Windsor Castle is the royal residence of the British royal family, and it was apparently Queen Elizabeth’s favorite weekend home. Learn how you can visit this royal estate.
In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting Windsor Castle, including what to see while you’re there, how to save money on Windsor Castle tickets, and where to stay nearby.
Windsor Castle Overview
Windsor Castle is a royal residence for the British royal family in Windsor, England.
The castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. It’s worth a visit to see the opulent State Apartments and rooms that the royal family uses to entertain guests today.
Windsor Castle History
As many of England’s great castles, Windsor Castle was built by William the Conqueror after the Norman Conquest, around 1070. It has been used as the residency of the reigning monarch since the 12th century, making it the oldest and the largest occupied castle in the world.
The castle is a motte-and-bailey style castle; it has three wards surrounding a central mound that holds the round tower.
The castle was originally built to oversee a strategically important part of the Thames River. It has been used as a military headquarters and a prison, but now it is used to host state visits and as a weekend home for the Royal Family.
Windsor Castle Fire
A fire broke out at Windsor Castle in 1992, destroying 115 rooms total, including 9 State Rooms.
The fire started when a faulty spotlight in Queen Victoria’s Private Chapel ignited a curtain by the altar. The fire spread rapidly within minutes.
While 225 firefighters fought the blaze, the staff worked to remove the priceless works of art from the path of the fire. They managed to save all but 2 works of art.
The fire was finally extinguished after 15 hours of burning. Instead of rebuilding the private chapel as it had been, they instead created The Lantern Lobby as a formal passageway between the private and State Apartments. St Georgie’s Hall, which had also caught the brunt of the fire, was restored to its original 14th century design but with some 20th century improvements.
Touring Windsor Castle: What to See
Even though the castle is a residence for the Royal Family, the public is still allowed to visit!
Your tour of Windsor Castle includes an audio guide to help you learn as you go. The tour includes a look into the State Apartments and the Semi-State Rooms, where you’ll get a look at the treasures of the castle. You’ll see the rooms that the royal family uses to entertain guests still today.
The Semi-State Rooms were damaged by a fire in 1992, but they have since been restored to their former glory with furnishings taken from George IV’s former London residence. You can also see Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, which even has miniature Crown Jewels. St George’s Chapel is open daily, except Sundays, to tour as well.
If you want to see the Changing the Guard, that happens Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 11 a.m. — 11:30 a.m., but the times may change. During the unique British pageantry, you’ll see how the group of guards hands the duties over to the new guards.
Visiting Windsor Castle
Even though the Royal Family lives here many weekends, the castle is still open to visitors.
Admission: Tickets to Windsor Castle costs £30 for adults when booked in advance and £33 when booked on the day of the tour, £19.50 for those ages 18-24 in advance and £21.50 the day of, £15 for children ages 5-17 or disabled persons in advance and £16.50 the day of, and free for kids under 5.
Hours: During the winter (November 1 — February 28), tours are offered from 10 a.m. — 3 p.m.; during the summer (March 1 — October 31), tours are offered from 10 a.m. — 4 p.m. Entrance to the State Apartments closes 30 minutes after the last admission.
Since the castle is a working royal palace, sometimes the entire castle or the State Apartments need to close on short notice. You can check their website for these closures.
The castle is typically the busiest in the morning. It’s best to book your ticket in advance and to tour the castle in the afternoon.
Visitors to the castle typically spend 2 to 3 hours touring the fortress and its grounds.
Address: Windsor SL4 1NJ, United Kingdom
Where to Find Discount Windsor Castle Tickets
My favorite way of getting discounted tickets to Windsor Castle is by using an attraction pass (because that means you’re also getting discounted tickets on a lot of other attractions!).
Here are a few sightseeing passes that will give you a discount on your Windsor Castle ticket:
How to get from London to Windsor Castle
You can get to Windsor Castle from London by train, car, coach, or tour.
By train: You can take the train from London Paddington Station to Windsor Central Station. This train trip is only about 30 minutes and includes one change of train. From there, it’s a quick walk up to the castle walls.
By car or coach: It’s about a 50 minute drive from London to Windsor. There are two Windsor Express coaches that have daily regular service from Victoria Coach Station: The London Line 702 and Flightline 703.
By tour: A guided day tour is my favorite way to get to Windsor Castle. These often have other cities and sights combined, so you get to see even more of the country. Find my recommendations for day tours from London below.
Top Windsor Castle Day Tours from London
Are you planning to visit Windsor Castle on a day trip from London? To take some of the stress out of planning your visit, opt for a guided tour! Check out this list of the top Windsor day tours from London to help you make the most of your trip.
- Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath Tour from London
- Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford Day Trip from London
- Half-Day Trip to Windsor from London
Hotels Near Windsor Castle
Find a place to stay near Windsor Castle. Here are the closest hotels to this royal castle:
- Castle Hotel Windsor
- Macdonald Windsor Hotel
- Sir Christopher Wren Hotel
- Travelodge Windsor Central
- The Christopher Hotel
Windsor Castle FAQ
Where is Windsor Castle?
Windsor Castle is located in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire. It’s just a quick day trip away from London.
Who lives in Windsor Castle?
Queen Elizabeth II lived at Windsor Castle for much of her reign. Since her passing, the castle was handed down to King Charles, though he does not currently live there. There is talk of Prince William and Princess Kate possibly moving in.
When did Windsor Castle burn?
Windsor Castle caught fire on November 20, 1992 around 11:30 a.m.
When was Windsor Castle built?
Windsor Castle was built by William the Conqueror around 1070 and it took 16 years to complete.
What caused the fire at Windsor Castle?
The fire at Windsor Castle was caused by a faulty spotlight inside Queen Victoria’s Private Chapel that ignited a curtain next to the altar.
How far is Windsor Castle from London?
Windsor Castle is about 22.5 miles from London. It’s about a 50 minute drive or a 30 minute train ride. This makes a great day trip from London.
For another great castle to visit, check out the Tower of London in London, England.
More England Resources
- A Day Trip to Burghley House in Stamford, England
- One Day in York, England: 24 Hours in York Itinerary
- One Day in Lincoln, England: 24 Hours in Lincoln Itinerary
- 18 Best Things to Do in Grantham, England
- 23 Free Things to Do in Cambridge, England
Ready to visit Windsor Castle in Windsor, England? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book your flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find accommodation: You can find top hotels in Windsor using Booking.com.
- Get packing: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need with my packing list resources.
Have you visited Windsor Castle in Windsor, England? Let me know in the comments!