Aerial View of Kingston Bridge across River Thames

Royal River Thames & River Cruises

For hundreds of years, the Thames has provided a handy highway for royalty travelling from one residence to another and as royal properties go, Windsor Castle is perfectly situated within a bustling and historic market town.

View From the Water

From its most basic form in the days of William the Conqueror to the magnificent medieval structure that stands proud today, the castle has been rebuilt on the same site – at a bend in the river - and derives its name from ‘windels or windlass` (a winch) and ‘ora` the Old English for bank.

Getting out onto the river is an effortless way of seeing some of Winsor’s best features. You’ll enjoy excellent views of the castle and the surrounding area, inevitably accompanied by a serene escort of swans.

If you’re visiting in July, you might want to check dates for ‘swan upping`, an annual event that is vital for the conservation of the mute swan population. Scarlet-coated Royal Swan Uppers and Swan Uppers from the Vintners’ and Dyers’ travel along the Thames on traditional skiffs (shallow wooden boats) to undertake a ‘swan census,’ gathering data and assessing the health of adults and young, more vulnerable cygnets.

Royal Cruises Windsor

Boat Hire

The Thames flows at a tranquil pace for most of the year, so if you’re looking for a swan’s-eye view, why not hire a rowing boat – or even a little motorboat.

Pop down on the day to John Logie on the Windsor promenade. If you’d like to cover more ground, check out the river cruises run by French Brothers. There’s a 40-minute trip to Boveney Lock and back that offers fantastic castle views or choose a longer cruise - perhaps following the well-oared royal path to the palace at Hampton Court.

Eton Footbridge

Our Hotel Near the River Thames

Macdonald Windsor Hotel is a contemporary townhouse nestled in the heart of the historic town of Windsor. Despite its central location, the hotel offers a serene retreat, just a stone's throw from the stunning walks and parkland near the River Thames.

The hotel itself is a beacon of modern elegance, harmoniously blending with Windsor's rich history. Its prime location provides effortless access to Windsor's renowned attractions, including the iconic Windsor Castle, making it an excellent base for exploring the town.

Whether you're immersing yourself in the local culture, relaxing in our rooms, or simply savouring the breathtaking views of Windsor, our Windsor hotel is the perfect place to enjoy your trip.

Windsor Changing of the Guard