It’s a jubilant time to visit Britain. Between the Queen’s Jubilee and the upcoming summer Olympics, London is primed for the world’s spotlight. Which is exactly why you’ll want to head out of town for a day trip. Escape the hoards of crowds coming to see sprinters and javelin throwers with a British rail ticket.
You can’t come all this way and not visit mysterious, mythical Stonehenge. For many, the rocks are a “bucket list” item. Although Stonehenge is a fun day trip, it will not take up your whole day, so you can easily add the Salisbury Cathedral and or travel to Bath all in the same day.
What is Stonehenge?
These 40-ton rocks that had been dragged through a desolate plain to Salisbury Hill still puzzle scholars and visitors. The history behind these stones is unclear. Whether Stonehenge was a religious temple, astronomical clock or a burial ground has never been proven. As you visit the site, let your imagination be your guide to the mystery and legend that surrounds these strange stones. And don’t leave without taking the requisite photos of trying to knock one of these mammoth structures over. (That Clark Griswold bit in European Vacation? Comic gold, but simply not possible.)
How to Get to Stonehenge?
Standing in a grassy field in the Wiltshire countryside, Stonehenge is seemingly in the middle of nowhere. But getting here is easy – from London’s Waterloo station, it’s just an hour and 24 minutes to Salisbury followed by a short bus ride from the Salisbury train station. The bus is located right outside the station and comes every hour on the off season and every half hour on the peak season. Tickets can be purchased locally or online 24 hours in advance.
The Train Trip from London to Salisbury
The trains from London to Salisbury are operated by the South Western trains. Although they are not high-speed trains, they offer a comfortable ride with on board resources, such as, food services and quiet zones. There are two direct trains per hour and the travel time is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. The ticket prices range from $60 to $102.
While in Salisbury, Visit the Salisbury Cathedral
No need to head back to London just yet. You have to travel through Salisbury to get to Stonehenge, so since you are already in town, the Salisbury Cathedral is an easy addition. Salisbury has one of the most incredible medieval cathedrals in all of Britain. For over 750 years, pilgrims have come to Salisbury to seek inspiration and peace or to climb the 404-foot spire – the tallest in England. Also here, in the Charter House, one of four copies left of the Magna Carta. One of the world’s most significant documents, the work is often claimed to be the cornerstone of liberty, law and democracy.
Bath can Easily be Added to your Day Trip to Stonehenge
From Salisbury, it’s a mere 54 minutes by train to Bath, with its perfectly preserved Roman temple and spa. This spa town is so rich in history, it’s one of only two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the region. And while you no longer can sit in the thermal, curative waters of Bath, you’ll still leave refreshed and renewed.
Bath features both Georgian architecture, a perfectly preserved Roman temple and spa and Britain’s only natural hot springs. Cross the Pulteney Bridge – designed after the covered bridges of Florence – over the river Avon to the Roman Baths where centurions soaked their warrior aches away.
On Board the First Great Western Train Line from Salisbury to Bath
Most of the First Great Western trains now have an Express Café or trolley service with a beverages and snacks. Also, there are visible luggage racks and overhead storage for your belongings.
The fares for this train trip range from $6 to $52. The $6 fare is only available prior to the day of travel and is not available on the day of travel. On the same day the cost of the same ticket is $27. These tickets can be purchased from Rail Europe at the same prices found locally in the UK.
How to Get Back to London from Bath?
From Bath, it’s only 90 minutes back to London’s Paddington Station. And just like that, you’ve visited a prehistoric conundrum, a spectacular castle, world-renowned documents and an ancient ruin.
Onboard the First Great Western Line Back to London from Bath
The train that takes you back to London is again First Great Western line. This train ride is approximately 1 hour and a half the prices for a one-way range from $35 to $216. The $35 fare can only be purchased in advance and is not available on the day of travel.
The best way to travel outside of London? Unlike Stonehenge, this is no mystery. Take the train to see more than just the big cities. Relax while rolling along the tracks…
…like a stone