If you're going through your list of things to see and do in London there's one visit you shouldn't miss: Stonehenge. It's one of the most magical places on the planet, in addition to its own value as a historical monument. Walking around its stone circles is definitely a unique experience.
However, it is important to take into account aspects such as the weather in the region and factors such as the large crowds to get the most out of your visit. Photography enthusiasts should also be aware of when sunlight or shadows can make images unrepeatable. Not forgetting, of course, the big moment that Stonehenge experiences every year: the summer solstice.
1. When is the best time to visit Stonehenge from London?
One of the most important aspects of deciding the best time to visit Stonehenge from London is the weather. In general, to limit as much as possible bad weather from ruining your trip from London to Stonehenge, it is best to visit in the summer months or, as a second best option, in the spring.
However, this does not preclude autumn and winter from also having their advantages for a trip to Stonehenge from London.
The area in which it is located, in the south-west of England, means that weather conditions are very changeable and rainfall is quite frequent. Added to this is the fact that the Neolithic monument is located on a large esplanade, with no areas for shelter other than inside the Visitor Centre, a couple of kilometres from the remains.
As a general rule, no matter when you choose to visit, it is important to check the weather forecast beforehand. Those who prefer to book one of the various excursions from London to the monument should also bear this in mind.
2. Visiting Stonehenge from London in the autumn: pros and cons
Although autumn in London is usually cold, what can really spoil a trip to Stonehenge from London is rain or even snow. In fact, on some occasions the monument's management can close the monument if conditions are too bad to pose a risk to visitors.
However, autumn also has some advantages for visitors to Stonehenge. For a start, there are usually far fewer visitors than in summer and there is nothing comparable to walking among the stones of the monument and the rest of what there is to see at Stonehenge without encountering crowds.
On the other hand, those lucky enough to be at Stonehenge on 22 September will be able to enjoy the autumnal equinox. Although less famous than the summer solstice at Stonehenge, this date is another popular date for followers of spiritual currents to visit the monument. On this day, the day lasts as long as the night and is considered to be a turning of the seasons.
- Advantages: less crowds and the possibility of experiencing the equinox there.
- Disadvantages: the possibility of rain and wind and the early closing of the monument.
3. Visiting Stonehenge from London in winter: pros and cons
If I already warned that visiting all the attractions of Stonehenge and the surrounding area in autumn could be spoilt by rain, the risk increases even more if you go to London in winter.
Tours, however, are still leaving from the capital, so if it's the only time you can do it, you shouldn't miss the chance. If you're lucky enough to have a bit of frost beforehand or a bit (just a bit) of mist, the sight of Stonehenge becomes almost ghostly.
December 21 marks the winter solstice, another time when Stonehenge becomes the focus of attention for many people. In particular, many people come to watch the sunrise to see how the sun is falling on the stone structures of the monument.
- Advantages: as in autumn, the main advantage is the convenience of seeing the monument without the crowds.
- Disadvantages: the rain that can fall quite frequently and the fact that the monument closes earlier.
4. Visiting Stonehenge from London in spring: pros and cons
For a start, the monument's opening hours are extended as the daylight hours increase. Although more people are starting to come, there are still not as many visitors as in the summer months. The temperature is also more pleasant for strolling around Stonehenge or visiting some of the nearby attractions.
- Advantages: The weather is starting to improve and the visit is more pleasant.
- Disadvantages: There is still quite a risk of rain and more visitors are starting to arrive.
5. Visiting Stonehenge from London in summer: pros and cons
If you are lucky enough to be enjoying London's monuments and London's best museums during the London summer you should not miss the chance to book a trip to Stonehenge or, if you prefer, make the visit on your own.
The weather tends to be much more pleasant during this time of year, making the visit much more enjoyable. If you have the opportunity, it is best to visit during the summer solstice, the most special day at Stonehenge.
- Advantages: it is the best time of the year to enjoy the Stonehenge experience.
- Disadvantages: The monument is quite crowded, especially at certain times of the day.
Here is a comparison of the weather in each of the seasons in case you decide to visit Stonehenge from London.
- December - March
- High 11ºC
- Minimum 3ºC
- Chance of rain: very high
- Best: few visitors to the city
- Worst: chance of rain
- Spring season
- March - June
- Maximum 16ºC
- Low 6ºC
- Chance of rain: high
- The best: more pleasant temperatures
- Worst: still a lot of rain
- June - August
- High 21ºC
- Minimum 11ºC
- Chance of rain: moderate
- Best: Solstice celebrations
- Worst: Crowds
- September - November
- Maximum 15ºC
- Minimum 7ºC
- Chance of rain: high
- Best: The scenery around the monument
- Worst thing: Unsettled weather
Best time to visit Stonehenge from London if you want to get the best pictures
As with all kinds of photography, the best times to visit Stonehenge with this in mind are early in the morning or before sunset. Bear in mind that, if you are one of those travellers who always have a camera (or mobile phone) at hand to make sure you don't miss a great photo opportunity, Stonehenge can certainly be a paradise.
If you've booked a tour to Stonehenge from London, you may arrive a few hours after sunrise, but the amount of light in the area won't be too much for the photos to be too contrasty or burnt out.
Every time of the year has its own characteristics for making great photographs. A good example is the atmosphere on some winter days, when there is a bit of haze or light filtering through the clouds.
If you've decided to travel from London to Stonehenge in your own vehicle, you can also try to capture images of the sunset, although you'll need a tripod (and set it up outside the complex) to get a good shot.
Best dates to visit Stonehenge from London
As I have already pointed out when discussing the different seasons, Stonehenge experiences several special days each season: the summer and winter solstices and the autumnal equinox.
Although for some years now they have been trying to control the number of visitors, this day is a magnet for many followers of new age beliefs or Druidism. If you are lucky enough to be there, you will not only enjoy the sunset or sunrise at the monument, but also the costumes of many of those present and the ceremonies they perform.
In case you can't make it on these special dates, English Heritage is streaming the highlights of the solstice and equinox live online, but if you're in London I highly recommend you book a tour to enjoy the day.
Best time to visit Stonehenge from London to enter the inner stone circle
Although it is not the usual thing to do, there is the possibility of hiring a special activity to enter the inner circle of the monument and here I explain the details. As long as the excursions have available dates, you can do this activity at any time.
Many people planning to visit Stonehenge from London may not know exactly what they are going to see beyond the iconic image that appears everywhere.
For a start, it should be noted that for several years now, it has been impossible to enter the inner stone perimeter. This decision was taken to protect the monument, which had come under threat from crowds and vandalism.
This rule, as I have mentioned, has one important exception: special access outside normal visiting hours. In order to walk around the stone circle, it is essential to hire an organised excursion that includes it, although it is also possible to try to obtain permission independently. However, groups are limited to 30 people.
The companies that organise the tours know in advance the times when these special visits are permitted. If you manage to do it on your own on the English Heritage website, be sure to check the special schedule to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
Best time to visit Stonehenge from London to see Stonehenge in low crowds
If you're trying to avoid the crowds, the best times to visit Stonehenge are in the cooler months. Whether on your own or on an organised tour, if the weather is kind to you, you'll have a unique experience walking around Stonehenge in a calm and relaxed way.
There are also differences in crowds depending on the day of the week. Weekends tend to be more crowded, as opposed to Monday to Wednesday.
In a normal year, Stonehenge can receive up to one million visitors, concentrated mainly in the months when the weather is good. Although the visit is still worthwhile, there is no doubt that the experience is much different when you can see the complex without the crowds.
Best time to visit Stonehenge from London and save time
Actually, there is no exact time of the year to visit Stonehenge and save that time, but there is a way to do it: organised tours from London. One of its advantages is, precisely, that they depart all year round, so it will always be an option at your disposal.
It is not surprising that, when visiting a city with as many activities as London, we all try to save time in order to enjoy as many as possible.
In addition, many of these tours combine a visit to Stonehenge with a visit to other nearby attractions, such as a visit to the wonderful city of Bath from London. To further enhance this time saving, the return to London is in plenty of time to see, for example, some of London's best musicals.
Best time to visit Stonehenge from London and see the surrounding area
In principle, any time is a good time to visit Stonehenge and take the opportunity to see the area around Stonehenge. The area is full of archaeological remains and religious buildings worth seeing.
If you had to choose a time of year to visit, late spring and early summer would be the best. Although there is certainly still a chance of rain, this time of year is perfect for enjoying the attractions without the crowds and in mild weather.
One of the most interesting options for these visits are the aforementioned organised tours. In addition to Stonehenge, you will find some that include Bath, Windsor Castle, Salisbury or even Oxford, where in spring you can still see its typical university atmosphere.