Let me introduce you to Windsor! Yes that Windsor, where Harry and Meghan got married and home to the late Queen’s favorite residence, Windsor Castle. Windsor is filled with royal charm and history, but it’s also where I spend weekends with family and friends, where I got my first job, where I go shopping and where I find myself on those random Saturday afternoons. So come spend a day with me in one of my favorite places.
Let’s go people watching in Windsor
During the summer months, Windsor is packed with tourists and locals alike soaking up the sun and strolling along the cobbled streets. One of the most relaxing things you can do is grab an iced coffee or ice cream and sit in Alexandra Gardens or on the lawns in Windsor Great Park. This park is also perfect for a leisurely walk and gives you the most picturesque view of Windsor Castle – make sure you have your camera at the ready to snap some pics for the gram. During lockdown I took loads of early morning walks here. Windsor Great Park is also equally lovely in the winter or autumn months, walking across the crunchy grass with a cup of steaming hot coffee in your hand. Around Christmas time, the park is completely illuminated and turned into an enchanted forest – it’s so festive. There’s also a classic British pub right outside the park called The Two Brewers where you can grab a drink (a pint of beer if you’re really feeling British), and people watch in style.There are quite a few little parks dotted all over town, so you’ll most likely discover somewhere to relax on a walk.
Brunch is the most important meal of the day
I usually like to treat myself to breakfast or brunch when I’m in Windsor. One of my go-to spots is Bills. They are a fairly popular chain, with restaurants across the UK. Their pancakes are a fluffy dream and the menu is packed with breakfast and brunch classics. Monty Cafe is a local, family-owned spot that I also love and then there’s Côte which offers breakfast and brunch with a French twist. The brunch menu at Browns Brasserie is pretty standard, but you’ll enjoy the most enchanting view of the Thames River if you’re dining here. Even though I’ve been coming to Windsor for years, there’s always a hidden gem I discover. A few weekends ago I had brunch and coffee at Millar’s Eatery, a small cafe that sits in a converted horse stable.
Shopping in Windsor
Vintage shopping has definitely become more popular in Windsor over the last few years and I’ve found some great everyday staples as well as occasion dresses in some of the shops here. There is a great selection of vintage and charity shops—Vintage and Retro, British Heart Foundation and Mary’s Living and Giving Shop are definitely worth a visit. Besides the vintage haunts, Windsor has a nice mix of more affordable and higher end brands. You’ll find the usual places like Zara, H&M or River Island but also stores like The White Company, Oliver Bonas, Daniel, Jo Malone and Space NK which are on the pricier side. Sometimes shopping is just about looking with your eyes and keeping your purse tucked away in your bag. House of Windsor is a store I’ll go into quite frequently just to have a look at the stunning ornaments, furniture, plants and stationery.
Get your caffeine fix
I’m absolutely obsessed with getting my daily coffee fix and love finding local, independent spots. Windsor and the neighboring town of Eton is not shy of some idyllic coffee shops. Some of my usual, go-to places are Arte Food, an Italian cafe that serves coffee and cake but also classics like lasagne, ciabatta and focaccia sandwiches. Heidi Bakery or Craft Coffee House are two other favorites I’ll often visit with friends and if you stroll across the bridge to Eton you’ll find Nimia (another Italian coffee shop) and Enigma. If you find yourself at Enigma, grab a stool at the window and watch the world go by. My final recommendation is Gregory and Tapping, a wine and cheese bar the also serves coffee and scrumptious cake and pastries. They’re a laptop free space so you can really just come here to relax and catch up with friends, or end your night off with their live music acts.
When it comes to dinner choices, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Windsor. Some of my favorites are Sebastians (situated on a small cobbled street, so you can imagine yourself in Florence or Venice), or Enzo’s, which both serve an authentic selection of Italian dishes. Head to Latinos Taverna if you’re in the mood for Greek cuisine or Meimo, a wonderful, family-owned Moroccan restaurant. The Ivy or Leaf, situated in The Castle Hotel, are great choices if you’re looking for classic dishes from around the world like steak, prawn curry or fish and chips, but in a more bougie setting, with a heftier price tag. The Eton Mess has a smaller selection of dishes on their menu but the food is so damn good. Harvest Afro Caribbean is a family-owned African-Caribbean restaurant serving West African and Jamaican inspired food and drinks. If you’re obsessed with Thai food like me, then you should definitely grab lunch or dinner at Thai Square. Everytime I head into Windsor there seems to be a new restaurant opening up so you’ll definitely find something to suit your tastes.
There’s no shortage of bars in Windsor and I love spending an evening in town after a day of shopping or people watching. There’s a pub on practically every corner so I won’t go into any detail here. Stroll into any pub, find a seat and grab a drink. Some other bars I like to go to include Patch On The Plaza (a cozy outdoor bar and dining space), Cobbles Wine Bar, All Bar One or Browns Brasserie just for the stunning view. If it’s a summer day, definitely order a refreshing Pimms. It’s a classic, fruity English punch made with Pimms (a gin-based drink), lemonade, cucumber and fruit.
What to do on a day in Windsor
Of course if you’re in Windsor, you’ll see the iconic Windsor Castle. Whichever part of town you find yourself in, you’ll be able to spot the turrets jumping out at you. I’d definitely recommend buying a ticket to go inside the castle. I’ve done this twice with family and friends who were visiting and I really enjoyed it.
If you head towards the river Thames you’ll find a bridge that takes you into the neighboring town of Eton. There’s one main street that runs through the town and this is where all the action is. There are coffee shops, restaurants, farm shops, second hand bookshops and of course a few pubs. If you keep walking down the High Street (the main street through the town) you’ll stumble upon Eton College, one of the most prestigious and oldest schools in the country. The school is made up of several buildings and you can take a walk through the grounds, soaking up the history and culture.
What I love most about Windsor is that you don’t need to be doing too much to enjoy yourself or to experience the town. I love to take a stroll along the River Thames, walk through the cobbled streets, have a picnic in one of the parks, or just read on a bench in town. You could also take a boat trip and see the town from the river. I’ve also done this a few times and it’s so dreamy and relaxing on a summer day. On weekends there’s often market stalls in the center of town. These stalls sell everything from Middle Eastern food to brownies, earrings and home-made candles.
If you find yourself in Windsor you may spot Dexter! Our friendly neighborhood cat, Dexter, belongs to one of the locals and you’ll find him ambling the cobbled streets of Windsor. People often feed him and he’s really friendly so you could even pet him if you wanted to. Dexter’s so famous across Windsor he’s even got his own social media page. People upload pics of Dexter when they spot him around the town.
How to get there
If you find yourself on a trip to London I’d highly recommend spending a day, or a weekend in Windsor. You can get a train from London Waterloo Station and be in the center of Windssor in under an hour.
Sometimes we find ourselves wishing we lived somewhere else. I know that was what I did for a long time. After being away from home for four years, living and studying in Kent, then Paris, I moved back in with my parents and was back in the place where I spent a lot of my childhood. I’ve been back for almost five years and now that I’m moving away again I’m beginning to become more appreciative of where I live.
What will your first stop be on your trip to Windsor? Let me know in the comments!