An Unforgettable ride awaits on the Royal Windsor Steam Express
Recommended| Royal Windsor Steam Express
Sit back, relax, and let the meditation of steam travel take you through masterpieces of art as you pass through countrysides. Enjoy an unforgettable ride onboard the Royal Windsor Steam Express to one of UK’s most popular destinations, the town of Windsor, Berkshire.
About Royal Windsor Steam Express
The Royal Windsor Steam Express is managed by The Steam Dreams Rail Co. Since its inception in 1999, the Company has been making dreams come true for steam train lovers! They have been running services with practical itineraries to popular Cathedral cities, beautiful coastal towns and gardens in the UK. Also on offer are some incredible holidays to The Highlands and Islands with Flying Scotsman and the Emerald Isle Craic Express.
The Royal Windsor Steam Express takes you through beautiful countryside while experiencing exceptional dining options.
Your journey onboard the Royal Windsor Steam Express is one-way, giving you the flexibility to spend as much time in Windsor as you like.
A little about Windsor, Berkshire
Located on the River Thames in the southeast of England, Windsor has a rich mix of history, culture, heritage, and fun. Windsor is best known for its historical links to the British royal family. Towering over the town of Windsor is Windsor Castle, home to the British monarchy and the largest inhabited castle in the world. Built as a fortress to protect London, the royal castle is now a stately retreat of Queen Elizabeth II.
Things to do in Windsor – An overview
Visit the royal castle and learn about the castle’s 900 years of history. Marvel at the splendour of the State Apartments, renowned as the grandest apartments in England. There are paintings by Van Dyck and Rubens that hang from the walls. The ceilings are painted with elaborate, magnificent murals.
Pause a little while at St George’s Chapel, where Prince Harry married Meghan Markle in 2018. The chapel is also the final resting place of departed kings and queens from England’s illustrious history. These include Henry VIII, Charles I, and now Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
Later, take a stroll to Eton. Visit the grounds of its College – one of the largest secondary schools in the country and amongst the most prestigious.
Aside from the castle, there’s much more to see and do, including visiting the award-winning Savill Garden, taking a guided tour of the town’s numerous cobbled streets and Tudor buildings, or enjoying a walk along the river.
What to expect from the Royal Windsor Steam Express Train Ticket activity
Your journey onboard the Royal Windsor Steam Express is one-way. You shall begin your journey from London Victoria. The route pass some of London’s famous landmarks including Chelsea Bridge, The Royal Hospital, and Battersea Power Station. Head towards the leafy suburbs, crossing the Thames and passing reservoirs and lakes to reach Windsor and Eton Riverside Station.
After spending an amazing day exploring Windsor, return to London from Windsor and Eton Riverside onboard the South Western Railways. Your destination in London is London Waterloo Station .
Your return ticket is flexible, and can be used anytime on the same day. This gives you as much time you need to explore the town of Windsor independently at your own pace.
Classes of Travel on the Royal Windsor Steam Express
Select between First Class or Standard outbound ticket.
A ride on The Royal Windsor Steam Express is a unique railway experience that offers two classes of travel to suit your occasion and budget.
First Class or Standard Class passengers may order from a range of delicious snacks or hot and cold drinks.
First Class travel on the Royal Windsor
First Class passengers are automatically seated on tables for 4 so you may be seated with other passengers if you have less than 4 in your party.
Food and drinks may be purchased on-board. You are also welcome to bring your own food, drink or hampers on board.
Standard Class travel on the Royal Windsor Steam Express
Passengers who opt to travel in Standard class will be seated in 1960s open carriages with large picture windows. The carriage has individual seating (as opposed to bench style seating) around tables of four.
Food and drinks may be purchased on-board. You are also welcome to bring your own food, drink or hampers on board.
What does Royal Windsor Steam Express Train Ticket activity include?
This experience onboard the Royal Windsor Steam Express is brought to you via Get Your Guide, Trusted Partners of Timeless Travel Steps.
The following Information is from Get Your Guide:
There are three options to starting time:
7:30 A.M. | 10:30 A.M. | 1:30 P.M.
1 | One-way steam train journey from London to Windsor and Eton Riverside;
2 | Reserved seats aboard the steam train;
3 | Flexible return train ticket in standard class from Windsor to London on South Western Railways.
What you need to know before you go on this trip:
Meet the representative at the booked time outside Hotel Chocolat on the main station concourse by platform 7;
Refreshments are available for purchase onboard;
This tour is unescorted;
The outbound steam train departs from London Victoria Station;
Return train is with South Western Railways;
Your return train arrives at London Waterloo Station;
Please note that your return train ticket is flexible but must be used on the same day;
Not suitable for wheelchair users.
COVID-19 Special information – Masks are required, please bring your own.
Note: Windsor Castle is closed to visitors every Tuesday and Wednesday in 2021
On a final note
The most stylish way to travel to Windsor is onboard the Royal Windsor and is available to book now.
From £56.00** > Outbound Royal Windsor Steam Express from Victoria Station, London + flexible return journey on the same day onboard standard South Western Railways to Waterloo Station London.
Tower of London is a fascinating landmark in the heart of the city that attracts millions of visitors a year but we are living in uncertain times these days. As means to keep you informed with inspiring stories of the iconic Tower, “What goes on in the Tower of London” brings together a set of TV series by the Historic Royal Palaces for you to view at your leisure – hear the stories on what goes on in the Tower from the very people who live, manage and are the heartbeat of the traditions at this magnificent Tower of London.
Quick facts about the Tower of London:
Location: St Katharine’s & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB | London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Area: 16 acres
White Tower: Height: 27 metres (89ft);
Expansion: Inner Ward: 1190s, rebuilt 1285;
Guard: Yeoman Warders;
Managed: Historic Royal Palaces (charity)
Learn more on What goes on in the Tower of London from these TV series by Historic Royal Palaces : Available to view until June 18 2025
Click on the images
HRP: Inside the Tower Ep 1
HRP: Inside the Tower Ep 2
HRP: Inside the Tower Ep 3
HRP: Inside the Tower Ep 4
TOWER OF LONDON
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For more inspiring stories on London and on the History of Britain, you may like to read the following on the blog:
Beauchamp Tower London is one of the many hidden gems beyond the walls of the fortress of Tower of London. The Tower of London is an iconic landmark and significant in English history, which famously carried the tag ‘a fortress, a palace and a prison’ The Tower occupies an area of 18 acres along the Thames River in London and attracts almost 2.86 million visitors each year. The Beauchamp Tower played a key role in the history of the Tower of London as residence to high-ranking prisoners. This article takes you on a brief journey of its historical significance and the beautiful graffiti at Beauchamp Tower London which were left by these prisoners that you may find in this historical gem if you were to visit Beauchamp today.
Beauchamp Tower is easily missed as visitors seem focused on the White Tower and the Jewel Tower. Moreover, if you are limited to time, you may give Beauchamp a miss but I suggest that Beauchamp is worth a visit and deserving of a place on your list.
I discovered Beauchamp Tower on my visit as I retraced my footsteps in London. I have been to Tower of London many times before but had never visited this tower. I learnt so much of historic England from my visit here which I share with you here.
Beauchamp, pronounced as “beecham” is one of the twenty-one towers at the Tower of London and forms part of the inner defensive wall of Tower of London. It was built between 1275 and 1281 towards the end of the first leg of modernisation of the Tower, under the reign of King Edward I.
Built mostly of brick, but with stone externally, the tower takes its name from its first prisoner, Thomas Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick. Thomas Beauchamp was imprisoned here in 1397 by Richard II.
The tower’s close proximity to the Lieutenant’s lodgings (now, the Queen’s House) made Beauchamp Tower a significant and a perfect place throughout history to accommodate high-ranking important prisoners.
Amongst the important prisoners at Beauchamp were John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland and his four sons. One of the sons was Guildford Dudley, the husband to Lady Jane Grey. Here’s a brief look at the Dudleys and Lady Jane Grey.
About the Dudleys
John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland was imprisoned at the Beauchamp Tower along with his four sons because he wanted his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey to be Queen of England.
John Dudley and his sons were condemned as traitors in 1553. He was executed for treason at Tower Hill on August 22, 1553. Guilford Dudley, husband to Lady Jane was executed in February 1554. Following his execution, the three brothers were pardoned and released.
About Lady Jane Grey
Lady Jane Grey was born in 1837 in Leicester, England. She was the great-grand-daughter of King Henry VII. Her life began with great promise and high expectations but ended tragically, due in part to the political and religious upheavel that existed during this time.
Lady Jane inherited the throne from Edward VI and was Queen of England for just nine days. She was deposed by Catholic Mary I, on July 19, 1553 and was imprisoned in the Queen’s House.
On the morning of 12 February, 1554, from her window, Lady Jane watched her young husband, Guildford Dudley, leave Beauchamp Tower for his execution at Tower Hill, and his headless body return for burial at the Tower Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula.
Later, on the very same day, Lady Jane was executed at Tower Green. She was seventeen years old.
About Guildford Dudley
Guildford Dudley, born in 1535 was an English nobleman who married Lady Jane Grey in an elaborate celebration about six weeks before the death of King Edward VI. Guildford and Jane spent their brief rule together at the Tower of London until they were condemned to death for high treason, thereafter in separate quarters.
On the morning of their execution, Guildford requested to see Lady Jane one last time. Jane refused, saying:
“would only … increase their misery and pain, it was better to put it off … as they would meet shortly elsewhere, and live bound by indissoluble ties.”
Guildford Dudley was executed at Tower Hill on the morning of February 12, 1554.
Other prisoners at Beauchamp TowerLondon
Other notable prisoner at Beauchamp Tower was Lady Jane Rochford, lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine Howard, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII. Lady Rochford’s confession was instrumental in the tragic death of Catherine Howard. Her interrogation drove her insane and she was executed on the same day as Queen Catherine on February 13, 1542.
As the tower was used throughout English history as a prison, there were other prisoners as well such as William Tyrrel and Thomas Peverel. Most recently, it accommodated several German spies during the World Wars.
What makes Beauchamp Tower London famous these days is the discovery of graffiti beneath the many layers of history on its walls. These graffiti on the wall were left by prisoners.
The inscriptions were made during the 16th and 17th century when the religious and political turmoil was at a height and the prison was home to many high-ranking and important prisoners such as the Dudleys, William Tyrrel and Thomas Peverel. Some of these inscriptions are bold reflecting painstaking carving while others are thin and somewhat spidery. They are a few that seem to cluster in specific locations of the Tower.
These sombre inscriptions represents thoughts of the prisoners and a powerful need to leave some form of record of their existence. A record, so they are not lost forever. It is an assertion of their beliefs and identity but above all, a strong will of defiance not to be cowed by political and religious tyranny. Some prisoners were held in gloomy cells, while others could move freely within the Tower grounds. Their treatment and fate depended on their social status and their crime.
*Lady Jane Grey was given access to the garden in December 1553.
Timeless Travel Stepssays: When I visited, there were a number of people here so I could not take a closer look at the graffiti. I am intrigued by these inscriptions and am motivated to discover more on this part of history at the Tower of London.
One thing to bear in mind when visiting here is the narrow entrance and the narrow spiral stairway – there is only one of these, so visitors going up as well as those exiting the exhibition use it. If you are at the bottom of the stairs, waiting for the moment to get up – don’t! Don’t wait because you shall be waiting for a long time (like I did!) and others behind you will get ahead of you regardless of your politeness!
Entry to the permanent exhibition in the Beauchamp Tower is included in the entry ticket to the Tower of London. It is reasonably priced at £25.00 and is valid for one day – take a look here.
Learn more about Beauchamp Tower from this book: In Inscriptions and Devices, in the Beauchamp Tower, Tower of London
Published by the British Library, the book contains a short historical sketch of the building, and the prisoners formerly confined therein: collected from State papers, records, and other authentic sources: by W. R. Dick.
I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed reading this article and have found it valuable towards planning your visit to Beauchamp Tower. Do share your thoughts in comments below.
The Tower of London is vast and offers a thousand years of history within its walls. If you are in a rush, you may not experience all of what Tower of London has to offer. It is highly recommended that you spend at least four to five hours (subject to the time of day and the season you choose to visit) when you visit. Have a break in between and enjoy the hospitality at the cafe.
Learn more about the Tower of London by taking these virtual tours > Inside the Tower of London by the Tower of London | Historic Royal Palaces.
You may also enjoy reading other articles on London and here are a few that you may like:
Plan a trip to London – here are some ideas for you
Travel resources at a Glance
Planning your dream vacation? Excellent! Here are all the Resources and Practical information you need for your self-guided or guided vacation.
Legal entry/Tourist travel Visa
Check Visa requirements with iVisa, a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry.
I have a few choices. Search Google flights because they offer very competitive prices. You could also try Opodo for cheap airfares. For special experiences, go to On the Beach and Jet2Holidays. My all time favourite has been Qatar Airways for long-haul flights for the comfort and their first-class service. I use British Airways as well. For all other global deals >> kiwi.com
My favourite website for booking hotels is booking.com – I love their flexible cancellation policy which means I’m covered till the last minute. I also like that the totals show up for the whole stay so it helps me budget better. Other favourites of mine areMillennium & Copthorne Group of Hotels and Resorts for their consistent high quality accommodations and service. You could also take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain that caters for all budget. For accommodations in UK that has a personal touch and affordable luxury, stay at Hotel du Vin.
Unique experiences & tours
My all time go to resource for unique experiences and tours is Get your Guide. I am also a fan of Viator for their special deals. You shall find suggestions on recommended tours sprinkled throughout TTS on each experience I write about.
Never travel without travel insurance and never overpay for travel insurance! I use and recommend World Nomads for your travel insurance needs. They even insure on the go. Before purchasing any any travel policy, read through the terms to ensure that the plan is right for you and your trip.
Never travel without these! I use and fully endorse all the products on this page but especially: High powered wireless power bank, Universal travel adapter and unlimited portable pocket wifi.
To make the best of Windsor Castle and Windsor in 1 day will require some prior planning. You may also need to have some knowledge of the highlights at the Castle which should not be missed especially if your visit here is just for the one time.
In this article, you shall find some of the highlights of this iconic and historic castle and the town of Windsor. Practical information is included to support your planning.
Town of Windsor
Windsor is a historic market town in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, Southeast England.
It has a lively atmosphere with great shopping and restaurants. It sits on River Thames, just west of London, and is under an hour’s journey from London. You will find Windsor at:
51°29’1.19″ N 0°36’9.59″ E
1 – day at Windsor Castle and Windsor
The day began with a train journey from London, Waterloo Station to Windsor & Eton Riverside. Exiting Windsor & Eton Riverside, it is a rather pleasant short walk up a slight hill. The street is lined with shops and the castle in sight. The Town Square to your right. A walk-up a further slight hill on your left will lead you to the ticket office. If you are here during the peak season, you will see a queue from the high-street.
Windsor Castle, built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, is the residence of the British Royal family for over 1000 years and is said to be the Queen’s favourite weekend getaway residence. In fact, if you see the Royal Standard flag flying from the Castle’s Round Tower, it indicates that the Queen is in residence.
Throughout history, Windsor Castle has been the home to thirty-nine monarchs and is the largest and the oldest occupied castle in the world. It has recently hosted the Royal wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle on 19th May 2018. With so much history just on one site, Windsor makes a perfect destination for a special weekend break or a day trip.
Windsor Castle grounds
Windsor Castle is the largest and the oldest occupied castle in the world. The Castle floor area is 13 acres (5 hectares) and has 1000 rooms. It comprises of two-quadrilateral-shaped building courts that are separated by the Round Tower. The two building courts are called Lower Ward and Upper Ward
Round Tower, Windsor Castle
The Round Tower, as the name suggests, is a circular tower, massive and is built on an artificial mound. The court in the west of the Round Tower is called the “Lower Ward” and the court to the east is the “Upper Ward.”
Lower Ward Windsor Castle
Includes St George’s Chapel and the Albert Memorial Chapel, more on these below.
Upper Ward, Windsor Castle
Includes the private apartments of the Queen and the private apartments for visitors. It also houses the Royal Library which contains collections by Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and other famous artists.
The Northeast corner of the Upper Ward was destroyed by fire in November 1992 which included over 100 rooms and St George’s Hall. This area has been successfully restored and was completed in 1997.
Highlights at Windsor Castle Berkshire
When exploring Windsor Castle, it would be best to begin with the Changing of the Guard ceremony. Afterwards, you can explore the castle grounds by commencing your tour of the interior of the Castle. I would suggest that you start with the State Apartments, at Henry VIII’s North Terrace. You may encounter a queue here, but they get through very quickly. After the State Apartments, you can visit the beautiful St George’s Chapel and other parts of the Castle.
1 | Changing of the Guards Ceremony
The Changing of the Guard Ceremony is one of the highlights of visiting Windsor Castle. The ceremony takes place at 11:00 in the Lower Ward within the Castle grounds. The times can change and there may be occasions when the Ceremony may take place without music because of other duties and demands on the guards. The guards return to their barracks at 11:25.
This is one highlight when visiting Windsor Castle that you should not miss. It is less crowded than the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, so it allows you a better view of the ceremony itself.
As it takes place at 11:00 prompt, it is best to plan your visit to arrive here before it begins so you get a good view.
2 | State Apartments and Semi-state Apartments
This part of the Castle is a grand building with opulent furnishings and intricate ceiling paintings. There are many art-work on the Royals and is home to the infamous Queen Mary’s Doll House.
** Queen Mary’s Doll House is sometimes closed to public viewing. Best to check before your visit.
3 | St George’s Chapel
My favourite part of the Castle! Being here, in St George’s Chapel which is rich in history and in royal tradition is, at moments, simply overwhelming. It is unique in that it has a Perpendicular Gothic-style architecture. Construction of the Chapel began in 1475 by Edward IV and was completed by Heny VIII in 1528.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married in this Chapel in May 2018, which makes this Chapel even more special.
The interior of the Chapel itself is not huge but the architecture is absolutely breath-taking! You need to see to experience it. Cameras are not allowed in the Chapel but I quite simply had to steal a moment to capture this jaw-dropping wow sight for keeps.
4 | The Inner Courtyard
The Inner Courtyard is home to the private apartments of the Queen and the private apartments of the Queen’s visitors. It is of Gothic architecture quadrangle with a green grass square in the middle.
I spent quite a lot of time walking around the grounds at leisure and then lunch at the nearby pub. Afterwards, a walk up to the parks and down to Albert Road to view the Long Walk.
5 | Home Park, Windsor
To the Eastern side of Windsor Castle is Home Park which was previously known as Little Park. It is approximately 655 acres (265 hectares) of parkland privately owned by the Crown Estate.
Frogmore House is in this Park and is only open twice a year, May and August. If you want to visit Frogmore House and its grounds, schedule your visit during these two months in the year.
6 | Great Park, Windsor
Great Park is situated towards the South of Windsor Castle. It is approximately 5000 acres (2,020 hectares) which includes a deer park. Parts of this Park is open to the public.
7 | The Long Walk
A short walk from the Castle, the Long Walk is crossed by A308 (Albert Road) to Old Windsor. This is what I wanted to see and capture the essence of the moment – The Long Walk!
The Long Walk is the straight path that links Windsor Castle with Snow Hill in Windsor Great Park, the foot of the statue of King George III (The Copper Horse). It is approximately 3 miles (5 kilometres) in length.
According to legend, King Henry VIII sat and waited at Snow Hill for news of execution of his second wife, Anne Boleyn.
However, the path and the landscape as we know it today only came much later, an improvement to what was by King Charles II and Queen Anne. King Charles II had 1,652 Elm trees planted in double-rows the entire length of the route and Queen Anne had a road constructed down the centre of the tree lined landscape, so the coaches could head into the park comfortably.
Winding-down the day
There is a quintessentially English pub at the quiet corner here by Park Street gates (which leads to the Long Walk and Cambridge Gate, entrance to Windsor Castle), a peaceful cul-de-sac where you can stop for a hearty pint! It’s called the Two Brewers, one of the smallest pubs in Windsor. Established in 1792 although the building dates back to 1709.
On a final note…
Windsor Castle is uniquely beautiful, set in a lively town, with accommodation to suit every individual, couples or family, It has great shopping choices and restaurants to fulfil every palate a destination that will surely not disappoint.
At Windsor Castle – What you need to know
There are guide maps available free at the counter. Just pick one. Given the vast area where one needs to walk, I found the map to be extremely helpful.
If you gift-aid your entrance ticket, you get a 12-month pass to return. Just ensure that you write your name and address and get it stamped at the designated area near the exit.
Commentary on the audio, for the most part is good and informative but sometimes too elaborate. It is also sometimes hard to navigate to the number of the room.
Give yourselves between 3 to 3.5 hours although the recommended hours are 2.5 to 3.
Audio guides are available in all major languages.
Induction loop on Audio tour is provided to hearing impaired visitors.
Guide dogs are permitted
Toilets for disabled visitors
Areas are wheelchair accessible.
Regular (£) During closure of State Apartments (£)
Getting to Windsor Castle from London by train is the most convenient and cheaper mode of transport.
There are 2 services:
London Paddington to Windsor Central – services are provided by Great Western Railway, need to change at Slough for the shuttle service to Windsor & Eton Central. The shuttle service runs every 20 minutes and will have extra charges.
Return Adult Fare is £10.20
2. London Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Riverside – services provided by South Western Railway are 4 services per hour, at 20, 28, 50 and 58 minutes past the hour. Return Adult Fare is £10.50
Buy Train tickets from Trainline
If you are driving:
Castle car-park is a ‘Pay & Display’ car-park, so you will need coins. £14 for 5 hours;
Car-park next to Windsor & Eton Riverside Station – £4 All-day if you arrive after 10:00. You can pay by phone
Is this post valuable to you in planning your visit to Windsor Castle and Windsor? If so, let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you.
Victoria-An intimate look at the Woman behind the Crown and her childhood
It was the first day of the Discover the real Victoria, made in Kensington Exhibition, 24th May, a glorious day of summer sunshine and the Palace grounds were a busy sight! People sunbathing, reading or just relaxing.
The queues to the ticket office was long…
Fortunately for me, I did not have to wait in queue to get a ticket with a timed entry. As a Member of the Historic Royal Palaces, I get to visit at anytime and as many times as I wish. You can read more on the benefits of this Individual Membership here
Here’s how my day went at the exhibition in Kensington Palace.
Discover the Real Victoria Exhibition
The exhibition was in two parts – Victoria: Woman and Crown and Victoria: A Royal Childhood.
1 | Victoria: A Royal Childhood
Victoria, A Royal Childhood was the first of the two exhibitions where I began my tour.
It was not overwhelmingly crowded as I anticipated it to be. I had plenty of time on my hands and I did not want to rush through. The exhibition allowed the visitors to follow a route through a suite of rooms and it did give me a feel of how Victoria grew up. There were many rooms here, and these have been curated to reflect how they would have been when young Victoria grew up. I will just mention a few that is of interest and which relates to the exhibition particularly the Red Saloon room, the Dance room, the Baby room, and the Playrooms.
The Red Saloon Room was where Queen Victoria held her first meeting with the Privy Council, the most senior ministers and advisors, on 20th June 1837.It was laid out with pretty little miniature figurines on top of the large long table, depicting the scene as painted by Sir David Wilkie (1785-1841) in 1838.
1.2 | The Dance Room where Victoria had her first dance with Albert
The dance room was dimly lit with a piano in one corner of the room.
I thought that the room was rather small. It was a little crowded here, so I walked briskly through to the next room.
1.3 | The Baby Room where Victoria was born
The baby room where Princess Victoria was born was one of the highlights of my visit.
The room was dressed in green wallpaper which, perhaps, reflects her maternal Leiningen heritage. It was gently warm, the drapes neatly pulled back and the sunlight coming through. It was not difficult to imagine for a moment, stepping back into history, where the room was the same, and the glorious sunshine streaming through on a very ordinary Spring morning, same day in May, 200 years ago. Described as “a pretty little Princess, as plump as a partridge” by her Mother, the Duchess of Kent in a personal letter, the heir, fifth in line to the throne was born.
I remained fascinated with the unfolding of her story as I continued on to Her playrooms.
1.4 | Victoria’s Playroom
Her playrooms were well laid out with a toy box in the centre of the room. There was an invitation for children to sit on the carpet and play with the toys from the toy box, a gesture which I thought was unusual. I have visited many palaces and castles during my visits and usually there are signs that says “please do not touch” – I was pleasantly surprised that here, and I welcome the idea too, to engage children-visitors to get the feel of how Victoria played.
I was enchanted with Victoria’s doll house, with its miniature furniture and pretty colours. It was an ordinary London townhouse. It is thought that it was probably made by the palace staff with household bibs and bobs and scrapes of pretty pink palace wallpaper.
The Ten Wooden Peg Dolls caught my attention. Victoria started collecting these when she was 11 years old. After two years, she had 132 dolls, each with a name and its own background story either after her favourite dancers or imaginary ladies.
1.5 | Victoria’s Journal and Kensington System
Victoria had vivid imagination and would describe the characters in detail. She was lost in writing her own stories.
The rooms displayed her journal entries and, in some instances her handwritten entries. These captivated my interests and I spent some time reading them. The sight of “Kensington System” hung on the wall and the distressing effects of these rules did not go amiss but I remained fascinated by her story.
1.6 | Theatre Room
There was a Theatre room which was cute. Victoria loved the theatre, and she attended the concerts and the theatre shows as often as she could. It was one way to escape the constraints of the “Kensington System”.
From the Royal Childhood of Victoria, the exhibition continued on to Woman and Crown Exhibition.
Read:Kensington Palace Gardens – an idyllic getaway from chaos of the City
2 | Victoria – Woman and Crown (1819-1901)
There were a lot of information exhibited here and dresses she wore. This exhibition was aimed at unveiling the private life of Queen Victoria behind the carefully controlled public image of her role as queen, wife, mother and empress.
2.1 | Victoria as a Woman
As a woman, Victoria was totally in love with Prince Albert. She commissioned a secret portrait of herself as a surprise gift to Prince Albert for his 24th birthday. The portrait shows Victoria in a simple ivory gown, looking relaxed, with her long hair round her shoulders in a sensuous manner – intended for his eyes only!
2.2 | Victoria as a Woman
As a wife, Victoria adored her husband, Prince Albert. In her words, he was “an angel whose brightness shall illuminate my life” – she submitted to the choices of her husband in all matters.
The dresses and the jewellery she wore was often designed and chosen by Albert. They both often appeared in public together which made them popular with the nation.
One of the displays exhibited a gown worn by Victoria which was originally in bright pink and fashionable at that time. Queen Victoria always wore a bonnet when in public with Prince Albert because she did not want to upstage her husband who had no right to wear a crown. A stark contrast to the black gowns, and widow’s bonnet which she was so famous for wearing later in life.
2.3 | Victoria as a Mother
As a mother, I think her views can best be attributed to one of her journal entries in 1952:
“Children, though often a source of anxiety and difficulty, are a great blessing and cheer and brighten up life, and to see us after 12 years surrounded by this blooming family is a source of great gratitude”
2.4 | Victoria as an Empress
As an empress of the world’s largest empire, the exhibits displayed the story behind her love affair with India, the Koh-i-Noor diamond, her friendship with deposed Maharajah Duleep Singh.
There were exhibits of her personal diaries inscribed in Urdu.
2.5 | Victoria’s love affair with the Scottish Highlands
There were further exhibits on her visits to the Scottish Highlands and Balmoral. The couple’s first visit was in 1848 and she captured their first moments in her journal entry where she wrote:
“All seemed to breathe freedom and peace, and to make one forget the world and its sad turmoils”
They loved the mountains, the people, the highland games and the dances.
Queen Victoria published a book in 1868, ‘Leaves from the Journal of our Life in the Highlands from 1848 – 1861’ – this book were of extracts from her journal, of her time in Scotland with Albert. The book sold 80,000 copies in the first 3 months. You can purchase a copy by clicking the link below:
Queen Victoria once said of Osborne House, that “it would be impossible to imagine a prettier spot” and one could not agree with her more! Osborne House became her permanent home till her death in 1901.
Read:Isle of Wight and the Victorian Love Affair with the island
Travel tips and Useful information:
Visiting during Covid-19 and adhering to safety measures – Pre-booking and selecting a specific time slot is required prior to the day of your visit. All related information are here for you to peruse.
Tickets are £17.50 for Adults and £8.70 for Child
The ticket covers entry to Kensington Palace and the Discover the Real Victoria – Made in Kensington Exhibition.
Cycling in Amsterdam-19 useful tips for an enriched experience
Cycling in Amsterdam is one of the best ways to experience the Dutch culture and for most visitors, this is an essential experience. However, do not imitate the Amsterdammers!
Cycling in Amsterdam
It may seem overwhelming and at times terrifying to watch the Dutch get around their city with their kids in their front baskets, talking on the phone and in some cases biting into their sandwiches! They do so with such ease and with great confidence! Observing how the Amsterdammers go about their daily lives may discourage visitors from riding a bike in the city but cycling in Amsterdam independently really is a favourite adventure to undertake if you are a skillful cyclist.
Bike friendly city
Cycling in Amsterdam is made easy by the 500 kilometres or so of dedicatedcycle paths. You can basically go everywhere and anywhere within the 17th century canal ring and beyond if you are confident to do so. There are low-speed cycle paths, extra-wide ones as well along with protected cycling spaces at intersections. This cycling haven, only second to Copenhagen has even great bicycle parking facilities. Moreover, bike rentals are cheaper than public transport and cycling is a lot quicker than public transport.
Cycling in Amsterdam opens up many opportunities to discover the historic city and the countryside. You may want to explore the wonders of a forest or observe some riverside wildlife, while marvel at the preserved architecture, taking-in the serenity that surrounds you when not in thebustling city centre. Riding a bike and discovering the city and surrounds either independently at your own pace or on a small group guided cycle tour is a rewarding experience.
However, cycling in Amsterdam can be hectic if you are a visitor and cycling in Amsterdam independently is not an activity for everyone!
What to expect from this article
Therefore this article sets out 19 useful tips on cycling in Amsterdam as a basic guide to an enriched cycling experiencefor those who wish to explore the free city by bike.
Whilst we work hard to be accurate, and provide the best information possible, we also encourage you to please always check before heading out.
1 | Road signs, Traffic rules and regulations when cycling in Amsterdam
Before getting onto a two-wheeler in Amsterdam, familiarise yourself with the Traffic rules and regulations in the Netherlands as these may be different to your home country. Ensure you are familiar especially with the road signs, traffic rules and regulations in Amsterdam in relation to cyclists. In particular:
1.1 | A working bicycle bell when cycling in Amsterdam
Ensure that you have a working bicycle bell that can be heard by other traffic users who are at least 25 metres in distance to you;
1.2 | Working lights and reflectors
Ensure you have working lights and reflectors on your bike incase your adventure takes you beyond dusk, or you are exploring in winter. You will be subject to a fine if you do not use lights when riding at night or if you have faulty lights;
1.3 | Keep to the right when cycling in Amsterdam
As you ride, keep to the right side of the road so other cyclists who are faster than you are able to pass. If you are riding in a group, keep to a single file.
1.4 | Don’t ride on the pavements!
Most importantly, don’t ride on the pavements although most Amsterdammers ignore this rule. Disembark from your bike and walk the pavements instead;
1.5 | Pedestrian only zones
Don’t bike through pedestrian only zones, or you’ll risk a fine;
1.6 | Use hand signals when cycling in Amsterdam
Use hand signals when you want to stop or when turning at an intersection. If you are turning left or right, you would want to put your arm out as a signal that you would be turning at the next intersection. It is important to give proper and enough notice so fellow traffic users are aware of your intentions and next move. If proper signals are not given, you may cause accidents.
1.7 | Follow all traffic signs
The Dutch are so geared into cycle travel that cyclists have their own set of traffic lights and dedicated lanes. In some areas, they have their own roundabouts as well. Adhere to all traffic lights and signs. Always wait for the ‘green bike’ to appear before you continue on with your journey.
1.8 | Give way to pedestrians
Give way to pedestrians on crosswalk. Don’t try and speed-up in the hope of missing them. Accidents can and do happen! Just stop and let them pass.
Amsterdam bikes are different in that they may not have gears or handbrakes. This is because the Netherlands is mostly flat and and gears are not needed. Therefore, bikes with fixed gears are readily available where all you have to do is pedal. However, if you are renting a bike for your visit, you might want to hire a bike with handbrakes. You may feel more comfortable cycling in Amsterdam with these features that give you some control and ability to stop rather than stopping with your foot.
3 | Beware of Tram rails when cycling in Amsterdam
Trams are part of an extensive public transport network in Amsterdam and you just need to be careful not to get your wheels stuck in the tram rails. Ensure you cross the tram rails at a 45 degree angle, or avoid the tram tracks if at all possible.
4 | Bike parking policy in Amsterdam that you need to know
Amsterdam has a strict bike parking policy!
Amsterdam is a city of bicycles and getting around on a bike is a way of life for the Amsterdammers. They don’t only go everywhere with their bikes, they also park everywhere and anywhere they like. Therefore, basically you can park your bicycle anywhere as this is not illegal.
Wrongly parked bicycles may be removed by the police. To retrieve your bike, you need to go to the bicycle depot, and pay a fine. Learn more about retrieving your bike from the bicycle depot by visiting Amsterdam’s official site in this regard.
5 | Park bicycles in designated guarded parking facilities
Theft of bicycles in Amsterdam is high! Even if you have locks and secure your bike to the side rails, there is a possibility that your bike will not be there upon your return.
Bike theft is a huge problem in Amsterdam. Hundreds of thousands of bikes are stolen each year in the city. When cycling in Amsterdam, never leave your bike unattended or unlocked even if you are stopping for a quick photo.
7 | Lock your bicycles
One of the best things to do to avoid an unpleasant experience such as theft is to lock your bicycleat all times when not in use even when you pop into a shop for refreshments or on a terrace sipping up the city’s local brew.
8 | Use certified locks
Lock your bicycle using certified locks. Ordinary locks are easy to break. Use thief-proof locks which takes longer to destroy. You can purchase these certified locks from any of the bicycle shops in Amsterdam city. Certified locks are little more expensive than ordinary locks but it is worth it.
8.1 | Double-down on the certified locks
Use two certified locks and secure your bike to a solid object. Having two locks is twice harder for a potential thief to break the locks and to ride away with your bike.
When securing your bike, don’t just secure the front/back wheel alone. A front wheel can easily be unscrewed from the main bike frame and bike thieves can walk away with the frame. Secure your bicycle frame as well. Ensure you secure your bike to a bike rack or a solid metal post.
9 | Avoid quiet or abandoned areas to park your bicycle
Avoid quiet and abandoned areas to park your bicycles. Vandalised signs and broken locks are areas not best for leaving your bike. Choose a secure location to park your bicycles as mentioned in #5 above. You could park in busy areas such as along the canals and bridges where you could secure your bicycle to a lamp-post or railings.
10 | Do not leave valuables on your bike
Do not leave valuables on your bike. It is pretty obvious that leaving money, mobile phones, passports or GPS is never a good idea. The less obvious items such as water-bottles, bicycle pumps or even bicycle bags may be tempting the thieves also.
11 | Adequate Travel Insurance
Having your bike stolen while visiting Amsterdam is not a joke and certainly an incident best avoided. However, should the unfortunate happen, you need to report it to the police. Chances of your bike being recovered is low to none! You shall need the police report for insurance purposes.
Ensure your travel insurance cover your bicycle and cycling activities whilst on holiday in Amsterdam or wider Netherlands.
Some insurance companies may consider cycling as an ‘adventure’ activity and may not cover adventure activities as part of their standard travel policy. You may have to pay a little extra to include cycling but it is worth including it. Also ensure your policy covers theft of bicycles and not just injuries or medical expenses resulting from cycling accidents.
Check World Nomads for their comprehensive cover on travel and adventure insurance. Read all fine prints before signing up to a policy and ensure the policy covers you and your travel needs.
12 | Be prepared for the rain!
It does rain in Amsterdam! If you are biking, you may want to use a waterproof jacket, wear a cycling cap and wear overshoes and gloves. Most tourists use a poncho instead. Best to check the weather before embarking on a cycling adventure in Amsterdam.
13 | Avoid rush hour
The rush hour in Amsterdam are between 08:00 and 09:00 when everyone rushes to work as well as between 17:00 and 18:00 when everyone rushes home. You can imagine what the cycle lanes will be like – long queues! If there is no great need to be cycling in Amsterdam during these hours, then avoid it by all means and wait for the rush to calm down.
14 | Helmets and cycling in Amsterdam
Believe it or not, cycle helmets are not required when cycling in Amsterdam at the moment. Cyclists in Amsterdam rarely wear them and they consider cycling is not an intrinsically dangerous activity. The Dutch have pretty much created a safe cycling environment. Most of the head injuries sustained are from car accidents. So bicycling is regarded as a super safe activity in the Netherlands.
Having said that, it is highly recommended that you use a cycle helmet when cycling in Amsterdam. This is so, especially when you are unfamiliar with the roads and fellow Amsterdammers.
The bike rental shop will have one available for you for a small extra charge.
15 | Do not imitate the Amsterdammers!
The cyclists in Amsterdam are notorious and well-known for breaking the rules. Weaving through cycle lanes, cycling through red traffic lights, cycling without lights at night, eating and drinking while cycling, riding with one hand and holding an umbrella in another with no helmets! Don’t follow them!
16 | Biking directions | Smartphone Apps for cycling in Amsterdam
There are many smartphone apps in the Apple Appstore and in the Google Android PlayMarket designed for cyclists. Some are specifically designed for cycle-touring the Netherlands and available in Dutch . There are some that are useful for non-Dutch speakers also. Some of these apps require internet connection for it to work, and we known that this is not always possible when you are cycling in open spaces, countryside or rural areas. The following two apps, one for within range of a cell tower and the other is an offline app which could be something you may want to consider:
16.1 | Google Maps
Google maps is my go-to app whenever I am out and about. Google has its own proprietary data and the quality of the maps and directions are detailed. It is an app, without which I would be completely lost navigating my way around a foreign city or driving in another country. However, the downside is, google maps requires an internet connection. It may not always be possible to connect to a cell tower when you are out of the city and you would not want to hike-up your data usage when abroad. For this reason, the offline maps.me is a useful tool to consider.
16.2 | MAPS.ME App
Maps.me was formerly known as MapsWithMe and is a mobile app for Android, iOS and Blackberry. It is free and internet connection is not required which is really handy when you are cycling in Amsterdam or the rural areas of the Netherlands. In fact, maps.me is increasingly becoming a favourite for adventurers.
In relation to quality of content, Maps.me takes a universal approach by using opensource OpenStreetMap data. It is completely community driven where the content is developed by passionate individuals who readily and willingly contribute to the growing list of local knowledge.
The main benefit of maps.me is the offline feature. You could download the maps and store it onto your device. You will always have access to the maps, location and local resources such as hiking trails, driving directions, cycle routes. The maps.me app also allows searches by name, street or co-ordinates. You could search for hotels, points of interests, and so much more.
The only thing you need remember is to ensure that your device is charged so that you can access the app when you are on the road.
17 | General information for cyclists cycling in Amsterdam
In the Netherlnds, there are currently twenty-six long-distance cycling routes and many smaller ones to make up longer journeys. If you decide to go beyond cycling in Amsterdam, the following websites may be useful:
17.1 | The ANWB
The Royal Dutch Automobile Association, simply known as the ANWB is a travellers association in the Netherlands supporting all modes of transport. Their information centres, ‘VVV’ is the place to go to for all of your information on cycling. You can pick a cycling route map here to plan your cycling in Amsterdam.
The ANWB has developed an app allowing for cyclists to plan their route using node numbers. It also includes descriptions of sights and places to eat.
Alternatively, you could pick-up a cycling map published by ANWB right here by clicking the image link below:
17.2 | Fietsrouteplanner
The Fietsrouteplanner is a great site to go to for mapping your cycle journey. Although this site is in Dutch, you could select the Google translate option to English. Set your marker on the starting point and a red ‘flag’ appears which you use to select your end point. You could also select any points to go via and map your route.
The I Amsterdam Visitor Centre is a tourist information office located in the heart of the city. Here, you can pick up various cycle route map for cycling in Amsterdam. Staff are friendly and helpful.
I Amsterdam Visitor Centre, Stationsplein 10, 1012 AB Amsterdam, Netherlands
17.4 | Amenities
There are not many public amenities available along the Dutch cycling route, so ensure you map your route to reach a town or village where you could visit.
17.5 | Resources – guide books and maps
The following useful resources may be handy – available in print and Kindle version:
18 | Renting a bike in Amsterdam
As a cycle city, Amsterdam has a number of bike rental shops and you are never too far away from one. There are number of bike rental shops which you could go to on the day or you may want to do the easy way – prebook your rental and pick it up from the various locations to suit your itinerary.
Yellow Bike Rental Central Station, Nieuwezijds Kolk 29, 1012 PV AMSTERDAM
19 | Independent cycling in Amsterdam or small group guided cycling tour – which is for you?
If you are a skillful cyclists and can endure the craziness of the Amsterdammers 🙂 then by all means, go out there and have a splendid time. On the other hand, if you are unsure and feel that being with fellow cyclists may be better for you, then joining a small group guided bicycle tour led by an experienced guide is the best option for you.
The benefits of a small group guided cycling tour includes but not limited to, are:
i | Biclycle rental;
ii | Guide to where to park your bicycle;
iii | Led by an experienced guide;
iv | Cycle paths that are away from major traffic areas so you feel confident riding at your pace;
v | The benefits of travelling in a group – shared interests and fun.
There are a number of bike tours which you could sign-up to – from private tours to group tours, and from exploring hidden gems to food & drinks tour. Select what best suits you from this dedicated page.
On a final note
Cycling in Amsterdam city is not for everyone! You need to be careful even as you walk the narrow streets of the capital city not to be run over by the sophisticated cyclists. It certainly was not for me!
While I very much wanted to tick off cycling in Amsterdam city from my bucket list of experiences, I was much too overwhelmed and certainly did not feel confident to embark on this adventure, after almost run over twice. No, not on this occasion. Cycling beyond the city in the outskirts at my own pace is more my kind of fun and adventure.
Though I did not bicycle in the Dutch capital, I feel compelled to share my observations of the cyclists and of the city’s overall cycling culture along with my extensive research which I undertook in preparation for my cycling adventure. I share these to support your cycling trip, should you elect to do so and sincerely wish the 19 useful tips for an enriched experience of cycling in Amsterdam is valuable to you in planning your visit.
In preparation for your trip to Amsterdam, you may like to read the following articles also: