Kew Gardens – Things to know before you go

travel

Is Kew worth visiting? Yes. Yes. Yes.

Here is a quick list of some useful things to bear in mind before you go there.

@jemsadventure

Book your tickets online or get them at the gate.

The gift shop is fabulous! Save the shop until you leave to save carrying everything around for hours.

Children will find fun in nature. There is a large park, children’s sections, and log walks for them to engage with. Take snacks to tide them over, and accompany them at all times.

glass ceiling at Kew @jemsadventure

Food is available from multiple stands or in the main canteen. I recommend taking snacks for the long walk round or a picnic to eat in the park. Take your rubbish home or bin it. No littering.

Comfy shoes are a must! You will hugely regret the decision to don the pretty shoes that match your outfit instead of the comfy not so pretty trainers. Thank me later.

Exploring Kew @jemsadventure

Grab a map at the entrance. This will help you navigate all of the points of interest. If you are bad at map reading, you’ll be pleased to know that google maps works just fine inside Kew and many of the structural buildings appear on there.

Hay fever tablets – Take them before you arrive so they kick in but the time you get there. There are flowers from around the world are situated all over Kew Gardens and the last thing you want is a sneeze attack ruining your day.

Log Walk @jemsadventure

Sunny weather is ideal. If it is raining you will spend 90% of your time getting wet. If that’s not a problem for you then by all means visit in the rain. It will be amazing all the same.

Dress for hot and cold / wear removable layers because the different glass houses are temperature controlled. One minute you are sweating in a tropical room and the next, you are freezing cold with the alpine plants.

The Hive – @jemsadventure

The hive (pictured above) is an eerily beautiful place. The noise it makes is soothing and it’s a great place to sit and catch your breath. Sit beneath it or walk up the hill to get onto it. Your choice.

Kew Palace – (pictured below) This overtly orange building is like a separate attraction all of it’s own. It is free to enter, however, it is recommended that you make a small donation to keep the palace going. There is a lot of interesting history here to explore, and when I visited last, there was a mental health exhibition on the top floor which was excellent.

Off to see the palace @Jemsadventure

Sports games and jogging are not allowed at Kew. Leave the football at home and enjoy the nature instead.

Time needed to explore can range from a few hours to a whole day. If you want to see everything at a glacial pace then plan a whole day visit. Realistically, you need a half or full day because there is so much to see and lots of ground to cover.

Peacock – @jemsadventure

Wildlife doesn’t just mean insects. Look at this beautiful peacock above that we saw on our way around. Be prepared to see more bees than you have ever seen before in such a beautiful setting.

Exhibitions change throughout the year. Have a look at the Kew website to see what’s on before you go. For example, the first time I went there was a glass exhibition which was incredible. Pieces/Instillations are generally dotted around Kew.

The pagoda @jemsadventure

Aside from the flowers there are plenty of interesting buildings to explore such as this pagoda or Queen Charlottes cottage.

Renovations – speaking of the cottage… check for renovation works on the various attractions before you go. We walked 15 minutes off our planned route to realise it was under renovation. Don’t make the sane mistake.

Credit @jemsadventure

Getting to Kew Gardens can be done by rail (Kew Gardens Station) or by car (parking in residential areas is never guaranteed). There is also a limited spaces car park for under £10 for the day.

Do not pick the flowers – As beautiful as they are, and as tempting as it may be, do not pick the flowers. Let them stay as they are!

Enjoy Kew!

@jemsadventure

Things to see and do in Windsor and Eton

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Things to see and do in Windsor and Eton

I live a 10 minute drive from Windsor, and wanted to share a few ideas with you as to how you can get the most out of your time here. Sure you can spend all day trying to spot the queen, but there’s so much more you can do!

Windsor Castle:

Let’s start with the main attraction. This castle is the main residence of Queen Elizabeth II who loves spending time here. This means that although you can go inside, you won’t be able to explore it in it’s entirety as some of it is shut off for the queen. There is plenty to see and explore and the ticket price I feel is justified.
A perk of visiting Windsor Castle is that it contains St. Georges Chapel which is usually open for visitors (unless a private event is being held, or there are renovation works.) If you go inside the castle you can expect to spend a decent amount of time staring at the impressive Queen Mary’s dollhouse.

Book Ahead – When visiting the castle you can expect queues to get inside, unless you book ahead. On three occasions I have tried to get into the castle to show my friends around, only to see that the queue was over 2 hours long to get inside. On more successful visits I have booked ahead.
Book tickets for the castle here: Windsor Castle – Visit Windsor

How Long?: Allow 3 hours minimum to look around

Windsor castle JREID

The Long Walk and Windsor Great Park:

This scenic path runs straight from the main gates of Windsor Castle and up to the Copper Horse Statue of King George III. The walk is…. you guessed it, long. Along the way you are sure to see plenty of deer in the surrounding fields grazing and resting.

If you start the walk from the castle you may want to take the dog for a walk at the same time. Dogs are welcome to join you on your walk, and if you are both well behaved you can let them off the lead. Once you reach the green gates, you are entering into deer territory, at which point your dog should be placed back on the lead and not interact with the deer at all.

How Long?: The Walk is around 2.6miles so take water with you. Allow a couple of hours maximum to make it there and back if you’re not in a rush. ALSO if you have prepared your parking then add an extra hour onto whatever you think you need because you won’t want to run back!

Long walk JREID
Windsor Royal Station:

The Queen’ Locomotive can be found here next to the main train station and is a stunning piece of history from the Victorian age. Great for a quick selfie and just a quick look to say you’ve seen it. Aside from this you can spend half an hour exploring the market stalls and shops inside the shopping centre. 

Diamond Jubilee Fountain:

This fountain is a lovely spot unknown to many tourists. Visit it at night to see it all lit up, or swing by during the day to enjoy the river views with the fountain splashing beside you. This is a perfect lunch spot. There is a cute bowls court next to it and tennis courts just opposite for some free entertainment.

Windsor Guildhall:

This enchanting little re-purposed museum is a small but interesting way to learn about local history. The museum is great for all ages and frequently hold small events for families and individuals to take part in.

Shopping:

Plenty of clothes shops available to spend all your hard earned cash! High street fashion shops and luxury brands are available. 

The River:

The river is a great place to take a walk whilst in the area and may be preferable to those not wanting to trek down the Long Walk.  Swan feed can be purchased from the small cafe where the swans nest. You can also rent a small boat and take a ride on the river or join a duck tour .

Windsor JREID

Escape Rooms:

Fancy a challenge? There are a couple of companies super close to the high street offering this fun experience  simply google “Windsor Escape Rooms” and take your pick. An hour of indoor guaranteed fun for all the family. 

Eton College:

As an operational college you can’t just expect to receive a full tour when you arrive here. The external architecture is worth the short stroll down the road and there’s nothing quite as British as seeing the students walking between classes in their traditional tails.

Eton High Street:

Much quieter than Windsor High street, Eton’s main road is arguable more charming with a church set back away from the road that is almost un-noticeable. Eventually you will reach Eton College, but before you get there, take a look at the quaint and quirky shops that line the street. Also… Look how pretty it is at Christmas! 

Eton Christmas JREID
Legoland:

Who hasn’t heard of Legoland?! Whether you have kids or are a big kid yourself be sure to visit if you love Lego before you leave. Expect to spend at least an entire day here, or maybe two if you want to spend the night in the Lego hotel!

Theatre Royal Windsor:

A lovely theatre located just outside the castle offering shows all year round for reasonable prices – Theatre Royal Windsor – live entertainment at its best in Berkshire

Windsor Leisure Centre:
If you would like a serious lane swim or a fun day out in the family pool then this is the best place to go. Look at the website before visiting for more price and time information: Windsor Leisure Centre (leisurefocus.org.uk)

Windsor On Ice:

Ice skating!!! During the winter you can expect to find a Christmas extravaganza in the form of an ice rink, charming food stands selling traditional bratwurst and candy treats opposite the jubilee fountain at Alexandra Gardens. You can get your tickets here: Welcome to Windsor On Ice | Windsor on Ice 

Windsor on ice JREID

Hungry in Windsor & Eton

Food for those on a tight budget these are some of my favourite foody places: McDonalds / Honest Burger / Weatherspoons / Starbucks / Krispy Kreme / Manny local restaurants! If you want to take a picnic to the long walk or by the river then this is not prohibited. 

Food on a slightly bigger budget: Flaming Cow Eton /  Gourmet Burger Kitchen / Bella Italia / Many more restaurants right on the castle’s doorstep or by the river.

Getting There

By Train: There are 2 train stations in Windsor. They are a 10 minute walk from each other so whichever one you choose it won’t matter because you’ll end up more or less in the same place! Here is how to get into Windsor and Eton via each one –

Windsor and Eton Central – To get to this station you will have to connect at Slough. The train journey from Slough is very cheap and takes around 5-10 minutes. If you are commuting from London Paddington you will connect at Slough before boarding the short journey to Windsor.

Windsor and Eton Riverside – This station connects Windsor to other areas of London such as London Waterloo. The train has many stops and may be less convenient time-wise than if you are able to get the fast train from Paddington to Slough and on to Windsor and Eton Central.

By Car – If you are driving from Slough/M4 come up the dual carriageway and take the first exit to the castle. DO NOT park near the castle or the river unless you don’t mind paying extra. Try Victoria Street Car Park for more reasonable rates. It’s a three minute walk from the shopping street.

Where to stay:

It’s nice to stay in Windsor… It’s also quite expensive to stay in Windsor. Opt to stay in Slough instead. There is a Moxy hotel, Premier inn, Travelodge, and many bnbs that will save you a heap of money. There are buses and taxis into Windsor for less than £10 so you do the math! If you are fixed on staying in Windsor then you will find plenty of options available online.

Have fun exploring Windsor and Eton!