Love castles and palaces? If the answer is yes, you’re at the right place because today I wanted to share how I saw both Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace in one day while I was in England. It’s definitely possible to see both in one day and I am going to show you how!
When I was planning my trip to England I was determined to see if I could see both places in one day. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace, let me give you a quick history lesson.
Windsor Castle was where the current Queen (Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II) grew up and still lives at when she’s not at Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria lived at Windsor Castle with Prince Albert for a long time during her reign making it a principle residence instead of Buckingham Palace which I found really interesting. There was a fire at Windsor Castle back in 1992 and their was a huge debate of who was going to pay for the rebuilding of the castle. The British government thought the Queen should pay for the repair from her private income considering the castle is essentially hers. A compromise was made by opening Buckingham Palace & Windsor Castle to the public at various times of the year to generate revenue. So I guess us commoners can thank the 1992 fire because without it who knows if we could have access to view the inside of both places!
Hampton Court Palace was the residence of King Henry VIII (yes, the king who is probably best known for having a total of 6 wives). Along with St. James Palace, this is one of the two remaining palace’s still standing that was owned by King Henry VIII. When King William the III was in reign he destroyed much of the Tudor designed palace because he had hope to rebuild the palace to rival the Palace of Versailles. However, the remodeling never finished and this palace had both Tudor and Baroque architecture. Currently, the palace is cared and managed by the Historic Royal Palace which is an independently run charity that receives no funding from the British government nor the Crown.
When you look at the map of England you will see that Windsor Castle is west of Central London and Hampton Court Palace is about 15 miles southeast from Windsor. I took a train from Paddington station to Windsor & Eton Central station early in the morning so I could get to Windsor Castle right when they opened (I believe I got there around 9:25AM). The train ticket costed a total of £20 for 3 adults and I bought my train tickets online and picked them up at Paddington the night before. If you buy your tickets online it’s definitely cheaper and you save more if you’re traveling in a group. So if you have more than two people I would definitely recommend purchasing your tickets in advance.
To my surprise there was a line already forming at the entrance so I was relieved that I had purchased my tickets online beforehand. I would definitely recommending purchasing your tickets online prior to arrival because I think I saved probably 20 to 30 minutes getting into the castle. Be sure you check their website to check the hours since winter hours differ from summer/spring hours. Since I visited in January, the castle was open from 09:45-16:15. You can purchase tickets directly from their site here (that’s where I got mine & I printed them out and brought the copies with me). Adult tickets are priced at £20.50 per person and they don’t have a cheaper pricing if you buy them online.
At Windsor Castle they give you an audio device that can guide you through the different rooms. I was able to finish seeing everything in about an hour and half. I think the reason why it didn’t take me as long as I thought it would was because you can’t photograph the inside of the castle. So I didn’t spend a lot of time in each room before moving onto the next. When I went they had a special exhibit going on that showcased the Queen’s dresses and outfits over the years which was cool because I also saw a similar exhibit at Kensington Palace and this one showcased more of her clothing from when she was younger.
When I finished seeing the state apartments I went to go see the changing of the guards ceremony outside at the palace grounds. The St. George’s Chapel was also open so we took a look inside! After we were done we quickly did a bit of shopping at the gift shops and then we decided to head out grab a bite to eat since it was lunch time by the time we were done.
We grabbed a quick bite a cafe near the castle and I decided to call an uber to take us to Hampton Court Palace. I decided to take an uber rather than a train because it would be quicker and actually cheaper. It costed me roughly £30 and we got there in about 30 minutes. The fact that there were a total of 3 of us in the car that means it only costed £10 per person which I find pretty reasonable! Originally I wanted to take this shuttle that goes back and forth between Windsor and Hampton but it was not operating in the winter. Normally you can purchase a ride ticket for 10 pounds per person which I think is a good deal.
We arrived at Hampton Court Palace around 2PM and since I had bought my tickets online we were able to get in without waiting. I totally recommend purchasing your tickets online because they even mail them to you for free if you order early enough. Adult tickets are priced at £17.10 per person if you buy them online and £18.20 if you get them at the gate. The palace was open till 4:30PM (winter hours) so we had a good 2 hours and 30 minutes to spend which was enough time for us to see everything.
Hamptons Court Palace also has an audio guide at their information center so be sure to get that before you start walking around ( I would also get a map while you’re at it cause the palace grounds can get a bit confusing without one). Some of the highlights were definitely the Great Hall, King William III’s State Apartments, Chapel Royal and the Privy Garden. If you get hungry be sure to stop by the Privy Kitchen and grab a pot pie like we did or you can just grab some tea and dessert as well if you want something sweet.
Part of me wishes I had eternity to spend at this garden because it was seriously so picturesque! How can you not love these perfectly trimmed trees?
If you’re wondering why we saw Windsor Castle first before Hampton Court Palace it was mainly because Hampton Court Palace was open an hour and 15 minutes longer than Windsor. So it made sense to do Windsor right when it opened and then end the day at Hampton to make the most out of our day.
So there you have it! Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace all in one day! Totally doable right?
Of course if you enjoy taking things more slowly, I would advise you to probably see both places one day at a time. But if you only have one free day and you want to try to see both places just plan ahead like I did and you’ll definitely be able to do it!
I ended up taking another uber back to Central London which took us an hour to get back and costed us roughly £32. Again, I thought that was good deal considering it cut our travel time in half (in comparison to taking the train) and it was only about £10 more to take an uber than train. Having saved an hour to get back after a long day, I say the £10 was well worth my money.
Again, the taking an uber over train is definitely up for debate but I say if you are traveling between 3 to 4 people it might be more economical to take an uber. If you are traveling by yourself, I would advise taking the train there, try and grab some sort of shuttle service and then either treat yourself to an uber or take the train back. It also depends on where your start location is so I would definitely look at Google Maps which helped me a lot when I was planning this day trip.
I hope you found this blog post helpful and if you have anymore questions that I can help answer I would be more than happy to! So be sure to leave me a comment below!
Until next time!