Stonehenge Top Tips
As we’re all stuck indoors in these unprecidented times, here at Tailored Tours we thought we’d shine some light on your day and share our best advice on travelling to Stonehenge next year. 2020 is likely to now be a complete washout, with all the travel restrictions and uncertainty looming over us.
That means 2021 is likely to be very busy. We’d hate to see your rescheduled/planned tour for 2021 to turn out anything other than special, because we are only interested in delivering the best unique experiences! A private tour may not be your thing, so we’ve compiled some helpful advice if you’re planning your own tour to Stonehenge, as well as some other useful information.
Getting To Stonehenge:
There are many options of getting to Stonehenge, but neither myself nor any tour expert can tell you the right answer for which method of transport is the best. That is because only YOU can answer that question, depending on multiple factors… how much time do you have? How much information do you want? Do you want to combine your visit with other nearby cities? Are you looking for the cheapest possible way to visit Stonehenge?
The majority of people visiting the UK will opt for a tour bus to Stonehenge. These buses predominantly operate from London and will give you a maximum of 2 hours at the sight, which is perfect if you want the comfort of not having to organise your own travel. There are 4 or 5 main companies that operate tours to Stonehenge every day, but the next big question is which company to choose and what tour? My advice would be research as much as possible! Look at online reviews, compare prices and review tour passenger sizes if you don’t want to be surprised that another 60 people are on the same tour as you.
It’s not rocket science, but usually the cheaper the tour is, the larger the group will be. If this doesn’t bother you, I would recommend this type of visit. However, if you’re looking for something a little more intimate, you can research into the small group day trips, which may cost you more but will usually provide more comfort, information and time at the sights. Many of these small group tours are more expensive and include 3 or more tourist attractions in 1 day, so they can be a bit rushed if you’re not used to action packed visits.
If you want the comfort of visiting Stonehenge for as long as you want, there are 2 main options. If you’re staying in London, you could then book a day return train ticket to London to Salisbury for £40pp and then catch a 30 minute bus from Salisbury to Stonehenge. To avoid disappointment, book your entrance in advance and adhere to the time slot you are given. The final option for travel would be booking your own private tour, which may be more expensive but will ensure you have the correct amount of time that you want, without the hassle of other passengers or public transport.
How much time should I allow for Stonehenge?
Now you know there are many options available for visiting, I’m sure you’ll appreciate that time is the most important factor when it comes to visiting any attraction in the world, yet when it comes to Stonehenge, so many people are left still wanting more.
A few years ago Stonehenge looked very different, a difficult fact to comprehend because it’s 5000 years old! Four years ago English Heritage built a £27 million visitor centre which is 1.5 miles away from the actual stones themselves. Whereas in the past there were no artifacts to look at, the recent investment in Stonehenge has somewhat changed the way many tour operators now extend their time at the stones. Beware that if you’re planning to see Stonehenge and a couple of other sights in 1 day, the extra allowed time at Stonehenge will take away time from the other attractions. English Heritage recommends 2 hours to properly take in the visitor centre, shop, cafe, Neolithic Village and the Stones themselves. If you’re someone who is more interested in getting a selfie with Stonehenge, this is probably too much time for you. Likewise, if you are a keen historian or into archeology it will perhaps be a bit too short. Most tour busses visiting 3 sights in a day will spend between 1 hour 15 minutes or perhaps 1 hour 30 minutes maximum, giving you just a taste of the sight. Work out how interested you are about the stones before planning your visit.
What should I wear?
Whenever someone starts complaining about the ‘typical British weather’ I always remind them that they aren’t on this magnificent island for the sun, but for its history and heritage. If only Neolithic man was wise enough to build Stonehenge in Barbados, my job would be a lot better and I’d have a great tan, but Stonehenge was built in the middle of a giant field known today as The Salisbury Plain and when it’s windy in the South West of England, it blows straight through the centre of the stones. Stonehenge gets wet as well as windy, and if the winds are strong, your umbrella isn’t! If travelling in the winter, remember to take a waterproof jacket or poncho. I’d also recommend gloves so that your hands don’t freeze whilst you’re taking photos or listening to your hand held audio guide. There is nothing worse than not being able to take a picture because your fingers have stopped working!
Information at Stonehenge:
The visitor centre at Stonehenge provides you with a plethora of artefacts, videos and information inside the exhibition centre; for more info go onto English Heritages own webpage:
Group tours are usually provided with an audio guide that is complimentary, whereas individual bookings are required to pay a subsidy for the guide. In the peak season many groups are left without the audios as English Heritage run out at maximum capacity. To avoid disappointment, you can download the Audio Guide on your phone with the free Wi-Fi available in the cafe. This is completely free to download but will only provide you with information in English.
To get the best understanding of Stonehenge and its theories, you need a quality tour guide. Making sense of Stonehenge is very hard to do, something that most historians and archeologists have even failed at! I go back to my old mantra of research… go on Tripadvisor, Expedia and Viator as your main comparison websites for tour operators, but beware that some reviews may be misleading if people haven’t listened to their guide or are unhappy about the rushed itinerary they have purchased.
What is the best season to visit Stonehenge?
Going back to the question about recommended time at Stonehenge, you can never tell if you’re going to need 1 hour or 3 hours at the stones, because it all depends on the queues. It takes time to collect the complimentary group audio guides, leaflets and entrance tickets if you have just arrived behind 5 large tour groups, or even longer if you are passenger number 59 of 60 getting off the coach! Stonehenge received as many as 10,000 pre-bookings on their busiest day last summer, which creates an atmosphere over double the population of Britain 7000 years ago! What is more, these 10,000 people have to all catch a shuttle bus to the stones unless they are willing to walk 1.5 miles from the visitor centre. If you are travelling in the peak summer season, please be prepared to A. Extend your private visit to Stonehenge or B. expect a whistle-stop visit to get your selfie with Stonehenge. I bet the freezing fingers doesn’t sound so bad now does it?!
What is the best time to visit Stonehenge?
My personal recommendation is to get to Stonehenge as it opens. Regardless of travelling on a big bus, small bus, private tour or individually, the earlier you get to the attraction, the smaller the queues will be. Stonehenge opens between 9:00am and 9:30am depending on the seasons, requiring a departure time of around 7:30am to 8:00am from London if you’re planning on being the first ones there. It usually makes for a better picture when you haven’t got your family photo with someone getting a selfie in the corner!
Combining your visit to Stonehenge:
If you’re interested in Ancient Britain, you can book themed tours that will take you to similar destinations like Avebury and Old Sarum, only 30-40 minutes from Stonehenge. If you’re looking for a variety of places to visit and would like to combine this monument with a beautiful city, Salisbury, Bath and Windsor are my top picks to combine in the South West of England.
Thank you for taking the time to read my Secrets to Stonehenge – Top Tips for Overseas Visitors. Follow us on Facebook & Instagram for more updates and tips!