As shameful as it is for me to admit it, it’s only now that I was able to visit Windsor even if it’s been almost three years since we moved to London. I wasn’t very keen on visiting it because someone told me before that it’s not really worth the trip and that Hampton Court Palace which is near where I live is much better. It’s entirely my fault for listening to that advice and not finding out the answer myself because I think that it’s the worst advice anyone has ever given to me.
I only had the inclination to visit it because I wanted to experience the Royal Windsor Steam Express, a steam train service from London Waterloo to Windsor which operates every Tuesday from June until September. I was excited to take its first trip last Tuesday thinking that it would be an amazing experience of being transported back in time with its Harry Potter-ish look and feel. You can then imagine my disappointment when I got into the train carriage which looks like the first class carriage of some of the normal modern trains that we have here in London. I was expecting a bit more classic than that. Having said that, I wouldn’t recommend taking it unless you’re a train enthusiast or you’re taking the Pullman Style Dining option which includes a champagne brunch.
We arrived Windsor at around 12:30 noon and I made a beeline towards Windsor Castle. Going into the castle at midday is highly recommended to avoid the crowd. Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. The Queen uses the castle for state occasions and special events, she also spends some of her weekends here. If you’re going to visit Windsor Castle (or any other historical places) I highly recommend that you take an audio guide with you as it brings it to life. It makes so much difference when you get an insight and story of the place you’re visiting rather than just seeing it without really knowing some of the amazing stories behind it.
Unfortunately, taking photos inside the castle isn’t allowed which is a shame because it’s gorgeous! I’ve been to quite a few palace and castles which are all beautiful in their own right however, the fact that Windsor Castle is still being used up to this day makes it all the more special. It’s fascinating if you think about it, that you’re walking among the royals as you explore the grounds and staterooms in the castle.
St George’s Chapel which is also within the grounds of Windsor Castle was the venue of Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding but more importantly, it is where the controversial Henry VIII is buried along with Jane Seymour, his only wife among the 6 that he had who bore him a son. I’m not really into the royal family so I’m remotely interested on what is happening in their lives right now but Henry VIII is definitely an exception and his story is very interesting. :p
Whether you like the royal family or not, the Windsor Castle is a fascinating place to visit to get a glimpse of how the (less than) 1% live. It took me around 2 and a half hours to explore everything that I can see and access inside the castle afterwards, I went to have my ticket validated for 1 year so I can use it multiple times within the year. (You will need to have it stamped just before you exit the grounds of the castle for your ticket to be valid for a year at no extra cost to you.)
It started raining just as I got out of the castle so my plan of exploring Windsor didn’t happen. I managed to walk for a bit though and was still able to take some photos of this pretty town. As expected, I was drawn towards the riverside where I had the worst lunch from the only riverside pub in Windsor. I really wouldn’t recommend it for its food but I’ll recommend it for the view of the river from there. 🙂 (Photo below wasn’t taken from that said pub, just to be clear. :p)
I took the normal train back home afterwards which was actually a shorter journey as I didn’t have to go all the way to Waterloo again.
Some important tips if you’re going to visit Windsor Castle:
- You can take the Southwest train from Waterloo to Windsor. The fare is around GBP10 per person per way and the journey takes around an hour.
- I would recommend at least half a day in Windsor depending on what you’re planning to do while there, I would’ve visited the neighboring Eton as well if only it wasn’t raining.
- Windsor Castle’s busiest time is in the morning, I’d recommend a visit during mid-day which is what I did as the line to buy the tickets isn’t that long anymore. Or better yet, you can also buy your tickets online beforehand to skip the ticket queue.
- The entrance fee to Windsor Castle is GBP22.50 per adult. Opening time is 10am, you’ll have to be mindful of the last admission time which changes based on seasonality.
- As Windsor Castle is a working castle, I’d highly recommend for you to double check on their website as well if there’s any event on the date that you’re planning to visit. Sometimes, the castle will be closed to public for any official functions.
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