Looking for a family-friendly day out that doesn’t break the bank with activities to suit all tastes – and ages?
Then I have just the place!
Windsor in Berkshire is most famous for being home to Windsor Castle and centuries of royal history, but there’s far more to it than that as we discovered when we were invited on a day out by sightseeing bus company The Original Tour Windsor.
With two royal weddings in 2018 (the other is Princess Eugenie’s, in case you had to think about that!) it’s set to be a busy year for Windsor so we were asked to come and see for ourselves exactly what the royal town has to offer.
From the castle itself and the pomp and ceremony surrounding it to afternoon tea and shopping, there’s so much to do for families with kids of all ages. So if you’re looking for a family-friendly day out this year here’s why Windsor is well worth a visit.
10 reasons to visit Windsor
1. Windsor Castle. There’s no missing the castle, which looms in the distance as you approach the town and lines a major part of the High Street. The oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, Windsor Castle is open to the public and highlights include Queen Mary’s dolls’ house, a 1:12 scale miniature royal palace with more than 1,500 mini pieces of furniture. Tickets cost from £21.20 for adults and £12.30 for children aged five and over.
2. The Changing of the Guard. A castle comes with guards, and those guards have to switch shifts. This ceremonial spectacle happens between 10.45am and 11.30am three times a week in winter (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) and every day throughout the summer (subject to change and wet weather). Think men in uniforms with a regimental band and corps of drums.
3. Open top bus tours. New for 2018 The Original Tour Windsor offers double-decker open top bus tours from the centre of Windsor to neighbouring Eton (home to THAT college) and back again. For £13 (adults) and £7 (children – family tickets are also available) you can hop-on and hop-off the bus at stops anywhere on the route – a great way to see everything the area has to offer. There’s plenty of space on board for buggies and you can tune in to a guided tour through individual headphones in front of your seat.
4. Pub lunches. Windsor is packed with quintessentially British pubs and restaurants offering traditional British fayre. We visited The Boatman which is the only proper pub on the river in Windsor: it’s family-friendly (you can change their nappies there) and you’ll get a mean fish pie.
5. The River Thames. French Brothers offer 40-minute round-trip boat tours of Windsor (£9 for adults and £6 for children aged three to 13), where you’ll get spectacular views of the castle from the water as well as the surrounding countryside. Expect full commentary, a bar and light refreshments.
6. You can feed the swans. For 60p you can get a bag of swan food and feed the many swans on the Thames. And don’t worry, the swans aren’t bitey ones!
7. Afternoon tea. Like pub lunches, there are plenty of places in Windsor offering traditional afternoon tea. We were treated to sandwiches and scones at the oak-beamed Bel & The Dragon, complete with roaring fire and chalkboard tables for the kids to draw on (that kept them quiet!) Think cucumber, smoked salmon and egg sandwiches with the crusts cut off and scones with homemade jam and cream.
8. Royal wedding fever. Everywhere you look there are nods to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s impending nuptials (no sign of Princess Eugenie’s though!) Harry and Meghan are due to tie the knot at St George’s Chapel inside Windsor Castle on Saturday May 19 and the town is clearly very proud of the fact. From faces on bunting and tea towels in Windsor’s many souvenir shops to cardboard cut outs in shop windows and special celebratory events, I got a real sense that this event has brought the community together.
9. The shopping. From high street chains to independent boutiques and department stores (Daniels is worth a visit) Windsor is great for shopping. I took the opportunity to pick up some summer clothes for BB, including this fab ice cream skirt from Monsoon.
10. It’s a great family day out. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re 60, six or six months. I asked Misery Guts (39) what his favourite thing about the day was and he said having two pints of beer at lunchtime. For BB (six) it was the Changing of the Guard, for Little B (three) it was the boat trip and for Littlest B (one) I’m pretty sure it was feeding the swans. For me it was just nice doing something as a family with nobody arguing!
My top tips:
- Parking in Windsor is expensive, so make sure you have lots of loose change. Alternatively, if you’re planning one of The Original Tour Windsor’s open top bus trips, park at Windsor Farm shop which is on the hop-on hop-off route where parking is free. Then you can jump on a bus which will take you to the centre of Windsor.
- The best spot to watch the Changing of the Guard is from the corner of the High Street next to the statue of Queen Victoria in front of the castle.
- If you’re planning a French Brothers boat trip book online in advance – tickets are cheaper.
Have you visited Windsor before? Does a trip to Windsor sound like the sort of day out your family might enjoy?
We were treated to a day tour of Windsor by The Original Tour Windsor. As always all opinions are my own and based on my own honest experience.