treasures, it’s no wonder this residence is one of the most popular days out near London.
Whatever the time of year, you’ll find a range of tours available to learn more about the history of Windsor Castle and its 39 monarchs. As the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, there are treasures to discover around every corner.
Ready to find out more? Here you’ll find everything you need to know about visiting Windsor Castle, including how to get there, where to book tickets, the best castle tours and much more.
Where is Windsor Castle?
Windsor Castle is located in Windsor, a historic market town in the English county of Berkshire. Sitting just west of London, the castle is within walking distance of both the town centre and the River Thames. With two train stations and a ferry terminal within ten minutes of its grounds, Windsor Castle is a fantastic option for a day trip without a car.
Around Windsor you’ll also find some other fascinating places to add to your excursion. Head down to the river and stroll over the Eton Walkway bridge and you’ll find yourself in the quaint town of Eton with its world-famous boarding school. You can also take a river boat to the Royal Windsor Racecourse, which is set back on its own island in the middle of the Thames.
How to get to Windsor Castle?
With a huge choice of travel options to pick from, getting to Windsor Castle has never been easier. As it’s such a popular destination, many people prefer to take public transport to avoid queues and parking delays.
Travelling by train
There are two main train stations in Windsor, both within a 10-minute walk of the castle. The first is Windsor & Eton Riverside, which is just outside the town centre by the River Thames. The second is Windsor & Eton Central, which is in the town centre.
If you’re travelling from outside of London, some of the most popular train routes to Windsor Castle run from Ascot, Wokingham, Reading, Farnham, Staines, Ashford (Surrey) and Egham.
There are a flexible range of ticket types to choose from. Get cheap train tickets to Windsor by travelling off-peak or booking in advance, and if you have a Railcard you could save even more. And remember, you can also collect Nectar points when you book train tickets through our website or app.
Travelling from London
One of the easiest ways to get from London to Windsor is to take the direct train from London Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Riverside, which takes under an hour and has plenty of space on board. The train generally runs every 30 minutes, and also stops at Clapham Junction, Richmond, Twickenham and Feltham. You can also get the train from London Paddington station, but you’ll need to change trains at Slough and jump on a smaller local train.
Windsor is located outside of the London fare zones, so make sure you have a valid train ticket that covers your whole journey as London Travelcards, Oyster cards and contactless aren’t valid.
Things to do at Windsor Castle
There’s a range of tours at Windsor Castle to suit all tastes, including guided and audio-guided tours available in a range of languages. Don’t miss the free, 30-minute Castle Precincts Tour which introduces you to the site’s rich history.
The State Apartments – Ceremonial Route Tour guides you through the main parts of Windsor Castle still used by The Queen and other members of the Royal Family to this day, some of which you may recognise from The Crown.
Alternatively, the State Apartments – Historic Route Tour explores the intimate spaces and grand interiors of the rooms built for Charles II and his Queen, Catherine of Braganza, while learning about the castle’s vast history.
Last but not least, the Semi-State Rooms Tour takes you through the richly decorated private apartments created for George IV, so impressive that the Queen uses them for official entertaining.
Taking place since 1660, the famous Changing the Guard ceremony sees the handover of duties between two groups of castle guards, dressed in red jackets and bearskin caps. Today, it usually takes place at 11:00 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, although the schedule can change so check dates and times beforehand.
Walk down the aisle of St George’s Chapel, a spectacular example of gothic architecture, perhaps most recognisable as the wedding location for HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It is also the final resting place of many British monarchs.
The Royal Collection is another must-see during your trip. Wander through rooms built in the 17th century to house some of the Royal Family’s most precious treasures, including precious porcelain, furniture, paintings, coats of arms and beautiful sculptures. Children and adults alike will also delight in the colourful ‘pantomime pictures’ painted by a teenage evacuee to decorate the Waterloo Chamber at the start of WW2.
Another unmissable sight for all the family is Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, built by the British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. The intricate construction includes contributions from over 1,500 of the finest craftsmen of the early 20th century. It even has electricity, working lifts, and running water!
Tickets to Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle tickets can be bought online from the Royal Collection Trust. If you’d prefer to buy in person, tickets are also available at the Windsor Castle office.
Tours are included in the ticket price, and you can get free readmission for up to a year when you convert your day ticket into an annual pass.
As well as regular tours, Windsor Castle hosts a number of special events throughout the year. In the past, these have included majestic Christmas celebrations and the Royal Windsor Horse Show. For an up-to-date list of the Windsor Castle events, you can find out What’s On from the Royal Collection Trust.
There are loads of things to see and do just outside the royal grounds. Stretch your legs after your castle tour with a walk through the beautiful greenery of Windsor Great Park, where you’ll spot plenty of deer and stunning views of Windsor. When you’re all tired out, rest up at the Theatre Royal Windsor. Located just outside the walls of the castle, you can enjoy the best of British theatre before it hits the West End.
Located opposite the castle, Windsor Royal Station is a shopper’s paradise. Once a railway station, this Grade-II listed building now houses a fantastic shopping centre.
The former residence of HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is also located just over a mile away from the castle, but it’s worth noting that the 300-year-old Frogmore House and Gardens is only open to individual visitors on a handful of days each year.
Don’t tell the kids, but Legoland Windsor is just three miles south west of the castle, and easy to reach by bus from the town centre.
If you’re spending more than a day in Windsor, take a look at our guide to 48 hours in Windsor or a family weekend in Windsor.
Food and drink
The Undercroft Café is located on the ground floor of Windsor Castle and it’s the only place for visitors to enjoy refreshments on site.
In Windsor, The Cinnamon Café is a great choice for grabbing coffee, cake, and sandwiches. For cheap bites and a drink, try The King & Castle, a family-friendly pub with plenty of outdoor seating.
If you have a little more time to spare, you’ll find old-fashioned charm, local beers and delicious pub grub at The Two Brewers, or if you’re looking for something a little more fancy, the fantastic Italian fare at Sebastian’s is sure to fit the bill.
Hotels near Windsor Castle
Rest up with a budget-friendly stay in the heart of town at Travelodge Windsor Central, or for a little extra, opt for a luxurious night that won’t break the bank at the Macdonald Windsor Hotel. Both of these options are perfect if you want to be close to travel links.
Alternatively, treat yourself to a little royal rest and relaxation with a stay at the stately home Coworth Park, just outside of Windsor Great Park. Or if you’d like a more homely feel to your accommodation, you might like the St Mary’s Cottage B&B, just a few hundred metres from both of Windsor’s train stations.
Windsor Castle accessibility
Windsor Castle is situated on top of a steep hill, but within the castle there are manual wheelchairs and rollators available for free. Motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters can be used inside the castle, and there are also lifts throughout the castle. More information can be found here.