We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. Read our disclosure policy.
If you are visiting London, you really should take a day to explore some of the English Heritage Sites just outside of town. One of the must see sights just a short drive from London is Stonehenge. While in the area, you should also consider seeing some of the other historical sites like Avebury, Old Sarum and Salisbury Cathedral. It is easy to see all of these English Heritage Sites in just one day.
We suggest getting the English Heritage Pass. For non-UK citizens, be sure to get the English Heritage Overseas Pass. This pass will get you into all English Heritage Sites throughout England.
English Heritage Sites to See in One Day
- Neolithic sites of Stonehenge and Avebury
- The footprint of ancient castles and cathedrals at Old Sarum
- Salisbury cathedral & the best-preserved of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta.
This English Heritage site contains a set of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial sites and burial mounds. All of the sites in Avebury are walkable, but you will want to bring a good pair of shoes because it is spread out.
There is also a neat little museum that displays many of the artifacts that Scottish archaeologist Alexander Keiller uncovered in the area. You can pick up a guidebook to the ceremonial sites at the Keiller Museum or you can just walk around town and you will see markers that describe each site in detail.
One of the most popular tourist attractions just outside of London is Stonehenge. Stonehenge’s ring of standing stones dates back to the Neolithic and Bronze Age. While you can just walk around on your own, I found it helpful to have the audio tour. The audio tour has you stop at certain areas to give you insight on what took place there or what might have been found during an excavation.
Other than the stone pillars of Stonehenge, you will also be able to step inside a Neolithic House, witness demonstrations on how people lived back then (including how the stone may have been moved) and see artifacts from the site in the exhibition center.
You will have to use your imagination to visualize the large Medieval castle that once stood on these grounds. Built around 1070 by William the Conqueror, all that remains are the stone remnants. Also on the adjoining property are the foundations of Salisbury’s first cathedral.
Walk over the hilly landscape and take in the views from atop the hill.
Completed in 1238, Salisbury Cathedral, formally known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is an example of early English architecture. The interior has beautiful gothic vaulted ceilings, scissor arches, and stained glass windows. The exterior is stone and has the highest spire (404 ft) in all of the United Kingdom.
With massive stone walls and arched columns, the sunlight peering through the windows casts a beautiful golden glow throughout the cathedral. Take time to take in all the details.
Inside the sanctuary you will also find a replica of the cathedral and one of the oldest working clocks in the world (dating back to 1386).
This church not only has the highest spire in the UK, but has the largest cloister in Britain. It is easy to sit back and meditate on life while viewing the well-manicured lawn and beautiful stone archways.
While here, be sure to take some time to see the Magna Carta. The chapter house displays the best-preserved of the four surviving original copies.
While Salisbury Cathedral is an artistic masterpiece by itself, the church welcomes outside artists to feature their own works on the grounds. There is even an Arts Advisory Committee that works to create a program of art exhibitions that is free to the public. While we were there, their was an event for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta that featured modern sculptures of barons painted by local artists.
If you plan your day trip to these English Heritage Sites carefully, you should find yourself in the town of Salisbury close to the dinner hour. There are plenty of quaint pubs and some even have outdoor seating.
We chose The Market Inn. It was the perfect spot to grab a pint along with some fish & chips!
Have you spent a day traveling though any of the English Heritage Sites? What were your favorite spots?