If you’re above a certain age Windsor probably means the famous figure-of-8 racecourse, the archetypal Eton College, and the Queen’s weekend home, Windsor Castle. But if you’re under a certain age you’re probably thinking happy Legoland thoughts already. Whichever floats your boat – and there’s plenty of those too, as the town straddles the beautiful River Thames – Windsor makes for a great awayday for visitors of all ages. This charming, historic market town in the east of Berkshire has delights to offer families, couples and solo visitors alike.
Your South Western Railway train will arrive at Windsor and Eton Riverside station. There's also a second station in Windsor, Windsor and Eton Central, and there’s only a few hundred metres between them. Both have nearby bus links – buy a cheap PlusBus ticket along with your train ticket – and you can book local taxis from Windsor Taxis. In addition you can catch regular shuttle buses out to Legoland from the stop by the Theatre Royal on Thames Street, and if you’re heading for Windsor Racecourse you can hop on a riverboat shuttle from Windsor Promenade on race days. Visitors for the other nearby racecourse should buy rail tickets for Ascot train station, via Staines, from the Riverside station.
Windsor Castle is the obvious visit here, and won’t disappoint fans of massive stately homes stuffed with gorgeous art. You can tour the precincts and visit the staterooms, where priceless objects from the Royal Collection are on display, from Holbein paintings to Queen Mary’s dolls’ house.
Legoland offers art too, as long as you like it constructed from plastic bricks. With nearly 40 fantastic rides and activities on offer, you’ll need to spend several hours here to make the most of your ticket. Take advantage of the fantastic 2-for-1 offer when you buy your train ticket.
The River Thames loops and curls its way through Windsor, and offers many pleasingly low-key pastimes, like boating or simply lazing by the river. More adventurous types could try the Duck tour where you ride an amphibious vehicle into the waters and out again.
Those in search of more leafiness should seek out The Long Walk, a 3 mile long tree-lined avenue that takes you from the heart of the town to Windsor Great Park, which describes itself as “sweeping historic parkland, ancient woodland and forest trails”, a description that can’t be improved on.
Like most modern towns, Windsor has a custom-built shopping centre, Windsor Royal Shopping, with over 40 upmarket high street brand stores under its roof. Antiques shops abound in Windsor, and just across the river the Eton Antique Bookshop on the High Street is a marvellous gem of a shop, crammed with amazing old books and far too cool to have a website.
Windsor offers lots of places to eat – if you’re looking for a reasonably-priced quick bite The Cinnamon Cafe is located centrally and offers tasty café faves including sandwiches and cakes. Just 15 minutes away by cab is Heston Blumenthal’s globally famous Fat Duck restaurant in nearby Bray. Booking here will take time and money but the reviews, as we’re sure you’re aware, place this as one of the best restaurants in the country, if not the world. Those with slightly less adventurous palates could try the highly-praised gastro pub The Oxford Blue in neighbouring Old Windsor for some fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere.
There's also The Royal Windsor, thought to be the oldest licenced venue in the historic town. They boast unrivalled views of the famous castle from its spectacular dining room and large garden. Serving traditional British food all day, seven days a week, as well as an array of house-infused spirits, incredible cocktails, and craft beers, it's the perfect place to unwind after a hard day’s sightseeing or shopping.
If you fancy living like royalty as well as visiting them, Coworth Park, just the other side of Windsor Great Park, offers a faultless stately home hotel (and spa) experience at a price to match. Marginally less luxurious, and slap bang in the heart of Windsor, is the Macdonald Windsor Hotel, still at the very high end of hotel accommodation and famous for its delicious complimentary cupcakes. If you’re looking for something a little more like a home-from-home at a reasonable rate you could try the well-regarded B&B St Mary’s Cottage just a couple of hundred metres from the train station