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Things to Do in Salisbury

A small city with heaps of history, Salisbury is famed for its medieval Salisbury Cathedral. The church boasts the tallest church spire in England, as well as a copy of the Magna Carta. Located in Wiltshire, about two hours' drive from London, Salisbury is also a convenient stop-off point for those visiting Stonehenge.

The Basics
The quaint English cathedral city of Salisbury showcases 1,000 years of history. Its architectural mix includes everything from half-timbered Tudor homes to Victorian terrace houses, plus verdant oases such as Queen Elizabeth Gardens. The soaring Salisbury Cathedral (and its copy of the Magna Carta—one of only four in existence) is a highlight. Other popular attractions include the Salisbury Museum, Wilton House, and Old Sarum, an Iron-Age site that represents the earliest settlements in the area.

Salisbury is often included in multipart, full-day tours of the region, which also frequently feature stops at nearby Stonehenge and Lacock Abbey, a country home with monastic origins.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • Salisbury's Charter Market, held on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the historical Market Place, is a must-stop for local foods, gifts, and more.
  • Authors ranging from Charles Dickens to Thomas Hardy have written about Salisbury; John Constable made several paintings of the Salisbury Cathedral.
  • The city includes an array of traditional pubs and restaurants, and the cathedral’s Refectory Restaurant is a popular spot for afternoon tea.

How to Get There
Roughly 30 trains depart daily from Waterloo Station and reach Salisbury in less than two hours. Alternatively, organized tours frequently include bus or car transportation and offer a convenient way to visit.

When to Get There
There’s no bad time of year to visit Salisbury, as the cathedral city is as scenic in summer as it is when covered with a dusting of snow. Salisbury does host several popular annual festivals—including celebrations for St. George’s Day in late April and the early summer Salisbury International Arts Festival. Summer Solstice remains a popular time to visit Stonehenge.

Visiting Stonehenge
In addition to its own historic charms, Salisbury is also the perfect jumping-off point for visitors looking to explore UNESCO-listed Stonehenge. The prehistoric stone circle is roughly a 20-minute drive from Salisbury; alternatively, visit Stonehenge on a tour, or via the dedicated Stonehenge Tour Bus, which makes multiple hop-on hop-off journeys between the city and Stonehenge every day.
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Salisbury Cathedral
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With its dramatic Gothic facade and Britain’s highest church spire at an impressive 404 feet (123 m), the Salisbury Cathedral is one of the country’s most visited religious monuments, drawing some 250,000 visitors each year. As well as admiring the cathedral’s remarkable 13th-century architecture and exquisite stained-glass windows, visitors can climb the 332 steps to the top of the tower for a magnificent view of Salisbury.

The cathedral’s star attraction is an original copy of the 1215 Magna Carta, one of the world’s most famous and significant documents that remains a cornerstone of British law. An interactive Magna Carta exhibition walks visitors through the historic events of its legacy of social justice. The cathedral also holds the world’s oldest working mechanical clock, which dates back to 1386, and afternoon tea in the Bell Tower Tearooms.

The best way to discover the cathedral is on a 90-minute guided tour of Salisbury, with entrance included. Many visitors opt to visit on a day trip from London, often combined with a visit to nearby Stonehenge or Avebury stone circle.

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Salisbury Museum
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Located in the grand King’s House, in the shadows of the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral, the Salisbury Museum is as impressive from the outside as it is on the inside. The award-winning museum is home to one of the UK’s most treasured archaeological collections, the Stonehenge Gallery, which displays items excavated from the iconic stone circle. Many visitors choose to complement their visit with a tour of nearby Stonehenge, just five miles (eight km) from Salisbury.

It’s not just Stonehenge that takes center stage—the fascinating Wessex Gallery exhibition chronicles more than 500,000 years of human history in the region and includes some of the oldest gold objects ever found in Britain. The Costume Gallery displays a colorful collection of clothing and accessories dating back from the 1750s, while the Ceramics Gallery includes rare and unusual items from the Victorian era.

Visit Salisbury Museum on a day trip from London that includes additional stops in Stonehenge and Windsor.

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