If you're planning a trip to England and are able to travel outside of London, you're in luck! The English countryside is lovelier than anything you've seen in pictures. I'll be writing a series of posts with travel advice for non-London areas. This is the first. If you'll only be able to get to London proper, check out my previous post with London tips.
Stonehenge, among the best-known prehistoric monuments in Europe, is curated by English Heritage. If you've ever wondered at the mystery of Stonehenge's construction or use, you should consider a trip. Stonehenge is just a stone's throw (haha) away from London, near Amesbury and Salisbury. When we visited, we overnighted at the Holiday Inn Salisbury-Stonehenge. We were upgraded to a fantastic round room with floor-to-ceiling windows and many fabulous amenities. We also dined at the hotel's restaurant, the aptly named Solstice Bar and Grill. Our meals were fine by hotel restaurant standards, and I was pleased to be able to find somewhere close by to eat. There's not much going on in the area. In fact, seeing no breakfast options to speak of, we bought pastries and juice at a convenience store within walking distance, and ate while cozy in the plush robes that were part of our room upgrade. It was divine. It's the little things, you know?
Obviously, Stonehenge is quite the attraction, so arrive early. Be prepared to wait in substantial traffic on the way into the parking lots. Also, be sure to leave time to explore the exhibits on-site.
When you're ready to see the Neolithic monument that is Stonehenge, you'll need to get into what will likely be another rather long line. Buses run from the visitor's center to the monument area; the trip is about ten minutes. If you choose to walk, be prepared for a bit of a hike.
The monument itself is usually swarming with people, which makes getting a good photo a bit difficult, but well worth hanging around for a clear shot.
If you're interested in other sightseeing near Stonehenge, I would recommend the Salisbury Cathedral. Not only is this a majestic example of early English architecture and home to Britain's tallest spire, the Cathedral complex also houses the Magna Carta.
Another suggestion for sightseeing in the area, particularly if you love gardens, history, or both, is the Wilton House, the country seat to the Earls of Pembroke and the site of Eisenhower and Churchill's D-Day preparations.
You can tour the house and grounds, both of which are really well curated and fascinating. The home is still in use by the Earl of Pembroke and his family.
During our visit, an art gallery, video exhibit about the history of the property, and an exhibit of classic cars were all available to explore. One thing I particularly liked about the property was the park and playground that are maintained for use by residents of the area. There were many, many families enjoying picnics and children playing while we were at the Wilton House. I think it's great that the Earl of Pembroke is willing to let the public use his backyard (granted, I do believe there is a very small fee).
We also had beautiful weather during our visit. It was very memorable, and very lovely.
Have you been to the Salisbury area? What did you most enjoy seeing? Stay tuned for future posts with travel tips for the English countryside and other notable cities. Thanks for reading!