Windsor is a very popular day trip from London; the town is renowned for primarily existing to accommodate the throngs of tourists visiting the castle and royal residence each day. Fascination with the English Monarchy lures more than 1,000,000 people a year into the castle alone and a huge amount more into the surrounding village and parks.
My fascination was less with the Monarchy and more with the architecture and surrounding countryside, and the brewery. Most of these things you can get many other places, so I’d never been bothered to go to Windsor, but after six years of anyone English saying ‘Ooh Windsor is lovely’, we visited on Good Friday to see for ourselves.
Great Western Railway was having some sort of special, possibly for Easter, so return tickets were £12.50 per person from London Waterloo. Current ticket prices are £10 per person one way and you can either depart from Waterloo or Paddington. The train to Windsor & Eaton Central from Waterloo took around 50 minutes, but if you depart from Paddington and can stomach being in Slough long enough to change trains, you can get there in 30 minutes.
Greenline used to run a bus service from London Victoria, but currently it seems like they don’t offer this service. Either way, the journey took nearly two hours and for this purpose I wouldn’t see any advantage over the train.
If you have a car you can drive the 24 miles to Windsor in under an hour from London central, depending on the traffic and your predilection for local ales.
Hint – Train prices for this journey don’t vary a lot, even if booked last minute.
The main feature of Windsor is Windsor Castle; the residence of the royal family. The imposing 11th century fortifications are visible from almost everywhere in the town, so it’s easy to find. Entrance to the castle is £20 each, although it pays to check this site for opening times, as prices vary depending on the parts of the castle that are open when you visit. To enter the castle grounds you must submit to a search and go through airport style scan security, so don’t take anything dodgy. Since our visit was on Good Friday, we entered for free (something that might not be widely advertised), but the state rooms were closed. I would recommend checking out the wonderful St George’s Chapel inside the grounds and staying for a service, even if you aren’t religious.
Windsor Great Park is a lovely place for a walk and a picnic. It’s absolutely huge, much bigger than you think, so we caught a taxi to a far gate and walked back through the park to The Copper Horse statue, sitting at the end (or start) of the Long Walk; the approach to the castle itself. We might have walked at a leisurely pace for about two hours to get to the statue and then down the Long Walk with a great view of the castle.
Windsor itself is a nice town, with quaint streets and artisan shops mixed in with chain stores and tourist targeted shopping. Check out the awesome Fudge Kitchen for something sweet. If you head down to the Thames river you can organise a boat ride and walk along the picturesque river banks.
Windsor and Eaton Brewery offers tours and tastings of their fine beer. A tour will set you back £12.50 per person, be sure to check the website ahead of your visit.
Windsor has many good pubs, the best of which we found to be The Two Brewers, although to be fair, we only tried three. Drinks prices aren’t really any cheaper than in London, as it’s such a tourist hot-spot.
At the end of our day we decided that we agreed with everyone else; Windsor is lovely.
Hint – Be sure to take food and water into the park, it’s bigger than you think and you wouldn’t want to be stuck.
Windsor day trip from London;
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