Being one of the hometowns, Berkshire’s idyllic countryside views combined with its proximity to London make it a place where most people are willing to pay a premium for a property.
The county is very pretty and has been the seat of royalty since Windsor Castle was built in the early 1100s.
The royal presence can be felt in many places, including the famous Ascot Racecourse.
As we walk through Berkshire, you can see how much the county’s waterways contribute to its charm.
The Thames meanders from west to east, widening with the current, nourishing the verdant water plants that line towns and villages.
The Kennett and Avon Canals were also important shipping routes from the West Country to London, and are now sailed by holidaymakers on barges.
Let’s explore the best Berkshire sights:
Two of the country’s most popular attractions are located in this wealthy town on the River Thames.
Windsor Castle needs little introduction: it has been the residence of the royal family since the reign of Henry I in the early 12th century, making it the oldest occupied royal palace in Europe.
It’s easy to get lost in the large 5,000-hectare park, while you can spend hours wandering the town and seeing sights like Christopher Wren’s 17th-century town hall.
Then for the little ones, there’s Legoland Windsor, which became the UK’s most popular theme park in 2016 and promises a day of Lego-themed entertainment and rides for kids under 12.
Central Newbury is a well-preserved historic town for walking, and the grassy trailer trails on the Kennett and Avon Canals are very peaceful. Newbury Racecourse hosts the Lockinge Stakes in May, one of the most valuable races on the calendar.
The stately residence Highclere Castle is a majestic setting on a 2,000-hectare estate.
If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, this needs to be part of your plan, as one look will tell you this is where the TV show was filmed.
From the 1800s, the house is newer than it looks and features a ‘Jacobethan’ design inspired by 16th and 17th century palaces.
Wander the hills of the surrounding country park to Donnington Castle, which was besieged for 18 months during the English Civil War.
Without knowing anything about its culinary pedigree, Bray looks like any other wealthy and charming village in southern England.
There’s an early 1600s almshouse and the handsome 1290s St Michael’s Church, which contains many fascinating medieval artifacts, including the massive brass on the tomb of Sir John Foxley.
But Bray’s modern reputation comes from its restaurants, with two of the four Michelin three-star restaurants located in the village.
The older of the two is the Waterside Inn, founded by the Roux brothers in 1972, while Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck has been acclaimed for its molecular cuisine since it opened in 1995.
While it doesn’t get much praise for its looks, Reading is a large and thriving city centre with a great university and all the shopping you can handle.
Due to its proximity to London, it became a manufacturing town in the 1800s and has excellent transport links, where the Kennett and Avon Canals meet the River Thames.
You’re also a few miles east of the North Wessex Downs, with their lush green hills and crystal clear chalk streams, if you’re craving country scenery.
While in town, wander the ruins of Reading Abbey and stop by attractions like the Zoological Museum, Berkshire Aviation Museum and Museum of English Country Life.
During the Tudor period, Wokingham was the centre of silk spinning, and small signs of the industry still exist.
Stroll along Rose Street, where the higher ground-floor half-timbered houses will have looms.
The Victorian Gothic Revival Town Hall in the heart of Market Place remains the heart of the community, with trendy cafés in the courtyard and a mix of locally owned shops and high street brands in the surrounding historic buildings.
You can start some walks in town, such as the trail to Fichampstead Ridges, which is covered in woodland and heather.
Hungerford is close to Wiltshire in the North Wessex Downs and is not far from Mount Walbury, the highest point in the South East at nearly 300 metres above sea level.
The Kennett and Avon Canals meander through the town’s north side and transport coal and stone mined in Somerset to Reading-on-Thames in the 19th century.
Hungerford Pier is very pretty and a great place to watch the narrow boats glide up and down the canal on a sunny day.
Cross the bridge in town and experience the rural South of England on the high street, with many 17th and 18th century properties including Hungerford Arcade, an antiques centre with over 100 dealers.
Opposite Windsor on the north bank of the Thames is the town of Eton, synonymous with Eton.
It is the most famous and prestigious of all the public schools in England, founded by Henry VI and among its alumni 19 former British Prime Ministers.
If you’re in any doubt about how luxurious this place is, the school has its own natural history museum, which is open on Sundays, but you can arrange to visit at other times.
Eton’s High Street is lined with historic brick and half-timbered buildings containing upscale shops such as delis and antique bookstores, while there are lovely green spaces in Brocas and South Meadow by the Thames , you can stretch your legs.
Anyone who recalls the children’s book “The Wind in the Willows” will be interested to know that its author, Kenneth Grahame, retired in Pangbourne in the 1920s.
The village is full of beautiful old houses and one-off shops, and the Thames makes it even more picturesque.
The shore is a large green water meadow owned by Pangbourne, where village celebrations are held every June.
For the rest of the summer, they are a dreamy place for a picnic in the shade of willow trees.
If you’re traveling with young children, they’ll have a great time at Beale Park, which is home to farm animals and more exotic species such as meerkats, lemurs, and mongoose.
The three villages that make up the town of Ascot are very wealthy and mostly face the Ascot Racecourse, arguably the most prestigious racecourse in the country.
So there are plenty of hotels and restaurants for tourists who compete 26 days a year and need accommodation.
The course has strong royal links and was established by Queen Anne in 1711, just a few miles from Windsor.
Royal Ascot Week in June remained popular, drawing 300,000 spectators, with Queen Elizabeth in attendance.
The event has been a mainstay of the “London Season” of the country’s social elite since the 18th century.
At an ancient crossroads on the River Thames, Stratley is a stunning village bordering the large town of Goering and straddling the county line in South Oxfordshire.
The landscape is one of steep wooded hills, an outcrop of the Chiltern Ranges, the eastern tip of the North Wessex Downs.
Much of the surrounding countryside is owned by the National Trust, so you are free to walk up and enjoy views of the river and village, while the Ridgeway National Walk runs eastwards across the Thames at Goring and Streatley.
In this very upscale place you’ll find a selection of bars and restaurants, as well as a golf club that has been open to visitors since 1895.
The large town of Maidenhead is across the river from Buckinghamshire and is connected to the neighbouring village of Taplow by Maidenhead Bridge.
This structure offers us one of the most beautiful sights in town, built in the 1770s with seven arches and wrought iron lanterns.
You can walk a short Thames Trail to Bolt Lock, also built in the 1700s and a great place to sit and contemplate the river and its weirs, or watch the barges go by.
Between Boulter’s Lock and Bray Lock is the Maidenhead Railway Bridge, designed in 1839 by the esteemed Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The Maidenhead Heritage Centre can give you an idea of the town’s connection to the Air Transport Auxiliary Station located near Second Town. world wars and help move vital RAF machines across the country.
One of Britain’s most acclaimed painters of the 20th century, Stanley Spencer was born in this Thames-side village, where he also spent his life.
Now in the Wesleyan Church, where he grew up, there is a museum with more than 100 of Spencer’s paintings and drawings.
Give yourself some time to see more of the village and what it has in common, with its timber-framed houses and lovely cottages with flint walls.
You’ll see the most expensive property per square metre in England, often described as the richest village in the country.
In the green rolling hills of the North Wessex Downs, the waterside hamlet of Kintbury ranks among the best villages in the country.
You won’t be blown away by any of the stunning views, but the most pristine English countryside can be seen at one of the most coveted addresses around.
On the street, the old part of the village looks very similar to what it did a century ago, with delightful brick cottages and a rustic medieval church.
Stop for an upscale pub lunch at the 18th-century Dundas Arms by the Kennett and Avon Canals.
Another low-key excursion option, Sulhamstead does have a high-profile tourist attraction at the Thames Valley Police Museum.
You can only show up on Wednesdays, and on other days of the week you need to call ahead.
But if you’re fascinated by one of Britain’s most infamous robberies of the 20th century, this museum is housed in a beautiful neoclassical mansion and houses artifacts related to the 1963 Great Train Robbery. On the Kennett and Avon Canal is the lovely Tyle Mill, which started out for flour and turned into a sawmill that loads and unloads lumber with the help of the docks.
Just around the corner from Eton and Windsor, this artisan town doesn’t have the same reputation for history and architecture. Rather, it is a commercial and industrial venue that complements the more elegant neighborhoods.
Eton’s bricks are baked in Slough, and the industrial area remains a hive of activity and a base for international companies such as Lego and McAfee.
People head to the heart of the 120-store Observatory Shopping Centre, and Slough is right next to the Colne Valley Regional Park, a large, mostly undeveloped space that acts as a green buffer around the M25.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Berkshire, England
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