Windsor & Eton City Guide
Windsor & Eton History
Windsor is of course, best known for its castle, home of the British Monarchy for almost a thousand years, and the largest inhabited castle in the World. It has also been suggested that it was built on the site of a Celtic camp where King Arthur or one of his subordinates lived, as the town is mentioned a couple of times in Arthurian literature. Legend says that the Round Table stood atop the motte of the Round Tower.
Windsor & Eton Today
The town of Windsor is dominated by the famous Windsor Castle, and the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world still serves as a home to the Royal Family, giving the town it's unique character and style. Windsor isn't just a picture postcard stage set however - this town in the heart of the Thames Valley (and only 40 minutes from central London), is a modern, buzzing commuter town as well.
The other dominant feature of Windsor is the River Thames which winds it way along the north of the town and separates Windsor from Eton. These two neighbouring towns are joined by Windsor Bridge, currently for the use of pedestrians and cyclists only.
Eton is home to the famous Eton College, a public school founded in 1440 by Henry VI and which has had some very famous ex-pupils. Indeed, Princess Diana chose this school for the young Princes William and Harry. The charming high street is a hot spot for tourists and it's where you can spot the posh Eton boys walking around in their trademark morning suit, waistcoat, collar and striped trousers - so a great photo opportunity! The stunning Peascod House Apartments offer luxury one bedroom serviced accommodation in the heart of the old town.
Windsor & Eton Leisure
You simply can't come to Windsor without seeing The Castle, originally built by William the Conquerer in 1067, although the oldest remaining section is The Round Tower (dating from the 12th century) which stands proudly on its hill above the main street and which provides the focal point of the town. The rest of the 'modern' town then slopes gradually away and although there is a strong 'touristy' feel, the town also offers a wide range of 'normal' high street stores and most of the modern amenities we all need for 21st century living. For a room with a view try the one and two bedroom units available at Trinity Court Apartments right opposite the Castle.
Windsor is particularly well served when it comes to shops. As a tourist town there is the usual selection of gift shops around the castle, however Windsor is quite an upmarket town too and offers a wide selection of stylish shops, boutiques and restaurants. Windsor Royal Station has been converted into a charming arcade and the main shopping street, Peascod Street, includes an independent department store. And just off this Street is King Edward Court, a pedestrian-only shopping centre with a supermarket and many high street names. The two bedroom, two bathroom serviced apartments located just off of Peascod Street make William Street serviced flats an ideal base from which to explore the town centre.
Windsor & Eton's Top 5 places to eat
Best to escape the crowds: Gilbey’s
82-83 High Street, Eton, SL4 6AF
Small but perfectly formed and cunningly nestled amidst all the bars and restaurants of Windsor and Eton, this is quite a find. Located on the High Street in Eton, over the river, this lovely little restaurant is a great place to escape the crowds.
Best for meat eaters: The Windsor Grill
65 St Leonards Rd, Windsor SL4 3BX
A short stroll away from Windsor Castle, this restaurant is a carnivore’s paradise. They let the meat do the talking here, and for once the fish don't get all the best lines - there's just good quality meat and fish in stylish, unpretentious surroundings.
Best for desserts: Limes
2 Market Street, Windsor SL4 1PB
This mother and daughter bakery just opposite Windsor Castle is the perfect spot to refresh yourself with some tea and cake after a hard day's sightseeing. And because they use all organic and healthy ingredients you won’t need to feel guilty about tucking into that second slice!
Best for river views: The Boatman
10 Thames Side, Windsor, SL4 1QN
The Boatman Pub directly overlooks the river just by Eton Bridge and is the best location in town for riverside views. Be warned though: the Terrace gets pretty booked up in high summer so make sure you get there early to bag the best spot.
Best for vegetarians: Nam Kang
11 Peascod Street, Windsor, SL4 1DT
There isn’t a vegetarian restaurant as such in Windsor but plenty of restaurants have veggie options. One worth a try is Nam Kang, a Korean restaurant on Peascod Street which has amazing service, great food and you’ll get to try a little something different!
Windsor & Eton Transport Tips
The nearest airport to Windsor & Eton is Heathrow Airport which is a mere 20 minutes away by train or car. Gatwick Airport is also very accessible and is just 50 minutes away by car via the famously fun M25 motorway!
The nearest train station for access to Windsor is Windsor & Eton Riverside which is just a few minutes walk from the Castle. Windsor & Eton Riverside is easily accessible being just an hour away from London Waterloo. Alternatively take the train from London Paddington and change at Slough for Windsor & Eton Central.
If you're driving to Windsor and need ideas concerning your potential parking options then why not have a look at Windsor.gov.uk and see what the best spot would be?!
If you want to get around Windsor (and Maidenhead) by bike, just take a look at the borough's map of suggested cycling routes with additional info on bike repair shops and cycle parking.
For bus times and routes in Windsor (as well as Maidenhead) take a peek at the borough's site for public transport to find a route that'll suit you.
What to do in Windsor and Eton
Listed below are some of the great places to visit in Windsor and Eton. Click one to see more.
- Windsor Castle and St Georges Chapel
Windsor Castle dominates the skyline of the surrounding area and can be seen for miles around. This truly impressive castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world with the Queen spending most of her private weekends here, as well as a month over Easter and a week in June in residence. St George's Chapel (within the precincts) is well worth a visit in itself and is home to the historic Knights of the Garter, the oldest order of chivalry in the world. You could just tour the impressive grounds and admire the views, however it's also very well worth visiting the State Apartments, the Semi-State rooms and Queen Mary's Dolls House if you have the time.
For more information visit: www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/windsorcastle and www.stgeorges-windsor.org
- LEGOLAND Windsor resort
The LEGOLAND Windsor Resort is a theme park dedicated to children aged 3-12 years old. With over 55 interactive rides, live shows, building workshops, driving schools and attractions, all set in 150 acres of beautiful parkland, this resort is a unique family theme park.
Apart from the unique LEGO themed rides (prepare to get wet!) there are some incredible LEGO models throughout the park - it's amazing what can be built with nearly 55 million LEGO bricks!
The Legoland Shuttle service between Windsor Town Centre and Legoland is provided by routes 191 and 200. Buses operate every 30 minutes to connect with trains and they pick up from outside Windsor Parish Church and opposite the Theatre Royal.
For more information visit: www.legoland.co.uk
- Windsor Great Park
A visit to Windsor wouldn't be complete without a trip to Windsor Great Park. This amazing green space covers 4,800 acres, parts of which are open to the public. Its present area was determined in the 1360's and was popular with Saxon kings as a hunting forest.
The park is accessible from Windsor town centre on foot via the Long Walk (which is a lovely spot for an afternoon stroll) or there are car parks located along the A332 that goes through the Park. Alternatively you can drive to Virginia Water and park at Blacknest Gate for a walk around the lake, where you'll pass a totem pole and miniature waterfall.
There are many parts to this amazing park and highlights not to be missed include Saville Gardens - especially in spring when the rhododendron and azaleas are in bloom, Virginia Waters - with the Valley Gardens again a joy to behold in the springtime! It even gets a mention in our blog of the UK's top 10 gardens to visit - read more here!
For more information visit: www.theroyallandscape.co.uk
- Dorney Lake
Re-live your Olympic dreams with a visit to Dorney Lake!
Dorney Lake is a modern world-class rowing and flat-water canoeing centre set in a spectacular 450-acre park near Windsor. The site hosted the Rowing and Kayak events during the Olympic and Paralympic Games for London 2012 and was voted top Olympic venue by an exit poll of spectators.
Dorney Lake is in fact privately owned by the nearby Eton College and is home to their boat club, so who knows, you might bump into a potential Prime Minister or member of the royal family on your visit!
For more information visit: www.dorneylake.co.uk
- Theatre Royal Windsor
This beautiful theatre nestles in the shadow of Windsor Castle and is the only unsubsidised producing theatre to operate all year round in Britain. The repertoire on offer is wide, ranging from the classics and traditional pantomime to first productions of new work - many of which subsequently transfer to the West End.
The Theatre Royal has gained a reputation for the quality of its productions and is currently one of Britain's leading theatres outside of London.
To see what's on visit: www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk