Exploring Windsor: Travel Guide

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Located just about 30 miles west of London, Windsor is a quaint and delightful countryside which is famous for its royal connections and is steeped in the pageantry and history of the Royal Family. Windsor is the countryside of Royal Berkshire and is one of the most popular day trip destinations from the capital. Apart from the view, one will find a lively town in the riverside location, with great options for shopping, eating and boasts of prominent sight-seeing locations, such as the Windsor Castle, which is not only the Queen’s official royal residences and the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, but is also one of the most visited sights in the country.

Windsor

With a population of around 40,000, Windsor is closest to Heathrow International Airport and its nearest cities are London, Guildford and Maidenhead. Windsor’s history is rich and goes back to thousands of years, and its prime site Windsor Castle was once a fortress and a home for over 900 years. It is also what defines the countryside now. Built by William the Conqueror, it has expanded over the centuries to become a lavish royal residence and Windsor’s top attraction.

However, Windsor Castle is not the only thing to see there. From iconic attractions and world-class events to beautiful open countryside and the River Thames, the area offers a wide range of things to do. This historical place is home to the famous Eton College, where Princes William and Harry went to school, and Frogmore House – the elegant property where Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert are. For fun-seeking families, Legoland Windsor Resort offers a variety of so many fun things to do that a visit could fit in one day. For a friends’ getaway there is great entertainment, excellent shopping and fine eating and drinking. Garden lovers will be inspired by the year-round displays at the Savill Garden, Windsor Great Park or Cliveden.

There are also many well-known hidden secrets scattered across the Royal Borough of Windsor, just waiting to be discovered. While the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham is the only gallery in Britain devoted exclusively to artist Stanley Spencer, the Taplow Court is a mid-19th century mansion that boasts Jacobean-revival/French Gothic architecture by the architect William Burn and is the home of SGI-UK, a lay Buddhist society. It is open to the public and music, song, drama and poetry events or a guided tour are also on offer. Dorney Court, at the same time, is a 400 years old wonder that has 15th- and 16th-century oak and 17th-century lacquer furniture. The adjacent 13th-century church of St James, with Norman front and Tudor tower, can also be visited. Other heritage sites also include the Frogmore House and the Old Thatch Gardens, home to famous Enid Blyton. Yet another gem is enclosed within the Windsor Castle, called Evensong at St George’s Chapel, which is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England.

Different ways to explore the Windsor area is through open top bus tours, boat trips on the River Thames, horse-drawn carriage rides in Windsor Great Park, cycle tours and guided walking tours. You can even download our free self-guided heritage trail. For the walking tours, there is the Blue Badge Guides, which have achieved the highest guiding qualification in the UK, and takes groups, large or small, for a fun and informative tour of Windsor and the local area. Individuals can also join Royal Windsor Town Walks, which take place each Saturday and Sunday from Easter to the end of September. Another way to experience Windsor is through horse drawn carriage rides, which can also be hired for private events. You can ride in comfort through Orchard Poyle in Windsor town centre/The Long Walk and Ascot Carriages in Windsor Great Park (The Savill Garden).

There are several city sightseeing tours on open top double-decker buses, which is a convenient,fun and interesting. The circular tour route lasts one hour with pre-recorded English commentary, while two buses offer multi-lingual commentary. Tickets are valid for 24 hours, which allowes visitors to hop on and off the bus at the 11 stops of interest along the route. You can visit the Royal Windsor Information Centre in person or the Windsor Online Shop for tickets. Another, Windsor Duck Tours offer fun tours on purpose-built, amphibious vehicles whereby you can combine a road adventure with ‘splashdown’ into the River Thames. A boat tour down the Thames sounds romantic, and boat trips offer you that, and much more. You can hire a craft for an hour, a full day or longer, or join a passenger boat with onboard commentary. There are cycle tours too, with Mind the Gap Tours that offer guided cycle trips across the scenic Thames Valley to arrive at Windsor Castle. Not only that, the route is a flat 8 miles, and 99% traffic-free. The Carter Company offers gentle cycling and walking holidays – often combined with boat trips down the Thames – in and around Windsor. Day tours, short breaks and longer holidays; self-led and guided itineraries available. They also choose unique routes, designed by locals to show you the hidden gems of the area.

If not fond of huge crowds, you can try out the self-guided heritage trail by downloading the trail or picking up a printed version from the Royal Windsor Information Centre. In fact, tours of Windsor Castle and St George’s Chapel are self-guided, administered by audio guides lasting approximately 2 hours, and is included in the ticket.