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6 Essential Tips on How to Visit Stonehenge

Stonehenge is a bucket list destination and is a perfect day trip from Boston nestled in the hills of Wiltshire of England. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, a visit to Stonehenge is a trip back in time. Considered one of the 7 Wonders of the World, the stone circle dates back 5,000 years. Visit Stonehenge to stand and marvel at the massive rocks placed in a unique and mysterious pattern and learn more about this massive undertaking.

Below you can find our top 5 tips for visiting Stonehenge and general information to help you plan the perfect visit.

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Overview of Stonehenge

For years, people have stood and marveled at the massive rocks in the mysterious circular pattern known as Stonehenge. In fact, every year approximately 800,000 people visit Stonehenge. So what is Stonehenge? And why was this incredibly difficult site constructed? While the site itself is impressive, the mystery of the stone circle is what attracts the many visitors each year.

While the exact purpose of Stonehenge is uncertain, historians and archaeologists agree the stone circle was likely a religious site built to demonstrate the strength and power of the chiefs. The site is aligned celestially with the moon and sun and even today modern day Druids meet here for the midsummer sunrise and the place receives many visitors to celebrate midsummers. When you visit Stonehenge, you too can wonder whether the site is meant to connect the living world with the dead, was built as a massive sundial, or has some yet uncovered meaning.

While the mystery of the site draws many people, the equally mysteries and impressive aspect of this site is simply how the site was built. Constructed between 3000 and 1520 BCE, many of the stones in Stonehenge were hauled well over 100 miles. In addition, the sarsen stones were shaped assembled in a specific formation. Stonehenge may be the most famous stone circle, but the surrounding area is home to 100s of monuments and henges.

How to visit Stonehenge: Try to pull one of the big rocks
How to visit Stonehenge: Try to pull one of the big rocks

Tip #1 Arrive Early

Stonehenge is an incredibly popular site and can get very crowded. As with most popular historic sites, the best way to visit to get there as early as possible or visit late in the day (after 2:00) The earliest opening time is typically 9:30 and closing time varies throughout the year. You can check the times for the day of your visit at the official Stonehenge site.

Depending on whether you are arranging your own transportation or taking a tour, you will need to leave London by about 7:00 as it takes about 2-2.5 hours to make the drive. Getting to Stonehenge early will also give you the best opportunity to get photos without tons of people in the background.

Tip #2 Book Your Tickets in Advance

Whether you are booking a tour or arranging your own transport, the best plan is to book your Stonehenge admission in advance. Tickets do sell out and you can receive a small discount when you book online in advance. Due to the historic nature of the site, entrance is limited to 7650 people each day and they will turn people away if this is exceeded.

When you book your entrance directly through the Stonehenge site, you book your ticket for a specific time. You must arrive 30 minutes before your entrance time. If you are a member, entrance is free with your card but booking in advance still guarantees your spot.

Note that there may be an addition fee for parking. Stonehenge tickets price vary based on the season and the person. You can find the current Stonehenge admission price on the website.

Tips for How to Visit Stonehenge
Tips for How to Visit Stonehenge

Tip #3 Take your own Transportation or Book a Tour

If you are staying in London you have two options for getting to Stonehenge – you can either arrange your own transport or book a tour. If you are hoping to see other sites on the same day all while staying in London than a tour is the best option. Most tours will pick you up at your hotel or at a central spot and visit several destinations on the same day. Below you can see some of the best Stonehenge tour options that we recommend:

While a tour gives you an easy day, booking your own transportation can save you money. There are several options for arranging your own trip to Stonehenge and you can also book your own coach to Stonehenge.

Stonehenge Bus

Similar to a tour with with more flexibility, you can find several companies offering bus service to Stonehenge but most of these are tours as opposed to public buses. The only way to get there via public bus is to take bus to Salisbury and from here get the bus to Stonehenge.

Learn more about taking the Bus from Salisbury to Stonehenge

Stonehenge Train

The nearest train station to Stonehenge is in Salisbury. You can catch the train here from many other places in the area. Salisbury is just 9 miles from Stonehenge but you will need to take another form of transportation such as a taxi or bus.

Car to Stonhenge

Maybe the easiest way to get to Stonehenge is to take a car. If you are renting a car for your UK trip than this will definitely be the easiest option. Otherwise it is possible to rent a car in London for the day and drive yourself to Stonehenge. This has several benefits including more flexibility to visit other sites and more control over the time you will arrive. If you are a family, this will likely be the cheapest option as you can then purchase tickets directly from Stonehenge instead of through a tour.

Tip #4 Consider the Stone Circle Access

The entrance ticket to Stonehenge includes walking the path that goes around the stone circles. The trail is at a distance from the stones and you never get up close and personal. With the crowds, it’s nice to not all be crowded as there is plenty of space on the open and mostly flat walking trails, but it would be nice to be a little closer to the stones.

If you are interesting in booking a up close and personal experience at Stonehenge, you can book a Stone Circle Experience. This special tour happens before and after the general opening hours. See more about booking a Stone Circle Experience.

Tips on how to visit Stonehenge
Tips on how to visit Stonehenge

Tip #6 Get an Audiotour

The visitor center has good information with an exhibit and cafe, and you can also see reconstructed Neolithic houses. From the visitor center you will board a bus for a short 10 minute drive to the stones. Once you are on the path and walking around Stonehenge, there is not much information and the best way to learn more about Stonehenge is with a tour.

The easiest place to download a Stonehenge audio tour is the free tour available through the English Heritage Site. You can see more about downloading the audiobook tour here.

Tips on how to visit Stonehenge
Tips on how to visit Stonehenge

Tip #5 Find Other Things to do in the Area

Stonehenge is an incredible place to visit, but there are many other fun things to do in the area. Whether you are visiting on a day trip from London or are driving around the countryside on a United Kingdom road trip, it’s worth exploring some of the other sites near Stonehenge.

Some of the most popular places to visit near Stonehenge include:

  • Oxford
  • Stratford-Upon-Avon
  • Salisbury
  • Bath

Our Experience at Stonehenge

We visited Stonehenge as a family of 5 during a 10 day trip around England and Wales at the end of August. Since we had already rented a car, it was easy to visit Stonehenge without booking a tour, so we booked our tickets directly through the Stonehenge site.

We spent the night before our visit in London and got an early start around 7 am. We arrived in time for the 9:30 time slot and spent a short time in the visitor center before getting on the bus to go up to the stones. We spent about 1 hour slowly walking around Stonehenge and admiring the stone circle from different angles. Since we were there early, the crowds were moderate when we arrived and the site was fairly crowded when we left.

After enjoying our time at Stonehenge, we spent a little more time at the visitor center and exploring the exhibits outside. By around 11, we were back at the car and on our way to lunch. We spent just under two hours total and we enjoyed this bucketlist destination.

The only thing we would change if we were to visit Stonehenge again would be to book one of the Stone Circle tours and get a chance to see the stones up close.

General Information to Help You Visit Stonehenge

How Long do your need to Visit Stonehenge?

You need about 2 hours to enjoy visiting Stonehenge. If, you plan to eat in the cafe or are listening to the audio tour, you may want a little longer.

When is the Best Time to Visit Stonehenge?

Stonehenge can be visited all year, but the best time to visit in April, May, and October when the weather is still decent and the crowds are lower. Winters tend to be cold and rainy and summer can be hot and crowded. Watch the weather for your visit and dress warmly with raingear if needed. If you are visiting during the busy season, try to book your visit on a weekday.

Is it worth going to see Stonehenge?

We think Stonehenge is worth visiting, especially since you can combine a visit to Stonehenge with other sites in the area. Stonehenge is a large and impressive site and an architectural marvel.

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