Windsor was recently on the media thanks to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, which took place in St. George’s chapel inside Windsor Castle. But I’m going to share what you can do in this lovely medieval city in one day.
How to get there
We drove from the southwest of England. However, if you drive from London, take the A4 and then go west on the M4. It’ll take about an hour, or a bit more or less, depending on traffic conditions. Bear in mind that Heathrow airport is halfway between the two cities, which may make traffic worse at certain times of the day.
If you’d rather go by train, take the South-Western Railway line from Waterloo Station and get off at Windsor & Eton Riverside. It takes about an hour plus the time it takes you to get to Waterloo. Keep in mind that you cannot use your Oyster card to travel by train, you’ll have to buy a ticket at the station.
We toured the Castle about 15 years ago (oh my, how time flies!), so this time I simply admired it from the outside. I got talking to a police agent, who warned me that the wait at this time (late May) was 15 minutes, but it could be two hours long in peak season. She also advised me to do something that should come second nature to everyone: buy the tickets online to save time. You can buy them here.
Royal Shopping Centre
Don’t miss the Royal Shopping Centre. It’s a lovingly restored, converted listed Victorian train station, complete with the original Jubilee Arch, cobbled floors and the original waiting room, which is now a café but it’s worth seeing. You can do some shopping, sit down for a meal or a drink, or just take photos like I did!
On your way to the shopping centre, look out for the pavement clock outside Pizza Express on Thames Street, to the right of the entrance. It’s said to be the only pavement clock in the UK. It also contains a time capsule with information about Windsor. This clock replaced the original, installed in 1950 and which disappeared in the 90s.
The Guildhall is used for ceremonial occasions, maybe council meetings and weddings. Prince Charles and Camilla tied the knot here. You can visit one room of this 1689 listed building, the Windsor &Royal Borough Museum. For £2, you can see the collection, which is eclectic but not too large. I could take it or leave it.
To the left of the Guildhall, you’ll see a whimsical house, the Crooked House. Although it looks like something that came from Alice in Wonderland, it’s not! The house was built in 1592 with green oak beams. I guess the beams got crooked as they dried.
The Shortest Street in the UK
At only 51 feet long, Queen Charlotte Street, to the left of the Crooked House, is officially Britain’s shortest street.
Continue walking down Thames Street, and you’ll end up at the foot of the pedestrians-only Windsor Bridge. Take a stroll on the towpath along the Thames. Make sure you don’t piss off the swans, as beautiful as they are, they can be mean! They are protected by law as they belong to the Queen.
Eton, founded in the 15th century, is one of Britain’s most exclusive schools for boys. You can book a tour of the premises every Friday from May to September here. Otherwise, you can only see some buildings from the street. While my husband was in a meeting, I lunched at Côte, at the foot of the bridge on Eton’s side, with nice views of the river. I then walked up and down High Street. I came across some students. Their uniform got my attention. They wore tailcoats to class! It looked rather uncomfortable but I guess people adapt to anything and they value their traditions.
St. John the Baptist Church
The main attraction of this lovely, quiet Victorian church is the Last Supper, from about 1600, and gifted to the church by King George III. The church is on Thames Street, on the opposite direction from the castle.
I would have liked to take a sedate cruise along the Thames, but it started to rain and, suddenly, that idea didn’t look like fun. Boats sail from Windsor Promenade.
Have you been to Windsor? What other recommendations would you add?