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Windsor Castle, Windsor & Eton day trips

What to do in Windsor and Eton, getting to Windsor, restaurants and hotels

Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle

Windsor is easily accessible from London and is an ideal day trip. There is much more than just Windsor Castle, you could easily spend two or three days here.

Eton is on the other side of the River Thames from Windsor and historic Runnymede is little more than a mile away and there is a vast network of paths in Windsor Great Park to be explored.

Once royal hunting grounds, Windsor Great Park is now home of Polo matches, formal gardens and Virginia Water, a local beauty spot.

There is also a theme park - Legoland - and a horse race track with evening meetings in the summer.

Windsor Castle   Things to do in Windsor   Getting to Windsor   Windsor hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus   Hotels   Restaurants

Windsor Castle

Of course the main attraction for first time visitors is Windsor Castle and is the 'must see'. Most people will take around two hours to explore Windsor Castle, so there is lots of time to explore the delights of the Windsor area.

Windsor Castle is in the heart of Windsor, (the town grew up around the castle).

There are two rail stations within five minutes' walk, each of which has several services an hour to London.

See our detailed Windsor Castle what to expect page

Things to see and do in Windsor & Eton

Map Of Windsor & Eton
Windsor & Eton map

Windsor is much more than just the castle; there are a wealth of things to see and do which will keep many visitors occupied for a couple of days.

The nice thing about Windsor is that most things are either in the town or in very close proximity. Like most town with significant tourist numbers there is a hop on, hop off open top sightseeing bus as well.

In the evening there is a wide choice of restaurants to suit every taste and budget, a theatre performs every evening except Sunday, and Windsor race course has regular race meeting during summer evenings.

Some ideas are:

Eton College has educated 18 former British Prime Ministers including the Duke of Wellington, Walpole, Pitt the Elder, MacMillan and Douglas-Holme. The School Dress still consists of a black tailcoat and waistcoat, and pinstriped trousers which dates from the 1850s.

Tours of the College are a fascinating experience, which includes the Cloisters, the Chapel, the oldest classroom in the College and the Museum of Eton Life.

Windsor riverfront is a good place to relax. Alexander Gardens, a traditional Victorian park borders much of the River Thames at Windsor. The Thames path can be followed all the way back to London or even Oxford. Feeding the swans, boat trips, rowing boats are just some of the evergreen activities you will find here.

Windsor Old Town is right next to the main Windsor Castle entrance. Tourist shops have grown up around the heritage of the area; if you are minded to it is easy to pick up some souvenirs, often with a royal theme. Beyond this there is plenty to enjoy from the buildings themselves, dating from the medieval era onwards; plenty of photographic opportunities.

Windsor also has its own working theatre, a traditional historic venue opposite the castle where plays are often run that then transfer to the West End in London.

Runnymede, just three miles south-east of Windsor, on the banks of the River Thames, is the famous meadow of Runnymede. It was here in 1215 that King John sealed the Magna Carta. This charter established the principle of the constitutional monarchy and affirmed the individual's right to justice and liberty.

The American constitution is based on the Magna Carta and to commemorate this the American Bar Association erected a memorial in 1957. This can be seen on the hillside overlooking the water meadows.

Legoland Windsor has over 50 interactive rides, live shows, building workshops, driving schools and attractions and is set in 150 acres of beautiful parkland, Legoland Windsor is a different sort of family theme park. Shuttle buses run out to the park very frequently from Windsor.

Windsor Great Park offers some great walks, with the perennial attraction of the Red Deer in their enclosure. A diverse area including the Guards Polo Club which hosts polo every weekend in the summer, as well as stunning parks such as Virginia Water, a tranquil spot in every season.

How to get to Windsor

Windsor

Windsor is just 20 miles west of Central London and very simple to reach by public transport.

Most visitors will take one of the two train options, but there are alternatives including a bus service that may be more convenient for some hotel districts in London.

If you are staying at nearby Heathrow there is a frequent local bus between Heathrow and Windsor.

See full Windsor transport details

The most painless way of visiting Windsor from London is on a day tour. For time poor visitors the most popular is the Windsor, Stonehenge and Bath tour that visits all three world class attractions in one long hectic day.

Full details of the different kinds of tours available from London are on our Windsor Tours from London page.

Windsor hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus

Windsor Original Tour Hop On Sightseeing Bus

Windsor and Eton is very walkable and you do not really need a sightseeing bus, but it is a fun way to see what Windsor and Eton has to offer. In fact you can walk across to Eton from Windsor in a fraction of the time a vehicle takes.

What you do get is a good orientation of Windsor and Eton perched high up on the double deck bus. Especially if you are visiting independently and for a day or longer the commentary can set the scene nicely for your stay.

There is a single route with full commentary that covers Windsor and Eton. If you never got off, the tour lasts for around 45 minutes. The tour doesn't visit Runnymede or Legoland. Free Wi-Fi is included on this tour.

The tour does a circuit of Home Park, the back garden of Windsor Castle. You can peek over the wall into this private area from the top of the bus, get a feel for Windsor Great Park and some of the Queen's farms.

There is a stop at the Queen's Royal Farm Shop which most visitors don't get to see. The second part of the tour passes through Datchet by the River Thames and then performs a circuit of Eton.

Tickets and running times

Tickets can be purchased from the driver and last for 24 hours. You can purchase a family ticket to save some money. Under 5's go free. Tour times do vary throughout the year so it is worth checking the times before your trip.

In low season:

During April, May, September and October there is one bus every hour calling at each of the 10 stops on the route. The first tour starts at 10am and last tour at 4pm.

In high season:

During June, July and August there is one bus tour every 30 minutes, calling at each of the ten stops on the route. The first tour starts at 10am and the last tour at 5pm.

There are no buses running from November to March inclusive.

The main start and finish is outside the Theatre Royal (Thames Street), though you can hop-on and begin your tour at any of the stops.

These tours are operated by Original Tour, one of the main hop-on bus providers in London. You can choose to combine your Windsor experience into a Windsor Bus Tour + Thames River Cruise, or Windsor Bus Tour + London Original Tour.

Windsor hotel accommodation

There is a choice of hotel accommodation right in the town centre and there is a great choice also around neighbouring Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow has direct public transport links with Windsor and the proximity means that taxi transfers are not too expensive either.

More details of Windsor Town centre hotels

Restaurants & food

Windsor has the full range of food options from cream teas in grand historic buildings to fast food. Opposite the castle down the hill is Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Pizza Express, Burger King and McDonald’s all in a row. Further down the hill by the theatre are more 'quality' options covering many cuisines.

At Central Station there is a large covered area with continental style cafes and coffee shops, a magnet for the Castle visitors to take a small break.

Down by the riverfront is everything from ice cream stalls to Fish & Chips to Sir Christopher Wren's Hotel where you can take a cream tea or something more substantial on the hotel's river terrace.

Over the other side of the river bridge is Eton. Eton is lined with restaurants and pubs serving food for all budgets and tastes. Windsor itself is a very affluent part of England, restaurants and shops in the town centre tend to be upmarket, but many of the useful chain stores found in most towns are there.

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