Visiting London: Day 3 – Day Trip to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford
My first two days in London were absolutely lovely. I had a wonderful time meeting up with my cousins and the new friends I met in my hostel. Now, it was time to start the first of my 3 day trips from London. Monday, March 21st, was my day trip from London to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford! We were going to visit quite a lot of areas in one day and I was ready for the adventure!
Having looked up the meeting point the night before, I was prepared and knew where to go for the day tour pick up area. I had to meet my day trip group at Victoria Coach Station, which I’ve been to plenty of times from my many weekend trips back in 2015. To check out the full day trip I took, click here. I found it on GetYourGuide and I enjoyed it!
The day before, I found out that Diane was going to the same area for her day trip from London as well. Since we both had to go to the station, we wasted no time traveling to Victoria Coach Station together at around 7am.
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The first stop on our day tour from London was to Windsor Castle. It didn’t take that long to get to the castle, I remember looking at the lovely country side the whole way there. If you’re not aware, Windsor Castle, located in Windsor, England in the county of Berkshire, is the largest occupied castle in the world. It’s been called home to many royals and monarchs throughout the centuries, including the current queen who uses it as a private home and royal residence.
After waiting a fair bit to get through the entrance, we finally made it onto the grounds. The path leading up to the castle were lovely to look at. I enjoyed the castle views, stone walls, overlook of the area, and the lovely flowers which were in bloom this time of year.
Once we finally made it into the castle itself, our group went into the state rooms. I believe there was also an option to tour the doll room but you wouldn’t have had time to do both the doll room and the state rooms. I don’t think anyone really went into the doll room, we all huddled our way through the state rooms.
The state rooms were absolutely lovely. They’re very historic, beautifully decorated, and showcased the beauty and power of royalty throughout the centuries. It still amazes me at how much history, lineage, and priceless items are present here. I’m such a nerd, so this was such a joy to see and experience. I wish footage and photography were allowed inside, I would’ve taken tons of pictures and videos to show you.
Things to note:
Although the state rooms were lovely, they were (besides the doll room option) the only place you could venture into with this tour. Since it was a bigger group size, you only had access to certain areas.
In addition, you didn’t have time to properly explore the surrounding town, which had a lot of shopping options and other things to see and do. The little town looks so quaint and lovely, it’s such a shame we didn’t have time to really walk through it.
This is because of our time constraint. We only spent about 1.5 hours here, because we still had two other places to visit. There are dedicated day trips or tours from London which venture out to Windsor Castle. If you manage to get into a smaller group, you may have more time and access to other parts of the castle.
Nevertheless, it was still a nice time and I enjoyed seeing a piece of history and royalty.
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When you’re visiting London, or England in general, you have to visit Stonehenge. There are a lot of day tours from London which take you to Stonehenge. My day trip included Stonehenge, which was our next stop on the itinerary.
Here are a few things to note about Stonehenge and the visitors center:
- You can take the shuttle form the visitors center to the stones, shuttles run about every 15 minutes
- Alternatively, you can walk about 20-30 minutes from the visitors center to the stones
- You can also walk in the fields which surround the stones
- You CANNOT go up to the stones unless you’ve booked a private group tour – the stones are roped off and you’re not allowed to go beyond the ropes
The stones themselves are amazing in person. To some people, they may seem like a bunch of ordinary stones (technically, they are). But to others, it’s just marvelous to see ancient structures which are still standing (for the most part). Yet, we still don’t know much about who created Stonehenge or why.
I took my time and thoroughly enjoyed walking around in a circle, taking in all the views and angles of the stones. This time, we were allowed to take pictures and video, so I got tons of that! At one point, I even sat down and just had some time to myself to think. Although it was a bit noisy, and you could hear traffic from the road, at a certain spot away from all that it was actually peaceful. I embraced it and enjoyed it for the short time I was there.
Things to note:
Stonehenge is lovely and it’s such an experience to see them in person. However, there are some things to note about this section of the day tour. For one thing, you only get about an hour here. It may seem like a long time but between walking around the stones and catching the shuttle to and from the area, time flies.
Another thing to note is that Stonehenge is in the middle of nowhere. There’s honestly nothing else in the area, maybe farms and whatnot. No stores, nothing. If you’re not doing a group day trip from London, just be aware of this and plan accordingly when you go on your own.
Finally, the ambiance is not what you’re expecting. When you see videos or pictures of Stonehenge, you often don’t see any crowds. You see the stones encompassed by this vast space around it, seemingly accompanied by peace and quiet. While, like I mentioned, there’s nothing around the stones except for a road, there’s a lot of tourists and it can be a bit noisy.
Not only do you have the noise and the crowds, it just takes forever in a day to find a spot near the stones where no one is around so you can take a clear picture. It was a challenge. Other than that, it was a lovely experience that everyone should try at least once in their life.
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Last but not least, we went to Oxford. Last time I was in London, my school took a day trip to Cambridge University in Cambridge. So, this time around, I had to visit Oxford and Oxford University.
Oxford is a beautiful area. The little high street there looks amazing, busy, with options for food, shopping, and more. Of course, our tour group came to Oxford to visit the university and that’s what we did. We walked around some of the buildings the students use.
The buildings here are historic and lovely; I’m telling you, the architecture is awesome here. Then again, I’m just amazed by any structure or architecture that’s older than the USA, honestly.
After we walked around for a bit, learning about the buildings used for the college students, we had about 30 minutes left to maybe walk around the high street or eat. I decided to eat, because by this time I was really hungry and haven’t eaten a proper meal in a while. I had a little margarita calzone from the Italian Shop. Then, we all gathered at the bus and made our way back to London.
Things to note:
You only toured a small portion of the university buildings and that’s the primary reason why you are there. While looking at the university buildings was lovely, it would’ve been nice to explore more of Oxford because there’s so much more to this little city than the university.
As with the other locations, you don’t get much time here as well. I’d say we spent about 1.5 hours here as well. However, when you go with bigger groups and go to multiple areas in one day, you have to compensate some time. At least I was able to visit Oxford. I can now say I’ve visited Oxford and Cambridge University.
Final thoughts on the day trip
This was quite the day trip from London, I must say. We went to three separate areas of England, while driving to and from London. It was tiring for sure. I know I took about two naps on the bus that day.
Overall, I enjoyed this day trip to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford. It was a pleasure getting out of London and seeing other historic parts of England. I love London but I also love exploring other parts of England and seeing what’s out there.
Like I mentioned previously, I enjoyed seeing and learning more about the historic areas and buildings, the English countryside when I could, and just seeing what makes England so special. There’s more to England than London and I think anyone who visits London should take at least one day trip out of London. Doesn’t matter where to, just to see and experience something different.
Although I did enjoy this day tour, I was a bit saddened by how little time we had to explore each destination on our own. I get it though; we had multiple areas to cover, specific places to visit, all the while staying within a specific timeframe for the itinerary. Plus, the tour group was on the bigger side, I’d say about 30 people attended. Needless to say, you didn’t have any wiggle room to go off and explore or if you did, it wasn’t much time.
That’s just something that happens with day tours, you won’t ever have enough time to truly explore an area the way you like. Regardless, I’m very happy and grateful I managed to explore new places outside of London! The next day, I was off on another day trip from London but you’ll see where I went soon enough.