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For a day out or weekend away just a stone’s throw from London, head to the county of Berkshire. Comprising rolling countryside, picturesque villages, bustling towns and culture galore, there’s something for everyone in this regal county. And we say regal because the county’s gem has to be Windsor Castle, not to mention the Royal Windsor Racecourse and Royal Ascot!
Whether you’re planning a day out or a long weekend with your family, friends or significant other, there are plenty of things to see and do in Berkshire, from long country walks and wildlife parks to castle explorations and museums. On top of all that, the county is home to countless excellent eateries, cosy coffee shops and hotels to suit all budgets should you wish to extend your trip.
Keep reading for a guide to the best places to visit, eat, drink and sleep in the Home County of Berkshire, all easy to get to on the South Western Railway network.
Places to visit in Berkshire
Discover some of the best things to do on a day out or weekend away in Berkshire.
No visit to Berkshire would be complete without a trip to the jewel in Berkshire’s crown: Windsor Castle. Book on to a tour for a sneak peek of the State Rooms still used by The Queen and other members of the Royal Family to this day, watch the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony and walk down the aisle of St George’s Chapel where HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married.
Windsor Castle is a four-minute walk from Windsor & Eton Riverside station.
Beale Wildlife Park
Escape the city and the hustle and bustle of humans and get up close and personal with animals from around the world at Beale Wildlife Park. Set over 350-acres alongside the River Thames, this expansive wildlife park is one of our favourite places to visit in Berkshire. It’s home to 160 wildlife species from all across the globe, from alpacas and armadillos to meerkats and monkeys! There are also multiple play areas that little ones will love – this is guaranteed fun for all the family.
The nearest station is Reading, then it’s a 30-minute journey of the 143 bus or a 20-minute taxi ride away.
For a fun and free day out in Berkshire that the whole family can enjoy, pay a visit to Reading Museum. With almost 500,000 objects of archaeology, art, natural history, social history and world cultures, you’re bound to leave feeling infinitely wiser! And if you’re worried your kids will get bored, fear not, as there are free trails, worksheets, picture bingo and more to keep them entertained for hours!
The museum is just two-minutes away from Reading station.
If you fancy getting out and about in the great outdoors, then plan a visit to Virginia Water. On a sunny day you might like to take a picnic and enjoy it by Virgina Water Lake – the picnic spot of choice for Queen Victoria! And the ramblers among you might like to walk the entire way around the lake – one of the best countryside walks in Berkshire. There’s a 16km circular route that’ll take you from and to Virginia Water station (it’s a 20-minute walk to the lake), and once at the lake you’ll pass Roman ruins, cascading waterfalls and a 30-metre totem pole!
Best restaurants in Berkshire
What would a weekend away be without some good grub? We’ve put together a list of the best restaurants Berkshire has to offer.
Enzo’s is one of the top-rated places to eat in Windsor, serving up fresh and delicious Italian food made using the finest ingredients. Their food is prepared using “ricette della nonna” (grandmother recipes), so you’re guaranteed an authentic meal cooked with passion and love and bursting with flavour. Head here for lunch or dinner and enjoy the warm and relaxed atmosphere, no matter the occasion.
To get here, take the train to Windsor & Eton Riverside, and from the station it’s just a six-minute walk.
Fego Restaurant, Ascot
For an incredible breakfast, lunch or early dinner in Ascot, look no further than Fego. Described as a “home from home”, this laidback South African-inspired eatery serves food from around the world and prides itself on its fun and relaxed atmosphere, where you’ll hear music and laughter and be surrounded by people enjoying their days.
Catch the train to Ascot (Berks), and walk for 10 minutes to get to the restaurant.
Valpy Street Bar & Bistro, Reading
This hidden gem is one of Berkshire’s best restaurants. Housed in a cosy and rustic underground setting, this bar and bistro has a passion for all things food, drink and service, and offers contemporary and classic bistro fare alongside an extensive wine, beer and cocktail list – perfect for a special evening out in Berkshire.
It’s just around the corner from Reading station, so getting here couldn't be easier.
Best coffee in Berkshire
Need caffeine to get you going in the morning? These coffee shops located all around Berkshire should do the trick!
Craft Coffee House, Windsor
Head on down to this independent, family-run coffee house in Windsor which serves speciality coffee roasted by Ozone Coffee Roasters in London. With everything caffeine lovers need, from invigorating espressos to delicious cappuccinos – grab your favourite brew and a brioche sandwich and get your day off to a good start!
It’s just a minute’s walk from Windsor & Eton Riverside, so hope off the train and get your caffeine fix before a day well spent in the surrounding area.
Coffee Under Pressure, Reading
If you’re a self-confessed coffee snob, the speciality coffee available at this destination should be right up your street! Expect a warm welcome from the knowledgeable baristas who will serve your coffee with a smile, and pair your chosen brew with a sweet treat no matter the time of day.
Coffee Under Pressure is a two-minute walk from Reading station.
Brown Bag, Bracknell
This might be rated as the best coffee shop in Bracknell, but Brown Bag’s expertise doesn’t stop at coffee. Once you’ve had your caffeine fix, make your second drink a hot chocolate and tuck into one of their indulgent brownies or doughnuts for the ultimate sugar high!
This café can be found two-minutes' walk away from Bracknell station.
Places to stay in Berkshire
Make a weekend of it about book into one of the many hotels in Berkshire. There’s something for every taste and budget – here are a couple of options depending on where you want to set up base:
Sir Christopher Wren Hotel, Windsor
What could be more romantic than a night away at a riverside hotel? The Sir Christopher Wren Hotel sits in the banks of the River Thames, by Eton Bridge, right in the heart of Windsor. Treat yourself to a stay in one of the individually and authentically styled rooms, from quaint Tudor-style bedrooms to contemporary family suites.
This hotel is just two minutes’ away from Windsor & Eton Riverside station.
Malmaison Hotel, Reading
Built in 1844, this Reading hotel is the oldest surviving station hotel in the world! It’s right on Reading station’s doorstep, and its luxe décor harks back to the golden age of rail travel, so alight from one wonderful train experience and board another when you travel with South Western Railway!
The Admiral Cunningham Hotel, Bracknell
If you’re looking for a stay which is both budget friendly and fun, you’ve got to stay at this family-run hotel that is bursting with energy! Stay in one of the quaint rooms situated above the energetic pub, or for a quieter and more relaxing night, book into the guest house which is just a minute’s walk away.
The Admiral Cunningham Hotel is an eight-minute ride on the number 150 bus from Bracknell station.
With so many things to do in Berkshire, so many restaurants and coffee shops to try and so many welcoming places to stay, where will be your starting point? Book your train tickets with South Western Railway and browse our flexible range of ticket types to find the best one for your journey. Find out how you could save even more on your trip with a Railcard too!