Spectacular British royals have traditionally spent their summers at Windsor Castle by taking a Windsor Castle Tour. Since William the Conqueror constructed the first Castle here, royal families have frequented the area, and each has left their own distinctive mark on the land throughout their extended stays.
The longest continuously inhabited royal castle in Europe is Windsor Castle. It is listed as one of Queen Elizabeth II’s official homes, and you can usually tell when the monarch is there. When you go, look up at the Round Tower of the Castle; if the Royal Standard is flying, the Queen is there.
The Queen generally spends most of her weekends here and makes that last for a full month at Easter. She spends a week here in June during Royal Ascot and comes to St. George’s Chapel for the annual Orders of the Garter service.
Windsor Castle Tour
There is undoubtedly a lot to see here, and a full day may be spent touring the Castle as well as its surroundings. On a day trip from London, Windsor Castle is simple to combine with other local attractions like Stonehenge. Check out our selection of the top Windsor Castle attractions, along with advice and tours, to help you get the most out of your visit.
She spends most of the weekends there. Even though it’s unusual to see the Queen walking down the halls in her housecoat, you can always tell when she’s at home since the Royal Standard flag always flies from the Round Tower.
The setting was chosen by Harry and Markle because Windsor Castle is “a meaningful place for the two of them,” according to royal officials. The Castle was built in approximately 1070, after William, the Conqueror, selected the site and started clearing the area. Edward III spent a lot of money on costly improvements in the fourteenth century, and substantial repairs were done after a disastrous fire.
1. What to do in Windsor Castle Tours
When you come here, you should prepare to spend two to three hours exploring the Castle and moving between the many public areas. Edward IV started construction on the chapel of Knights of the Garter, which is dedicated to St. George and is regarded as one of the greatest specimens of English Perpendicular Gothic architecture, in 1474.
The heraldic symbols of the governing families of Lancaster and York are shown on the façade; in the north, these include deer, bulls, falcons, & black dragons, while in the south, they include unicorns, lions, swans, & red dragons.
Impressive features include the fan vaulting inside the nave & choir and the west window’s stained glass (1503). The coats of shields, banners, and ornamental plumes of 700 Knights of the Order are displayed behind & above the stalls.
2. St. George’s Chapel
Several royal tombs, such as those of George V & Queen Mary, the ancestors of Queen Elizabeth II, are located in the church. Henry VI, Edward IV, & Edward VII are interred in the sacristy, while Henry VIII and Charles I are buried in the vault beneath the choir. The 26 Knights & Ladies of The Most Excellent Order of the Garter, Britain’s highest order and founded in 1348 by Edward III, have their official residence in St. George’s Chapel.
Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband, was most recently buried here after passing away in April 2021 at the age of 99. He was the 25th member of the Royal Family to be buried in the Royal Vault in St. George Chapel. The church is accessible to the public even though the Royal Vault is not.
3. Chapel Albert Memorial
The Albert Memorial Chapel, formerly known as the Lady Chapel and constructed in 1500 to house Henry VII’s tomb (he was really buried at Westminster Abbey), was dedicated in memory of the Queen’s husband, Prince Albert, upon his passing in 1861.
The Duke of Clarence’s sarcophagus, which is located inside and is magnificently embellished with coloured marble, mosaics, & sculptures, was Edward VII’s eldest son and lived from 1864 to 1892. The Duke of Albany (who died in 1884) is portrayed in Scottish regalia on the marble sculpture on the west door. The lower east side of St. George’s Chapel has a tunnel that leads to the chapel.
4. The State Apartments
The State Apartments are only accessible while the Queen is not residing there. The State Apartments at Windsor Castle have evolved over time to suit the tastes of the reigning monarch. Charles II, who wanted the palace to match Versailles, conducted the major restorations in the 17th century and George IV in the 19th.
The State Apartments were largely destroyed in the southern section by a devastating incident at Windsor Castle, but they have now been restored to their former glory. The Inner Hall was opened to the general public for the beginning time since Queen Victoria’s reign, following extensive improvements to Windsor Castle.
The Queen’s Gallery, as well as the Dining Hall, each with a brilliantly painted ceiling and woodcarvings, are the most prominent spaces. Among the art treasures is a sizable collection of pieces.
5. The State-Sized Rooms
The equally lavish private apartments built for George IV are open to tourists from September to March, when they are not being used for formal festivities, just like the State Apartments. The Queen hosts important events in these rooms, which rank among the Castle’s most elaborately adorned interiors.
The spectacular Crimson Drawing Room, including its damask walls & gold-leafed furnishings, is the most luxurious of this new suite of flats. The 1992 fire badly damaged this area of the Castle, but fortunately, the priceless artwork and decorations had already been moved. According to the original designs, the chambers have been completely restored.
6. Queen Mary’s Doll House
Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, a work of art that was gifted to the monarch in 1924, is one of the most well-known attractions at Windsor Castle. It was constructed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the most prominent architect of the day, and is furnished with working miniatures made by some of the most renowned artists, designers, and artisans of the time.
A 1/12 size model of an aristocratic mansion, it is full of hundreds of miniature items, many of which actually function. Drawers open, cars inside the garage have running engines, running water runs from tiny faucets, linens are monogrammed, as well as the library is crammed with tiny volumes. Queen Mary put it on exhibit to solicit donations for charitable causes.
The Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, an incredibly elaborate structure with electric lighting, hot and cold running water, and even a flushing toilet, is where most visitors head first.
From the carved vaulted ceilings to the hanging on the wall, the State Apartments are ridiculously opulent. Keep a close eye on the site, where the majority of closures are documented, although specific portions may be closed all year because the Castle is still in active use. You must be inside the grounds by the time the Changing of the Guard begins at 11 a.m.(Thursdays and Sundays in April 2018) if you have your heart set on watching it.
7. Changing Guards
Without taking in the Changing of the Guard ritual, no trip to Windsor Castle is complete. The ritual is comparable to Buckingham Palace’s daily guard change. From April through July, this customary display of British pageantry is held in the Castle Precincts every morning at 11 a.m. It happens on alternate days during the remaining of the year, depending on the weather. The ritual lasts for roughly 30 minutes.
Plan to observe the ceremony in the parade ground near the main entrance, in front of St. George’s Chapel, if you’re on the palace grounds. The band marches around the town before the wedding, passing the Guildhall & Queen Victoria’s statue close to the palace, even though you cannot view the ceremony from outside the grounds.
8. The Cloisters at Horseshoe
The homes of the Military Knights of Windsor, who are also members of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, are located on the south side of the Lower Ward. The Horseshoe Cloisters were constructed in 1479 to serve as clergy housing. The building’s unusually curved timbers & diagonal brickwork are part of its brick & timber frame construction.
Cloisters and Canons of the Dean The Edward III-built cloisters, which served as the dean and canons’ original residences, are also very lovely and well worth visiting.
9. Westminster Gardens
The gardens of the Castle are quite small and are located on terraces that stretch east from the Upper Ward due to its high location. When the North Terrace is open in late July to late September, You can see the East Terrace Garden well whenever the North Terrace is accessible to guests.
10. The Towers
The Curfew Tower, one of the Lower Ward’s oldest still-standing structures, was constructed in 1227 and featured some of Windsor Castle’s earliest stonework. A portion of a dungeon from the thirteenth century may be found inside the tower, along with the start of an underground tunnel that was blocked off by the walls’ thickness.
Henry II constructed the Round Tower, from which the Royal Standard is flown, which is encircled by a deep moat on three sides. Visitors can ascend the 200 steps inside the tower as part of the “Conquer the Tower” guided tour to see the panorama from 65.5 metres above the Thames.
From here, one can view the enormous size of the castle complex, as well as its parks and Charles II’s five-kilometer Long Walk. Views go further and include the London skyline and the Thames Valley.
11. Great Park and Home Park
Great park, which stretches for about six miles along the south side of the Castle, is home to a sizable herd of red deer. Home Park is a sporting venue for tennis, cricket, rugby, and archery. Frogmore House, where numerous royals have resided over the years, and the mausoleum where Queen Victoria & Prince Albert are interred are both located inside the park. Several structures, including a folly in the shape of a Gothic ruin, may be found in the gardens.
Visitors can periodically visit Frogmore House and Gardens; three charity events are scheduled each year, and pre-arranged groups are welcome there in August.
12. Where to Stay for Sightseeing Near Windsor Castle
Being a small town, Windsor is simple to navigate on foot. It is convenient to Heathrow Airport and makes a nice first stop on a tour because there are quick train & bus connections to London from here. If you’re driving to Windsor, be aware that parking can be rather expensive, making accommodations with parking included very attractive.
Hotels in Eton are just a short stroll from the Castle, which is located right along the Thames. However, the river divides them from Windsor. Near Windsor Castle, shopping, & other tourist attractions, these hotels have a great reputation.
1. Luxury lodging
The Macdonald Windsor Hotel is only a two-minute stroll from the Windsor Castle gates, with a number of restaurants just a five-minute stroll away. The hotel boasts its own brasserie & room service and is well known for its individualized service and luxurious touches.
Choose Oakley Court, an exquisite country mansion that has its own polo team and has been the backdrop of several films, for a truly authentically British experience. The site is gorgeous, even though it’s a little outside of the town center; it has views of the river and amenities like a pool, sauna, & steam room, tennis courts, parking, and free bicycles that aren’t available at the downtown location.
The chalets at Willow Court Farm are also located in a rural area and are ideal for families because they include opulent king-sized bedrooms as well as built-in bunk beds for kids. Children like visiting the numerous animals on this miniature farm and collecting their own eggs for breakfast.
2. Midrange lodging
The Castle Inn Windsor MGallery Collection offers rooms with traditional décor or stylish modern decor that have mini-bars & free internet connection. The major commercial street and the main gates of Windsor Castle are both within walking distance of this 4-star hotel, yet the guest rooms are quiet, thanks to the double-glazed windows.
Eight guest rooms and a full English breakfast are available at the typical English inn, The George (included in the rate). The Castle is a short five-minute walk away, and most have views of it.
The Old Farmhouse is a charming half-timbered house with exposed timber frames & beams inside the guest rooms and furniture for rustic elegance. The interior maintains this period design. Breakfast and Wi-Fi are included, and some rooms feature window seats.
3. Cheap hotels
The Travelodge Windsor Central Hotel is a short walk from the Queen Victoria Statue at the Castle’s entrance and is close to the train station, which is convenient for those coming by train from London. On Eton High Street, just a short distance from Windsor Castle lies the historic pub hotel known as The Crown and Cushion. It has been in business since 1753. There are two king and six double guest rooms in total, and rollaway beds can be added for no additional charge. When reserving, be aware that these antique hotels typically feature upper rooms.
The Windsor Trooper, a classic public house inn, is located on a roadway leading up to the Castle and is close to several dining options.
13. Tours of the Ward
Join a complimentary 30-minute tour of Castle Precincts when you arrive at the Castle. The tours are given by Wardens and leave from the Jubilee Concert stage at the beginning of the visit at periodic intervals throughout the day.
The trip comes to a close at the State Apartments’ entrance on Henry VIII’s North Terrace, where you may take in breathtaking views of the surroundings. When posting your images on Twitter or Instagram, don’t forget to use the hashtag #WindsorCastle. An advertisement for precinct tours is posted next to the building where the tours leave from.
The 1992 fire badly damaged the Semi-State Rooms, despite the fact that, by coincidence, its contents had been relocated at the time. Using the original plans given to George IV, they were fully restored to their 19th-century form.
Each year, the Semi-State Rooms are typically available from fall until spring. The rooms will be accessible this year from Thursday, November 24, 2022, through Sunday, March 26, 2023. See our opening for more information.
The Castle can get very crowded, especially in the summer, but if you go for the Windsor castle tour in the afternoon, the crowds will be somewhat reduced. There are many things to do on the Windsor castle tour, like visiting Buckingham palace, the royal history of the official royal residence, visit the largest occupied castle, visit Windsor castle, visit Windsor town, the Thames river cruise, and note st George’s chapel and many others.
Instead, spend the morning exploring The Long Walk, a 3-mile section of the lovely Windsor Great Park that offers the most breathtaking views of the Castle. Spend some time exploring Windsor, a charming English town. Even Markle and Harry’s carriage procession around Windsor following the ceremony can be tracked on a map.