A trip to Stonehenge, about 80 miles west of London, is one of the most amazing experiences you should have on a trip to England. Little is known of its origins, other than 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 landmarks and make the most of your time in the most comfortable way possible. Includes audio guide and time to explore the site at your leisure.
I 100% recommend you make time during your trip to the British capital to take this full-day excursion 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 get to Stonehenge.
Ahead lies a two-hour drive to Salisbury Plain, a lonely, treeless, treeless wasteland where this ancient monument, thousands of years old, is located.
The great 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, museum and 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 get back on the coach to London where you can sit back and reminisce about what you have learned and experienced at Stonehenge during this exciting trip.
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 will 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 will 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.
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 out in the open in the middle of a landscape that is not protected from wind or rain. Before you set off on your excursion I advise you to check the weather forecast for the area to try and pick 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 the 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 will be able to 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 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 (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 arriving 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?
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 keep from the monument and the route to follow.
You have to be content to contemplate 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 is 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 out other places of interest such as an ancient necropolis or an avenue from 2300 BC that links the megalith to the river Avon. It is believed that this road connected to 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 the site, which was created from excavations 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 dedicate some time to it during your 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 you to take a look at the article The best excursions from London where you will find some of the most entertaining and interesting proposals to do during your holidays. 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.