Windsor, home of the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II, and the magical place where Prince Harry and Meghan got married this past weekend. We were there and we left just in time to miss the wedding mania that engulfed royal Windsor. Phew!
Yes, we were there. Granted, not on the day, but only the week before Prince Harry and Meghan walked down the ancient isle of St George’s Chapel, a building of rare beauty, begun in 1475 by King Edward IV. We were in Windsor only the week before when we walked the same Long Walk that millions of people across the world watched them ride down in their royal coach as husband and wife for the first time.
On the 19th of May 2018, the day of the Royal Wedding, we drove from Bath in Somerset to Wembley in London, but the atmosphere was electric. Excitement was in the air. The country was celebrating and I even got all emotional. It doesn’t take much for me to cry at weddings, but I wasn’t even there! It was just a special day and I’m glad we were near enough to appreciate it.
There is no way that we would be part of the masses camping all over Windsor days ahead of the wedding to catch a glimpse of the royal family or their celebrity guests. Maybe if Brendan and I were on our own. Maybe.
But I get why British families who’ve seen not one, but two royal weddings in their lives, would do it again. For some of the spectators, it’s a family tradition to camp out at royal weddings. Some are the 2nd or 3rd generation to keep the tradition alive. Which they absolutely should do while the monarchy is still alive and I hope that it lives forever. I’ve always been a fan of the Queen and her family but especially of the princes. Love the young princes.
Prince William and Prince Harry are the coolest prince brothers in the world! I think that the two of them going out into the street the night before the wedding to greet and chat to their adoring fans is the sweetest thing and I would’ve loved to have been there just for that. What a great way to thank everyone who loves them enough to be out there, waiting days to catch a glimpse of royalty. They reward fans with a handshake, an eye-to-eye smile and a personal “How are you?”. Respect.
Before the campers and royal wedding guests arrive and we can still move and find parking, we roam the streets of Windsor and get to know this royal place town bit better.
You can walk through Old Windsor by the castle, down Peascod Avenue, Windsor’s main shopping street, explore all the way through Royal Alexandra Park down to the leisure centre to Bath Island and back again along the canal in a morning. Buy proper bird food for a pound or two to feed the swans and ducks and have an ice cream at Windsor’s Promenade where French Brother’s boat cruises depart from.
Please don’t feed swans bread. It really isn’t good for them.
Nick was excited to see the black swan among all the white swans every time we went down to the promenade. Black swans are rare in this part of the world, breeding mainly in the southeast and southwest regions of Australia.
Winsor Duck Tours
Read about our amphibious boat ride with Windsor Duck Tours on our one night out in Windsor here. An hour-long tour of Windsor by road but mainly on the River Thames in the only remaining amphibious ride left operating in the country.
Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. It is open to visitors all year round. Queen Elizabeth II is the longest reigning monarch and queen of fifteen other Commonwealth realms. Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, it has since been the home of 39 monarchs. Today The Queen spends most of her private weekends at the Castle. Her official home is Buckingham Palace, but Windsor is where she grew up and where she calls home.
Directly opposite the main gate of Windsor Castle is the old medieval part of town. A couple of cobbled streets filled with cafe’s and tourist shops. You won’t find any locals here, but busloads and busloads of tourists. Avoid this area during the morning if you can. Visit Windsor Castle in the afternoon from 2-pm onwards when most tour groups have moved on. Allow about two hours to listen to everything on the guided phone tour.
Watch the Changing of the Windsor Castle Guard at 11 am on certain days and catch them as they march from the barracks to the Castle. Visit this site for dates and more information.
We missed them but got to see the official Town Crier of Windsor, Chris Brown, in action with Jenny Bond and a film crew outside the castle on the day that the Queen was in residence. Jenny Bond is a British Journalist and popular TV presenter who was the BBC’s royal correspondent for 14 years.
Over 60/Student (with valid ID): £19.30
Under 17/Disabled: £12.30
Under 5: Free
Family (2 adults and 3 under 17s): £54.70
Windsor Castle Opening times:
1 November – 28 February
Opening time: 09:45
Last admission: 15:00
Closing time: 16:15
1 March – 31 October
Opening time: 09:30
Last admission: 16:00
Closing time: 17:15
Entrance to the State Apartments and Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House closes 30 minutes after the last admission time.
As Windsor Castle is a working royal palace, sometimes the entire Castle or the State Apartments within the Castle need to be closed at short notice.
Check here for up to date information before you visit Windsor Castle.
The Crooked House
Look for the Crooked House of Windsor (or Market Cross House) on the High Street near the castle. First built in 1592 it’s called ‘crooked’ due to its crazy slanted angle. Much like the delightfully slanted houses that we saw in Amsterdam.
The crooked house is home to Jersey Pearls, a jewellery store where you will find a full collection of Freshwater, Akoya, Tahitian and Southsea pearl jewellery.
Next to Windsor’s crooked house is Queen Charlotte Street, the shortest street in England
The Guildhall & Windsor Museum
The Guildhall and Windsor Museum, next to the crooked house is where Prince Charles and Camilla got married in 2005. The Guildhall was built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1690. The story goes that he built the pillars an inch too short to prove his ability to councillors who did not think the building will stand.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go inside because it was closed on the day we got the chance.
Adults: £2. Ages 12-17: £1 Under 12: Free
The Long Walk
A straight path from Windsor Castle through Deer Park to Snow Hill. One of the most iconic pictures of Windsor is that of the Long Walk. If you get the chance it’s worth doing. The view is stunning.
Read our post about The Long Walk here.
The transformation in the forests of England from when we arrived is astounding. From bare dull branches and fields covered in white snow to vivid green lush foliage, carpets of bluebells and lively birdsong everywhere in just a few weeks. Spring in England is beautiful.
Windsor Great Park covers 4800 parks, gardens and nature for the public to explore and enjoy. It includes The Long Walk, Deer Park, Snow Hill, Virginia Waters Lake, The Saville Gardens and a play area at the Obelisk Lawn among other places.
While staying at an Airbnb house in Chertsey, we went to Virginia Lake a few times in April. Quiet and tranquil, our walk around the lake takes us to the pretty Cascades waterfall, roman ruins and a nesting pair of swans. The park ranger comes to check on the pair while we’re there and the kids get to help feed them, staying quiet so as not to disturb the nesting swan.
Find the 100-foot Totem Pole and have a coffee at the Pavillion. The route around the lake is stroller friendly and the visitor information centre offers picnic benches, restrooms and a kiosk.
Entry to Virginia Waters is free, but you pay for parking.
The Saville Gardens charge for entry. Check the website here for prices and more information.
READ ABOUT OUR Date night 💖 in Windsor.
The Fudge Kitchen
Finally, we get fudge from the Fudge Kitchen, situated right opposite Windsor Castle close to Nando’s. Best fudge in the world. Not just any fudge. Belgian chocolate, strawberry, dark chocolate and caramel fudge. Taste every flavour before you fork out £17 for 4 big slices. The shop assistant encourages you to enjoy the experience and savour every taste before you buy. It can be ordered online and shipped anywhere in the world too.
The Fudge Kitchen is open to the public to view the fudge making process in the kitchen. Sadly, we didn’t know that when we were there and our entertaining shop assistant didn’t mention it either. Make sure you have an extra few minutes to check it out. We saw it on TV and attempted to make creamy fudge in our own kitchen. Heavenly!
Ye Olde King’s Head
Reputedly the oldest inn in Windsor and the place where Shakespeare wrote “The Merry Wives of Windsor” is near the castle in Church Street. There is also a plaque recording the execution warrant for Charles I in 1648.
Windsor & Eton Brewery
If you’re interested in craft beer, visit the Windsor and Eton Brewery. They offer 3 different types of brewery tours.
- The Duke Street Experience (£10 / person, every Saturday. 45 min). Ideal for individuals or small private groups.
- The Brew Masters Tour (£30 / person, every third Wednesday @ 7 pm). An experience suited to beer connoisseurs and Corporate Tours.
Please check their website here for up to date pricing and telephone or email them first as pre-booking for all brewery tour types is essential.
Self Guided Marked Walkways
The Queens Walkway mark the occasion of The Queen becoming Britain’s longest reigning monarch. It was opened by The Queen on her 90th birthday, 21 April 2016. The information panel she unveiled is located at the foot of Castle Hill. A symbolic 6.373km long for the 63 years, 7 months and 3 days (one day more than Queen Victoria’s reign) it links 63 of Windsor’s best attractions, features and views.
Download the brochure here.
The Eton Walkway is a 2 mile / one-hour circular walk connecting 18 points of interest in town, including Eton College, the Burning Bush, Eton Wall Game at the Timbralls and Eton boathouse. Starting at Windsor Bridge where permanent bronze markers using Eton’s coat of arms, are set in the ground to identify the route of the Walkway. The Eton coat of arms was originally given to the town by King Henry VI in 1449.
Traipsing around Eton left us searching online for enrolment applications and procedures to get Nick into Eton College when he turns 11! I even looked at the option to find admission tutors next year. We’ll have to start saving yesterday.
Download a brochure and mobile app here.
Parks, Gardens & Fountains
If your family is anything like ours, you’ll agree that finding a public play area is always a good thing. Unless you’re in a hurry and your two-year-old cries uncontrollably for a slide. Then it’s not such a great thing. I cannot sing England’s praises enough for having so many well maintained public play areas everywhere. Seriously. Well done. You should be proud.
On a sunny day the fountains next to Alexandra Gardens is packed with families cooling down and splashing in the water. Situated next to Windsor and Eton Central railway station, Alexandra Gardens has a bandstand, a carousel, kiosk and large greens where Nick and Leah played frisbee. It’s big enough to go loooooong and runs parallel with the promenade leading to the leisure centre and Bath Island.
It’s great how both railway stations in Windsor are next to parks and gardens.
Some pay and display car parks are free on bank holidays. We got lucky with a parking spot on a bank holiday Monday morning behind the library next to Bachelor’s Acre. Bachelor’s Acre is where you’ll pass locals jogging, doing yoga or relaxing in the park. It has another good play park and water fountains to splash in with big public restrooms and a kiosk. Here you’ll find a sculpture of a special old lady with her corgis, keeping an eye on kids while they play 😉.
Situated next to Windsor and Eton Riverside railway station, Home Park is where we parked most of the time and it’s also next to a good little playpark that the children loved.
Windsor Leisure centre is worth a visit for a play and swim. Two hours of slides, flumes and a wave session is high on our list of ways to have fun. There is also a play area at the back of the centre.
Again, we found a crowd control system in place and had no issues finding a locker and changing cubicle. A vigilant lifeguard is on duty on almost every corner.
There were long queues for the family slide, but that’s only because swimmers didn’t see the sign that people waiting for the family slide must queue on the left to let the fast slide riders through. They need a BIG sign. Problem solved.
A family of four can swim for £22. It’s a bit annoying that they don’t operate the 20p locker system like other centres. You must buy a £4 lock that you keep.
Parking & Public Toilets
My kids need the loo at the most inconvenient times, but we did not have any serious panics in Windsor. It seemed we could walk across the road and find an unlocked free public toilet anytime. Every public restroom we used were clean, well stocked with toilet paper and had a disabled or family toilet big enough for all four of us and the pram to fit at the same time.
- For information about the Home Park or Romney Lock car park and parking rates read here.
- For information about parking at Alexandra Gardens read here.
- For all car park options and rates in Windsor click here.
We explored Windsor and paid for everything ourselves. Opinions are 100% our own. Information sourced from public sources are correct at the time of posting. Please check relevant websites for up to date info.
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