Stonehenge has always been on the bucket list and we finally decided to go and visit this historic landmark. In fact, it was the second time for me but for Paul this was the first visit. As we live in London, we did a day trip to Stonehenge from London.
In this article we describe our experience from visiting Stonehenge, discuss different travel options and recommendations on how to get there and ultimately answer the question “Is Stonehenge worth visiting?”.
Why Visit Stonehenge?
Stonehenge is an iconic prehistoric monument dating back over 4,500 years. There are many different reasons why you might want to visit Stonehenge. For some people this is just a pile of stones, for others it’s an architectural marvel with historical and cultural significance.
For me, Stonehenge has always featured in my English textbooks and it’s a landmark I know about since childhood and yet, it took two decades to finally go and visit it.
With its historical and cultural significance, the site stands as a testament to ancient engineering ingenuity and captivates visitors with its enigmatic allure. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the visit becomes part of preserving this remarkable heritage for future generations.
The architectural marvel of Stonehenge, constructed with massive stones transported from distant quarries, is awe-inspiring.
Moreover, the site’s spiritual and astronomical connections, aligned with celestial events and solstices, offer an opportunity for introspection and contemplation. The educational experience at the visitor center, featuring exhibitions and audio guides, provides valuable insights into Stonehenge’s history, theories, and recent archaeological discoveries.
A visit to Stonehenge promises a unique and immersive journey into the mysteries and wonders of the ancient world, leaving you with a personal and profound connection to the past and lasting memories captured in the striking photographs of this extraordinary site.
How to Get to Stonehenge from London?
There are a few options to get to Stonehenge from London, however not all of them are straightforward or cost effective. We considered all options before deciding to join an organised tour. Here are the main three options for you to consider.
- By train – to reach Stonehenge by train, you will need to go to Salisbury and then get a bus to Stonehenge. The train journey is only 1 hour 40 minutes and about 30 minutes by bus from Salisbury train station. At the time of writing this article, a return ticket from London to Salisbury is £49.90 per person and the bus from Salisbury to Stonehenge is £18.50, so just for transportation you will need to pay £68.40. Check for trains via Trainline here and more information about getting to Stonehenge from Salisbury here.
- By car – the distance from London to Stonehenge is 85 miles (137 km) and it takes around 2 hours by car depending on traffic. If you have a car, this could be a good option as parking at Stonehenge is included with your entrance ticket. We don’t have a car, so this wasn’t really an option for us. If you are considering renting a car, check Rentalcars.com to find the best deal.
- Organised Tour – the benefit of an organised tour is that it’s stress free, includes a guide or commentary and offers a reliable mode of transportation. You can do a tour to Stonehenge only (this is what we did) or you can combine a few places such as Windsor, Bath, Oxford or the Cotswolds. Check here for organised tours from London to Stonehenge with prices starting from £59.
Considering that I have already been to Stonehenge and Paul and I have visited Windsor, Oxford and Bath, we booked this Stonehenge Express Half Day Tour from London. The tour started from Victoria station at 9:30am and finished at 4pm. We only had 2 hours to actually wander around Stonehenge but this is usually enough to see the stone circle and visit the exhibition in the Visitor Centre.
The other option we considered, was going there by train and also exploring Salisbury and the famous Salisbury cathedral, but financially this didn’t make much sense for us. In addition, there were planned train strikes and we didn’t want to risk going by train.
Entrance and Visitor Centre
Depending on how you travel to Stonehenge, you would most likely go to the ticket office at the Visitor Centre. This is where you can buy tickets on the day or collect your pre-booked Stonehenge tickets. From there, you will most likely head to see Stonehenge.
As we went on this organised tour, we were given wristbands which were our tickets. We travelled by coach and were dropped off at the coach parking. Access to Stonehenge is primarily through the visitor centre, which is located about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) from the stone circle.
To go to the stone circle, you can either walk or board the shuttle bus which is included with your ticket. Here is where we made a big mistake.
We didn’t realise that there are two different queues for the shuttle bus – one for visitors arriving by coach and another one (much longer) for everyone else.
We joined the main queue and waited over 30 minutes to board the shuttle, which reduced the overall time we could spend at Stonehenge. We would have walked to the stones but given the typical British weather that we had, we decided to use the shuttle bus and ended up waiting for too long in the heavy rain.
Access to the Inner Circle
Access to Stonehenge is regulated and managed to protect the monument. You are not allowed to enter the stone circle itself without a special permit or during specific occasions (e.g. solstices).
There are strict guidelines in place to protect the monument and preserve its historical value. Climbing on or touching the stones is not allowed, and you are expected to follow the rules and respect the site.
A designated path leads from the visitor centre to a roped-off viewing area where you can get a good view of Stonehenge from a short distance. This is also a perfect opportunity to snap some nice photos and enjoy the views.
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Both times I visited Stonehenge, it was super windy, so please check the weather forecast and dress up accordingly. During our most recent visit, the weather was really miserable and we got rained a lot! Without a doubt on a sunny day we could spend more time around the stones and take even better pictures.
Stonehenge offers special access visits during the summer and winter solstices, allowing a limited number of visitors to enter the stone circle during these significant astronomical events. These tickets are a lot more expensive and only a limited number of these are sold.
The Stonehenge exhibition, located at the visitor centre, offers a captivating and educational experience, so definitely check this out. It features interpretive galleries with interactive displays, archaeological discoveries, and digital reconstructions, providing insights into the monument’s history, astronomical alignments, and Neolithic culture.
The exhibition showcases artifacts and replicas, while educational resources cater to visitors of all ages. This well-curated exhibition allows you to delve deeper into the mysteries and significance of Stonehenge, making it an enriching starting point for a memorable journey to this ancient and iconic monument.
You can also take an interactive tour of Stonehenge with a 360 degree view from inside the monument, this is probably the closest you can get to the inner circle 🙂
Is Stonehenge Worth Visiting?
The short answer is probably no, hence why it took us so many years to actually pay a visit to this historic landmark.
The long answer is yes, provided you combine this with a visit to some other points of interest such as Windsor, Batch, Oxford, Salisbury or the Cotswolds. When I visited Stonehenge for the first time and combined Stonehenge with a visit of Windsor Castle and a walking tour of Oxford, I felt it was a day trip worth doing and time well spent.
Having said all of the above, it really depends what is the right thing for you. In our case, we combined our Express Stonehenge Tour with afternoon tea in London, so overall it was a day well spent. A very good value for money is the afternoon tea at Patisserie Valerie – we have done this a few times as the price is really good for such a British staple.
Organised Tours to Stonehenge from London
If you are still unsure how to get to Stonehenge or still considering different tour options, have a look these organised tours and decide which one is best for you.
When you go to Stonehenge, you’ll encounter a combination of history, mysteries, beauty, and spirituality. It allows you to immerse yourself in the wonders of the past, creating lasting memories, while appreciating the significance of our common human heritage.
The key information covered in this article aims to answer common questions and provide you with valuable insights about planning a day trip to Stonehenge from London. Hope the practical details about transportation, ticketing, and tour options helps you to make the most of the experience while exploring the historic site.
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