Jason is a world traveler and shares his experiences with the world.
Despite what we see Clark Griswold do to Stonehenge in National Lampoon's European Vacation, it is still standing to this day and is a very popular tourist destination in southern England.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the site and will share my thoughts on the process to getting there and if it is a trip I would recommend for you.
Stonehenge is one of those places we often associate with the dawn of humanity and civilizations. It is believed to be a burial site and have religious circumstances. It is also one of the most iconic sites in Europe, if not in the world. If we view a video zooming out on the history of humanity, it will oftentimes be one of the oldest scenes shown.
It is believed to have been built anywhere between four and five thousand years ago and has been on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites since 1986.
Getting to Stonehenge
Thankfully, getting to Stonehenge is not as difficult as it would seem based on how old it is. The main place you need to get to first is Salisbury in Southern England. If you are driving yourself, then Stonehenge is about a 15-minute drive north of Salisbury.
However, if you rely on public transportation, there's a bus that is dedicated to shuttling visitors from the Salisbury train station to Stonehenge. It costs a few pounds for a round trip. It is set up very well for getting you to the site. When you arrive, there are two large parking lots next to the visitors center and a long road that goes straight to Stonehenge. You will not see Stonehenge from the visitors center.
The visitors center has various components. There's a café, gift shop, and a few replica huts that resemble what the builders of Stonehenge would have lived in.
Unfortunately, you have to pay to get to Stonehenge, and you might be checked for it at least twice just getting to the site. A major recommendation I would make is to get your tickets online before you get there. Otherwise, you will do what I did and stand in line for almost 40 minutes just to purchase one ticket. It was a busy day for a weekday. It can be costly to get in, especially if you traveling in a large group.
Ticket prices change depending on if you make a donation or not. If you don't, they are as follows:
- Adult £20.00
- Child (5-17 years) £12.00
- Family (2 adults, up to 3 children) £52.00
- Family (1 adult, up to 3 children) £32.00
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Walk (or Ride) to Stonehenge
Once you get through the ticket line, you will walk out to a long road that goes directly to Stonehenge. You can either take a shuttle bus there, or you can walk it yourself. I would recommend walking it as it is generally a peaceful walk, and you get to take in the environment along the way.
Not much can be said for the walk along the way other than you will occasionally walk by a few wooded spots, and the bus occasionally flies by you. You should be able to see Stonehenge in the distance once you make it about halfway.
Once you get there, your ticket will be checked again to get in. Then you will walk through a roped area that encircles Stonehenge. Unfortunately, they will not let you get close enough to touch the stones. As close as you will get is a few feet away. Allegedly, during a certain time of the year, they will allow visitors to walk inside the site to see a reflection from the sun based on its position.
You can walk around the roped area and stay for as long as you like. There are areas to sit and even have a picnic. There are a few farms nearby with lots of sheep surrounding the area.
Occasionally, some information boards are posted telling about the history of Stonehenge. It is unfortunately crowded, especially in the areas closer to the stones themselves, and you will be walking through a lot of people taking selfies around the site. It can be hard to truly enjoy it when it is that crowded. The website notes the busiest times are from 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., so if you want to avoid crowds, plan accordingly.
Other than that, what you see in the pictures above is about all there is to see and tell about Stonehenge. It's just a bunch of stone pillars surrounded by crowds.
So, with that said and from my experience, Stonehenge is not a place I'd rush out to see unless it is extremely important to you. You will jump through hoops just to pay to see a few stone pillars covered in moss and navigate through a whole lot of tourists trying to get their photo at the site. Chances are, hundreds of pictures were taken of you there without knowing it.
Salisbury is not the easiest city to get to. You might need to take multiple trains to get there or drive a long distance just to see it. If it is a site important for you to see and you cannot pass it up, then yes, take the time to go. If you have an easy opportunity to go see it, go see it. If you are on the fence or are indifferent to seeing it in person, then you are not missing anything.
I hope you found this guide helpful in determining how to get to Stonehenge if you are determined to see it or to formulate if it's important enough for you to take the time to see it yourself.
© 2022 Jason