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View of Salisbury Cathedral from the meadows in early spring.
Map of England highlighting the position of the city of Salisbury.

Salisbury Travel Guide

As one of England’s designated heritage cities, there is a lot of historical interest for visitors to Salisbury. More precisely, the attractions in and around Salisbury span some 5,000 years. From the Stone Age site of Stonehenge and its wider landscape, to the Iron Age hill fort at Old Sarum. From the remains of the early medieval settlement there, to the striking cathedral in present day Salisbury. A city with a captivating setting that has been attracting visitors since the early 1800s. The painter John Constable being one of the more well known.

Inside the World Heritage listed stone circle of Stonehenge at dawn.

The Stonehenge Landscape

Portion of the Downton Roman Mosaic in the Salisbury Museum, Wiltshire.

Downton Mosaic, Salisbury Museum

Salisbury Cathedral, the tallest church spire in Britain.

Salisbury Cathedral

Part of the medieval Doom painting in St Thomas' Church, Salisbury.

St Thomas’s Doom Painting

Interesting Things to Know about Salisbury Before You Go

  • Stonehenge attracts over a million visitors each year. The iconic stone circle is just one part of a much larger, complex prehistoric landscape. The large sarsen stones came from Marlborough, a distance of about 32 km, while the smaller bluestones are from the Preseli Mountains in South Wales, a distance of some 320 km. You can book dawn and sunset tours, which allow you to enter the stone circle.
  • The earliest settlement was on the outskirts of modern day Salisbury, the English Heritage site of Old Sarum. Artefacts from the Stone Age have been recovered, and the ramparts of an Iron Age hill fort are still very obvious. It was here that a motte and bailey castle was built shortly after the Norman Conquest. A cathedral was built abut 20 years later. The remains of the castle and the cathedral can be seen today.
  • For various reasons the site at what is today Old Sarum was no longer deemed suitable. With permission from the Pope it was agreed the cathedral could be relocated. On St Vitalis’s Day, April 28, 1220, construction of the new cathedral was begun. What is remarkable about the building of this cathedral is that it was completed in 38 years, within one century. The building of Salisbury Cathedral is the focus of Ken Follett’s historical novel ‘Pillars of the Earth’.
  • People come from all over the world just to see the magnificence of Salisbury Cathedral. At 123 metres high (or 40 ft), this is Britain’s tallest spire. The Cathedral’s cloister and Close are both the largest in Britain. The church’s turret clock was installed in 1386 and is still working, making this the oldest mechanical clock in the world. The Chapter House houses the finest of four original 1215 Magna Carta manuscripts.
  • Salisbury Museum has a vast collection of objects and artefacts covering some 500,000 years of local history. The Wessex Archaeology gallery alone displays 2,140 artefacts, including finds from Stonehenge and Old Sarum. The art collection, of over 4,000 items, includes five 5 watercolours by J.M.W Turner. Other artists represented are John Constable, Augustus John and Rex Whistler. The museum also holds about 2,000 examples of 18th and 19th century ceramic and porcelain, and a fashion collection with garments as old as 300 years.

Salisbury Travel Inspiration

An aerial view of Old Sarum on the outskirts of Salisbury, England.

Things to do in Salisbury

Archaeology Travel | Salisbury City Guide | 1

Self Guided Tour of Salisbury

An aerial view of Cathedral Close in Salisbury.

Salisbury Cathedral Close

Salisbury Travel Planner

Buy Attraction Tickets in Advance

Stonehenge Admission Ticket from GetYourGuide or Tiqets. Read more about visiting Stonehenge.

English Heritage Attractions Pass for Overseas Visitors from GetYourGuide (includes free cancellation). This is a good option should you be visiting a few English Heritage sites in England.

How to get to Salisbury

Train: Salisbury is on the direct line from London Waterloo. There are regular trains which take about 1h 30m, and if you book 12 weeks in advance, you can get a day return for as little as £12.
Car: Salisbury is on several main roads which lead straight into the city; the A36 from Southampton and Bath, A30 from London and A338 from Bournemouth.

Where to park in Salisbury

There are four Park & Ride sites outside the town, or you can park in the central car park. Further Details, Parking Charges and Locations are Available Online.

Historical places to eat in Salisbury

Salisbury has a wealth of places to eat and drink. The New Inn and The Rose & Crown do great food, and you will also find that most chains are well represented.

Accommodation in Salisbury

Although a popular destination, most visitors to Salisbury do not stay overnight. This means in the evening the city is not crowded with tourists in search of a meal and entertainment. In fact Salisbury has been awarded Purple Flag status for its night time economy and safety.

Historical places to stay in Salisbury

The Red Lion is centrally located, as is The White Hart. If you are visiting by train, then Caboose is a 1920s themed hotel which is right next to the train station. The Rose & Crown is a short walk from the cathedral with stunning views over the river.

Guided Tours that Include Stonehenge and Salisbury

Salisbury and Stonehenge are both popular day trips from London. They are combined with other popular historical destinations, such as Bath – another designated heritage city in England (see also our suggestions for things to do in Bath), Windsor and Winchester. Salisbury is also a popular day excursion for people stopping over in the port of Southampton as part of a cruise. Transfer from Southampton to London, via Salisbury, Stonehenge and Windsor.

Search for Archaeology and History Sites In and Around Salisbury

Map of archaeology sites and museums in England.

Interactive Map of England

Use the interactive map to search for archaeology and history sites and museums, landmarks and memorials and other points of interest in and near Salisbury. Salisbury is in Wiltshire, and is also close to the counties of Hampshire and Dorset. You can search for places of to visit within a specific county, or you can find sites near your present location. You can search for places within a specified radius of a named location, as well as refining the search to suit your interests. The map displays best on desktops and laptops, but it can be used on mobile devices – particularly to find sites and museums near your location.

Stonehenge under a dramatic sky.

Explore the Rest of Wiltshire

Salisbury is at the southern end of Wiltshire, closer to many places in Hampshire and Dorset than places of interest at the northern end of Wiltshire. While Stonehenge is very close, Avebury is further north, and over an hour from Salisbury (or 40 minutes from Stonehenge). As always, it depends on how far you are happy to travel to visit sites and museums, balancing that with the convenience of choosing one place for accommodation.

Downton Abbey, or rather Highclere Castle, in Hampshire.

Explore Hampshire from Salisbury

Salisbury is close to the Wiltshire/Hampshire border. If you are visiting Salisbury with a car, or hiring a car, the city can be a suitable and pleasant base to explore parts of Hampshire. For example, Breamore House with its medieval Miz Maze are not that far from Salisbury – about 30 minutes by car. Whereas Mottisfont Abbey is is slightly further at about 40 minutes drive, and Highclere Castle is just under an hour’s drive. Southampton is not that far, and very accessible from Salisbury by train.