Windsor Castle has been home to English royalty for over 900 years, and today it is the largest still-occupied castle in the world. While the Queen spends most of her time living in Buckingham Palace in London, Windsor Castle is only 22 miles away and is her weekend getaway palace of choice. You probably won't see her or any other family members during your visit, but this unique attraction is one of the best places to experience centuries of royal history in the United Kingdom and see how it still functions today.
Getting to Windsor Castle from London is painless, and the train is your quickest method for getting there with options leaving from Waterloo or Paddington stations. If you want to save a few pounds, you could also take a special bus that goes from Central London to Windsor, although the journey is significantly longer. Even though Windsor is close to London, driving yourself will be more of a headache than it's worth and isn't recommended.
|Train||22 minutes||from $14||Traveling on a time crunch|
|Bus||1 hour, 15 minutes||from $9||Traveling on a budget|
|Car||45 minutes||22 miles (35 kilometers)|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From London to Windsor Castle?
Bus service between Central London to Windsor is provided by Green Line 702 and the cost of a one-way fare starts at seven pounds, or about $9. Most people visit Windsor for the day and return to London the same evening, and you can save money by booking roundtrip tickets. Purchase your tickets ahead of time using the Green Line app for easy boarding, or if you have a contactless payment method—such as a tap and pay credit card or mobile pay—you can pay directly on the bus.
Buses originate at Victoria Station in London—with connections to the Circle, Victoria, and District lines of the Underground—and drop off in Windsor right in front of the palace.
Tip: Buses from London are cheaper if you leave in the afternoon and miss the morning rush.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From London to Windsor Castle?
The train is a bit more expensive than the bus, especially when making a roundtrip purchase, but it saves you over two hours of travel time to Windsor and back, which many would say is worth the extra cost. You actually have two train options when traveling to Windsor Castle, a direct train that takes about 55 minutes or a much faster train that involves one transfer. Tickets for either train are the same price, so it really just depends if you want to arrive quickly or prefer to not bother with changing trains.
The faster option gets you to Windsor and Eton Central Station in as little as 22 minutes from Paddington Station, but it does require a change of train in Slough. The other option is to take a train from Waterloo Station to Windsor and Elon Riverside Station (both Windsor Central and Windsor Riverside are walking distance from the palace). This train takes about 55 minutes, but you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride without worrying about a transfer.
Unlike most National Rail tickets that soar in price as the travel date gets closer, tickets to Windsor don't fluctuate much in price regardless of when you buy your tickets.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
Windsor is less than 25 miles away from Central London, but it takes about 45 minutes to get out of the city and into Windsor. Even if you have access to a vehicle, driving isn't recommended. Not only is traffic around London sure to delay your arrival, but you may be required to pay expensive congestion pricing tolls as well. Plus, parking inside Windsor is exorbitantly expensive and you'll likely need to park outside of the city anyway. For the easiest travel into Windsor, stick to the train or bus.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Windsor Castle?
Windsor Castle is open year-round—apart from select holidays such as the Queen's Official Birthday and Christmas—and great to visit at any time of year. The time of day, however, can affect your trip. If you want to see the changing of the guard, this historic ritual takes place at the palace every day at 11 a.m. It's also the busiest time to visit Windsor, and you'll miss out on the majority of the crowds if you visit in the afternoon (you can always see a changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace to make up for it). If you want to include St. George's Cathedral in your tour, be aware that it's normally closed for services on Sundays.
What Is There to Do at Windsor Castle?
Visitors to Windsor Castle are able to tour the State Apartments of the palace, used for centuries to host heads of state, special award ceremonies, and royal investitures. You can pick up a complimentary audio guide to direct you through the palace, which is narrated by none other than Charles, the Prince of Wales and the heir to the throne. St. George's Cathedral has been the family church for since the 1600s, and its most famous event of this century was the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.