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If you are visiting London, you really should take a day to explore some of the ancient sites nearby. A great day trip from London is Stonehenge. Located in Wiltshire, about 90 miles west of Central London, Stonehenge is one of the most famous prehistoric monuments in the world! While in the area, you should drive a few more miles and also see the ancient town of Avebury. Like Stonehenge, Avebury dates back to the Neolithic age and has similar stone monuments. It is easy to see both sites in just one day.
Stonehenge & Avebury Tours
There are many tours that make a day trip from London to see both Stonehenge and Avebury. These bus tours will pick you up at a central location in London and take you to both sites. Your ticket price is included in the tour rate and they will keep you on a strict schedule. The nice part of a tour is that your tour guide can explain what you are seeing. If you want to take the guess work out of planning your trip, this is the way to go.
If you want more flexibility and are planning to see several historic sites in England on your own, 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.
Stonehenge’s ring of standing stones dates back to the Neolithic and Bronze Age and was built in several stages. It’s creation is still a bit of a mystery, but it is believed to have been constructed from stones that were nearly 20 miles away. When you see it in person, you will be amazed at how enormous the stones are and how difficult it must have been to move them from that far away!
While you can just walk around on your own at Stonehenge, 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 a excavations.
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 even be able to get a better understanding of where the ancient stones originally came from and how they were brought to this location.
Be sure to purchase your ticket in advance so that you don’t waste time in the lines. They can be quite long. When you purchase your tickets, you will be given a window of time to arrive. This is important. You will need to arrive during that window.
Getting there from London: You can take the train from Waterloo to Salisbury and then board the Stonehenge Tour Bus than will transport you directly to the Visitor Centre. There is no public bus services that will take you to Stonehenge.
This English Heritage site is actually an entire town encircled by a stone monument, making it the largest stone monument in the world. Avebury contains a set of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial sites and burial mounds.
While Stonehenge is roped off, you can walk right up to the stones in Avebury and touch them. There is something quite satisfying about knowing you are touching something that was touched by someone that many years ago!
Not only will you see stones, you will also notice mounds in the area. You will find that the mounds are enormous and almost appear to be large hills, but archeologists have deemed these mounds to be man-made. Through research, it has been found that these mounds grew over time, but for what purpose, we don’t know.
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.
Tickets: Admission to Avebury is FREE, but parking is not (unless you are a English Heritage Member).
Getting to Avebury
Avebury is less than 30 miles from Stonehenge and an easy drive, but getting from Stonehenge to Avebury via train & public transportation is another story. Many tours to Stonehenge will also take you to Avebury, and it might be your best option. This is a good resource from getting to Avebury.
A trip to Stonehenge & Avebury is one of the easiest day trips from London you can take and will allow you to get a glimpse into a time period in the history of the world that very few get to see.
Have you been to Stonehenge & Avebury ? What was your experience?