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.