Visiting Salisbury and Stonehenge
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
Let me just start off by saying that the short hour and a half I spent in Salisbury was one of the best unplanned trips I’ve ever taken. I was on a guided day trip for international students from my university to Stonehenge and Bath. However, Stonehenge doesn’t open for groups until the afternoon, so they dropped us off in Salisbury to kill some time first. Salisbury received its city charter in 1227, so it is definitely not lacking in history. The streets are a mix of old and new, and in general, it feels like how you would imagine an English city to feel.
The main highlight for me was the cathedral, and most of the hour and a half I had there was spent wandering around the interior and grounds. Pictures do not do justice to how large the cathedral actually is. Entrance is free, so it’s definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area. The cloister area is also a bit reminiscent of the Harry Potter films - think of Draco being transformed into a ferret, and that's exactly what the cloisters looked like. Walking around, it is easy to lose sense of what century it is.
Attached to the cathedral is the Charter House, which contains four copies of the Magna Carta, which you can also see for free. Something interesting to see, especially for a history major! In some way that I cannot explain, Salisbury became one of my favorite places I have been to in the UK.
From Salisbury, it was a short drive to Stonehenge, which lies about 8 miles north of the city. Stonehenge is one of the most well-known sites in England, which also means that the place is packed with tourists. They have a visitor’s centre which gives some information on the background of the site, how it was built, what it was like to live at that time, etc. Very informative for adults, and presented in a way that children would learn something from it as well, which I liked. The entrance fee to the site is priced at about £23, with discounts for students, seniors, and under 18s. (NOTE: if you book a guided day tour from London, the entrance to Stonehenge will likely be included.)
The actual Stonehenge, believe it or not, is exactly what you would imagine – a bunch of rocks in the middle of a field. That being said, I loved it. I visited with a bunch of my friends who I go to university with, so there was no lack of photos being taken. After taking many day trips by myself and trying to blend in, it was nice to feel okay being a tourist, especially considering that we were surrounded by other tourists. And after living in a city for 2 months, the highlight for me was hiking through the field to get to the monument. It was the first time I had been in such an open space since I had been at home. Also, there were some really cute cows in the field that wouldn’t let me pet them, but I digress.
Salisbury and Stonehenge are an hour and a half train journey or drive from London, so they make for an easy day trip that is well worth it. There are also plenty of guided day tours leaving from London that will take the hassle out of coordinating public transportation. After this, my trip moved on to Bath, and there are there day tours that do the same.