How to spend a weekend visiting Stonehenge from nearby Salisbury

About 1 million people travel to Stonehenge each year to see the prehistoric Stone Circle ruin that has mystified the world for centuries as a man-made enigma, located on the vast Salisbury Plain in England’s bucolic county of Wiltshire.

Stonehenge was originally much larger than the ruin now visible, and tourists can walk around the site, getting up close to the 50 remaining sarsen stones, which are sandstone boulders presumably taken from the chalk dunes of England , and the 45 blue stones, believed to be mottled dolerite, a blue-gray rock with white flecks that archaeologists believe was transported from Wales during the construction of Stonehenge around 3000 years ago. year. The purpose of the stone circle remains unknown, but it is generally believed to have been a cemetery aligned with the movements of the sun.


Tourists wishing to access the site should enter through the Stonehenge Visitor Center, which also offers tours of on-site Neolithic houses recreated from the remains of ancient buildings discovered nearby. Also nearby is Avebury, another famous prehistoric stone circle which, along with Stonehenge, is a World Heritage Site. Stonehenge is owned by the National Trust and operated by English Heritage. The nearest town to Stonehenge is Salisbury, which offers easy access to the site and is a historic destination in its own right.

Related: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Stonehenge

From historic Salisbury, Stonehenge is a leap, leap and leap

On a weekend visit to historic Salisbury, travelers can easily include a visit to Stonehenge in one day and explore the city of Salisbury on day two. Stonehenge is located approximately nine miles from downtown Salisbury and is accessible by car. Visitors without a vehicle have the option of taking a tourist bus to the historic circle.

Costing around $15, the daily Stonehenge Tourist Bus departs hourly from Salisbury Rail Station and stops at Salisbury Coach Station. The hop-on hop-off service allows passengers to spend as much time as they wish at the site, and the coach service includes nearby pickups and drop-offs. Old Saruman Iron Age hill fort dating from around 400 BC and located just over a mile from Salisbury town centre.

Old Sarum is the location of the original Salisbury Cathedral, believed to have been built in the 11th century. Going back further, Old Sarum includes ruins from the first century Roman era. Visitors can also enjoy stunning views of the Wiltshire countryside from the elevated site of Old Sarum.

In addition to Neolithic huts open for tours, visitors to the Stonehenge Visitor Center can view exhibits including hundreds of prehistoric relics found within the stone circle, including animal bones and ancient weapons such as axes.

Related: Stonehenge isn’t the only mysterious stone circle in England, and Cumbria is home to the most impressive yet

As a jumping-off point for Stonehenge, Salisbury offers several accommodation choices and a wide variety of dining options in its town center.

Hotel choices include the Red Lion Hotel Salisbury, itself a historic site dating back around 800 years. Now a Best Western property, it is believed to be the oldest purpose-built hotel in Europe and offers 60 rooms with rates starting at around $145 per night. Other accommodation options in the city center or near Salisbury train station include the White Hart Salisbury, with rates from around $155, and the Milford Hall Hotel and Spa, offering rates from around $120.

Stunning cathedral, other notable sites add to Salisbury’s charm

Criss-crossed by the scenic River Avon, Salisbury is best known for its 13th-century Salisbury Cathedral, which houses one of four original copies of the Magna Carta, the royal bill of rights and foundation of Britain’s constitution which dates from 1215 .

Designed in the early English Gothic style, the cathedral houses tombs from the time of its construction, stained glass windows from later centuries and a 14th-century clock. The Early English Gothic style is noted for its emphasis on height and light, a distinction from the generally bulky buildings that were the norm in the 11th and 12th centuries.

The cathedral also sports Britain’s tallest spire, at 404 feet, and its tallest cathedral nearby. Visitors can climb the spire’s 332 steps for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Inside the cathedral grounds, visitors will find preserved Georgian and Elizabethan houses, which once housed the cathedral’s ecclesiastical staff as early as the 14th century. Also, nearby, tourists can see a mansion that houses the Rifles Berkshire & Wiltshire Museum and the Salisbury Museum.

After seeing the historic sites, visitors can stroll through Salisbury’s quaint old town center, which offers a myriad of shopping opportunities and a look at architectural styles from medieval times to the present day.

Related: 10 totally free things to do in England

Sights not to be missed include the Parish Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, a 15th-century building, and the spacious shopping center and its medieval market called Poultry Cross, a Gothic-style stone market building dating from the 14th century century. A stroll through the old town center also offers panoramic views of the River Avon.

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