London is always a blast to visit, but there is also so much to explore outside the city. One of my favorite places to visit is Windsor, a town on the River Thames just west of London. It is most notably known for being home to the Windsor Castle, a residence of the British Royal family. Still, its surrounding area is also a fantastic place to spend an afternoon. Just last month, my boyfriend and I visited Windsor, and our day was a perfect mix of learning and lounging. If you’re looking for activities outside the city, consider visiting Windsor – I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Start your afternoon with a picnic at Windsor Great Park. Pair a delicious picnic with a spectacular view – what more could you ask for?! My boyfriend and I brought a picnic basket to Windsor Great Park to have a relaxing lunch in the open air. It was the perfect way to jump-start our afternoon at Windsor. Windsor Great Park spans over 4,800 acres, and most of it is open to the public. It’s the ideal spot for a picnic because you’re guaranteed a gorgeous view no matter where you unpack your basket.
I ordered my picnic basket off Amazon, and it was the ideal purchase for two people. It came with two sets of stainless steel knives, forks and spoons, two dinner plates, two wine glasses, salt and pepper shakers, two napkins, a bottle opener, and a blanket to sit on.
Picnic items we brought: strawberries, grapes, assorted cheese, prosciutto, salami, a baguette, Marks and Spencer’s premixed cocktails, and a bouquet of roses (just because)!
Tour Windsor Castle. Once you are fueled from your picnic, head over to Windsor Castle for a fascinating bit of history. Aside from being the Queen’s official residence, Windsor Palace is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. A tour through the castle is an excellent way to learn more about England’s British monarchy and history. Visitors receive an audio-guided tour through the entrance and grounds, the State Apartments in the castle, and St. George’s Chapel. I was pleased with the audio tour because we could move through the castle at our own pace.
Pro tip: buy tickets in advance. Without them, you could risk waiting in line for over an hour.
The State Apartments are very ornate and rich in history. They were built for Charles II and his Queen, Catherine of Braganza, during the late 17th century. One of the most fascinating rooms was St. George’s Hall, which was rebuilt in 1992 after a fire broke out in the castle. The ceiling is studded with the coats of armor of every Knight of the Garter since the order was founded in 1348. The room is still used today – in fact, it was used as a reception hall after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in 2018.
Included in your Windsor Castle tour is St. George’s Chapel. The chapel is stunning with its vaulted ceilings and Gothic architecture dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Within the chapel are tombs of several former monarchs, including Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour. St. George’s Chapel is a working church with services held every day. It is closed to visitors on Sundays, but you can freely attend church services Monday through Saturday.
If you time your tour correctly, you can view the Changing of the Guard, which usually takes place at 11AM Mondays through Saturdays from April through July. The Changing of the Guard takes around thirty minutes and is a unique sight to experience.
Grab a pint at the Royal Windsor. The tour of Windsor Castle takes approximately two hours, so you might be in the mood for a drink when you’re finished. The town of Windsor has a variety of charming pubs and shops to browse. In fact, most people go to Windsor to walk around or grab a bite to eat. My favorite bar in Windsor is the Royal Windsor. Not only does this traditional British pub have an excellent menu, but the outdoor beer garden has breathtaking views of Windsor Castle. Finish your day of learning with a pint, or, if you’re a Love Island fan like me, a Love Island Prosecco Spritz. It’s light and refreshing!
And if you’re not ready to go home yet, end the day with a stroll along the Thames. River Thames is the longest river in England, spanning roughly 215 miles. Windsor borough has 20 miles of Thames riverside just to itself to explore. While some people choose to explore the Thames by motorboat, I have found it a relaxing and tranquil place to end a long day of sight-seeing.
Have you been to Windsor? What was your favorite part? Share your thoughts in the comments below!