A Royal home and fortress for over 900 years, Winsdor Castle, the largest occupied castle in the world, remains a working palace today. The Queen uses the Castle both as a private home, where she usually spends the weekend, and as an official Royal residence at which she undertakes certain formal duties from Investitures to State Visits.
Windsor Castle as it appears today is the result of almost a thousand years of development but four monarchs in particular have left their mark: William the Conqueror, who founded the castle and established its outline plan and extent; Edward III (r.1327-77), who rebuilt it in a magnificent Gothic style and established the royal apartments in the Upper Ward; Charles II (r.1660-85), who transformed the Upper Ward of the medieval castle into a baroque palace; and George IV (r. 1820-30) who restored the exterior to conform with romantic ideals of castle architecture and created sumptuous and richly furnished palace interiors within the ancient fabric of the building.
What you can do in Windsor Castle
1. Visit the magnificent State Apartments furnished with some of the finest works of art from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens and Canaletto.
2. Take in the splendour of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, location of the wedding of Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle, the burial place of 10 monarchs including Henry VIII and Charles I, and one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England. Worshippers are welcome to attend the Sunday services at St George’s Chapel but the chapel is closed to general visitors on Sundays.
3. Imagine being entertained by royalty in the Semi-State Rooms, the spectacular private apartments open to visitors during the winter months. Richly decorated, they are used by the sovereign when hosting guests. The additional five rooms that make up the Semi-State Rooms are included in the visitor route from autumn 2022. Note that Semi-State Rooms are closed when the State Apartments are closed.
4. Watch the Changing of the Guard! Windsor Castle is actually one of the best place to see changing of the guards with much less crowd compare to Buckingham Palace. To my delight I came just in time to see the changing of the guards. The ceremony begins at 11am and lasts approximately 30 minutes
Prices for 2022
Tips for Visiting Windsor Castle
- Book your tickets in advance and avoid the queues here! Visit the official Royal Collection website then print your tickets at home before you arrive. You can bypass the tickets queues by joining the ticketholders line in the Castle’s Admissions Centre.
- Check if your accommodation provider is part of RBWM’s Concierge Scheme and book your Windsor Castle ticket in advance courtesy of your hotel or guest accommodation.
Don’t forget to convert your Royal Collection ticket into a one-year pass so you can visit again within 12 months – there’s always something new to see (don’t forget to bring some ID with you).
- Windsor Castle is a working palace and can close fully or partly at short notice for any reason; always check the provisional closure dates below on a regular basis.
Check which flag is flying from Windsor Castle’s round tower – if it’s the Royal Standard then The King is in residence when you’re visiting.
- Consider the winter months as a great time to visit; you’ll see the Semi-State Rooms at no extra charge and the State Apartments are beautifully decorated for Christmas.
- Visit the Moat Room display which explores Windsor Castle’s 1000-year history, from simple fort to one of the greatest medieval palaces in Europe. One length of the Moat Room features a timeline illustrated with reigning kings and queens.
- If the State Apartments are busy on the day you visit you can visit St George’s Chapel first. The chapel is closed to visitors on Sundays (but open to worshippers).
- If you visit with children there is a whole range of family activities taking place each month at Windsor Castle. Don’t forget to pick up a brand new multimedia guide to help you get the most out of your visit to Windsor Castle – it’s available in many different languages and there’s a family tour too, led by Scorch the dragon! The new multimedia tours mean you can choose which route you take to discover the treasures of Windsor Castle.
- The Ceremonial Route will guide you through the ornate rooms used by the sovereign for official entertaining. Opt for the Historic Route to see the suite of rooms created by Charles II, featuring many of the greatest works of art in the Royal Collection.
How to get to Windsor castle
1. Train: You can take the train from London Paddington Station and London Waterloo Station
– Paddington Station is serviced by the Circle, Bakerloo, District and Hammersmith & City underground lines, making it very accessible from any Central London location. There are normally between 2-3 trains per hour and the journey takes around 30 minutes with a very easy change of train at Slough Station. Windsor Central Station is located just below the Castle walls.
– The direct South West Train from London Waterloo Station takes a little longer, about 55 minutes, but the train is direct and goes to Windsor and Eton Riverside Station. Riverside station is a 5 minutes walk from Windsor Castle> Bear in mind that this involves a very steep climb up a hill.
2. Coach: The Green Line No. 702 has daily regular coach services which run from Victoria Coach Station. Click here to see the timetable.
3. Tour: There are regular tours that run from London to Windsor Castle, often combining a visit with other popular tourist attractions such as Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, Bath and Stonehenge. Tourist England’s has a selection of the best tours to Windsor Castle, which provide a hassle free and fun way of exploring this extraordinary place.
From Ascot Town
If you happen to be in Ascot like me, there is a bus going to Windsor from Ascot every hour and the bus stop is very close from the MacDonald the Berystede Hotel where I stayed.
The town of Windsor grew up around Windsor Castle. Immediately opposite the main gate of Windsor Castle is the old medieval part of Windsor Town, a few streets of cobbles.
After exploring the castle, I walk through Windsor town to see what it was like and had late lunch in one of the restaurant there. Windsor has a mix of shops, restaurants and pubs where you won’t find any locals. There is often a costumed Nell Gwynne (favourite mistress of Charles II) or similar for which you can pose for photos besides. In Church Street you can find Nell Gwynne’s house (A.D. 1640), to be found next to the Nell Gwynne Chinese Restaurant.
Also in Church Street, you can visit Ye Olde King’s Head – reputedly the oldest inn in Windsor and the place where Shakespeare wrote “The Merry Wives of Windsor”. There is also a plaque recording the execution warrant for Charles I in 1648
The town is definitely worth to explore with its cute alleys and many small cafes. I also found my favourite Organic Shop Neals Yard Remedies there, which sells natural and organic skincare stuff.
I mention about Ascot here as I was actually staying in Ascot on my visit to Windscor Castle. Ascot is a town in East Berkshire of England, 9.7 km south of Windsor and 40 km west of London. Ascot is famous for their Ascot Race Course and is among the ten most expensive towns in Britain to rent a property. I was staying in MacDonald Hotel, a nice country Hotel with a vast backyard and within walking distance to the center.