CK Travels

13 brilliant things to do in Windsor and Eton (2022 guide)

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We’d like to crown Windsor and Eton as one of our favourite weekend retreats and day trips from London, with its stunning riverside setting, gloriously green parks and of course Windsor Castle (which anyone can visit – it doesn’t need to be ‘by Royal Appointment’).

From the (very) Long Walk with deers to historic side-streets (with haunted pubs!), here is the very best of Berkshire’s ‘royally’ good and picturesque town – our guide to the top things to do in Windsor and Eton in 2021:

Things to do in Windsor and Eton

1. Windsor Castle

Likely the main reason why most visitors and tourists descend on Windsor (and with good reason), Windsor Castle is the family and ancestral home of the British monarchy (the Queen now mainly spends weekends and some holidays here).

Windsor Castle. Copyright CK Travels

Given the price (£25 per person), we’d always been a bit reluctant to do the Windsor Palace tour and this was our first visit to a royal residence (we still haven’t done the Buckingham Palace tour as it sounds quite hit and miss).

However, we were so impressed by how much you can see, from the beautifully ornate rooms (soooo much gilded gold) and the royal gardens with stunning views looking out over Windsor), that we think it is really, really good value and you could easily make a morning or afternoon of it.

Windsor Castle. Copyright CK Travels

We also got a fleeting glimpse whilst inside on our visit of the Queen as she left Windsor Castle in a small convoy of Range Rovers – no sign of the corgis though alas.

Book a Windsor Castle Admission Ticket >

2. Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle

Don’t let your guard down and miss this iconic ceremony, a delightful display of regal pomp and circumstance. Try to time your visit to Windsor Castle with the Changing of the Guard ceremony (most Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11am) that begins at Swan Barracks a few minutes walk (or should that be march) away from the castle itself.

The Royal guards, dressed in red and black march down the high street and enter the castle and it is a sight to behold. Whilst you can still see the main march for free by standing along Castle Hill, the majority of the ceremony takes place behind the Windsor Castle Walls.

Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle. Copyright CK Travels

If you are going the castle anyway, you could try to coincide your timed ticket admission with the ceremony – however queues can be long to get in so we recommend trying to get a 10am ticket to guarantee you get through and to the courtyard in time for 11am.

Even if you don’t want to pay to go into Windsor Castle, you can still see (and hear) the marching band and guards as they approach from the castle. If you want to get the best views and secure yourself a prime spot (particularly in the summer), arrive at least an half an hour before.

3. The Windsor Long Walk and Deer Park

Possibly the most astutely titled trail, this Long Walk (just under 3 miles one way) starts at the rear entrance of Windsor Castle by the golden George VI gates (if you walking from the town centre) through parkland all the way to the majestic King George / Copper Horse statue atop a nearby hillside in Windsor Deer Park.

Along the tree lined avenue, you may see some deer at play in the meadow and the views from the hill by the statue are stunning, a glimpse of Berkshire’s countryside and also a distant glimpse of London’s downtown skyscrapers (you can even see the Shard at London Bridge on a clear day).

The Windsor Long Walk and Deer Park. Copyright CK Travels

The Windsor Long Walk is fairly flat and most of it is paved so it is suitable for pushchairs too. If you are doing the walk there and back (6 miles in total) starting at Windsor Castle rear gates, we think afterwards you should reward yourself with a pint (or three) at the Two Brewers, one of Windsor’s prettiest pubs (cosy inside too) which is handily located a stone’s throw away from where the walk starts, you are most welcome!

4. Eton High Street and Eton college

Stretching from the Eton Walkway bridge all the way to the illustrious Eton College, Eton High Street is a charming and quintessentially english high street lined with antique shops, artisan and independent shops, bars and restaurants (so you can do lots of ‘Eton’ and drinking too – sorry).

Eton high street. Copyright CK Travels

With antique red post boxes, Union Jack flags hanging along the way as well as riverside parks, a walk along Eton High Street takes about 15 minutes one way to Eton College grounds (although note the college isn’t open to the public but is very photographable).

Eton college. Copyright CK Travels

5. Windsor Riverside Thames walk / Riverside restaurants

Similar to the South Bank walk in central London, Windsor makes the most of its riverside space with several bars and restaurants having terraces and gardens directly overlooking the Thames.

Head to the Eton Walkway bridge for the best waterside eating spots (for our dime, Cote Windsor or The Boatman pub have the best views as their terrace(s) sit literally right on the Thames).

River in Windsor. Copyright CK Travels

If you are full after your meal or simply fancy a riverside stroll sans food, walk along from Eton bridge along the Thames path in parallel to Alexandra Park and continue all the way to the railway arches along the banks – with wonderful views of the boats, marina and Brocas Meadows. This is a lovely walk and very flat too and no longer than 20 mins so suitable for all ages and abilities.

6. Messing about on the River (Thames)

There are several ways you can hit the water (not literally – it would hurt) along the beautiful stretch of the River Thames that flows through Windsor.

One of the most popular waterborne Windsor activities is to jump aboard the family-run French brothers cruises which last around 40 minutes and depart from Windsor promenade (starting from just under £10 per adult as at November 2021). The French Brothers riverboat round cruises take in riverside views of Windsor Castle, Windsor Racecourse and the Brocas Meadows.

Windsor river cruise. Copyright CK Travels

Otherwise, another slightly more unusual option is to do a Windsor Duck Boat Tour which lasts one hour and spends at least half their time seeing the sights partially submerged in the river Thames (prices start from £23 per adult).

Windsor Duck Boat Tour. Copyright CK Travels

Finally, if you want something more involved, you can hire rowing / motor boats from the John Logie boat stall from Windsor promenade just across from Alexandra Park and Cafe on the River (just watch out for those swans!).

Windsor rowing / motor boats. Copyright CK Travels

7. Windsor town centre and Windsor Royal Station shopping centre

Surprisingly , Windsor’s main pedestrianised high street isn’t that historic or picturesque, a curiously concrete and charmless affair, full of the usual high street chains and very few independents. However, that said, pretty much every type of shop is here so if you are in the mood for some retail therapy, this is a fitting and functional place to empty your wallet.

Slightly more pleasing is the shopping area / centre around Windsor Royal Station. In keeping with the aesthetics of the station with a parade of shops packed in below the high room and rustic iron beams, this is an all weather affair and also has plenty of coffee shops and restaurants to keep you going.

Windsor Royal Station. Copyright CK Travels

8. Church Lane and Market Square area

The antithesis of the modern and meh main Windsor High Street, in the shadow of Windsor Castle, the sublime side streets feel a little more traditional, with views of the castle spires, cute and quirky gift shops and tea rooms, plus some proper British boozers.

Cobbled streets and crooked buildings combine (check out the Crooked Tea House, a wonky as but wonderfully old building dating back from the 16th), it is like taking a step back in time (if you squint really, really hard and ignore the large plastic ice-cream sitting on the pavement).

9. Windsor and Royal Borough Museum

Housed in a Grade I listed Windsor guildhall, this small but perfectly formed museum houses local history treasures and gives an insight into what life is like in Windsor now and then. With a small admission fee (£2 per adult), this is one Windsor attraction to do either if you are really into your history or on a wet weather afternoon.

10. Pubs in Windsor and Eton

If you are spending a weekend in Windsor and fancy a pint or two, we’ve written a dedicated guide to all the best bars and pubs in Windsor.

From pubs with a ‘royally’ good view of the castle entrance at the Horse and Room to the floral front of the Two Brewers, there are plenty of popular pubs and historic bars to sup up at.

Read our dedicated guide to the best bars and pubs in Windsor and Eton here >

The Two Brewers pub, Eton and Windsor. Copyright

11. See the Royal Swans

Fun fact – due to an ancient law, did you know that all of the country’s (unclaimed) swans are actually owned by the Queen? However she only actually exercises ownership on certain stretches of the Thames in and around Windsor (we aren’t sure how) so the ones you see in Windsor are genuine Royal swans.

The reason we mention it is because there are soooo many swans in Windsor (too many?) and their constant quacking and sheer numbers make them quite a spectacle.

Royal Swans in Windsor. Copyright CK Travels

Whilst it can be fun to feed the swans, there are signs up advising what not to give them and they are so aggressive so if you value your fingers, best to feed them from afar or not at all.

12. Alexandra Park

A prime picnic spot in the summer, Alexandra Park, just across from the River Thames path is a nice space to relax in after walking around Windsor or day, or waiting to get your train back (you can walk from the park up a steep flight of steps to the main Windsor train station in less than 5 minutes).

Full of seasonal fun and family activities, there are various amusements such as a crazy golf / pitch and putt area plus a park cafe.

Windsor Alexandra Park. Copyright CK Travels

13. Spot a full-size Hawker Hurricane

Well, a replica at least but it is a popular point of interest and fascinating to such a historic aircraft up-close. Located near to the railway viaduct and Alexandra gardens, this Hawker Hurricane is dedicated to former Windsor local, Sir Sydney Camm who designed the aircraft, which played such a significant part in the Battle of Britain in 1940 and other skirmishes. 

Windsor Hawker Hurricane. Copyright CK Travels

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