Day Trips from London: Stonehenge & Salisbury

Stonehenge is one of those iconic British sights. If you’re in London, it makes a great day trip. After all, there’s nothing like stepping back 5000 years in time! The easiest way to visit Stonehenge, in my opinion, is to go through Salisbury. Stonehenge is a short ride away from the Salisbury train station, and, as a bonus, you’ll get to see the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral and one of the few remaining copies of the Magna Carta.

Looking for more day trips? Check out Cardiff, St. Albans, and Cambridge!

Getting to Stonehenge

Return train tickets to Salisbury from London Waterloo off-peak are around £15.

When I visited Stonehenge, I went on The Stonehenge Tour. The £28 tour includes transport to and from Stonehenge and Old Sarum and admission to both. The bus can pick you up right from the train station or in the centre of town. On the way to Stonehenge, you’ll get a little history of the town of Salisbury and Stonehenge to keep you occupied!

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If you wish to provide your own transport to Stonehenge, tickets are £15.50 for adults, £13.90 concessions, £9.30 for children, and free entry for English Heritage members.

Stonehenge has timed entries, and you must book in advance (especially during the summer months). However, when I visited, the site was not very crowded, so I recommend a winter visit. It may be cold but you’ll be able to see it right away with fewer people around!

Once you get to the Stonehenge welcome centre, you’ll take a 10-minute land train to the actual site.

The Stonehenge Welcome Centre

The Stonehenge Welcome Centre provides its visitors with a history of the site. It also has an exhibition containing some excavated artefacts and some recreated Neolithic huts that were supposedly built near the site. I also found out that during World War I, the area around Stonehenge was the largest military training complex in the world! Very cool.

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Before you take the land train to Stonehenge, I recommend getting one of the complimentary audio guides. There are a few plaques around the area, but the audio guide will give you an in-depth history surrounding Stonehenge.

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The stone to the right-centre with the little point at the top is a sarsen.

A few interesting facts: No one will probably know exactly why Stonehenge was built, but they know that it was built in three stages. It’s incredible how astronomically correct Stonehenge is, even after all these years. During midwinter and the summer solstice, there are two stones that the sun sets directly over, called sarsens. All around the monument and in the surrounding area are burial mounds called barrows that tell the archaeologists a lot about the people who lived around Stonehenge.

Old Sarum

If you choose, the bus tour also stops at Old Sarum on the way back to Salisbury from Stonehenge. It is the site of earliest settlement in Salisbury. It was an Iron Age fort, turned into the first cathedral and occupied by the Romans, Saxons, and Normans. I chose not to go because the bus only made a stop there every hour and I wanted to make the most of Salisbury and the cathedral (you know my obsession with them…).

Salisbury Cathedral

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Once back in Salisbury, head straight for the Cathedral. It’s one of the most stunning buildings I’ve ever laid my eyes upon and it has an incredibly fascinating history.

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Did you know that the Germans were ordered not to bomb Salisbury because the pilots used the cathedral spire as a navigation point? This is because the Salisbury Cathedral has the tallest spire in Great Britain and the 3rd tallest spire in the world!

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It was consecrated in 1258 and was also the first cathedral to found a girls’ choir (in 1991…). It houses the world’s oldest working mechanical clock, built in 1348. The clock doesn’t have a face but it chimes every hour. The baptismal font was built to commemorate the 750th anniversary. Salisbury Cathedral and the Magna Carta are free to see and explore, but a donation is encouraged as the church gets no funding from the state.

The Magna Carta

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The Cathedral also houses the best-preserved copy of the Magna Carta in its Chapter House. Only 4 copies remain. The one in Salisbury is the best preserved of the four original copies from June 1215. It is written in abbreviated Latin on vellum. Can you believe that 2015 was the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta?! It was amazing seeing the document that inspired the Bill of Rights and so many other constitutions!

The Parish Church of St. Thomas and St. Edmund

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After marveling at the Magna Carta, head to the Parish Church of St. Thomas and St. Edmund, which was built for the men working on the Salisbury Cathedral. It was dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury around 1220. The Church has one of the best Doom Paintings in Europe. It depicts the risen Christ, his disciples, and the judgment of souls into heaven and hell.

The Town of Salisbury

If you have the time, walk around Salisbury. It was exactly what I pictured old English towns to look like: old, beautiful, timbered houses and storefronts; lots of green; and lots of history. I spent over an hour just meandering its streets and taking photos. You should too!

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salisbury timbered buildings

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Have you been to Salisbury or Stonehenge before?

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England, Travel Guides, Travels
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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Ashleigh
    20 October 2016 at 22:15

    Your photos are perfection!! London is one of my fav cities and I’m always looking forward to going back. I have yet to visit Stonehenge but absolutely need to! Thank you for sharing your experience!!

    • Reply
      almathews
      21 October 2016 at 10:53

      Thank you so much!! I hope you get to visit Stonehenge, it’s amazing!

  • Reply
    Neni
    21 October 2016 at 00:44

    Wow the cathedral is stunning and the town seems like such a cute place.
    I always thought that Stonehendge is up in the north. Next time I’m in London, I’ll catch up with the sight :)

    • Reply
      almathews
      21 October 2016 at 10:51

      It is adorable! And yeah, Stonehenge is pretty close to London. I hope you get to visit soon!

  • Reply
    Roy Miller
    21 October 2016 at 08:45

    We are going there next year. Thank you for posting this. We will use this as our guide. I appreciate the photos as well.

    • Reply
      almathews
      21 October 2016 at 10:53

      Thanks for your comment. I hope you enjoy your trip!

  • Reply
    Tanja (the Red phone box travels)
    21 October 2016 at 09:23

    I’ve done Stonehenge but not Salisbury. some other time perhaps:)

    • Reply
      almathews
      21 October 2016 at 10:54

      Hopefully! It’s worth a visit. Thanks for your comment :)

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Doren
    21 October 2016 at 12:29

    Jealousy is the only word that comes to mind. I’ve never been but your photos create an itch of sorts. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      almathews
      21 October 2016 at 12:56

      Thank you so much!! I hope you can visit one day :)

  • Reply
    Chasa Fulkerson
    21 October 2016 at 17:18

    I loved visiting Stonehenge when I went to England. We rented a car and drove around though. We went through A LOT of towns/cities. We went from London all the way in a circle to Stonehenge, but starting on the same side as London.

    I loved going through all the little towns. I really really liked Avebury. It was so cute!

  • Reply
    Katie
    22 October 2016 at 00:52

    Ahh I used to drive past Stonehenge all the time on the way to my gran’s house! This post has made me so nostalgic. Lovely pictures too…and not a cloud in the sky!

    Salisbury looks absolutely beautiful, love a bit of architecture porn!!

    katie xx lacoconoire.com

    • Reply
      almathews
      22 October 2016 at 15:27

      That’s so cool that you used to drive by it! Thank you! I definitely caught Stonehenge on a lovely (albeit freezing) day!

  • Reply
    Rachel
    28 October 2016 at 22:16

    This looks like such a fun day trip! We didn’t have time for Stonehenge last time we visited London but I’m hoping to squeeze it in next time!

    • Reply
      almathews
      29 October 2016 at 17:47

      It definitely is! I hope you get to visit next time :)

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