Visiting Windsor Castle

A tour of Windsor Castle lets you to follow in the footsteps of British Royalty.

After passing through an airport style security check and getting an introduction to the castle you will walk past the moat of the Round Tower, (not open to the public), up to the north terrace, where the entrance to the State Apartments is situated.

From the north terrace you get spectacular views, of the surrounding countryside and the Thames meandering past Windsor, which looks a lot smaller from this vantage point high above the town.

At the roped off entrance you can choose to head directly into the State Apartments or start with a visit to the Dolls' House.

Queen Mary's Dolls House, is the largest and most famous dolls house in the world.

Built between 1921 and 1924 it is an exquisite palace in miniature whose tiny rooms ,filled with the work of the finest artists, artisans, craftsmen and manufacturers, give a glimpse into a bygone age.

The State Apartments, follow, furnished with treasures from the Royal Collection and displays of weaponry, including spirals of pistols and the suit of armour worn by King Henry VIII.

The restoration work carried out, after the fire in 1992, bring alive what the original rooms would have looked like on completion.

The Semi State Rooms,are used by The Queen for hosting her guests.
These spectacular richly decorated private apartments are open to visitors in the winter months.

St George's Chapel, a living church where services are held every day, is also home to the Order of the Garter the oldest British Order of Chivalry.

Ten sovereigns, including Henry VIII, his third wife Jane Seymour, and Charles I are laid to rest in the Chapel.

St Georges Chapel is closed to general visitors on Sundays, but worshippers are welcome to attend the services.

Precinct Tour, these guided tours with one of the Castle Warden's, which are included in the ticket price, are a great way to get even more out of your visit to Windsor Castle.

General Information

A typical visit to Windsor Castle last two to three hours.

Guided tours of the Precincts,which are included in the ticket price, depart at half-hourly intervals from the Courtyard and last 30 minutes.

A complimentary audio tour, included in the ticket price, lets you visit the State Apartments, the Drawings Gallery, Queen Mary's Dolls House and St George's Chapel at your own pace.

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Visitor Tip

Want to watch the Windsor Castle Guard change at 11:00 and still avoid the morning rush?

Then, after watching the Guard Mount, get your ticket stamped for re-entry and explore Windsor High Street where you can grab an early lunch, as once the coach tours depart the Castle and State Apartments are a lot less crowded.

Windsor Castle Opening Times

November 2019 to 28th February 2020:
Windsor Castle opens 10:00 | Last admission 15:00 | Castle closes at 16:15

1 March - 31 October 2020:
Windsor Castle opens 10:00 | Last admission 16:00 | Castle closes at 17:15

 

Windsor Castle closures

As Windsor Castle is a working royal palace, sometimes the entire Castle or the State Apartments within the Castle need to be closed at short notice.

Windsor Castle will be completely closed on:

  • 14 November 2019 - Castle closing early
    (Last admission 14:00. Last admission to the State Apartments 14:30. Castle closes 15:00).
  • 2 December 2019 - Castle closing early
    (Last admission 14:30. Castle closes 15:30).
  • 16 December 2019 - Castle closing early
    (Last admission 14:00. Last admission to the State Apartments 14:30. Castle closes 15:00).
  • 25-26 December 2019 - Castle completely closed
  • 10 April 2020 - Castle completely closed
  • ​25-26 December 2020 - Castle completely closed

State Apartment Closures

  • 25 October - The State Apartments and Semi State Rooms are closed.

Semi-State Room Closures 

  • 4 November - The Semi-State Rooms are closed until 13:00 today.
  • 13 December - The Semi-State Rooms are closed.

Note: When the State Apartments are closed the Semi-State Rooms will not be open.

The Semi-State Rooms Opening Dates

The Semi-State Rooms are only open from autumn until spring each year

St George's Chapel

St. George's Chapel is open Monday to Saturday.

Chapel closures

The Chapel will have different opening times on:

  • 13 December 2019 - Chapel closes at 15:30
  • 23 December 2019 - Chapel closes at 13:00
  • 24 December 2019 - Chapel closes at 13:00

 

As a working royal palace, Windsor Castle is used frequently by The Queen for State ceremonies and official entertaining.

You can telephone the Information Office at Windsor Castle on +44 (0)303 123 7304 to check opening arrangements.

Things you need to know

  • Suggested visit duration: 2 - 3 hours.
  • On arrival, you and your belongings will be subject to airport-style security checks.
    Some items such as backpacks and pushchair's will have to be checked in and reclaimed at the end of your visit.
  • An audio guide to Windsor Castle is included in the ticket price.
    Audio guides are available in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian and Mandarin.
  • A Guided tour of the Precincts, is included in the admission price.
    These tours depart at half-hourly intervals from the Courtyard and last 30 minutes
  • Food and drink cannot be in the State Apartments or St George s Chapel.
    Bottled water can be purchased in the Lower Ward Shop at the beginning of your visit.
  • Photography and filming (for private use only) are permitted in the Castle Precincts.
  • No photography or video recording is allowed within the State Apartments or St George's Chapel.
  • Mobile phones must be switched off inside the State Apartments and St George's Chapel.
  • For safety reasons, pushchair's cannot be taken into the State Rooms.
    They must be checked in and reclaimed at the exit. Baby carriers and hip seats can be borrowed, subject to availability, free of charge.
  • Most of the coach tours from London arrive to coincide with the doors opening at 09:45.
  • Independent travelers can avoid the crowds, by visiting in the afternoon.
  • Visitors wishing to leave the Castle for a bite to eat in the town centre can obtain re-entry permits from the Castle shops or the audio return point.
  • When booking tickets ensure your selected date is your visit date to the attraction.

 

Windsor Castle Video Visit

Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust

  • Windsor Castle Visit

 

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History of Windsor Castle

The oldest parts of Windsor Castle were built by the Normans, in wood, following the victory of William the Conqueror in the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Henry I was the first monarch to use Windsor Castle as a home and it is during his reign that the wooden keep and walls were replaced with stone.

In the 12th century, Henry II upgraded the Windsor Castle walls and added a new stone keep.

Edward III was born in Windsor Castle in 1312 and during his reign spent a vast amounts of money, funded by his military victories in France, adding to and improving Windsor Castle in what was the most expensive secular building project in England during the Middle Ages.

King Henry VIII who regularly stayed at the castle is buried in the Windsor Castle Lady Chapel.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert made Windsor Castle their main place of residence. Following Albert's death, Queen Victoria was sometimes referred to as the Widow of Windsor.

Windsor Castle Today

Windsor Castle plan

Windsor Castle Fire

Disaster struck on 20th November 1992 when a curtain in the Queen's private chapel was ignited by a spotlight which had been accidentally pressed up against it.

The fire raged for over nine hours, and despite the efforts of 200 firefighters battling against the flames was not finally extinguished until the early hours of the following morning, some fifteen hours later.

1992 fire at Windsor Castle
Credit: Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service

Despite soaking the crumbling structure in 4,500 tons of water, nine rooms were completely gutted and nearly 100 suffered significant damage, by what remains the worst blaze in the castle s 900-year history.

Members of the Royal Family, including the Queen and Prince Andrew, were reported to have joined a human chain tasked with saving great works of art from the wreckage.

A Restoration Committee, headed by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales, was set up to oversee the repair work.

The committee decided that certain principle rooms destroyed by the fire - the Grand Reception Room, the State Dining Room, and two Drawing Rooms - should be restored to their former state.

The restoration of the State Apartments brings alive how the original rooms would have looked and have arguably improved the visitor experience.

It was this this disastrous fire that led to the opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace as Her Majesty The Queen had agreed to fund 70% of the restoration costs.

Getting to Windsor Castle

Windsor is 30 miles (50km) West of London.

By Train

From London you can get to Windsor from both Waterloo and Paddington stations.

Trains from Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Riverside Station depart every half hour throughout the day, hourly on Sundays.
The journey takes about an hour and 20 minutes.
Windsor & Eton Riverside - About a 10 minutes walk.

Trains from Paddington to Windsor Central depart every 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day.
The journey takes about 35 minutes. You have to change trains at Slough.

By Bus

Greenline bus number 702 leaves from Victoria Colonnades, near London Victoria Coach Station every half hour, approximately, during the day. The journey takes about an hour.

By Car

Windsor is accessible via the major motorway networks of the M3, M4, M25 and M40

The journey time from London is approximately 40 minutes and Heathrow airport is about 15 minutes away.

Parking throughout Windsor is controlled and quite expensive.

Consider the Long Term parking if you are visiting Windsor Castle as a 20 minute walk saves about a third of the cost of short term parking in Windsor centre.

Another option is to use the Park and Ride services at Legoland Windsor or Windsor Home Park. Parking at Legoland is free.
Parking at Windsor Home Park is "pay and display". There is a small charge for bus fare.

Coach Tours / Tickets

Coach tours and open dated tickets to Windsor Castle are available through Visit Britain, the official shop of the British Tourism Authority.
These tours include entry tickets to the Castle.

Accessibility

Windsor Castle is fully accessible and welcomes visitors with different access requirements.

All visitors should be aware that the Castle is situated at the top of a steep hill and there are long distances that have to be covered on site.

All visitors who require an access companion receive a complimentary ticket.

For more detailed access information, please visit the Royal-Collection

More Palaces and Castles to Visit

More Royal Palaces and Castles in the UK you can visit and experience first hand the rich history of some of the of the world's most iconic buildings.

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