Inside Windsor Castle: Things to Do
Windsor Castle is situated 40 km away from the bustling city of London and is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite weekend residence. The historic castle has been welcoming visitors since the 8th century - when locals would arrive by coach to marvel at the luxurious State Apartments. Today, it is one of the top things to do in WIndsor.
Over the centuries, the castle has had many additions and renovations. Through old-time wars, the English Civil War, World War I, World War II, and a massive fire, Windsor Castle has stood tall through it all. St. George’s Chapel is also the burial ground for ten former English monarchs. As such, there is no better place to dive into England’s extensive history than at Windsor Castle.
- Constructed in: 11th century by William the Conqueror.
- Owned by: The Crown (Currently, Queen Elizabeth II).
- Timings: 10 AM - 5:15 PM, Thursday to Monday. Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Learn more about Windsor Castle timings.
- Location: Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1NJ.
- Getting there: Windsor is connected to the rest of the country via roads and railways.
Learn more about how to get to Windsor Castle.
- Distance from London: 40 kilometers.
- Number of visitors per year: 1.65 million as of 2018/19.
Windsor Castle Highlights
Here are some parts of the castle you must absolutely visit when at the venue.
Windsor Castle has housed the royals for over 1000 years, having been built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror. You can see each of the 39 monarchs’ marks in the castle as you move through the lavish State Apartments within the residence. One of the main additions to these were the paintings on the ceilings by Antonio Verrio, and carvings by the famed Grinling Gibbons — both done at the behest of King Charles II.
The Queen's Presence Chamber, the Queen's Audience Chamber, and the King's Dining Room are some of the rooms in these apartments. These days, most of the apartments are used by the royals to host events for their charities and other organizations.
The chapel was constructed in 1475 during the reign of Edward IV. It is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in England, with stunning details and a stone ceiling that is nothing short of breath-taking. Since its construction, various additions have been made to the beauty of the chapel.
St. George’s Chapel is a famed location for royal weddings, the most recent one being that of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018. The chapel also hosts the tombs of 10 monarchs, including Henry VIII. There are also numerous monuments to admire, the most memorable of which is a marble memorial by Matthew Wyatt to Princess Charlotte, who died in childbirth.
The heart of Windsor Castle is called the Middle Ward, which has a mottled hill. Atop this hill is the Round Tower — a tower that provides an all-encompassing view from its North Terrace, which is open to the public. Visitors often take pride in climbing the 200 steps to reach the top of the tower. Once there, visitors can enjoy views of the Windsor, Thames Valley, and sometimes even the London skyline. The view to the south includes the Long Walk, which is 5 kilometers. On the tower, you also get a look at the flagpole, which flies the Union Jack flag when the Queen is away and the Royal Standard when the Queen is in Windsor.
The Changing of Guard is one of the biggest highlights for tourists. While it is attractive for visitors to watch, this ceremony actually has a military purpose — it is when guards hand over their duties to another group of guards. The guards march through the town of Windsor, and enter the castle, where they relieve the previous guards on duty. The ceremony typically takes place at 11 AM on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Visitors who want to watch the Changing of Guard are thus encouraged to be at the Castle at least twenty minutes before the ceremony begins.
King George IV’s greatest and last commission, the Semi-State Rooms are decorated lavishly in a stunning blend of Classic, Gothic, and Rococo styles. Even the furniture and furnishings inside these rooms were custom-made to match the King’s grand renovation scheme. The rooms were completed shortly before the King’s death in 1830.
Today, a walk through these rooms is a must for visitors so they can marvel at the impressive design and interior decorating. The Semi-State Rooms were damaged in the 1992 fire, but have since been restored using the original designs in the Royal Library. The Semi-State Rooms also host some of the best works of art from the Royal Collection.
Queen Mary's Dolls' House was built for Queen Mary, wife of King George V, in the early 1920s. Designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, the dollhouse is extraordinary with contributions from over 1500 artists. It was completed in 1924.
The creators of the dollhouse intricately designed rooms, including the Royal Chambers, Saloon and Dining Room, Library, and Staff Rooms and Essentials. The dollhouse even has working electricity, running hot water, and working lifts. Each room, book, and accessory in the dollhouse has been created with extreme attention to detail.
Please note that due to COVID restrictions, this is temporarily closed to visitors.
The Waterloo Chamber was commissioned by King George IV, following Britain’s victory in the Battle of Waterloo. Today, the grand room hosts Investitures Ceremonies, where members of the public receive honors from a royal family member.
The room is decorated with almost 50 paintings of British royalty, including King George III, and his son and successors George IV and King William IV. International monarchs who helped the British defeat the French such as Alexander I, Emperor of Russia, and Frederick William III, King of Prussia, are also seen on the walls of the Chamber.
A tour of Windsor Castle is not complete without a look at the China Museum. This room features beautiful, unique china that Queen Mary used to display in the corridors in 1920. Featuring pieces from all over the world, including Chinese and Japanese items from the 17th and early-18th centuries, this museum is fascinating.
China used by British Royalty, such as Queen Victoria, with their designated emblems and designs, is also on display, along with those used for important occasions.
Windsor Castle London: FAQs
Yes, definitely. The Castle is steeped in centuries of British history and has so many unique attractions. It is a must-visit on your trip to London.
The Changing of the Guard usually happens at 11 AM on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Yes. St. George's Chapel has implemented health measures to ensure visitors can attend services. You can find the timings of the services on the chapel's official website.
Yes, most guided tours typically cover the aforementioned highlights.
While photography is prohibited at the State Apartments and St. George’s Chapel, you can take photos outside the Castle buildings.