As part of mission: “Explore More of England and Don’t Become Complacent” I’ve been planning more mini excursions from London when I don’t have any weekend travel plans on the calendar. So when I noticed another coworker was visiting from the US recently I convinced her to play tourist with me and planned a day trip to see a castle. As you do.
Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. The original castle was built in the 11th century and has been renovated and rebuilt over the years to accommodate each monarch. Queen Elizabeth II spends most of her weekends here. I think you’ll see why in a moment.
What a dump. Am I right? In August and September the Queen hides out at Balmoral Castle in Scotland (she needs a vacay too) and Windsor Castle invites visitors to climb the 200 steps of the round tower for a special guided tour. During the climb we heard an interesting history lesson before making it to the top to see London’s skyline in the distance and a bird’s eye view of the expansive castle grounds and winding Thames River below.
We had some time to kill before catching our train back to London and wandered the streets of Windsor while we waited. It’s not as small a city as I expected and is home to locals as well as a tourist hot spot. Can you imagine having the Queen as your neighbor?
Know Before You Go:
- Purchase your tickets in advance online to save yourself from queuing (waiting in line politely).
- Take a one hour train from London Waterloo to Windsor. You can purchase a ticket at the station.
- Climb the round tower if you’re visiting the castle in August or September. You’ll need to book a separate ticket for this in advance because they limit the tour group sizes. Details and tickets here.
- Take advantage of the free audio guide in multiple languages.
- Before exiting the castle grounds have an employee stamp your ticket so you can use it for re-entry for 1 year.
- Give yourself some time to wander the town of Windsor outside the castle walls. It’s a really adorable village-like town with no shortage of boutiques or cafes.