Windsor Castle is one of the residences of the British royal family. This castle is located just outside of London, so it is easy to get to and well worth the visit. In fact, Windsor Castle is one of the best day trips from London.
A visit to Windsor Castle takes about half of a day, including your transportation to and from central London. It can easily be added on to places like Stonehenge and Bath, if you want to spend one full day exploring the sights outside of London.
In this guide, we cover the things you need to know to plan your Windsor Castle day trip from London.
Interesting Facts about Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle was built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror. It is the longest-occupied palace in Europe.
Over the centuries, the castle has withstood sieges and battles, has been enlarged by the former kings of England, and renovated multiple times.
The grounds of the castle spans 13 acres. Visitors to Windsor Castle will tour the lavishly decorated state apartments, visit St. George’s Chapel, and have the option to watch the Changing of the Guard (depending on the day of the week).
Henry VIII Gateway of Windsor Castle
Where is Windsor Castle?
Windsor Castle is located in the county of Berkshire, England. It sits about 35 km (22 miles) to the west of London.
How to Get to Windsor Castle
From London, you can get to Windsor Castle by train, car, bus, and by tour.
If you will be visiting Windsor Castle on a day trip from London, the two most convenient methods of transportation are train and by joining a tour.
London to Windsor by Train
In Windsor, there are two train stations: the Windsor & Eton Riverside station and the Windsor & Eton Central Station. Both stations are within walking distance of Windsor Castle. Which station you use depends on your starting point in London.
Windsor & Eton Riverside Station
The Windsor & Eton Riverside Station is located on the South Western Railway (SWR), which has direct trains from Waterloo Station (in London) to Windsor. This train makes many local stops so it takes about one hour to one hour and fifteen minutes to travel from Waterloo station to Windsor. The fare ranges from £10 to £13 one-way. Since it is a direct train, you do not have to change trains.
Check train schedules and fares here.
Windsor & Eton Central Station
The Windsor & Eton Central Station is located on the Great Western Railway (GWR). This train runs from Paddington Station in London, makes a transfer at Slough, and then runs to Windsor. Even with the transfer, the travel time from Paddington Station to Windsor is about 30 minutes. The fare ranges from £10 to £13 one-way.
Check train schedules and fares here.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: You can also check travel times for both railways on the National Rail website.
What We Did
Since our hotel was within walking distance of Waterloo Station, we took the South Western Railway to Windsor.
After our visit to Windsor Castle, we returned to London (we visited Stonehenge and Bath on a prior trip to England). We rode the Great Western Railway to Paddington Station and spent the afternoon in that general area of London. However, at the Slough station, trains were running 30 minutes late, so we had a 30-minute delay getting to London.
Purchasing Train Tickets
We purchased our tickets at the train stations, right before boarding the train.
Tim attempted to purchase our tickets online in advance from the official websites, and through their app, but was unsuccessful since we were not United Kingdom citizens.
At the kiosk at the train station, purchase an “Anytime Day” ticket, meaning that you can board any train that day; you are not locked into one departure time. There are also no seat assignments.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: The day before your visit, visit the official website(s) for the railway you plan to use and jot down the train times for the day of your visit. Then you will know when to get back to the train station, without waiting a long time for the next train. Trains run twice and hour and there can be as much as 40 minutes in between each train.
Getting from the Train Station to the Castle
The entrance into the castle is at the intersection of Castle Hill and St. Alban’s Street.
It is a 7-minute walk from Eton & Windsor Riverside Station and a 6-minute walk from Windsor & Eton Central Station.
You will enter the Windsor Castle Visitor Entrance at Castle Hill and St. Alban’s Street, show or purchase your ticket, go through airport-style security, and then enter the castle grounds.
Entering Windsor Castle | Windsor Castle Day Trip
Once inside the castle grounds, you will walk uphill, continuing along the street called Castle Hill, heading in the direction of the Round Tower.
After passing through a stone gate, you will come to the Moat Room, the first sight at Windsor Castle and the place to pick up your multimedia guide.
Opening Hours & Cost to Visit Windsor Castle
March 1 to October 31
Windsor Castle is open from 10 am to 5:15 pm (last admission at 4 pm) Thursday through Monday. The castle is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
November 1 to February 28
Windsor Castle is open from 10 am to 4:15 pm (last admission at 3 pm) Thursday through Monday. The castle is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
IMPORTANT: St. George’s Chapel is not open on Sunday.
Windsor Castle has numerous closings throughout the year. The Semi-State rooms are not open all year (the are closed during the winter months). Before you go, check the official website for hours of operation to confirm that Windsor Castle will be open on the date of your visit.
Tickets for Windsor Castle (2023 prices)
Young person (18 – 24): £18
Child (5-17): £15.50
Under 5: Free
Note: The prices listed above are for tickets purchased online in advance. If you purchase your ticket on site, it is an additional £1 to £2 per ticket.
The ticket price includes a multimedia guide.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Purchase your tickets online in advance. Not only will you save a little money, but you also make sure you get the time slot you want. If you plan to visit Stonehenge and Bath on the same day, book the first available time slot at Windsor Castle, to maximize how much time you have at Stonehenge and Bath.
Best Things to Do at Windsor Castle
1. Moat Room
The Moat Room is the first sight to visit as you tour Windsor Castle. Once inside the castle grounds, you will walk a path along the moat. This small room is located on your right. Step inside to pick up the multimedia guide (if you want one).
In the Moat Room, you will also see a bronze model of what Windsor Castle looked like in 1377. On the wall is a timeline of the history of Windsor Castle and the reigning monarchs until present day.
Model of Windsor Castle | Windsor Castle Day Trip
Timeline on the Moat Room wall
2. The State Apartments
The State Apartments are located in the Upper Ward of Windsor Castle. In the 17th century, Charles II renovated the apartments, taking inspiration from Versailles in France by adding painted ceilings and carvings. The rooms were further embellished by Sir Jeffry Wyatville in the 19th century, with gilded plaster ceilings and rooms designed in a Rococo style.
In 1992, a fire damaged many of the rooms and they had to be painstakingly recreated.
The State Apartments are amazing to walk through. The sheer size and grandeur of these rooms is astonishing, with paintings by famous artists hanging on the walls, walls covered with arrays of spears and swords, and the lavish sleeping quarters of past kings and queens.
It takes 30 minutes to 1 hour to walk through the State Apartments, depending on how much time you linger in each room. Photography is not allowed.
Upper Ward of Windsor Castle | Windsor Castle Day Trip
3. Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House
Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House is the first thing you will see when you enter the State Apartments.
This doll house was built between 1921 and 1924 for Queen Mary, the wife of George V. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, a British architect, and is filled with more than 1,500 furnishings and decorations.
The doll house is enormous, with lavishly decorated rooms that resemble the State Apartments. The amount of detail that went into designing it is remarkable, with running water, electricity, to miniature sized books, paintings, and wine bottles.
4. The Semi-State Rooms
The Semi-State Rooms are the private apartments for George IV. These are the most lavishly decorated rooms in Windsor Castle. These rooms are open to visitors from autumn to spring. You can get the exact dates here.
5. St. George’s Chapel
St. George’s Chapel is much like Westminster Abbey, with tombs of eleven monarchs and a popular place for royal weddings and burials.
The tomb of Queen Elizabeth II is located inside of St. George’s Chapel.
St. George’s Chapel | Windsor Castle Day Trip
The chapel was founded in 1348 by King Edward III although construction of the present day chapel began in 1475 by Edward IV. St. George’s Chapel was enlarged and renovated several times over the centuries, the most recent renovation being in the early 20th century.
The Chapel closes at 4:15 pm (last entry at 4:00 pm) to prepare for evening church services.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: Photography is not permitted inside of St. George’s Chapel or inside of the castle buildings, including the State Apartments. You are only permitted to take photos in the Moat Room and outside, on the grounds of the castle.
6. The Changing of the Guard
Changing of the Guard takes place on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, starting just before 11 am. The ceremony takes 45-minutes. Get updated information here.
The guards enter Windsor Castle through the Henry VIII Gateway, which is located on Castle Hill, across the street from the castle entrance and the shops on Castle Hill. The ceremony takes place in the open area between the Henry VIII Gateway and St. George’s Chapel.
The best place to watch the Changing of the Guard is along the sidewalk, just down the hill from St. George’s Chapel.
Once the ceremony is finished, the guards exit the castle through the Henry VIII Gateway.
The guards entering through the Henry VIII gateway | Windsor Castle Day Trip
The courtyard where the Changing of the Guard takes place.
The Changing of the Guard | Windsor Castle Day Trip
The guards exiting Windsor Castle | Windsor Castle Day Trip
You will need a ticket to Windsor Castle in order to watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Without a ticket, you can stand on Castle Hill to watch the guards enter and exit the castle.In our opinion, the Changing of the Guard is not a must-see. It’s a bit long and drawn out and 45-minutes is a lot of time to stand there, watching the ceremony. If you timing doesn’t work out to be here on a day when the Changing of the Guard takes place, you aren’t missing much. I think your time is better spent either taking a Precinct Tour or making sure you have enough time at Stonehenge and Bath, if you plan to visit those on the same day.
Things to Do in Windsor
The Long Walk
The Long Walk is a 2.6-mile path that was created during the reign of Charles II. This is one of the best places to get an iconic view of Windsor Castle.
Part of this walk lies within the private grounds of the castle, but it is possible to walk the section south of Cambridge Gate. To get here, walk on St. Alban’s Street or B3022 to Park Street and this will end at The Long Walk.
The Long Walk | N.M.Bear/shutterstock.com
Just outside of Windsor Castle, sitting along Castle Hill, are a few souvenir shops, such as the Edinburgh Woollen Mill.
Extending off of Castle Hill is Peascod Street, a pedestrian street that is lined with more shops and restaurants.
Have Lunch or Dinner
On our first visit to Windsor, we ate dinner at The Horse and Groom, a cozy pub on Castle Hill in view of Windsor Castle.
The Horse and Groom | Windsor Castle Day Trip
On our second visit to Windsor we ate lunch at The Piper Art Bar, which is on Peascod Street. The fish and chips were fantastic!
Fish and chips at the Piper Art Bar
Other restaurants in Windsor that get good reviews include the Royal Windsor Pub, Enzo’s (Italian), Antalya Restaurant Windsor (Turkish food), and The Greene Oak (a Michelin-starred restaurant).
Adding on Stonehenge and Bath
Stonehenge and Bath are two places that also make great day trips from London. They sit farther west of central London.
We rented a car a day tripped to Stonehenge and Bath on our first visit to London. We started at Stonehenge and then spent the afternoon in Bath. On the drive back to London, we got to Windsor too late to tour the castle.
For the best experience, start at opening time at Windsor Castle, then go to Stonehenge. Spend the rest of the day at Bath. Since Stonehenge and Windsor Castle have set hours of operation, it is best to do these first, while they are open.
The easiest way to visit Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Bath on a day trip from London is on a tour, since they take care of your transportation and tickets.
It’s easy to get to Windsor Castle and Bath by train. Stonehenge is a little more complicated. You will take a train to Salisbury, but from Salisbury, it is a 35-minute bus ride to Stonehenge. That adds up to more than one hour on a bus, which uses up a lot of your valuable time today.
You can move faster from place to place by renting a car for the day, but be aware that you will be driving on the left hand side of the road and going through quite a few round-abouts, which can be challenging and stressful if you have never done it before.
To make things easier, and take the stress out of your day trip, here are a few highly rated tours.
Tours of Windsor Castle
If you only want to visit Windsor Castle on a day trip from London, here is a tour that takes about half of a day and gets very good reviews.
It’s also possible to visit Windsor Castle plus Oxford and Stonehenge.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Windsor Castle worth it?
With its lavishly decorated State Apartments, beautiful castle grounds, and importance as the longest-occupied palace in Europe, Windsor Castle is worth it. You will also get to see the final resting place of Queen Elizabeth II, which is located in St. George’s Chapel.
How much time do you need at Windsor Castle?
A visit to Windsor Castle takes 2 to 3 hours, to tour the State Apartments, visit St. George’s Chapel, and watch the Changing of the Guard. Windsor Castle can be visited on a half day trip from London or combined with Stonehenge, Bath, and/or Oxford.
What else should I do in Windsor?
After a visit to Windsor Castle, go shopping in the shops along Castle Hill and Peascod Street, have lunch or dinner in a pub, and see Windsor Castle from The Long Walk, for one of the most iconic views of the castle.
Windsor, England | Windsor Castle Day Trip
If you have any questions about planning your Windsor Castle day trip from London, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to London
LONDON: Start with our article Best Things to Do in London for ideas of what to do in London. Plan your time in the city with our 5 Days in London Itinerary. We also have tips for first time visitors to London and a guide on Where to Stay in London.
WESTMINSTER ABBEY: Tour Westminster Abbey in photos and learn how to plan your visit in our Guide to Westminster Abbey.
LONDON AT CHRISTMAS: For an overview of what to do, here are 15 things to do in London at Christmas. We also have guides to the best Christmas lights and best Christmas markets. Learn how to put it all together in our London Christmas Itinerary.
BEST OF IRELAND: For a list of top experiences in Ireland, read our post Best Things to Do in Ireland. Walk the Cliffs of Moher, drive the Ring of Kerry, visit Dublin, and explore the Dingle Peninsula. Learn how to put all of this together in our 10 Day Ireland Itinerary.
Read all of our articles about the United Kingdom in our United Kingdom Travel Guide.
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