A trip to Stonehenge, about 130 kilometres west of London, is one of the most amazing experiences you should have during a trip to England. Little is known of its origins, only that it dates back to the late Neolithic period, but Europe's most famous prehistoric monument is shrouded in a magical aura that holds a real fascination for those who have the chance to see it.
Although you can take the train or bus to visit Stonehenge on your own, considering how far it is from London and how difficult it is to get there by public transport, my advice is to take an organised tour to Stonehenge in a comfortable bus, which will make things easier for you and where you will have the assistance of a guide to better understand the meaning of this enigmatic megalithic monument. Here are the best options:
The best value organised tour to Stonehenge
Perfect if you want to make the most of your visit to one of England's most famous monuments, optimising your time and in the most comfortable way possible. Includes audio guide and time to explore the site at your leisure.
I 100% recommend you to make time during your trip to the British capital to take this full-day trip to Stonehenge and see the most famous megalith in the world in person. It's an amazing place that will impress you! To make the most of the day, the tour starts early, at 7am. You can catch the bus at two different points in the city (London Bridge Street and Harrington Gardens) to head to Stonehenge.
Ahead of you is a two-hour drive to Salisbury Plain, a lonely, treeless, uninhabited wasteland where this ancient monument, thousands of years old, is located.
The best thing about this Stonehenge tour is that it offers the convenience of an organised tour with the independence of an audio guide, so you can explore the famous megalith, the museum and the reconstruction of a Neolithic settlement at your own pace and at your own leisure.
Once there, you will have 3 hours to enjoy this magical place to which, since time immemorial, man has attributed a special meaning of connection between the earthly and the supernatural, which today many researchers continue to study in order to unravel its enigmatic symbolism.
At the end of the tour, you will board the coach back to London, where you can sit back and reminisce about all you have learnt and experienced at Stonehenge during this exciting journey.
Why I like this tour: This tour offers the advantages of joining an organised tour (you don't have to worry about timetables or transport) and the advantages of touring the site at your own pace. You'll be able to follow the audio guide commentary to understand everything you see without having to stick to the steps and schedules of a group, as you'll have up to 3 hours to walk around the site at your own pace.
Recommended if... you want to make the most of this mystery of humanity but don't want to invest too much time or money during your trip to London.
Visit Stonehenge and tour Bath, England's most beautiful city
If you want to spend the whole day out of the City, there is nothing better than discovering not only Stonehenge, but also the beauty of Bath, the city of Jane Austen. You can visit the Bath Baths as an optional extra.
If during your trip to London you can set aside a whole day for a trip to the outskirts of the city, my advice is to take the opportunity to see as many of the nearby sites as you can in one go. For example, Stonehenge and Bath. Not only will you have the opportunity to discover Europe's most popular prehistoric monument, but also one of the most charming cities in the British countryside, which happens to be situated very close to Stonehenge. Sounds great, doesn't it?
The adventure begins at 8:30 AM when the group meets at Victoria Coach Station (Stop W) to board the coach for Stonehenge, the first stop on the tour.
The journey is a short one as the tour guide gives a short briefing on what you will see at the destination. Just two hours after leaving London you will arrive at Salisbury Plain, the site of this magnificent megalithic monument thousands of years old.
During your visit, you'll have time to leisurely admire Stonehenge, visit the museum and explore the Neolithic settlement at your leisure while listening to the audio guide narration. Seeing this prehistoric construction with your own eyes is like a journey back in time to the origins of mankind and an unforgettable experience.
The second stop on the tour is Bath. The journey takes about an hour one way and along the way you will also hear a short introduction to this charming Somerset county town. If Bath is famous for anything, it is for its Roman baths with medicinal waters, for its university, for being the home of the famous writer Jane Austen and for its elegant streets dotted with beautiful 18th century mansions.
On the Bath tour you will see such highlights of the city as Pulteney Bridge, the Jane Austen Centre, the Assembly Rooms and the Royal Crescent and enjoy free time to explore the city at your own pace or, if you choose the option, to enter the Roman Baths (but not bathe in them as this is not permitted).
At the end of the tour to Stonehenge and Bath you will get back on the coach to return to London after an intense day full of excitement and memories.
Why I like this tour: This tour allows you to see two of England's most iconic sites in one day for a reasonable price and in just one day, so it won't take up too much of your time in London.
Recommended if... you're someone who wants to see the more the better. On this tour you'll enjoy the beauty of Bath and the enormity of the Stonehenge complex.
When to visit Stonehenge?
Declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, this monument is worth a visit at any time of the year, but there are particularly special moments such as the summer and winter solstices (when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky and crosses the monument's axis with precision and slips between its rocks).
During the summer solstice, groups of Druids accompanied by a wide variety of people come to Stonehenge to perform rituals with a magical background, celebrating the union between the sun and the Earth. It is a most curious event!
When to book your tickets for Stonehenge?
As it is a very popular tourist attraction, I advise you to book your tickets online as far in advance as possible to secure your place on the tour on the date of your choice.
How long does it take to get to Stonehenge from London?
This prehistoric monument is located almost two hours from the British capital.
What to wear to see Stonehenge?
This megalithic monument is located outdoors in the middle of a landscape that is not protected from wind and rain. Before setting off on your excursion I advise you to take a look at the weather forecast for the area to try to choose a day with stable weather.
With this in mind, my advice is to take warm clothes with you as, except on the hottest days of summer, the cool (or even freezing!) breeze is almost always blowing. Don't forget to pack a mackintosh in your backpack in case there is a risk of rain on the day of your visit. It is essential to adapt your clothing to the weather on the day of your excursion.
On the other hand, as with any excursion, the best thing to do to see Stonehenge is to wear comfortable shoes, as you will be walking for several hours.
Is Stonehenge a monument to visit with children?
Absolutely. The little ones can run around the meadow and be amazed by the size of the rocks, while the older ones will have the chance to get closer to history by going on a fun excursion.
But... what is Stonehenge really?
You've probably seen it in books and documentaries countless times before, as it is Europe's most famous prehistoric monument and one of Britain's iconic landmarks.
Surrounded by a moat, Stonehenge is a megalithic construction in the form of two concentric rings made up of large vertical stone blocks that form a unique sight recognisable from miles away.
Little is known about the site, and it remains an enigma to anthropologists and historians around the world. Only that it was built between 3000 and 1500 BC (towards the end of the Neolithic period). (late Neolithic and early Bronze Age) and that it was part of a larger structure that included ceremonial avenues and stone circles.
Everything else is hypothesised, from who built it to its purpose. Some theories suggest that it may have been an astronomical observatory to predict the seasons, since at the summer solstice the sun rose through the axis of the megalith.
Others maintain that Stonehenge was a religious temple or a funerary monument used as a necropolis for notables of the time, as hundreds of burials have been found nearby.
While research continues to try to shed more light on this mysterious megalithic monument, Stonehenge has now become an important site where modern Druids perform mystical rituals on Midsummer's Eve.
What will you see at Stonehenge?
My experience visiting Stonehenge
After a leisurely two-hour drive through England, the bus dropped us off near the Stonehenge visitor centre and before we got there we had to go through an airport-like security check where our belongings were searched.
Although within the Stonehenge site there is also a museum and a reproduction of a prehistoric settlement, it was clear to us that the first thing we wanted to see was this legendary megalithic monument. So we headed to the area where you take the free minibus to get there as soon as possible, as it was quite crowded and there were some queues.
I had seen it in pictures many times and imagined it many times but nothing compares to seeing it in person. It is a mixture of excitement and disbelief. I had before me one of the few remaining vestiges of prehistoric times in the world. How could they build something like this with hardly any means?
It makes you want to get as close as possible to feel the rocks and try to unravel this enigma older than the pyramids of Egypt, but a rope fence limits the distance to the monument and the route to follow.
You have to make do with viewing it from a distance, but the visit allows you to walk around Stonehenge to take photos from all angles and enjoy the beautiful green landscape that surrounds it.
Being there you get an idea of why this place was so important to early civilisations. There's something about it that makes it so special that it's hard to put into words - you have to see it!
Discovering the Neolithic
Along the way, if you pay attention, you will see some signs pointing to other places of interest such as an ancient necropolis or an avenue dating back to 2300 BC that links the megalith to the Avon River. It is believed that this road connected with a ceremonial route to celebrate the passing of the seasons according to the movement of the sun.
You can learn much more about this at the museum in the visitor centre. After the visit to Stonehenge we head back to the starting point to enter the exhibition which delves into the history of Stonehenge and its significance as well as the lives of the people who erected this monument thousands of years ago.
Here you can see various prehistoric objects (tools, jewellery, pottery...) taken from various archaeological excavations as well as the forensic reconstruction of the face of a man who may have been at Stonehenge 5,500 years ago.
I also recommend that you visit the recreation of a Neolithic settlement in this area, which was created from excavations carried out in Durrington dating from that period.
Although on the Stonehenge tour we have the assistance of an audio guide that explains what we are seeing, I think this museum is the perfect complement to better understand this stage of history so unknown to the general public, so I recommend that you spend some time during the visit.
You may not be a big fan of museums but the Stonehenge museum has a very cool interactive part that always makes the experience more enjoyable. Especially if you are travelling with children.
If you like this tour, you might be interested in
If you have already visited London on other occasions and want to discover other gems of England, I recommend that you take a look at the article The best excursions from London where you will find some of the most entertaining and interesting things to do during your holiday. It will be difficult to choose just one!
In case after the excursion to Stonehenge you want to focus on exploring London to learn a bit more about its history, don't miss the articles about the Tower of London or Westminster Abbey as well as The best excursions and tours in London or The best tourist buses to discover the most outstanding corners of the city.
Frequently asked questions
How long does it take to get to Stonehenge from London?
As Stonehenge is about 145 km (90 miles) west of London, it takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes to get there, either by car or train.
Can I travel independently to Stonehenge?
There may, however, be a few caveats. The train from Waterloo to Salisbury, the nearest train station 15 km (9 miles) away, is usually quite expensive, and you will have to take the shuttle bus to Stonehenge to cover the distance between the station and the site. For this reason, many travellers opt for a guided tour as it is the easiest solution to go directly to Stonehenge.
Can I touch the stones at Stonehenge?
Not normally, as the stones are protected by a velvet cord 364 days of the year. There is one exception, however, during the Summer Solstice Festival, where people camp in the field next to Stonehenge on the summer solstice to watch the sunrise on the first day of the new season.