Want to visit Windsor Castle in England? Here’s a guide to the royal residence in Berkshire county, including opening hours, tickets and useful information with frequent answers and questions before your visit.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit?
Ever wondered what the Queen gets up to in her spare time? A visit to Windsor Castle and its spectacular grounds provides the chance to explore one of the largest and oldest castles in the world, and a place where the Queen of England spends her private weekends.
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While tickets can be bought on the day, it’s strongly advised you book online in advance to guarantee entry and avoid disappointment, particularly if you’re hoping to visit on the weekend.
Once booked, you can choose whether to have your tickets emailed to you (you must then print these out and bring them on the day) or opt to collect them from the Admission Center on the day. Note, if you opt to collect your tickets please be aware that queues do form at opening time and the center is relatively busy all morning.
The Windsor castle is open on and off throughout the year at the below times:
- 1 November – 28th February: 10am – 4:15pm (last admission at 3pm)
- 1 March – 31st October: 10am – 5:15pm (last admission at 4pm)
Note, entrance to the State Apartments closes 30 minutes prior to the last admission time. Also, as the castle is a working royal palace, sometimes it may have to close at short notice (particularly the State Rooms). Check the Royal Collection Trust’s website in advance before planning your visit.
History & more information
Located in the county of Berkshire, Windsor Castle is the English royal residence compromising of two quadrilateral-shaped buildings and covering over 13 acres of ground.
The castle has been the home of British kings and queens for over 1,000 years and is currently the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II who takes up official residence every Easter and visits periodically throughout the year.
The location for Windsor Castle, high above the Thames and on the edge of Saxon hunting ground, was chosen by William the Conqueror in 1070 and construction lasted 16 years. The areas easy access to London and proximity to royal hunting ground made it the perfect location.
Over the years, many amendments have been made to the castle and its surrounding grounds but the biggest change came in 1992 when a fire broke out in Queen Victoria’s private Chapel.
The flames engulfed the chapel, the ceiling of St George’s Hall, and the Grand Reception Room amongst other areas, all of which have been repaired under The Duke of Edinburgh’s committee and restored as close to the original condition as possible.
The work took five years to complete, and today the castle looks as it did when George IV left his gothic mark on the buildings in 1828.
Today the castle is used for ceremonial occasions, state visits, and royal banquets. There’s also a number of celebrations, courses, and lectures that take place throughout the year with guest speakers and live performances. Check out the castles event calendar online to see what’s going on throughout the year!
Points of Interest
St George’s Chapel
Located in the grounds of Windsor Castle, St George’s Cathedral is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England. Make sure you look up and admire the stone ceiling!
Visit the private apartments built for George IV and admire the opulent and lavish decor. The rooms are some of the richly decorated rooms in the entire castle!
Explore the rooms used by the Queen when hosting Heads of States from other countries. It’s also where regular award ceremonies are held!
Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House
Make sure you visit the Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House when you’re exploring the State Apartments. The dollhouse was built around 1921 and features work from some of England’s finest artists and craftsmen.
Changing the Guard
The Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place at 11am on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays. You’ll watch the guards march through Windsor town and into the castle.
How to get to Windsor Castle
The nearest train stations are ‘Windsor & Eton Central’ and ‘Windsor & Eton Riverside’. From King’s Cross Station in central London take the Hammersmith underground line to Paddington Station, then take the overground to Slough. At Slough, change trains for Windsor and Eton Central.
There is no car park at the castle so visitors must park at one of the car parks in Windsor town center. From here, it’s just a short 10-minute walk to the castle.
By Bus / Coach
Those coming from central London might consider taking a coach from Victoria Station. Greenline Coach service 702 heads to Windsor Castle daily.
During the Spring and Summer, Surbiton Coaches run a shuttle bus between Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace.
Windsor Castle sits just over 20 miles west of central London, but there’s still a number of attractions nearby that are worth a visit. Check them out below:
- Windsor Guildhall
- Theatre Royal Windsor
- Frogmore House and Gardens
- Alexandra Gardens
- Windsor Great Park
- Liquid Leisure Windsor
- Windsor and Royal Borough Museum
Best time to visit Windsor Castle
As the Admission Center is particularly busy at opening time, and throughout the morning, it’s advised you save your visit to the castle till the afternoon.
This way you should avoid the crowds waiting to get in, and you can enjoy the castle without it feeling overly busy. As usual, midweek is always quieter than weekends or holidays.
- Windsor Castle was part of William the Conqueror’s plan to subjugate Saxon Britain.
- Windsor Castle is the longest-occupied palace in Europe.
- Prince Albert died at the castle in 1861 and Queen Victoria became known as the “Widow of Windsor”
- The Royal Family changed their last name to Windsor in 1917 after the castle.
- The castle was used as a royal air-raid shelter during World War II.
- The road to Windsor Castle is 2.65 miles long.
- Windsor Castle is the largest continually inhabited castle in the world.
- The castle grounds cover 52,609 square meters (13 acres) and is home to over 1,000 rooms.
- 40 monarchs, including Her Majesty the Queen, have called the castle their home.
- If the Union Flag is flying above the castle it means the Queen is not in residence.
- The Windsor Castle estate has over 450 clocks and it takes the castles clockmaker 16 hours to change them all forward when BTS begins and 18 hours to move them back when BST ends (he must wind the clocks forward 11 hours!).
- More than 1 million tourists visit the castle each year.
FAQ (Things to know before you go)
How long should I allow for my visit?
There’s no time limit on your visit to Windsor Castle. However, 2-3 hours is a good amount of time to spend exploring.
Can I take pictures of the castle?
Photographs are permitted outside of the castle but must not be taken inside or within St George’s Chapel.
What does my ticket include?
Windsor Castle Tickets include entrance to the castle grounds, the castle itself (including the State Apartments if they’re open) and St George’s Chapel.
You’ll also receive a multimedia guide available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and many more languages.
Can I bring my own food?
Yes, you can bring your own food on site. However, eating and drinking are not permitted inside the castle or in the State Apartments or St George’s Chapel. Those who wish to leave the Castle to visit a cafe or restaurant in town will be issued a re-entry permit.
Can I bring a pushchair?
Pushchairs can be used around the castle grounds but need to be checked in near the entrance to the State Apartments.
Can I store my luggage at the castle?
It’s not recommended to bring any luggage larger than a backpack to the castle. If you need to store your luggage, make use of nearby independent storage services.
Do you have more questions before visiting Windsor Castle? Leave a comment below!