entrance to Windsor Castle grounds

Tips on Visiting the Windsor Castle: Make sure the State Rooms are open!

If you are staying in London and want to visit the Windsor Castle,  word of advice – make sure the state apartments are open on the day you’re visiting!

When we went there in January 2013, the state apartments were closed and even though it was still thrilling to walk around the place built by William the Conqueror, and where Henry VIII and Queen Victoria lived, the only “indoor” place open to the visitors was Queen Mary’s Doll House, Royal China exhibit, and a photo exhibit, The Queen: Portraits of a Monarch.

Not that the Doll House was not worth looking at. It was pretty spectacular. And we were able to do the Precincts Tour – tour the grounds with a guide who was very knowledgeable about the history of the Castle, and was very patient with our questions, but I really wish we saw the inside as well. Maybe next time…..

Until then, the “official” video about the Castle will have to do.

As a consolation prize, I  bought  myself Buckingham Palace: The Official Illustrated History at one of the Castle shops.

By the way, each of the three Castle shops offer different things, so if you see something you might want to buy at one of them, just get it, because they may not have it at the other ones. But then again, you can probably also buy it online.

Windsor Castle Grounds – the Precincts Tour

map of Windsor from the brochure you get when you visit
map of Windsor from the brochure you get when you visit

The Precincts Tour takes you around the grounds of the Windsor Castle, though you will not be able to enter into the Quadrangle. You can only peek at it through the gate.

Windsor Castle Quadrangle
Windsor Castle Quadrangle

The Official Website of The British Monarchy” states that “Foreign Heads of State enter the Castle in horse-drawn carriages through the George IV Gateway into the quadrangle in the Upper Ward, where a military guard of honour is drawn up.”

Lucky are the scouts who are allowed to participate in the Annual St. George’s Day Parade of Queen’s Scouts! Must have been quite exciting to be there.

After peeking at the Quadrangle, you will then take the circular route around the garden, attractive even in January.

Windsor Castle grounds, view toward the entrance (King Edward III tower)
Windsor Castle grounds, view toward the entrance (King Edward III tower)

 

Windsor Castle grounds, view of the Norman Gate
Windsor Castle grounds, view of the Norman Gate

Make sure you pay attention to what the guide is saying when you get to the Norman Gate, so that you know what the round holes in the gate were for!

close-up of the holes in the Norman Gate at the Windsor Castle
close-up of the holes in the Norman Gate at the Windsor Castle

After crossing through the Norman Gate, you will enter the North Terrace, from which you will have a spectacular view of the countryside. I found it quite thrilling to walk on the stones where Queen Elizabeth I walked centuries ago.

St. George’s Chapel

Even if the State Rooms are closed, you can still visit St. George’s Chapel, and see the tomb of Henry VIII and several other kings and queens. Unfortunately, taking photos is not allowed inside, so I only have a few photos of the outside.

St. George's Chapel at the Windsor Castle
St. George’s Chapel at the Windsor Castle
St. George's Chapel at the Windsor Castle
St. George’s Chapel at the Windsor Castle

Getting to Windsor Castle from London

You can get to Windsor Castle from London on public transportation.

We traveled from Embankment to the Windsor & Eton station, and in January 2013 the adult price for the round trip was £23.40 and child price was £11.70. That covered getting in at Embankment, switching at Waterloo, and taking the train to the Castle.

adult fare ticket to Windsor and Eton Riverside station
adult fare ticket to Windsor and Eton Riverside station

I do hope that was cheaper than taking a cab, but after reading “Windsor: Traveling to Windsor by Rail from London on TripAdvisor” I’m thinking it might have been a more expensive and a longer way to travel, plus as the TripAdvisor article says, the walk from Eton Riverside is up a steep hill. (We didn’t mind the hill much, though.)

Do some research on your own on the best way to get there, if you’re staying in London.

More information about the Windsor Castle

You can see my photos from Windsor in my Flickr Windsor Castle album. Tim Dreese’s  blog post One Day at Windsor Castle, Windsor, United Kingdom also has a few nice shots from the town surrounding the casle.

If you have about an hour, whether you’re planning a visit to the Windsor Castle or not, you might want to watch The Queen’s Palaces – Windsor Castle, a fascinating show about the castle’s history, its treasures, and areas not open to the public.

part 1

part 2

Where to Stay in Windsor?

When we visited Windsor we traveled from London, but there are quite a few hotels and a smattering of guesthouses and B&Bs in Windsor to choose from. Take your pick!

Shout Out to #WeekendWanderlust and #TheWeeklyPostcard

#WeekendWanderlust, hosted by Chris & Heather (A Brit and a Southerner), Carmen (Carmen’s Luxury Travels), Jessi & Tara (Outbound Adventurer), Ashley (A Southern Gypsy) and Lauren (Justin Plus Lauren), is a collaborative effort to share travel blog posts, and to discuss all travel-related things!

#WeekendWanderlust logo
#WeekendWanderlust logo

#TheWeeklyPostcard, hosted by Travel Notes and Beyond, A Hole in My Shoe, As We Saw It, and Selim Family Raasta, is another place where travel bloggers can share their most recent posts, and read other travelers’ stories.

Travel Notes & Beyond

 

You can read a lot of interesting stories from all over the world on those blogs!

8 thoughts on “Tips on Visiting the Windsor Castle: Make sure the State Rooms are open!”

  1. I LOVE the Windsor Castle! love love love!!
    It was my favourite part of my 2-week-long trip to London, and I absolutely agree that you should go there when the state rooms are open! They’re absolutely fantastic!!

    I wrote a post about my visit to the Windsor Castle, too – check it out, I have some illegal photos there of the state apartments 😀 Couldn’t help myself!
    http://www.therussianabroad.com/windsor-castle-on-the-trail-of-the-british-monarchy/
    Olga recently posted…Doors In Riga & Friday GiveawayMy Profile

  2. We had similar experience when we went to Chatsworth House in January, the the grounds were open but the estate itself was closed! I think lot of the castles and stately homes close parts of the place during the low season in winter. It’s funny that we have been to so many castles all over England, Scotland and Wales the 10 years we were here but Windsor Castle is one we just didn’t get to visit – and now looking at your stunning pictures, I wish we had! Something to put on the list when we go back to visit this summer 🙂 Loved reading about the history as well! Thanks for linking up with #weeklypostcard 🙂
    samiya selim recently posted…Shahaar’s first Travel Photography Post – Travels in Thailand and New ZealandMy Profile

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