Visit Stonehenge by train and take time in the south-west of England to enjoy this and many other highlights of the country’s history and cultural heritage.
What is Stonehenge?
The monument of Stonehenge, where 93 behemothic beauties stand proud, has long concealed its ancient secrets and remained a mystery for millenia. They are not all actually standing, as this number includes the rocks that are scattered around the ancient circle. Although still clearly a circle of standing stones, Stonehenge is made up of a collection of what are known as sarsen, station, lintels, heel, altar and slaughter stones.
The great standing stones measure around 4m tall and 2m wide and archaeologists believe they were installed between 3000 BCE to 2000 BCE. Expert views range from it having been a religious temple, burial ground and some even think it may have been an astronomical clock. Whatever its original purpose, it is now a British icon and one that is protected by English Heritage, National Trust and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Getting to Stonehenge by train
The nearest train station to Stonehenge is Salisbury where you can get a 35 mins tour bus to Stonehenge right outside the station. If you are planning to get the train from London to Stonehenge, it’s a 1 hr 30 mins direct train from Waterloo station. If you don’t want to get a tour bus, however, you can cycle to Stonehenge on a waymarked trail through Woodford Valley. You can bring your bike on the train, although you do need to reserve a space on South Western Railway which runs this route. You can also find bike rental in Salisbury and, for more information on cycling in the area, see the Wiltshire Tourist Board.
You can easily enjoy several days in England’s south-west, and we highly recommend doing so rather than doing a speedy day trip from London. Other great places to visit, all within easy train rides are the Georgian spa town of Bath, the charming market town of Bradford-on-Avon or head off for walks on the Wessex Downs or Cotswolds, as well as spending time in the ancient cathedral city of Salisbury itself.
Best time to go to Stonehenge
The busiest yet most exciting time for many people to visit Stonehenge is for the summer solstice, when the sun rises behind the Heel Stone and the first rays, on a good day, pierce the very heart of this ancient monument. During the winter solstice, the experience of watching the sun setting in the south-west is also a popular event, and marking this passage of time is believed to have been important for people here right back to Stonehenge’s Neolithic nascency.
You can book for these special events on the English Heritage website, along with entrance tickets for any other time of year. Stonehenge is open Monday-Sunday 09.30am-17.00 hrs. As one of the UK’s most popular sites, the best time to visit Stonehenge is outside the school holidays, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays the quieter days. If you are visiting from outside the UK, you can buy an Overseas Pass which gives entry to many of English Heritage’s other great sites such as Dover Castle, Whitby Abbey and various sites along Hadrian’s Wall.
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