Visiting Stonehenge: timetables, prices… How do I get there from London?

Are you planning to visit Stonehenge, Britain’s most famous prehistoric monument, from London? We’ll tell you all about it: prices, timetables and how to get there!

To visit Stonehenge is to immerse yourself in a journey back in time, almost 5,000 years. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, it is one of Europe’s best-known prehistoric monuments. Located south of the London-Bristol road, precisely 15 kilometers from Salisbury in south-west England, it’s a must-see if you’re visiting London.The famous photos of Stonehenge are directly reminiscent of the Asterix and Obelix comic strip, in which Obelix is pictured arranging his menhirs with superhuman strength, without even having ingested the magic potion concocted by a druid botanist who would make many a legionary of the Roman Empire swoon… Yet these blocks were erected between two and a thousand years before the conquests of ancient Rome, between 2800 BC and 1100 BC, between the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. The exact history of this monumental site remains mysterious and obscure, as its age and the absence of any traces leave the way open to sometimes fanciful hypotheses. In this article, we tell you all about prices, timetables, the journey and the site itself to visit Stonehenge from London.Visiter Stonehenge au départ de Londres

Photo credit: Flickr – michael_durden

Stonehenge, a timeless site

Situated in the hills of Wittshire, the prehistoric site of Stonehenge is a collection of 460 stones arranged in four concentric circles, with a diameter of over one hundred metres. This heap of stones has lain dormant under the stars for almost four millennia, untouched by man, suffering the ravages of erosion and the passage of time. The largest megaliths measure up to ten metres in height, weigh close to 20 tonnes, and would have been transported over some thirty kilometers, while the smallest weigh 3 to 4 tonnes and would have been transported over more than 250 kilometers! This gives an indication of the ingenuity – or hard work – of these so-called primitive people, who already knew how to invent techniques for building large monuments. Some stones are laid horizontally on top of larger, upright ones. Their actual function has not been established.Pierres du site de Stonehenge

Photo credit: Flickr – Grufnik

The first archaeological digs date back to the early 19th century, but it was the invention of Carbon 14 around 1950 that enabled us to begin constructing significant hypotheses, other than the legendary. One hypothesis holds that the 460 stones served as a funerary monument to honor the memory of 460 men massacred by the Saxons. Secondly, researchers discovered that the alignment of the stones corresponds to the azimuths of the sun. Some believe that this alignment with the rising and setting of the sun, and with the moon, shows that this was an astronomical observatory for calculating solstices, equinoxes and lunar and solar eclipses. Archaeologists in the early 20th century therefore believed that the alignment of the stones with the rising and setting of the sun could have been used to measure time. Later, Carbon-14 testing supported the theory that the passage of the sun’s rays through the megaliths was used by Neolithic farmers to determine the sowing and harvesting seasons. Observatory of the stars and the moon, primitive sundial, temple dedicated to the cult of the sun, vast burial chamber, first agricultural calendar, place of healing? At this stage, no certainty can be given.

Visit Stonehenge

A visit to Stonehenge begins with a museum that retraces the history of the site to date. The museum features 250 objects and tools of daily life used in the Neolithic period, the reconstructed skeleton face of a man from that era (said to be 5,000 years old!), and an enormous sandstone boulder – sarsen stone, abundant in the UK – with explanations of the techniques used to pull and lift the blocks. A video projection and the reconstruction of a Neolithic village (huts, fireplace, straw mattress) provide an insight into the daily lives of people of the time.Stonehenge lors du solstice d'été

Crowds flock to Stonehenge for the summer solstice – Photo credit: Flickr – Paul Townsend

Afterwards, a shuttle bus – included in your ticket – will transfer you to the famous stone circle, where you can walk around the menhirs and imagine yourself stepping back in time 4,000 years. If you have the opportunity to visit Stonehenge on the next winter or summer solstice, then the spectacle will be grandiose as you watch the perfect alignment of the sun as it rises or sets in the axis of the megaliths. What’s more, we’ve got good news for you: on solstice days, the site is accessible free of charge!

Practical information for visiting Stonehenge

Opening hours

Until March 29, 2018, the site is open daily from 9.30am to 5pm, except on December 26 and January 1 (10am to 5pm).The site is closed on December 24 and 25.On June and December solstice days, times may fluctuate: check the official Stonehenge website for details.Please note: the last visit is two hours before the site closes, at 3pm.

Rates

  • Adults: £16.50 (€18.58)
  • Children (5-15 years): £9.90 (€11.15)
  • Students (with proof of enrolment) or seniors (over 60): £14.90 (€16.78)
  • Family rate (2 adults, 3 children maximum): £42.90 (€48.32)

It’s essential to book your tickets online in advance, as there are no ticket offices on site.

How do I get to Stonehenge from London?

From the UK’s sprawling capital, there are several options for visiting Stonehenge:

  • By train: from London, South West Trains offers direct trains to Salisbury,
  • By bus: take the Stonehenge Tour Bus from Salisbury station,
  • By car: take the M4 west towards Spring Gardens, then the M3 towards Hampshire, the A303 and the A360.

Main photo credit: Flickr – Ann Wuyts