Updated: Jun 18, 2021
A day trip to Windsor Castle from London is a fun and easy way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city for a few hours.
Located just 30 miles from London, Windsor is a cozy community steeped in a rich royal history. Home to the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world, as well as a bevy of unique boutiques and bistros, Windsor is the kind of place where you can while away the hours simply strolling the charming city streets or enjoying high tea in the afternoon.
Making your way to Windsor Castle from London couldn’t be any easier. Trains run every 30 minutes from Paddington Station, one of the busiest train stations in the city. You’ll find easy-to-use electronic ticket kiosks inside the doors of the station where you can purchase your ticket to Windsor Eton Central station. If you need assistance, simply locate one of the many staff members, and they’ll happily lend a hand.
Once you’ve purchased your ticket, look for the departures boards to find out when the next train arrives and which platform to catch it on. Some trains leave later but make more stops, so be sure to look for the fastest overall route. After about 30 minutes on board, you’ll need to transfer trains at Slough Station. It’s a very small station with only four platforms, so it’s pretty easy to get around.
Upon arrival, check the departures signs to find out when the next Windsor-bound train arrives and which platform it will be on. They run very often, so if you just miss one, don’t fear. Another one will come soon, and the ride from Slough only to Windsor takes only 5 minutes. The entire trip takes about 40 minutes total, including the transfer.
Pro Tip: If your schedule is flexible, purchase a ticket for off-peak travel. The trains will be less crowded and more affordable. An off-peak return ticket costs only about £12.
Things to Do
With of population of just over 32,000, Windsor has all the charm of a small town, but thanks to its very important royal residents, it’s got no shortage of things to do. Of course, Windsor Castle, best known these days as the site of Prince Harry and Meghan Marke’s nuptials, is the city’s main attraction. As one of the three official homes of the queen, the stately 900-year-old castle is a sight to behold.
When you get off the train, basically all you need to do is walk forward straight out of the station, and you’ll be within steps of the castle gates. Just follow the signs—it’s that easy. Depending on the time of year, the hours of operation change ever so slightly, but you can typically expect to find it open between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. during the peak season.
Though I’m born and raised in Canada, my grandma was from England, so I’m all about the royals, but I opted not to go inside. By 10 a.m., the line to get in was about a block long, and the cost of admission is hefty at more than £21 per ticket. I settled for a long-distance look from outside the castle walls. If you do intend to go inside, expect to spend between 90 minutes and three hours exploring the castle.
Shop Til You Drop
Aside from the castle, you’ll find plenty of ways to spend your hard-earned cash in Windsor. All around the castle, you’ll find shop-lined streets where you can purchase royal-themed souvenirs or one-of-a-kind gifts. The railway station itself is home to Windsor Royal Shopping. Open seven days a week, the shopping center features 40 brand-name retailers and a solid mix of restaurants and cafes.
Be sure to hit up Peascod Street, which is steps away from the train station and runs south-west from the entrance of Windsor Castle. The pedestrian street boasts a number of unique boutiques and eateries. In addition to cute side streets and alleyways, other nearby shopping streets include High Street and Thames Street.
Windsor Yards Shopping Centre is located in King Edward Court, just steps away from the central train station. A variety of well-known retailers, such as Zara and Topshop, have set up shop here.
Before heading back to London, enjoy afternoon tea at one of the many local eateries. I highly recommend pampering yourself with a mouthwatering meal at the luxurious Madame Posh on Peascod Street. I just dare you to walk by the window featuring all of the restaurant’s decadent delicacies without stopping to try one. I can’t even tell you how long it took me to get a picture of the window without a hoard of people ogling all of the desserts inside.
While the restaurant does offer a delicious afternoon tea, I was in the mood for a savory crepe, or galette. And I simply couldn’t pass up the lemon meringue tarts. I ate outside at one of the faux-fur-lined tables. Both the atmosphere and the food were to die for. It was the perfect way to top off our day trip to Windsor Castle from London.
Pro Tip: Plan to spend anywhere from four to eight hours roaming the city’s main attractions and another hour for travel time on your day trip to Windsor Castle from London. We left Paddington Station at around 9:30 a.m. and returned at about 4:30 p.m.
Windsor is just one of the many great day trips you can take from Paddington Station in London. For this reason, I recommend staying in the vicinity if you’re planning to get outside the city several times during your stay. The Point A Hotel London Paddington is a budget-friendly hotel that’s only a 5-minute walk from the station.
Though it has only a two-star rating by hotel standards, most reviewers give it four or five stars on TripAdvisor. The rooms are spacious, clean, and recently renovated. If you like a little more luxury, I highly recommend Hazlitt’s Hotel. Located in Soho, it’s a bit of a trek to Paddington Station, but you’ll love its haunted history and quirky charms.
Where are your favorite places to visit in Windsor? What places have you traveled to from Paddington Station? Let us know in the comments section.