Windsor and Eton
Windsor is an ancient town most famous for its castle, construction of which began in 1075, and which is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. The royal standard flies from the keep of the Castle when the Queen is in residence.
Eton is a smaller town, dominated by Eton College, the ancient public (US English:private) school which educates many of England's establishment (especially those who go on to become politicians, judges and diplomats).
Contact the Royal Windsor Information Centre, +44 1753 743900, for further information on attractions, events, places to stay and things to do.
Windsor and Eton is well served by London's collection of airports and actually under the flight-path of Heathrow. For travellers coming directly to Windsor, the most convenient (in reducing order of convenience) are:
- Heathrow Airport is about 8 miles drive straight down the M4 (westbound) motorway. Alternatively the First bus route 77 and First bus route 71 both connect Heathrow Terminal 5 and Windsor, the former quicker routing via Slough and the latter via Staines. They both leave approximately every half hour taking about 35 – 55 minutes.
- Gatwick Airport is about an hour's drive away via the M23 (northbound), M25 (clockwise), and M4 (westbound) motorways. With no through train or bus service, your best bet by public transport is to take the train into London and then follow the directions under Get in By Train below.
- Stansted Airport is about 90 minutes drive away via the M11 (southbound), M25 (anti-clockwise) and M4 (westbound) motorways. With no through train or bus service, your best bet by public transport is to take the train into London and then follow the directions under Get in By Train below.
In Windsor and Eton there are two railway stations (0845 748 49 50) (see the National Rail website for up-to-date information about stations, fares, and schedules)). Both stations are within walking distance of each other and Windsor Castle. Assuming that you will be coming from London the choice of which route to use probably comes down to how far from Waterloo and Paddington stations you will stay. Depart from the nearest.
- From London Waterloo take any train to Windsor & Eton Riverside (two per hour, journey time approximately 50 mins).
- From London Paddington take any train to Windsor & Eton Central" (two per hour, journey time approximately 30 mins)
- From Reading take any train to Slough. Change at Slough for the connecting rail service to Windsor & Eton Central.
- London Paddington (PAD) to Windsor & Eton Central (WNC) £9.40 single
- London Waterloo (WAT) to Windsor & Eton Riverside (WNR) £9.50 single
- A return ticket costs £13.20 (as of 2013) regardless of which London station you come from or travel to. Nowhere else in England has seen such a steep rise in prices as this rail route, as the new fare system sees an increase of £4 for the return journey and is surely for operators to reap as much money from tourists eager to go to Windsor Castle.
- Alternatively, if you do not mind mixing and matching tickets, or getting blank looks from ticket selling staff (you can avoid this by buying the tickets at the machine), you can lower the costs of the journey by buying a ticket from PAD to WAT (or vice versa) via Windsor [All Stations].
- If you buy a return ticket from PAD to WAT via Windsor [All Stations], you should depart from PAD, change at Slough, and arrive at WNC. For the return journey, you can depart from WNR and arrive at WAT; you can also depart from WNC, change at Slough, and arrive at PAD. (If you choose to return from WNR, you can visit Windsor again on the same day (with trains in the opposite direction) or sell it to another person willing to go to Windsor, thus halving the cost of your journey to £4.20.)
- If you buy a return ticket from WAT to PAD via Windsor [All Stations], you should depart from WAT and arrive at WNR. For the return journey, you can depart from WNR and arrive at WAT; you can also depart from WNC, change at Slough, and arrive at PAD. (If you choose to return from WNC, you can visit Windsor again on the same day (with trains in the opposite direction) or sell it to another person willing to go to Windsor, thus halving the cost of your journey to £4.20.)
- A single ticket (which in fact covers a return journey) costs £5.30 - Warning: You should only use this option if you do not mind departing London from one station and returning to another. If you include the Underground in your ticket, it costs only £4.30. For example, starting/finishing your journey at Marylebone (for the PAD part) or London Bridge (for the WAT part). You can get this ticket for as little as £2.80 if you buy it for early morning hours, but then you may have to use private transit for a part of your journey in London.
- If you buy a single ticket from PAD to WAT via Windsor [All Stations], you should depart from PAD, change at Slough and arrive at WNC. For the return journey, you should depart from WNR and arrive at WAT.
- If you buy a single ticket from WAT to PAD via Windsor [All Stations], you should depart from WAT and arrive at WNR. For the return journey, you should depart from WNC, change at Slough, and arrive at PAD.
- From London (Buckingham Palace Road, Victoria): Greenline coach 700/701/702 (journey time approximately 1 hour).
Windsor is served by the M4 motorway (freeway) which runs from London to Bristol and South Wales. It is about an hour's drive from central London. The best junction to use is J6.
Park and ride facilities are available at 2 sites; see National Park and Ride Directory.
There are numerous sightseeing tour companies that offer tours by coach from London to Windsor in a day and these tours can also include Stonehenge and Bath.
If you are planning to do any visiting or exploring beyond central Windsor and Eton, you will probably want to obtain a decent map of the area. You should ensure that any map you buy clearly shows the national grid reference lines, and explains how to use them, as grid references are frequently used to indicate out of town locations. For driving or cycling, Ordnance Survey Landranger 175 (scale 1:50000) covers Windsor and to the west, including all the places mentioned below except Runnymede and Ordnance Survey Landranger 176 (scale 1:50000) covers the area to the east, including Runnymede. For walking, Ordnance Survey Explorer 160 (scale 1:25000).
Neither Windsor nor Eton is desperately large and walking is a good way around the central area. For example it will take you no more than 15 minutes to walk from Eton College Chapel to Windsor Castle. Several streets, including Windsor Bridge and Peascod Street (the main shopping street) are pedestrianised. Short walk in central Windsor using map with pop-up images
Windsor has a reasonable bus service, both within the town and to the surrounding area, although frequencies can be quite low with little service in the evenings or on Sunday.
- First Berkshire, telephone +44 1753 524144, provides most bus services in the area.
- Traveline, telephone 0870 608 2608 from within the UK, provide an impartial online travel planner and telephone query service for all local bus services.
Neither Windsor nor Eton is big enough to get really congested, although traffic delays can be severe on summer weekend mornings and evenings, when Legoland is popular, and on evenings when there is horse-racing at Windsor racecourse. One issue that you may find in driving around Windsor and Eton is that Windsor Bridge is for pedestrians only. To get between Windsor and Eton requires you to drive out to the Windsor by-pass, cross the river on that, then go most of the way into Slough before taking the old Windsor Road from that town back into Eton; it is easily quicker to walk.
Central Windsor and Eton
These places to see are all within the central area of Windsor or within Eton just across Windsor Bridge. They are all within easy walking distance of each other, the main shopping center and both railway stations.
- Windsor Castle, ☎ +44 20 7766-7304, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily (for exceptions see website) 9:45AM-5:15PM (4.15PM Nov-Feb). The largest and oldest occupied castle in the world and still an official royal residence. Much of the castle, including the magnificent State Apartments and St Georges Chapel are visitable. The apartments are furnished with some of the finest works of art from the royal collection, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto and Gainsborough. Standard: Adult £19.20, Over 60/Student (with valid ID) £17.50, Under 17/Disabled £11.30, Under 5 Free, Family £49.70 (2 adults and 3 under 17s).
- Changing of the Guard, Windsor Castle, ☎ +44 20 7766-7304, e-mail: email@example.com. Daily or every two days (see website) 11AM (arrive early). The guards are stationed at Victoria Barracks and march up to and from the Castle accompanied by the guards band playing traditional military marches as well as popular songs. Free.
- Guildhall, High Street (by Windsor Parish Church). Built by Sir Christopher Wren, it is famous for its pillars, which were insisted on by the towns burgesses, even though Wren insisted they were unnecessary. To make his point, he built the pillars but ensured a gap was left between them and the roof they apparently support.
- Windsor Parish Church, High Street (by the Guildhall). St. John The Baptist, built 1822, replaced earlier Church edifices that stood since 1084 on the site, 80 meters from the Henry VIII gate of Windsor Castle. Peter Scheemakers, famous for his sculptures in Westminster Abbey, created a memorial to Topham Foote or Foot, son of Samuel Foote and Arabella Topham Foote, that greets visitors using the High Street entrance. The memorial includes the young man's bust and the Foote crest. A second Scheemakers' memorial honors Topham Foote's mother and her second husband Thomas Reeve. Most tourists consider The Last Supper by Francis Cleyn a must-view. The painting and the frame were fully restored in 2003 under the leadership of Churchwarden Michael Harding. George III gave the painting and frame to Windsor Parish Church after it hung nearly a century in St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.
- Eton College, Eton, ☎ +44 1753 671177. March-early October, see website. See School Yard and the College Chapel (building started in 1441 and one of the finest examples of fifteenth century Perpendicular Gothic architecture). Walk around their extensive playing fields some of which are adjacent to the River Thames. Opening hours vary depending on time of year and school term; see 'Visits to Eton' topic on the Eton College website or see the website above. £3.45-£4.20.
- Brocas Meadows, Eton. Just across Windsor Bridge. These attractive meadows offer a spectacular view across the river of Windsor and the Castle. Free.
These places to see are a little further out; some are accessible by longer walks, others will require the use of car, bike or public transport.
- Windsor Great Park. Daily sunrise-sunset. A huge parkland area behind the castle and which includes The Long Walk, which runs from Windsor Castle past Old Windsor's western perimeter to the Copper Horse statue, Virginia Water lake and Savill Gardens (below). Whilst some outer parts of the park are accessible by car, walking shows you more but be aware that from Windsor Castle, down the Long Walk and on to Virginia Water at the far side of the park is 5 miles. Be aware that cyclism is restricted to specific roads within the park and it is forbidden to even push a bike on The Long Walk. Free.
- Savill Gardens (within Windsor Great Park 4 miles from Windsor; grid reference SU977707), ☎ +44 1753 847518. Mar-Oct M-Su 10AM-6PM, Nov-Feb M-Su 10AM-4PM. The Savill Gardens are a temperate woodland gardens renowned for its rhododendrons and spring borders. £5.50 (adults), £5 (seniors), £2.50 (children); these prices apply Apr-May and are discounted at other times of year..
- Legoland Windsor, Winkfield Road (2 miles south east of Windsor on the B3022; grid reference SU942745), ☎ +44 870 504 0404. Apr-Oct M-Su 10AM-5PM. Strictly for the kids, this is a Lego brick themed amusement park. Accessible by shuttle bus from central Windsor (call number above for details). £18-22 (adult); £17-19 (child).
- Runnymede, Windsor Road, near Old Windsor, SL4 2JL (6 miles east of Windsor on the A308; grid reference TQ007720), ☎ +44 1784 432891, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Accessible by road or catch First bus 41 (runs approximately every 30 minutes M-Sa only; alight at the Bells of Ouzely pub; see Get around above for bus company details). Runnymede is an attractive area of riverside meadows, grassland and broad-leaved woodland and rich in flora and fauna; albeit somewhat disturbed by a rather busy road. Perhaps more importantly it was on this site, in 1215, that King John sealed the Magna Carta. Because of its historical connections, Runnymede is the site of several memorials amongst the trees of the slopes of Coopers Hill:
- Air Forces Memorial, Runnymede. Commemorates the men and women of the Allied Air Forces who died during the Second World War and records the names of the 20,456 airmen who have no known grave. From the top of the tower visitors can see long views over Windsor, the surrounding counties and, somehow appropriately, aircraft taking off and landing at Heathrow.
- John F. Kennedy Memorial, Runnymede. The British memorial to the assassinated US president consists of a Portland Stone memorial inscribed with the famous quote from his inaugural address 'Let every Nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend or oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty'. Visitors reach the memorial by treading a steep path of irregular granite steps, intended to symbolise a pilgrimage.
- Magna Carta Memorial, Runnymede. A domed classical temple built by the American Bar Association and containing a pillar of English granite on which is inscribed 'To commemorate Magna Carta, symbol of Freedom Under Law'.
- City Sightseeing Open Top Bus Tour, High Street, Windsor (in front of Windsor Castle), ☎ +44 1789 294466. Mar-Oct every day; Nov-Mar Sa-Su; 10:30AM-3:30PM (later in summer); frequency varies from hourly to every 15 minutes depending on time of year. Provides a hop-on, hop-off service visiting Windsor Castle, Victoria Barracks, The Long Walk and Eton College. £6.00 (adult); £4 (senior/student); £2.50 (child).
- French Brothers Boat Tour (river trip), Windsor Promenade, Windsor, ☎ +44 1753 851900. Easter-October M-Su every half hour (2 hour trips at 1:30PM and 2:30PM). Run 40 minute and 2 hour trips, principally up-river and with views of Windsor Castle, Eton College, Brocas Meadows, Windsor Racecourse, Bray Film Studios (2 hour trip only) and Monkey Island (2 hour trip only). £4.50-£7 (adult); £2.25-£3.50.
- Salters Steamers Boat Tour (river trip), Thames Side, Windsor, ☎ +44 1865 243421. May-Sep M,Th,F 9AM&2:30PM (Staines trips); May-Sep Tu,W 9:15AM&2:15PM (Maidenhead trips). Run half-day trips down-river to Staines and up-river to Maidenhead. £7 (adult); £3.50 (child).
- Royal Windsor Racecourse, Maidenhead Road, Windsor, ☎ +44 1753 498400. Accessible on race days by the X77 shuttle bus from Windsor & Eton Riverside station (round trip £3) or boat shuttle from Thames Promenade (round trip £6). Day and evening meetings throughout the year; visit website or contact telephone number above for details. £6-£18.
- Theatre Royale, Thames Street, Windsor, ☎ +44 1753 853888. Excellent, medium sized Victorian theatre, that always has a variety of touring productions, with a host of well known British actors.
- Three Castles Path. A 60 mile walk from Windsor to Winchester. This walk is inspired by the journeys of King John between the two cities via the castle he built at Odiham at the time of Magna Carta, and passes through a variety of attractive scenery including downland, heath, forest, parkland, picturesque villages and quiet streams. For more information see the web site, or get a hold of a copy of the book The Three Castles Path by David Bounds and Dave Ramm (ISBN 1874258082).
It is important to remember in Windsor that it is most definitely not a "clone-town". Therefore it does not offer an entirely Shopping Centre based retail experience. It is more based around Peascod Street (the high street), King Edward Court, Thames Street, Windsor Royal Station and St Leonard's Road. In this case it has many, many different mixtures of independent fashion boutiques such as Michael Chell, Coco etc.; and of course large retail chains such as H&M, Monsoon and so on. It also has a variety of specialist retailers such as Molton Brown, Hotel Chocolat (extremely tasty handmade chocolate), Havana House Fine Cigar Merchants and Oil and Vinegar to name a few. There a far too many different shops that a visitor can step into, so they are not all named, instead take a walk through the places listed previously and enjoy the atmosphere of one of the most beautiful towns in England.
- Windsor Royal Station Shopping Centre, Goswell Hill, Windsor (opposite castle, near Windsor & Eton Central railway station). M-Sa 10AM-6PM Su 11AM-5PM. Shops, cafes and restaurants.
- Windsor Royal Farm Shop, Datchet Road, Old Windsor, ☎ +44 1753 623800. M-Sa 9AM-5PM Su 10AM-4PM.
- King Edward Court Shopping Centre, King Edward Court, Windsor. Brand new shopping complex. This brand new concade offers a careful selection of clothes and food. The new offering includes Zara, New Look, Top Shop, H&M and a Waitrose Supermarket.
- Fenwick, 10-11 King Edward Court. Ladies', up-market fashion and cosmetics store. Also includes a good quality café.
There are lots of places to eat in and around Windsor & Eton, and a good way to find one is simply to keep your eyes open as you visit. The prices are estimates for a meal including drinks and tips.
- Browns Restaurant & Bar, The Promenade, Windsor, ☎ +44 1753 831976. With views across the Thames, this famous listed building offers a reasonable atmosphere and low end food and drink. £~25..
- Cornucopia Bistro, High Street, Windsor (opposite the Guildhall), ☎ +44 1753 833009. £~20.
- Gilbey's Bar & Restaurant, High Street, Eton, ☎ +44 1753 854921. lunchtimes from noon, evenings from 6PM. Well known for fine wines and cuisine. The bistro and bar overlooks the High Street, whilst the conservatory restaurant adjoins the courtyard garden at the rear. £~30.
- Hong Kong, Alexandra Road, Windsor (near Victoria Barracks), ☎ +44 1753 859979. Chinese.
- Carluccio's. The Royal Train Station, Windsor (nearest to the new shopping development) This restaurant gives a superb offering of modern Italian food, with the menu being decided by Antonio Carluccio himself. Prices range from £10 a head.
- Cafe Rouge, Royal Train Station (Main entrance,opposite the Castle).
- Wagamama's, Royal Train Station Entrance, ☎ +44 1753 833105. opening hours: M-Sa 12PM-11PM Su 12PM-10PM. £10 a head.
- Al Fassia (Excellent award winning Morrocan food), 27 St Leonards Road, Windsor, ☎ +44 1753 855370.
- Gourmet Burger Kitchen (The name says it all), Royal Train Station (concourse area), ☎ +44 1753 857814.
- Nando's (Portuguese peri-peri chicken house, with many other food varieties on offer), 10 Thames Street, Windsor, ☎ +44 1753 856993.
- Caffe Nero (Nationwide coffee chain, very good coffee), Royal Train Station (Concourse area).
- The Golden Curry (Delicious and authentic Indian cuisine), High Street, Eton.
- Viceroy of Windsor, 49-51 St Leonards Road, Windsor, Berkshire SL4 3BP, ☎ +44 1753 858005. Well-established Indian Restaurant, a "Top Hundred Restaurant" in the British Curry Awards. Locally voted "Restaurant of the Year 2008-9". £20+.
Windsor is a small, compact and cosy town, so you won't need a taxi if you're thinking of going from bar to bar.
Windsor is peppered with pubs, bars and a couple of clubs, some of these nestle neatly on the bank of the Thames, these are definitely worth a visit, especially come the summer months - they are expensive mind, so make sure your packing plastic if you're up for more than a couple of rounds.
There are a handful of venues to be found under the shadow of the Castle (Thames street) most of these are of the chain variety,one of which is the cheapest place in town to eat and drink, all the venues on Thames street are popular with Windsor's smartly dressed workers and picture happy cosmopolitan tourists.
The arches (2 minutes walk) from the Castle are home to Windsor’s late night venues, clubs and style bars, most of these will require you to be smartly dressed. Expect queues on busy nights of the week and higher than average drinks prices! The arches are well worth a visit, the bars found here are housed inside old Victorian railway arches, which make them a really atmospheric choice and a great place to wind up or wind down - depending on your mood.
The edge of town, bottom of Peascod Street, just 2 minutes walk from the arches, is where you’ll find Windsor’s affluent residents socialising, cafe culture is certainly alive in this part of town,and in the summer months people spill onto the pedestrianised streets till very late 7 nights a week, it’s a great spot for people watching and unwinding from a day out. There is a good selection of restaurants to be found down here, probably the best in town, so well worth the short walk. If you’re looking to tap in the local scene and fill your belly this is where to go.
Windsor is also home to some excellent traditional English pubs serving great real ale and good English pub grub, a comprehensive guide to Windsor’s pubs,bars and what’s on is WindsorGo
- Vansittart Arms, Vansittart Road. Though it does get busy, it has nice outside seating.
- Carpenter's Arms (near the Guildhall). Very friendly publicans!
- The Alma, Springfield Road (South down St Leonard's Road), ☎ +44 1753 840515. 10 minutes from Windsor town centre tucked away on a Victorian red brick street. A traditional English pub serving a range of beers, ales, and wine, and food (Wed-Sun). It has painted and stained wooden floors, comfy couches and armchairs and a large garden and decking. The Alma is full of antiques and collectables including furniture, paintings, pictures, mirrors, ceramics and interesting nick knacks, all of which are for sale, including the tables and chairs you sit on!
- Cinnamon Cafe, The Old Booking Hall Windsor Station, ☎ +44 1753 857879. 7.30am to 6pm.
There are many hotels in Windsor, some are right opposite the Castle, but don't expect cheap rooms from them. Contact the Royal Windsor Information Centre for further information on guest houses, hotels and self-catering accommodation. +44 1753 743900.
Beaumont Estate, Burfield Road, ☎ +44 1793 819000, fax: +44 1753 640100, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 3pm, check-out: 11am. This is a hotel and event venue offering over 400 bedrooms and 75 event suites. It originated as a family home from the 14th century, and is made up of several buildings - including an old school house and an iconic white mansion – featuring ornate architecture like grand white exterior pillars, barrel-vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows. £84.00+.
Windsor's area code (for landline numbers) is +44 1753 when dialled from outside the United Kingdom or 01753 from within.