We are a great history and architecture buffs and love to explore the historical monuments and attractions of a destination we visit. The historic attractions always top our must-visit places in a city sightseeing. The mystery of the megalithic monuments of ‘Stonehenge’ has always aroused a curiosity in us to learn and explore more about this prehistoric monument. And when a trip to the UK was devised we made sure not to miss a trip to the historical wonder of Stonehenge. We were based in London and London to Stonehenge day trip is one of the popular tours.
We visited the UK for Christmas and after spending 2 days in London exploring the beautiful city we booked a day tour to Stonehenge on the day after Christmas. This trip would have been a little cumbersome and time-consuming with public transport so we chose to book a day tour. Our trip to Stonehenge also combined a visit to Windsor Castle and Salisbury Cathedral.
Our meeting point was Earls Count Underground Station which was easy to locate. Once other travel mates for the day joined us on coach our tour guide briefed us about the places that we would be visiting for the day.
What is Stonehenge?
The ‘Stonehenge’ is a prehistoric monument comprising a ring of standing stones located in the Wiltshire region of England. The monument is believed to be built by Neolithic people some 4500 years ago around 3000 BC. Interestingly Stonehenge is said to be constructed in stages and even the stones rearranged several times from the Neolithic Period to the Bronze Age. The first monument built is said to be the ‘Henge’ part which was a circular ditch with an inner or outer bank about 5,000 years ago.
The stone circle was erected only during the late Neolithic period between 2500-2000 BC. There are several burial mounds which can be seen dotting the landscape around the Stonehenge which was built only in the Bronze Age. If this has piqued your interest you can read more in detail about the Stonehenge monument and its history on their website here. The Stonehenge is managed by the English Heritage Trust who also care for over 400 historic monuments and sites.
Originally the monument of Stonehenge comprised 30 upright stones with 30 supporting lintels but today there are only 17 upright stones with 6 lintels remaining. Some of the stones have fallen and many others have been missing from the site.
Visiting Stonehenge Monuments – The Best Part of London to Stonehenge Day Trip
Once we were at the main entrance gate of the visitors center our tour guide bought us the tickets along with an audio guide. You can also pick up an orientation leaflet or buy a guide for detailed information for your visit. Each of the tickets was timed and we had to start the monument visit in next half an hour or so. Public and private vehicles are not allowed near Stonehenge monuments. There are shuttles running from the visitor’s center to the Stonehenge monuments. We joined the queue waiting for the shuttle to the site of the monument and hopped into the next scheduled shuttle.
Our shuttle dropped us close to the Stonehenge about 5 minutes walk away. You can also walk all the way to the stones which will take you about 40 minutes or take the shuttle half the way and then walk to the Stones. You will get to see the burial mounds along the way. As the weather wasn’t very nice we decided to take the shuttle all the way to the stones.
We were finally here, at the magnificent monuments. It was an amazing feeling! The Stonehenge bound by ropes to avoid proximity was swarming with tourists taking pictures of the monument and selfies with the stones. The audio guides were not very helpful as it was not clear due to the whooshing wind. We spent some time walking around the stones and when the weather worsened we decided to return to the visitor’s center.
Neolithic Village at Stonehenge
Back at the visitor center, we explored the recreated Neolithic Village which gives an insight into the life of the people who lived 4,500 years ago. The houses in the recreated Neolithic Villages were built based on the archaeological findings around the area.
The volunteers here walk visitors through the Neolithic Village and demonstrate domestic skills used by the prehistoric people.
A huge Sarsen was at the display where one can attempt to pull the sarsen and test their strength. We tried our luck pulling it but in vain. It actually displayed a measure saying strength required would be 100 times each of us.
Exhibition at Stonehenge Visitors Center
The visitor center houses an amazing exhibition providing information on the stones, its history, the landscape and the people behind this wonderful prehistoric monument. There is also a 360-degree audio-visual experience of the Stonehenge as a part of the exhibition. The antiquity collection consists of over 250 ancient archaeological objects discovered during excavation. The most remarkable of all was the face of a 5500-year-old man reconstructed with forensic help based on his bones found near Stonehenge.
The mysterious of ‘Stonehenge’ dates back to around 4500 years. The Stonehenge stands in a vast sacred landscape dotted with large barrows of different forms which are burial mounds from an early Neolithic period. A tour of the Stonehenge actually lets you walk back in time and discover the life of the ancient people. And the exhibition provides artifacts on Stonehenge and the surrounding landscape.
It was interesting to know that there are two kinds of stones used in the ‘Stonehenge’ monument. The biggest of Stonehenge’s stones, known as sarsens, are up to 30 feet tall and weigh 25 tons. The smaller ones known as bluestones weigh up to 4 tons which constitute the inner circle of Stonehenge was sourced from Wales, nearly 200 miles away. You can read some more interesting facts about Stonehenge here.
Stone Circle Access
We were a bit taken aback when we saw that the stones were fenced out not allowing us to view the stones from close. And the visitors lingered all along the fence so it made it difficult for us even to get a glimpse. We visited in December and this was the case so wondering how would it be in the peak season.
But there is an opportunity to experience this magnificent monument from close which we unfortunately missed and hope to do it the next time. The ‘Stone Circle Access’ visits are visits that allow visitors to get close to the stones. The visits are held outside the normal visit times and there is a form to fill up to request for access with limited time slots available to select from for the visit. The visits are for a fixed time and each slot has a maximum of only 30 people. More Info here.
Salisbury Cathedral is one of the UK’s most iconic medieval buildings. We visited the beautifully decorated cathedral emanating a charming ambiance on the occasion of Christmas Eve.
Salisbury Cathedral dates back to the 13th century. It took 38 years (1220-1258) to build the cathedral. The cathedral features gothic arches, pointed lancet windows and the spire which is the tallest church spire in the UK. Visitors can tour the cathedral tower which includes climbing to top which can be accessed through 332 steps of a narrow spiral stairway. The climb offers an impressive view of the cathedral interior and a spectacular view of the Salisbury and the surrounding countryside.
Salisbury is a medieval town with historic streets and charming half-timbered buildings. We spend some time exploring the town which was adorned with dazzling Christmas lights. We did some shopping and even had our dinner at one of the restaurants.
A visit to the Salisbury Museum is recommended if you are interested to learn more about the Stonehenge and prehistoric era. The exhibition at the Stonehenge is actually a part of the Salisbury Museum and the items are in fact been loaned by the Salisbury Museum to the Exhibition at Stonehenge.
The Salisbury Museum is located opposite the Salisbury Cathedral. The collection comprises of archaeological findings from Old Sarum, Stonehenge and the surrounding landscape, artifacts on the history of Salisbury, a ceramics and glass collection and the Costumes and Textiles Gallery which holds a collection which dates back to the 1750s. You can browse through the collection and check for the open times and ticket prices here.
About 15 minutes drive from the Stonehenge and about 10 minutes drive from the Salisbury Cathedral is the Old Sarum which is the earliest settlement of the city of Salisbury and the original site of Salisbury Cathedral. It is possible to visit the fortress which holds the ruins of the royal palace, great tower, hall and the remains of the cathedral. A walk along the ramparts offers remarkable views of Wiltshire and the surrounding countryside.
The Wiltshire Museum located in Devizes is also worth a visit if you are an art and archaeology buff and are interested to learn more about the Stonehenge and prehistoric era. The collection at the Wiltshire Museum consists of treasures owned by the prehistoric people from the Stonehenge and artifacts on the history of Wiltshire.
Learn more about the collection, open times and ticket prices here.
The Windsor Castle home to British sovereign for over 1000 years is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. The castle was founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. Unfortunately, the castle was closed during our visit for the Queen was visiting for Christmas and so we had only the town of Windsor to explore. We parked our coach and climbed the stairs which led to the Windsor & Eton Central Station which opened up into a large complex with several restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops.
We sauntered through the cobblestone streets past the restaurants and entered into a street along the magnificent castle wall of the Lower Ward of Windsor Castle.
Around the corner of the street is The Henry VIII gateway in the Lower Ward.
We continued on the street towards the Windsor Great Park taking pictures on the way.
St John the Baptist, Windsor
Irish Guardsman Statue – A statue dedicated to Irish Guardsmen.
Windsor Great Park – We were overwhelmed by the massive green landscape with an avenue called ‘The Long Walk’ running south of the castle for 3 long miles in a straight line. The Royal Park of 2020 hectares for many centuries was the private hunting ground of Windsor Castle.
Visitors need to buy an entrance ticket to explore Windsor Castle. The visit includes a visit to the State Apartments furnished with finest works of art and used by the Royal family for formal events. St George’s Chapel is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture, 10 monarchs including Henry VIII and Charles I are buried in the chapel. Visitors can also explore the Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, Semi-State Rooms open to visitors in the winter months, the Great Kitchen, climb the Tower for breathtaking views and of course, the popular guard changing ceremony. Check schedules here.
The Queen does occasionally make a visit to the castle during which the castle visit may be restricted. Visit the official website here before you plan your visit. Windsor is well connected from London by rail with a good frequency and Heathrow Airport is about a 15 min ride.
London to Stonehenge Day Trip Map with Stops
Pin For Later Read?
Disclosure: Please note that this article contains affiliate links. Read More