Europe/ Travel/ UK

Visiting Stonehenge: a complete guide including FREE options [2024]

Visiting Stonehenge is a must-do for all travellers, whether you’re from the UK or visiting from abroad, at least once in their lives.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, arguably the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe and nearly a wonder of the world, the Neolithic site is shrouded in history and mystery. This only adds to its importance as a vital part of our heritage and makes it a truly fascinating place to explore.

In this guide, I’ll cover all you need to know about visiting Stonehenge from how to get there to how much it costs and what you’ll experience while you’re there.

Guide to visiting Stonehenge

Visiting Stonehenge: the essentials

Where should I stay to visit Stonehenge?

The nearest major cities to Stonehenge are Bath, Bristol and London, although it’s easily visitable in one day from Bournemouth, Brighton and Oxford too – to name just a few.

If you’re looking for accommodation in England, I always use Booking.com for a wide variety of options – and Genuis discounts, hello!

 

Why is Stonehenge so special?

Even though Stonehenge as we know it was built around 2500 BC, so much about its construction and meaning is still a mystery to us.

There’s even evidence that an early monument was built on the site before the unique stone circle, around 5,000 years ago, so it’s extremely likely that there’s a deeper religious or spiritual meaning to Stonehenge.

There are so many mysteries surrounding Stonehenge: for example, how and why the Stones were transported to the area, as they originate from the Preseli Mountains in Wales!

The Stones are also positioned to align perfectly with the sun on the solstices. On the summer solstice, the sun rises behind the Heel Stone in the north-east and shines directly into the heart of Stonehenge. On the winter solstice, the sun sets to the south-west of the stone circle.

Stonehenge stone circle

Is it worth visiting Stonehenge?

Yes: without a doubt, Stonehenge is worth the visit.

Honestly, as a Brit who’d grown up knowing it was only a few hours away, I wasn’t sure how meaningful the trip to Stonehenge would be. However, it was amazing to learn about the history of the local area and how many other ancient monuments surround Stonehenge – it’s clearly a special place.

I’ll go into more detail on what exactly you’ll experience later but for now, let’s get you there!

How to get to Stonehenge

By car

Stonehenge is just one hour from Bath and Bristol, and two hours from London by road. Stonehenge is located just off the A303 – you may even catch a glimpse of the stone circle as you drive past!

Enter the postcode SP4 7DE and follow the brown and white tourist signs to the Stonehenge Visitor Centre.

Please note if you’re arriving by car, parking is free if you’ve pre-booked your tickets. If not, you’ll have to pay for parking initially – although it’s fully refundable on the purchase of a ticket to Stonehenge.

By train

You can take a direct train from London Waterloo to Salisbury, the nearest train station, in around 90 minutes. Regular trains also run from Bristol, Bath or Southampton.

From Salisbury, take a taxi or the Stonehenge Tour Bus which departs hourly from the railway station forecourt.

By coach

There are many companies offering coach tours, particularly from London Victoria. There are also small group and private hire options available to book, which is a great option if you’re travelling solo and want to meet other people.

How much does it cost to visit Stonehenge?

Ticket prices

There is a charge to visit the Stonehenge offical attraction which includes viewing the Stones, plus the visitor centre and exhibitions. It’s slightly cheaper to book your tickets for Stonehenge online, which also saves you waiting in line to get in.

In 2024, ticket prices vary depending on the season and day of the week – as you’d expect weekends are slightly more expensive.

To give you an idea of the costs of visiting Stonehenge, weekday off-peak adult tickets start at around £23 with the voluntary donation (£20.90 without) or weekends start from £26 in the winter season – currently until March 2024.

Child (5-17), concession or family tickets are available too.

English Heritage members get free entry to Stonehenge so take your membership card with you on the day – you can still book in advance too.

Individual English Heritage memberships cost £5.75 per month or £69 per year so if you’re planning to visit multiple English Heritage sites over the next year, it may work out cheaper to buy a membership.

Can I visit Stonehenge for free?

While you can’t get as close to Stonehenge as with a paid ticket, there are free walking trails that take you alongside the visitor area!

Park for free around Fargo Road (we saw quite a few campervans who’d stayed overnight in this spot) and take the footpath at the end of Willoughby Road directly to Stonehenge. It’ll take you about 20 minutes which is faster than parking up at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre car park – and cheaper too, as you won’t have to pay for parking.

I’d particularly recommend this option if you can get to Stonehenge before or after the opening/closing times in the summer, as you’ll likely have a much clearer view without all the paid visitors between you and the path. The view you’ll get is similar to this – just even further back.

How to visit Stonehenge free

What to expect on your trip to Stonehenge

What is the best time to go to Stonehenge?

The quietest times to visit are before 11:00 or after 14:00.

We booked our tickets for 10:30 arrival on a Friday. You can arrive within 30 minutes of the time stated on your ticket so we actually parked up around 10:15 and could go straight into the museum.

What should I expect when I visit Stonehenge?

It’s not just the famous stone circle you can visit at Stonehenge! There’s also an amazing visitor centre with an exhibition telling you all about the area’s history, virtual Stones experience and model Neolithic houses.

Stonehenge Visitor Centre Neolitihic Housees

When it comes to visiting the monument itself, this is situated a little way from the visitor centre which works to build up the excitement! You can take the shuttle Visitor Bus to the Stones – they run on a constant loop and take around 10 minutes to get there.

However I wouldn’t recommend this option unless you aren’t super mobile as the other option is a really lovely walk. This takes a little longer – probably 20 minutes along the road or 30 minutes if you take the scenic detour along the fields.

As well as being a really pretty part of the countryside, there’s also some history to the fields as they’re home to some ancient burial mounds, so it’s definitely worth the detour at least one-way.

There’s also the classic gift shop and café but we didn’t check them out so I can’t recommend them either way!

How close can I get to Stonehenge itself?

With normal access tickets, you can get within a few metres of Stonehenge but must not venture beyond the roped-off area. The picture below is probably the closest vantage point you’ll get – pretty amazing, but still a decent way back.

If you’re like to visit the Stonehenge inner circle, this is only possible with specialist Stone Circle Experience tickets.

How to visit Stonehenge England

What is the Stonehenge Stone Circle Experience?

The Stone Circle Experience allows 30 people at a time to go inside the stone circle. Time slots are extremely limited, as they take place around the site’s official opening hours – around sunrise and sunset.

You have to take the shuttle bus to the Stones on this experience so you’ll get around 45 minutes inside the inner circle. While you still can’t touch or stand on the stones, you can take as many photos as you’d like and a guide will be with you to answer any questions.

If Stonehenge and its history has a special meaning to you and you’re willing to work around those time slots, it’s 100% worth the extra cost for the Stone Circle Experience. Even having visited once already, I’d absolutely consider it.

The Stone Circle Experience costs £61 for adults and £37 for children aged 5 – 17 (children under five go free) until March 2025, with English Heritage Member discounts available.

Incredible views at Stonehenge

How long should I spend visiting Stonehenge?

You can enter Stonehenge within 30 minutes of the time allocated on your ticket and stay as long as you like.

I’d recommend allocating two hours to your visit at an absolute minimum, although we enjoyed nearly four hours here on our visit. It was an absolutely glorious day so we enjoyed our picnic on the grass with an unbelievable view of the stone circle.

The last allowed entry is two hours before closing time so bear that in mind if you’re hoping to go later in the day.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’ve officially learned all you need to know about visiting Stonehenge for the day. I hope you have a wonderful trip – believe me, it’s so worth it!

Laura

If you liked this post, you may also like:

The 10 BEST things to do in Anglesey, North Wales
Underrated things to do in Liverpool, England
Sustainable glamping at Wild Wellingtons, Wales
How to see the real-life Hogwarts Express in Scotland

Pin this post to save it for later!

Everything you need to know before visiting Stonehenge

You Might Also Like

No Comments

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.