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!
UNESO World Heritage Site
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!
13 thoughts on “Stonehenge: a prehistoric day trip from London!”
Stonehenge was an incredible site to behold, I’m really happy we took the effort to make it out so far West of London. Recent excavations reveal that the site is far more complex than previously thought, and we’re watching closely, of course.
It is such a great site! It will interesting to see what comes out of the recent findings, it’s incredible to think there might be more to come!
I was surprised to find out that Stonehenge is so close to the freeway!
I always expect these things to be in the middle of nowhere but it’s hardly ever the case!
Definitely a great way to spend a layover! I often have layovers in London, but they always seem to be at night, grrrr…
Night layovers definitely aren’t as much fun but at least there is sleeping!
I was at Stonehenge last year and we parked our rental car right next to the entrance to Stonehenge. The Visitor Centre was built but not open. We had luck because it wasn´t as crowded as we thought it would be. Maybe because we were there early in the morning.
I’ve tended to avoid Stonehenge since they cordoned it off and it became packed out with coach parties (the first time I went there you could still walk right up to the stones). So it’s interesting that you managed to find a time when it wasn’t too crowded – an early morning trip is obviously a good tip for anyone else who’s thinking of going.
Nice article. English heritage sites are amazing and Stonehenge is probably one of the most well known. It’s great that you made the most of your stop over 🙂
I didn;t know Stonehenge was so close to London…Actually I’ve never thought of going there because I didn’t know where exactly it was but I might go and visit next time I’m in London 🙂
I just listed to a podcast on Stonehenge and there is SO much more to the complex than what you can see. They’ve taken x-rays (kind of but not really) of the surrounding area and it is just littered, underground with other monuments and such that are preserved because they remain underground. This has been on my bucket list for a while too, I’m glad you guys got out of the airport and explored. 🙂
What a way to spend time on a layovet. Really worth seeing
Thank you for your tips and details in sharing! Will certainly book the tickets in advance! Cant wait to go there now! Haha