Having arrived in London after a long haul flight we had two options. Sit in a London airport for 8 hours during the flight layover or hit the road and find something fun to do. It was no contest, we chose option 2! A quick trip to the car rental desk, one awesome Fiat 500 later and we were on our way to Stonehenge to check out the mystical stone monument! Road trip!
Stonehenge had been on our bucket list for quite some time and we were excited as we got closer to the monument and caught our first glimpse from the road. Like all great historical sites (cough, cough, the Pyramids of Giza!), Stonehenge is situated just off a main road and not in the middle of the secluded countryside like we were expecting!
After a quick stop at the Visitors Centre to purchase our tickets we hopped on the shuttle for the 10 minute ride to the monument. It’s tempting to dismiss Stonehenge as just a pile of stones from the roadside view but the iconic site comes into its own from up close. It was incredible to think of 5,000 years of history sitting right in front of us. We were mesmerised!
The iconic stone circle:
We were fortunate to visit on a quiet Tuesday morning and only have to share the site with a handful of other visitors. The stones are roped off and visitors follow a circular path around the monument with the aim of protecting the site. It’s possible to join a small dawn tour that allows access to the stone circle but we were happy with our view from the roped off path!
Up close to history!
The mystery surrounding Stonehenge is fascinating. No one knows for sure where the giant stones came from, how they got to the site or even what they were used for. A burial ground, a solar calendar and an ancient healing site are some of the most popular theories that have stood the test of time. I’m inclined to go with the giant rave theory just for the fun of it!
What is the purpose of you stones?!
The ticket price includes parking at the Visitors Centre, access to the exhibitions, transport to the site (it’s a 10 minute ride in the shuttle from the Visitors Centre) and an audio guide for the duration of the visit.
Our ride for the day! The shuttle:
Stonehenge Visitors Centre:
One of the outdoor exhibitions, I’m not convinced it was easy to transport the stones!
The history and the mystery surrounding the stones are incredible and, to us, they represented so much more than a pile of stones. It’s fascinating to imagine the effort that must have gone into getting the stones to their destination and deciding what they could have been used for.
On the downside the ticket prices are very steep at £13.90 per adult. This is expensive given that the experience involves a 10 minute bus ride, a walk around the stones and an optional walk through the Visitors Centre which, while impressive from the outside, we didn’t feel had much substance inside.
However, overall we loved our trip to Stonehenge and I can’t think of a better way to spend an 8 hour flight layover!
Happy Stonehenge poses!
I’ve mentioned our love of checking out and ticking off the UNESCO World Heritage Sites (here are some of the other UNESCO sites we’ve visited on our travels!) and Stonehenge and Avebury and their associated sites were awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1986.
How to get to Stonehenge from London
It’s less than a two hour drive from London to Stonehenge and, once outside London, the journey is relatively easy on motorways and main roads. We rented our car from Gatwick Airport on a flight layover and the car rental desks are located a short walk from the terminal
Visit Stonehenge for free?
It’s possible to visit Stonehenge and avoid the £13.90 entry fee in two ways:
Membership: Stonehenge is free to visit for English Heritage and National Trust members.
Public right of way paths: there are public right of way footpaths which allow access to within 75 yards of Stonehenge. We spotted some people who had hiked to the protective fence through the surrounding fields and their view of Stonehenge was pretty good! It’s an option if you have time and want to avoid the entry fee! If you like your photographs the angles are obviously restricted as the accessible fence lines only one side of the monument.
The road: Stonehenge is visible from the road but it’s far away and certainly not advisable (or safe) to stop on a busy main road for a glimpse and a photograph. Just don’t do it!