Many of the best things to do in Windsor share a connection to the British Royal Family. This unique town in Berkshire is the preferred weekend home of Queen Elizabeth and is renowned for giving a royal experience. When you arrive, you’ll hardly miss Windsor Castle as it’s visible from most areas of the town. You can become totally immersed in royal history at the castle through the lavish state apartments, gothic chapels and visiting a 100-year-old dolls' house collection. 

    After Windsor Castle, there’s still plenty to explore. You can complete the Long Walk, ride rollercoasters at Legoland and, in the evening, catch a show at the Edwardian Theatre Royal, Windsor. 

    What are the best things to do in Windsor?

    1

    Windsor Castle State apartments

    Explore the preferred home of the Royal Family for over 900 years

    Windsor Castle was a medieval castle built in the 11th century. The castle is now decorated in late-Georgian style and boasts extensive lavish state apartments that are still today used by the Queen of England herself. You’ll enter the castle through the Waterloo Chamber, built to celebrate the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815. But, perhaps the most impressive of the rooms you’ll visit is the Grand Reception Room, once the main ballroom of the castle, with chandeliers and gilded walls and ceilings.

    Other rooms throughout the State Apartments and semi-state rooms are decorated with Royal Collection artworks, many of which have never been moved since their commissions. Be sure to look up at the flagpole to check if the Royal Standard is flying. If it is, that means the Queen is in her castle!

    Location: Windsor Castle, Windsor SL4 1NJ, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4.15 pm (March–October open until 5.15 pm)

    Phone: +44 (0)303 123 7304

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    2

    St George’s Chapel

    A Gothic chapel that has seen many royal weddings

    St George’s Chapel was built in the 15th century in Gothic style, with its interior gaining a facelift from some of the British Royal Family’s best-known monarchs. This includes Henry VII updating the stone ceiling with incredible detailing.

    The chapel also contains the tombs of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour (one of his 6 wives) and Charles I. In a not-so-distant past, it was the location of the wedding between HRH Prince Harry and Ms Meghan Markle.

    Location: Windsor Castle, 2 The Cloisters, Windsor SL4 1NJ, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10 am to 4.15 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1753 848888

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    photo by Aurelien Guichard (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    3

    St Mary’s Dolls’ House

    A dolls’ house collection built in the early 20th century

    St Mary’s Dolls’ House, built between 1921 and 1924, was given as a gift to Queen Mary after World War I and contains a fully functioning mini house with electricity, hot running water, working lifts and even a fully stocked wine cellar.

    All the books within the house are miniatures of 170 literary greats and the artworks on the walls have been donated by over 750 artists. When visiting the collection, you get a small view into the behind-the-scenes workings of a fully working royal household.

    Location: Windsor Castle, Windsor SL4 1NJ, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5.15 pm (November–February open until 4.15 pm)

    Phone: +44 (0)303 123 7304

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    photo by Rob Sangster (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    4

    Windsor Great Park

    An expansive woodland built by William the Conqueror

    In Windsor Great Park, you can walk the Long Walk, beginning by George VI Gate at Windsor Castle, along a tree-lined avenue up to the Copper Horse. You get a great view of Windsor Castle from there. Red deer roam freely in the park and are accustomed to people, so you can also expect to get up close for photographs. If you see large crowds gathering on the Long Walk, you may be lucky enough to get a glimpse of the Queen or another Royal Family member arriving or leaving Windsor Castle.

    The park itself contains a variety of long and short walks to suit all abilities. One highlight is the horticulture at Savill Gardens, with each season bringing new displays of plants from all over the world. Adventurous types can also ride a horse through extensive woodlands, including the 250-acre Valley Gardens (but ensure you have a permit first).

    Location: The Crown Estate Windsor Great Park, Windsor SL4 2HT, UK

    Open: Daily from 7.45 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1753 860222

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    5

    Legoland Resort Windsor

    The theme park for a Lego-centred experience

    Legoland Resort Windsor has over 55 rides and attractions for children to enjoy, allowing them to fight dragons, ride in a boat with Vikings or get their own Legoland driving licence. With family-friendly live shows and Lego character meet-and-greets, children can get involved throughout the park.

    Make sure to also check out seasonal events including a fireworks spectacle, Halloween’s Lord Vampyre’s Brick or Treat! and Legoland’s Brick Week. With accommodation on site, you can stay overnight in a themed room that includes castles, wizards, knights, pirates, and more. Make sure to bring swimsuits on a hot day as there are many fountains to run and play through.

    Location: Winkfield Rd, Windsor SL4 4AY, UK

    Open: Monday–Friday from 10 am to 5 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1753 626416

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    photo by Dave Catchpole (CC BY 2.0) modified

    6

    The Crooked House of Windsor

    One of the most photographed buildings in Windsor

    The Crooked House was originally a butcher’s building in the Windsor Meat Market (also known as The Shambles). It has had many owners since then, including florists, jewellers, printers, fruit sellers… the list goes on.

    The building itself being crooked creates local debate, with some saying it’s because of poorly chosen wood and others suggesting it only started to lean when buildings around it were demolished. Today, the building is open to the public as a shop selling pearls, contributing to Market Cross House’s ever-changing list of owner’s businesses.

    Location: Market Cross House, 51 High St, Windsor, SL4 1LR, UK

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1753 868969

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    photo by Matt Brown (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    Historical Eton College tour

    The school of world leaders and aristocrats

    Eton College, founded by Henry VI, was originally created to provide education for poor students. Today, it’s dubbed the most famous public school in the world. The list of ‘Old Etonians’ includes members of the British Royal Family and Prime Ministers including Winston Churchill and Boris Johnson.

    Eton students are easily recognisable when wandering the town by their traditional uniforms, consisting of a morning coat and a white tie. Public tours of the college focus on the historical heritage of the college, including The Chapel and a museum of life at Eton.

    Location: Windsor SL4 6DW, UK

    Open: April–August: Friday from 2 pm to 4 pm

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    8

    Theatre Royal, Windsor

    A Royal theatre just a stone’s throw from Windsor Castle

    The Theatre Royal, Windsor combines theatrical classics, new international and UK plays that sometimes end up in the West End and 80 years of pantomime. On any given night, you could see pantomime classics such as Cinderella, newer musicals like The Heathers and classics such as Jane Eyre.

    If you don’t have time for a show, you can also learn the history of the theatre followed by afternoon tea. You’ll hear the stories of famous past patrons and even ghosts.

    Location: Thames Street, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1PS, UK

    Open: Tours on Thursdays and Saturdays at 12 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1753 853888

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    photo by Matt Brown (CC BY 2.0) modified

    9

    Thames river cruise

    See the Windsor sights from the River Thames with a boat cruise

    A Thames River Cruise is a unique way to view the local sights of Windsor and travel in the wake of previous monarchs such as Henry VIII, who is rumoured to have used the river to travel into London. While on the trip, you’ll probably notice large numbers of swans. To this day, swans are only allowed to be owned by royal decree, meaning most of the swans you see will be owned by the Royal Family themselves.

    The tours typically take a route allowing visitors to see Windsor Castle, Eton College, Mill House, and Windsor Racecourse from the unique water perspective.

    Location: Clewer Boathouse, Clewer Court Road, Windsor, Berkshire Sl4 5JH, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am. Finish times vary from 3 pm to 5 pm depending on river conditions and available daylight

    Phone: +44 (0)1753 851900

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    photo by Andy Roberts (CC BY 2.0) modified

    10

    Frogmore House and Gardens

    This royal house is only opened to the public 3 times a year

    Frogmore House is very much influenced by the original owner Queen Charlotte’s passion for botany and this is reflected in the décor throughout the house. The home was also historically that of Queen Victoria’s mother and rooms still contain a private collection of watercolour artworks by Queen Victoria and her daughters.

    The Britannia Room containing items from the Royal Yacht Britannia decommissioned and moved to Frogmore by The Duke of Edinburgh. The gardens of Frogmore House contain a variety of picturesque spots, with the highlight being the 18th-century summerhouse in the form of a Gothic ruin, which in summer is covered by beautiful wisteria. You’ll need to plan your visit with care, though, because individual visitors can only visit on 3 days per year. Groups of 15 or more people have more times to choose from (see below).

    Location: Frogmore House, Windsor Home Park, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 2JG, UK

    Open: August: Tuesday–Thursday and Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm

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    photo by Karen Roe (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Natasha Crofts | Contributing Writer

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