Never had I ever been to Windsor Castle for the day. It’s known as one of the top days out in England, but I, at 35, lover of travel and England, never quite made it there, until now.
Turns out a day trip to Windsor Castle is a fabulous idea!
Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle IN THE WORLD. It’s where our Queen Liz chills out during her time off. Apparently she spends most of her private weekends at Windsor, although, having been round it, I’ve had to look up exactly where.
Obviously, you don’t get to see her and Phil’s boudoir or anything.
– Did you even go to Windsor Castle if you didn’t get a pic with a guard?
Windsor Castle was founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, in 1070, and it’s been the home of 39 monarchs since. As the longest reigning monarch, our Queen has called it home the longest.
In fact, as a child she slept in the dungeons for protection during the war.
– Post is a paid collaboration with Musement
I was invited to explore the attraction of my choice by Musement. They have hundreds of activities to do all over the world on site, to help you plan your travels and days out. Seemed like a great way to finally get to Windsor Castle.
Booking parts of your trip before you travel is one of the best ways to get a handle on your budget, and to be prepared and avoid queues when you get to the entrance too.
Windsor Castle fact 1
Windsor Castle is one of the biggest residences in the world, officially. It has around 1,000 rooms and covers 484,000 square feet. Its imposing towers are visible from every approach and it has around 13 acres of land.
Day at Windsor Castle
We spent about three hours at Windsor Castle. There are guided tours you can do, but instead I opted to get one of the free media guides instead.
These had a kids and adult option to guide you round the castle. I listed to both and they weren’t actually that different, except for the kids’ one had fun games instead. Too easy to be entertaining for me, but then, I am in my 30s.
These really bought the castle to life and told me more about the history, what happens here now, and how they’re planning for the future.
It just so happened that we arrived in perfect time for the Changing of the Guard parade through Windsor at 10:45am. This is basically to celebrate the guards changing shifts, but is done the OTT, totally extra, regal way, with a procession through the town.
Back inside Windsor Castle and we started with Queen Mary’s Doll’s House.
A fascinating ‘building’ built to a 12:1 scale, with everything made intricately to represent a London town house of the day. I can not even begin to imagine how much money was spent on this.
It’s now housed behind temperature controlled glass to keep it on show for years to come.
I loved it!
The tiny wine bottles had real wine in. Famous authors of the day had created teeny bespoke books of their most famous tomes. It has working electricity and even at one point had running water.
The attention to detail was mind blowing.
Windsor Castle fact 2
St. George’s Chapel is the largest space in Windsor Castle with space for 800 seats. As one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in England, you might know it from the 2017 wedding of Meghan and Harry.
Many of Queen Victoria’s children were married here, as well as Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.
Less cheerily, it’s also the final resting place for a number of tombed ex-Royals.
The windows and decor inside are incredible.
State Rooms at Windsor Castle
Next up on our day at Windsor Castle was the State Rooms – each one used for a different purpose, but equally as grand.
My favourite room was definitely the one housing the gifts the Royal Family had been given over the years from the Commonwealth countries. Tiger heads from India, hanbok clothed puppets from South Korea, jewelled swords, handmade chess sets – honestly, the most random bunch of incredible things offered in friendship.
Click through to the Windsor Castle website if you want to see some of the Royal Family’s presents.
– The Guard Chamber, Bed Chamber, Dressing Rooms and the Dining Room are in the Round Tower
You’re not allowed to take photos in Windsor Castle, which I think is a good idea. It makes you take in the rooms even more, and there would’ve been so many things I’d want to photograph.
And finally we saw the main state room, where banquets for important visitors were held. There’s space for more than 160 guests around the table here.
Can you imagine being part of that?!
Skip to two minutes in for the best views of what Windsor Castle looks like when it’s ready for a state banquet.
Windsor Castle fire
The audio guide told us more about the Windsor Castle fire of 1992, which I’d never actually even heard of.
The fire had started in Queen Victoria’s Private Chapel, where a faulty spotlight ignited a curtain next to the altar. It burned for 15 hours and took five years to rebuild the damage, as a fifth of the building had been ruined.
“The fire was first spotted around 11:30. Three hours later 225 firemen from seven counties were battling the flames. At the peak of the operation they were using 36 pumps, discharging 1½ million gallons of water.” – Royal Collection Trust website.
It cost £36 million to repair Windsor Castle after the fire.
This was covered by the queen agreeing to pay tax for the first time, a £2 million donation from her, and her plan to open up new parts of Buckingham Palace for tourists.
Windsor Castle fact 3
If the Royal Standard is flown over Windsor Castle, it means the Queen is present. If she’s not in residence, the Union flag will be flying instead. Nothing was flying the day we were there – dunno what that means!
The Queen has 100s of people working at Windsor Castle to keep operations smooth, around 150 actually live there.
Getting to Windsor Castle
I kind of imagined pulling up to the castle like this, as I’ve seen Queenie do on the news so many times. The truth was kinda less dramatic.
– The Private Apartments – I think the Queen’s pad is in there somewhere
To start with I’d put ‘Windsor Castle’ into Google Maps, and so we arrived at the gates. Of course, I couldn’t leave my car there so we looped round back to the River Street Car Park. The VERY expensive River Street Car Park. It was £13.20 for four hours.
There was some sort of police operation the day we were there, which was sign posted but we never found out exactly what it was. This meant a lot of the street parking had cones to prevent us getting in on the cheap.
£13.20 was our only option.
On the plus side it was just a few minutes’ walk from the entrance, past a delightful fudge shop which I’d totally recommend you visit for the samples. And then to buy the salted caramel one, because you won’t be able to stop yourself.
Also, the shopping streets are near this car park too.
Day in Windsor
You can easily spend a day in Windsor, it’s a really nice city. This was actually my first time in Windsor too.
We’d planned to eat at Windsor Castle, at the cafe, but turns out it’s not finished yet. You can read more about the cafe development here – can’t believe they don’t have one already TBH.
This meant we were ravenous by about 2pm so after the castle we went to the Bluegrass BBQ Smokehouse, about two minutes from the Castle exit. They had a special deal on a Thursday, and you could get a meat dish, on fries, with a drink.
I’d totally recommend the Smokehouse if you’re looking for somewhere tasty to eat in Windsor.
If you want something a bit more ‘traditional British’ The Boatman and The Duchess of Cambridge come highly recommended online, and they’re right by the Castle.
Or, just pop into the chippy a few doors up from the Smokehouse.
There’s a good High Street in Windsor, featuring all the essentials, and the Windsor Royal Station shopping area too.
After a quick trip to M&S we took a walk along the river, and over the bridge to Eton. You can walk to the famous Eton College from here, if you like. We had to get back for the car.
Windsor Castle with Musement
I had a great day out at Windsor Castle with Musement. We’d booked the tickets before we went, and had them printed to make things easier in the queue. Turned out on this particularly Thursday morning there wasn’t a queue, so we just walked right up and through security.
More on travel in England
Great Itinerary for a Weekend on the Isle of Wight