Having never given much thought to a bucket list, I wasn’t even aware that I had one, that is until I found myself checking off my number one item! Stonehenge! We’ve traveled to England a number of times, but somehow getting to Stonehenge always seemed too complicated, and with so much to see and do in London, it just never happened. This time I was determined we would make the trek. And it is a trek, but definitely worth it.
Visiting in December meant it was extremely cold the day of our visit, and we experienced all kinds of weather, from snow and hail to bright sun and then finally a heavy rain. At one point during the drive snow was falling so heavily we thought we might see the stones covered in white. That didn’t turn out to be the case, but we did see some heavy frost.
It’s hard to believe these photos were all taken on the same day, but the weather was changing constantly.
Stonehenge was smaller than I thought it would be. Of course the stones are actually immense, but their location in the middle of a large open space made it hard to get an impression of just how large they are. Even up close.
There is a walkway, which encircles the stones, and although you can’t touch, or walk right up to them, you can get pretty close. Our early arrival on a cold winter morning meant less people, and I was able to get all the photos I wanted.
Visiting the world’s most famous prehistoric monument was an amazing experience, and had it not been so cold I think I could have lingered for hours. That said, my family did not feel quite the same awe, they were just too cold, and at one point my older son had pulled his hat down over his face to keep the cold out.
What is Stonehenge?
The origin of Stonehenge and it’s true purpose is still a mystery, but we were interested to learn that they do know quite a lot. The history on this site goes back 4500+ years, and I was surprised to learn that the stones, which at one time formed a circle, were built in several stages over the course of 1500 years!
Interactive exhibitions outside the visitor center included stepping inside replicas of 4500 year old neolithic homes, and attempting to move a stone.
Some of the inside experiences include a 5000 year old man, and experiencing what it would be like to stand inside the stone circle as the seasons pass you by including both the winter and summer solstice.
What’s Next On My List?
Once I realized I do indeed have a bucket list I found myself wondering what else was on it. As it turns out I’d already checked off quite a few items including, visits to Ireland and Japan, Anne Frank’s House, The Statue of Liberty, Pompeii and The Colosseum in Rome.
The List is subject to change, and is more of a rough outline then a final draft, but here are a few of my top priorities: Dubrovnik, Angkor Wat, and the Parthenon.
Have you been to Stonehenge? Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it?
Tips & Advice:
Getting to Stonehenge
There are multiple options for getting to Stonehenge:
- Rent A Car – this is probably the most flexible option, but if you’re not comfortable with driving on the right side of the road it might not be the best choice.
- Join a Tour – Our family tour bus days are over, but if you fancy joining a group there are multiple tour companies, which make the 2 hour trip from London to Stonehenge, many of them also include Windsor and Bath.
- Public Transportation – The nearest train station to Stonehenge is Salisbury, which happens to be 9.5 miles from the visitor center. Buses run from Salisbury to Stonehenge, but how often they run depends on the time of year.
- Private Guide – This final option is probably the most expensive, but it is also the most convenient and was what worked best for our family. We made our own schedule and itinerary, but didn’t have to wait on others or worry about timetables or directions.
- Purchase your tickets online in advance.
- The stones are located about 1 mile from the visitor center, and there is a walkway, but if your’e not up for walking, or it’s too cold, you can take the shuttle bus, which is included with your ticket purchase.
- Arrive as early as possible. Not only will you wait in shorter lines, but you’ll have less people in your photos!
- We arrived by 9:30 am, and got directly on the shuttle bus, however when we returned I noticed the line was long and it was freezing out.
- Speaking of freezing out, it was bitterly cold during our visit, and because we read it could be muddy we wore our wellies. In hindsight we should have worn warmer boots, and even with hats, scarves and multiple layers we were still very cold.
- The visitor Center at Stonehenge is really well done, with interactive exhibitions, a cafe, and of course a gift shop.
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I’m glad you enjoyed Stonehenge! When I was a child you could touch the stones and it was all open😊 I really liked the visitor centre too. X
While it would be great to go right up to them, I also enjoyed the people free photos!
That’s true. I last visited in winter so I managed to get some nice photos as it was pretty quiet x
Me too! Early was good as well. It’s pretty neat that you can go whenever you want!
What a beautiful and magical place! And your pictures are so lovely 🙂
Thank you! It truly was!
After reading your post, it made me realize that although I’ve been to London and the areas surrounding it multiple times, I’ve never been to Stonehenge. This place has fascinated me for years, and your pictures are beautiful, so I’ll actually put it on my to-do list for the near future 🙂
Oh yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! I hope you get there soon, and that you enjoy it. Thank you!
I’ve visited it too:) amazing place
I have visited England many many times and never made it to Stonehenge (boo!) and always wondered what it was like, so thank you for your post. I guess going on an ‘impopular’ time, like a frosty December, has its advantages and I think I’d rather do the same, to avoid crowds. Clever you!
Yes, it worked out well and then we went to Bath afterwards, which was lovely!
I’m embarrassed to say that I’m from the UK and never been to Stonehenge!!! I’ve been meaning to go for too long. And your photos are lovely – you caught it in such a good light. #farawayfiles
It’s often that way, isn’t it? You’ll have to go one of these days!
Baby Loves Travel
I just drove past there yesterday! I must admit that I have only ever seen them from the road and have never actually stopped off to walk up to them… #FarawayFiles
Oh! Wow, you should try and stop sometime, since it seems to be on your way… 😘
Stonehenge is so iconic and beautiful. Your pictures are amazing Hilary – good thing you got there early before the crowds!
Thank you! Arriving early was key!
What great great. Thanks for all the tips and insight. Stonehenge is on my bucket list, after reading your post I want to bounce it up the list a few places… #FarawayFiles
Thank you! I hope you make it there!
I think everyone always gets there and says “That’s it?” But I guess everyone should already know it’s just a conglomeration of large stones! Looks like the new museum is pretty fun! I was there in 08 and it was before they shuttled you to the stones! #FarawayFiles
Ha ha! I don’t know that I thought, “that’s it?”, but I did think the circle would be larger! I guess it was at one time… I don’t know I would have walked the mile in the bitter cold! Happy for the bus!
Because so many people had told me they were disappointed with Stonehenge, I was pleasantly surprised to find it impressive when I visited! (I mean, you have to know going in that it’s rocks). #FarawayFiles
Ha ha! I love old rocks! And of course there is all that history there too!
So great to read about your trip and see your fabulous photos. I grew up so close to Stonehenge they feel a part of my life. When I was a little girl you could walk right underneath them and touch them. I haven’t been since but I always enjoy driving past on my way to see my family. They’re such an extraordinary sight. #FarawayFiles
Clare, what a neat story! I’m okay with the stones being roped off… easier for photos, but it must have been pretty neat to wander around within them. I think your boys would enjoy a visit!
So true. I lived in London for seven years, always meant to go and never did. I would dearly love to see it though. You had some amazing light for your visit though, great photos. #farawayfiles
Your photos are stunning! And I love the pic of your son trying to pull the stones. What an amazing experience. Not sure it’s on my bucket list, but I would love to see it. Definitely have Angkor Wat on mine though. And New Zealand (yes, all of it!) and Tokyo. We’ve been checking off a ton while living in Europe, but haven’t ever been to Asia! Thanks for sharing your experience at Stonehenge! #FarawayFiles
Thanks Erin! We still needed 98 more people if we wanted to move one! HAHA I’d love to see New Zealand someday!
I’d love to visit Stonehenge one day, although I agree – it does look rather small compared to what I would have expected… Good to hear that it’s worth a visit nonetheless 🙂
I’ve only ever driven past them – definitely putting it on my bucket list for when I return to Europe – thanks for the handy tips too! #farawayfiles
fifi + hop
Now I know how there were no people in your Intsa pics – early bird gets the worm! I love reading about people’s bucket lists. Angor Wat and Croatia are on mine too (have been to Parthenon), as well as Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and some parts of Europe I still can’t believe I’ve never been to! #farawayfiles
You’ve captured Stonehenge beautifully, love the photos. It’s made me want to return.
You are really bundled up! But you had a lovely day to see Stonehenge. Your photos are stunning. This was on my bucket list and I told my daughter (age 21) that we would be going. She asked why we were going to see some old rocks. We went, and I was astounded by the history and beauty. When we got home, her friend came over and the first question about our trip was “Did you go to Stonehenge?” She looked at me like — wow, you aren’t crazy after all!
Caity Pfohl | The Pamplemousse Papers
I was also just thinking of making a more official bucket list! I’m worried it would just feel overwhelming, though, as I feel like I discover new places all the time that I’d love to experience. Could still be a fun project, though. Beautiful photos and post! 🙂 #farawayfiles
Trish @ Mum's Gone To
We’ve driven past Stonehenge a few times when taking our son to university in Exeter, but have never stopped! And now he’s left university, it’s going to take much more effort to drive down and see the stones properly! Silly me!
We ticked the Aurora Borealis off our bucket list in January, as we spotted them in Lapland. Hope to go to Japan next year.
Funny how one persons dreams are another’s roadside attraction!! Japan is amazing!
Your post has made me want to go to Stonehenge, not something I have ever thought I wanted to do before. I’ve always been put off by the reported number of tourists and couldn’t quite see the appeal, despite having driven past on a number of occasions. I think I might just have to add it to my bucket list! #FarawayFiles
Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post enough to consider going! Go early to beat the crowds!
Last year we visited several other stone age sites only a little further west of here – Avebury, Silbury Hill and West Kennett Longbarrow. Apart from Silbury hill, I find they are more immersive stone age experiences than Stonehenge because you can walk through them and touch everything. Stonehenge is so visually impressive set in that landscape; I don’t think anywhere can beat that. I miss being able to drive alongside it but they diverted the road, to preserve it better. #FarawayFiles
Urska - Slovenian Girl Abroad
Glad to hear they transformed the whole area. When I was there back in 2012, were the visitors centre and car park just a step away from the henge. Whole visitors experience felt too instant-toursty. I was a bit disappointed, tbh. I actually liked Avebury henge much better. #FarawayFiles
I can see where that would feel very touristy. The center is now a mile away, and the bus lets you off a good distance away as well, which helps make it feel less touristy.
I’ve driven past many times and stopped for photos but haven’t been inside the visitors’ centre which I’ve heard mixed reports about. So glad for you that you enjoyed your first “bucket list” experience!!! I actually hate the over use of “bucket list”, how people write about their “bucket list for the weekend” etc. and like the fact that you didn’t realise you had one! Definitely my kind of approach. Having said that, places that I reeeeeeally want to go to include Machu Pichu, Antarctica, Papua New Guinea, all of which are unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future….(there are plenty plenty more but I better not go on!) #farawayfiles
I completely agree about the over use, which is probably why I was so surprised to find I had one! That said, I still haven’t officially created/written one, just realizing that some places rank much higher then others… your list is quite ambitious, I hope you find your way to some of them!!
Catherine’s Cultural Wednesdays
I went so along ago you were allowed to touch the stones! Now you mention I don’t have a bucket list but places that I would really really like to visit are Ankor Wat, Cuzco lines, Petra and Ravenna
Was just telling my husband this morning that I’ve decided Normandy is my number one!
Been to London multiple times but never made it to Stonehenge. Definitely considering this for when I go back to London later this year. Thanks for your great tips!!!
So glad you found the post useful! Stonehenge was Definitely worth a visit and it’s really half a day, so you could fit Bath or Windsor in too!
Hello! I was by Stonehenge just last weekend, having visited it as a child. The Avebury stone circle is very nearby and you can actually touch these so well worth going to….and, except for possibly needing to pay for the car park depending if you’re a National Trust member, the stones are free to visit. I’ve lived in the uk all my life but only now discovering what a beautiful country we have. I’m doing a 6 day road trip all over northern England in May and will be blogging about all the exciting places I’m planning to visit! Good luck with your travels xx
I’ll look forward to reading all about your adventures!!