What to see at Windsor Castle?
Windsor Castle is one of the official residences of Queen Elizabeth II. She stays there most weekends, from March to April, and a week in June during the prestigious Royal Ascot horse race.
It is also one of the main tourist attractions in the United Kingdom.
Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world. It has been the residence of British kings for 1000 years. The St George's Chapel houses the oldest order of chivalry in the world: Order of the Garter
History of Windsor Castle
Situated on a steep hill overlooking the Thames, Windsor Castle is a medieval construction initiated by William the Conqueror, in 1066, after his invasion of England.
In the 11th century, William the Conqueror chose this land for its proximity to a forest (for hunting) and its strategic location in relation to the city of London.
In the 12th century, after the English Civil War, the castle was enlarged by King Henry II who turned it into a royal palace.
On November 20, 1992, a fire destroyed several rooms, ceilings and roofs of Queen Victoria's private chapel: Saint George's Chapel. 5 years and the best craftsmen in Europe were needed to restore it.
Windsor Castle was home to the Queen Elizabeth II who still stays there for several weeks a year.
Visit Windsor Castle
As for the Buckingham Palace, the flag which flies on the roof of the building indicates the presence or not of the queen in the castle:
- Union Jack: If it's the UK flag flying over the castle, it means the Queen is not present.
- Royal Standard of United Kingdom: if it is the red, blue and gold flag - representing the symbols of the United Kingdom (the harp of Northern Ireland, the red lion of Scotland and the 3 Golden Lions of England) - which floats above the castle, it means that the Queen is present.
The tour is one-way and photos and videos are prohibited - except in the inner courtyard and palace gardens.
To avoid the crowds, choose a late morning visit schedule (around 11 am). The guided tour (included in your ticket) starts every 30 minutes. Also prepare to pass a security check at the entrance of the castle.
Allow between 2 and 3 hours of visit - and wear comfortable shoes to walk because the castle is on a hill and the road is long!
St George's Chapel
Located inside the grounds of the castle, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful ecclesiastical buildings in England.
Many princely weddings took place in St. George's Chapel such as the marriage of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005, and more recently prince Harry and Meghan Markle (Duke and Duchess of Sussex) on Saturday 19 May 2018, in the presence of the Queen Elizabeth II and several other members of the Royal family.
Saint George's Chapel is also the burial place of 10 British rulers including Henry VIII, Jane Seymour and Charles I.
St George's Chapel is closed to visitors on days of religious services and on Sundays, unless you wish to attend one of the religious services.
The State Apartments
The State Apartments are the most visited rooms in Windsor Castle.
These are the rooms used by members of the royal family during official events.
These pieces were restored after the fire at Windsor Castle on November 20, 1992, they are luxuriously furnished and decorated with works of art from the Royal Collection: Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto, etc.
The Precincts Tour is a walk to discover the fortress of 900 years ago, guided by palace guards dressed in typical costumes of the time.
The Semi-State Rooms
The Semi-State Rooms are the rooms reserved for guests of the Royal Family during official events.
Created for George IV, they are just as luxuriously decorated as the State Apartments and are open to the public from October to March.
The Queen Mary's Dolls' House
The Queen Mary's Dolls' House is the world's most famous, beautiful and largest dollhouse. Built in 1920 for Queen Mary, by British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.
It is a perfect miniature replica of an aristocratic house (living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms, basement with garage and garden), on several levels and furnished with thousands of custom-made objects by the greatest artists and craftsmen.
The dolls - given to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (in 1938) for their daughters, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, during a state visit to France - are on display in display cases with all their wardrobe and accessories.
The clothes and accessories for the dolls were designed and manufactured by the greatest Parisian haute couture houses of the time: Lanvin, Cartier, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, etc.
The Changing the Guard
The changing of the guard at Windsor Castle are part of the Household Division's five infantry regiments and the Household Cavalry's two cavalry regiments.
To the sound of the marching band, the soldiers of the New Guard leave the Victoria Barracks on foot. They march in cadence along Sheet Street and High & Street - to the intersection with the statue of Queen Victoria - before entering the castle.
At the end of the ceremony, the old guard leaves Windsor Castle to join the Victoria barracks.
Days and schedule
From April to July: every day at 11 a.m.
The rest of the year: every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 11 a.m.
From Victoria Barracks to the inner courtyard of Windsor Castle, via Sheet Street and High Street.
About 45 minutes
Accessible only to the public with a ticket to visit Windsor Castle.
This event has been taking place since 1660.
The gardens of Windsor Castle extend over more than 5 hectares around the castle.
Windsor Castle has several small souvenir shops - accessible only to visitors to the castle - offering products with the Windsor coat of arms: crockery, linens, accessories, etc.
Tickets for Windsor Castle
Take advantage of the best price by purchasing your tickets from one of our partners:
From 27.30€ (or £23.50)
From £23.50 (or 27.30€)
The ticket price includes a guided tour of Windsor Castle - as well as a multimedia tour.
Rates are lower during times when The State Apartments are closed.
Windsor Castle is included in the London Pass.
Windsor Castle opening times
Unlike Buckingham Palace which is only open to the public for 2 months a year, it is possible to visit Windsor Castle all year round. However, several weeks a year, the castle becomes the residence of the royal family and completely closes its doors to the public. During certain periods, the State Apartments of the castle are also closed.
Windsor Castle is open all year round, except Tuesdays and Wednesdays:
|From March 1 to October 31||Every day, from 10 a.m. to 5.15 p.m. (last admission at 4 p.m.)|
|From December 3 to February 28||Every day from 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. (last admission at 3 p.m.)|
|June 12 and 13, and December 25 and 26||Closed|
St George's Chapel is open to visitors on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. (last admission at 4 p.m.).
The opening times vary according to the days and the seasons, it is recommended to consult the opening times on the official website of Windsor Castle.
Entrance to the State Apartments closes 30 minutes after the last hour of admission.
Like many monuments, museums and attractions, Windsor Castle is closed on December 25 and 26.
Getting to Windsor Castle
The Windsor Castle is located in Windsor, Berkshire, west of the English capital.
To get there, 3 options:
- South West Trains: Departing from Waterloo Station to Windsor Station (Windsor & Eton Riverside terminus).
Allow about 1 hour journey.
- First Great Western (Great Western Railway): departing from Paddington station towards Slough station, for a connection with another train towards Windsor (terminus Windsor & Eton Central).
Allow about 35min of journey.
- Bus: lines 701 and 702 from Victoria station - Parish Church stop, next to Windsor Castle.
- Car: take the M4, then exit 6 towards M3, and finally exit 3.
The castle does not have no parking, the car option is not the most recommended.
Near Windsor Castle
Take advantage of your visit to Windsor Castle to visit the city of Windsor:
- Alexandra Gardens: large park located on the banks of the Thames and offering a large number of activities (Riverway, Barry Avenue, Windsor).
- St John the Baptist Church: small church located 2 minutes walk from Windsor Castle (High St, Windsor).
- LEGOLAND Windsor: official LEGO brand amusement park
- Queen Victoria Statue: Statue of Queen Victoria located at the entrance to Windsor Castle (Castle Hill, Windsor).
- Royal Windsor Theater: theater located between Windsor Castle and the Thames. It organizes performances of classical works, traditional pantomimes and more contemporary works (32 Thames St, Windsor).