Family days out: Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle NNL-141205-160159001
Windsor Castle NNL-141205-160159001
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A visit to the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world.

Windsor Castle has been the family home of British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years – including the likes of Henry VIII, Charles I and II and Queen Victoria.

Windsor Castle NNL-141205-160222001

Windsor Castle NNL-141205-160222001

It’s the perfect destination for any budding princes and princesses in the family!

Windsor Castle in an official residence of Her Majesty The Queen, so when we mentioned to the kids that we were going to visit one of the Queen’s ‘houses’, they were understandably very excited!

There isn’t any parking at the castle itself, understandably, but we found some parking about 10 minutes’ walk away.

It was a beautiful sunny day and the scenery on the walk to the castle was beautiful. It’s an amazing view walking up the hill to get there!

Windsor Castle NNL-141205-160211001

Windsor Castle NNL-141205-160211001

When we arrived there was already a steady queue of people waiting to enter and buy their tickets.

We waited for about half an hour to purchase our tickets and once we had, we had to enter a one-way system as our belongings went through an airport-style security system.

It’s best to try not to bring too many belongings with you to help avoid any delays.

It wasn’t long before the checks were finished and we could begin our tour.

We picked up our audio headsets (included in the entry price) which is a great way to learn about the castle and its features.

There is even an audio version for children too which makes learning more fun for them.

The castle is at the top of a steep hill with the visitor route covering long distances, so sensible footwear is a must!

As we walked around listening to the tour, the scenery was breathtaking – which was enhanced by the sunshine we were blessed with.

The audio tour lasted about an hour and a half, after which we stopped on one of the benches outside to have our home-made picnic and drinks.

After lunch we headed to the State Apartments.

For safety reasons, pushchairs can’t be used in here so we had to ‘check’ it in and reclaim it back when we exited.

The State Apartments house an array of fine works of art from the likes of Rembrandt, Rubens and Canaletto.

While at the castle, you can also visit the Drawings Gallery, Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House and St George’s Chapel.

There are also guided tours of the Precincts, which are included in the admission price. They leave at half-hourly intervals from the courtyard and last 30 minutes.

The kids in particular loved Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House which is a lot bigger (and more intricate) than your average dolls house – it even had its own working lights!

And if you get the chance, head near the exit to see the changing of the guard.

The ceremony itself takes place at 11am Mondays to Saturdays until the end of July and on alternate days for the rest of the year (weather permitting, although there is no changing the guard on Sundays).

The privilege of guarding the sovereign traditionally belongs to the Household Troops – the ‘Guards’ – who have carried out this duty since 1660.

We missed the actual handover but it was fascinating to watch them pace up and down without showing any emotion.

And it certainly drew the crowds with big queues of people forming, waiting patiently to have their picture taken with the guard on duty.

And if you want a memento of the day, then head over to any of the three shops on site which offer a wide range of gifts such as homeware, clothing, children’s toys, books and postcards.

Opening times

March to October: Daily from 9.45am to 5.15pm (last admission 4pm)

November to February: Daily from 9.45am to 4.15pm (last admission 3pm)

A typical visit lasts two to three hours.

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

Therefore closures can occasionally occur at short notice. 

Make sure you check opening arrangements by visiting www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/windsorcastle/plan-your-visit.

Admission costs

All prices include an audio tour.

Adult: £18.50; over-60s/student (with valid ID): £16.75; under 17: £11; under-fives free.

A family ticket for two adults and three children under 17 is £48.

Getting there

If travelling on the M4, exit at Junction 6, or if using the M3, exit at Junction 3.

You’ll need to park in one of the public car parks in the town centre as there is no visitor car parking at the castle, but there are plenty to choose from (although some may require a five to 10-minute walk).

Top tip!

At the end of your visit, don’t forget to ask a warden to stamp your ticket to convert it into a one-year pass which will give you 12 months complimentary admission the castle.

Do you remember?

In November 1992, a fire destroyed or damaged more than 100 rooms at the castle, which later underwent restoration to restore it to its former glory.