Salisbury offers plenty of interesting things to do, from learning about the medieval city's intriguing past to family fun. History buffs will be wowed by the presence of mystical Stonehenge and the great Iron Age fortress of Old Sarum. Culture aficionados can delve into local museums and even see original copies of the Magna Carta. There are charming parks, Roman ruins, and fantastic cafes that couples and those with kids in tow will love.

    This guide to the best things to do in Salisbury can help you navigate the Gothic spires and the 18th-century manor houses. It offers tips on what sites you simply must see, along with hints at more off-beat draws, such as microbreweries and hip nightlife areas.

    What are the best things to do in Salisbury?

    1

    Stonehenge

    A glimpse of pre-historic England

    • History
    • Photo

    Stonehenge is one of the most iconic pre-historic sights in the UK, with a mysterious and amazing story that's thought to reach back more than 5,000 years. You'll find it on the Salisbury Plain, deep in the Wiltshire countryside some 10 miles north of the city of Salisbury itself.

    The focal point of the UNESCO spot is the great circle of standing. You can hop on a shuttle bus to get to it from the main visitor's centre. Download a free audio guide to learn all about the transportation of the stones from Wales, as well as the various scholarly theories about what the place was used for. Don't miss the onsite exhibition of over 250 ancient objects.

    Location: Stonehenge, Salisbury SP4 7DE, UK

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)37 0333 1181

    Map
    2

    Salisbury Cathedral

    One of England's greatest Gothic masterpieces

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Salisbury Cathedral is the great centrepiece of Salisbury town. You can't miss its soaring buttresses and Gothic turrets, rising just 10 minutes' walk from the train station amid the pretty green gardens of Cathedral Close. It's one of the undisputed must-sees of the area, offering a trip back in time to old England.

    The historic importance of the site is hard to overstate. First, it holds perhaps the best-preserved copy of the Magna Carta. Second, it lays claim to the highest church spire in the country, which you'll be able to explore in the famous Tower Tour. The building is considered one of the finest examples of the English Gothic style, so architecture buffs will be awed at every turn.

    Location: The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EJ, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1722 555120

    Map
    3

    Salisbury Market

    The locals’ shopping of choice since 1219

    • Shoppers
    • History
    • Photo
    • Food

    Salisbury Market has been a staple of the town since the medieval ages – the year 1219, in fact. It takes place bi-weekly on the main Salisbury Market Place, just a short walk north of the Cathedral. Once upon a time, it drew in wool traders, farmer merchants, travelling salespeople, and crafters from right across the region.

    Salisbury Market is an excellent place for sampling regional Wiltshire delicacies. That means artisan cheeses, local honey, English meat and vegetables, with oodles more on the shopping list. The setting is wonderful, thanks to half-timbered buildings threading the square.

    Location: The Guildhall, Market Pl, Salisbury SP1 1JH, UK

    Open: Tuesday and Saturday from 7.30 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1722 342860

    Map

    photo by Richard Avery (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    4

    Old Sarum

    Explore hill forts and Iron Age ruins

    • History
    • Photo

    Old Sarum offers a glimpse into the long and rich past of Salisbury. Perched on a hillside less than 10 minutes' drive of the town centre, it's thought to have hosted human settlers from as far back as the 3rd millennium BC.

    However, it's the more recent constructions and additions that catch the attention of many visitors. These include a full hill fort from around 400 BC, along with Roman roads, the remains of Saxon-era dwellings and a Norman church. Together, all that chronicles the journey of English history in the Salisbury area in a single, uber-immersive site.

    Location: Castle Rd, Salisbury SP1 3SD, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)37 0333 1181

    Map
    5

    Salisbury Museum

    A Grade I-listed building filled with ancient artefacts and artworks

    • Families
    • History

    The Salisbury Museum is a must for anyone interested in uncovering the enthralling tale of this ancient English town. Even the building it's housed in, sat on The Close right next to Salisbury Cathedral, is worthy of a mention. It's called The King's House, is Grade I-listed, and once hosted King James I for a shindig in the 1610s.

    There are sprawling collections of artefacts related to Stonehenge and the Iron Age forts that dot the hills surrounding Salisbury. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see the museum’s acclaimed temporary exhibitions, which have been known to showcase works by JMW Turner and other English greats. 

    Location: 65 The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EN, UK

    Open: Thursday–Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1722 332151

    Map

    photo by SalisburyMuseum1 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    6

    Churchill Gardens

    Fun in the sun by the River Avon

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Churchill Gardens is a wide and open green space that offers a fine escape from the historic sights of central Salisbury. It's not far from the heart of town – just a short walk of about 5 to 10 minutes should be enough to swap the concrete for the grass. There's also onsite parking if you're coming with the car.

    What awaits is a multi-acre parkland that has leafy walking paths and wide lawns. There are lots of spots to kick a football or settle in for a family picnic in the summer. The little ones can also enjoy a skatepark and tarmacked sports pitch. The south side of Churchill Gardens meets the River Avon. Go there for romantic spring and autumn scenes by the water's edge.

    Location: Churchill Way S, Salisbury SP1 2HS, UK

    Open: 24/7

    Map

    photo by Richard Avery (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    7

    Mompesson House

    A National Trust property that transports you back in time

    • History
    • Photo

    Mompesson House is an enchanting National Trust property that can whisk you back to the Salisbury heyday of the 1700s. Look for it on the sides of Cathedral Close by the great spires of the main church. There, it sports its handsome ivy-scrawled façade and chimney stacks like a proud old gentleman.

    Inside, tours will take you around a Grade I-listed building where the interiors ooze vintage charms with their Queen Anne styles. Look out for the grand oak staircase and the elaborately filigreed stucco work on the walls. It's hardly a wonder the place was used as a backdrop in the film Sense and Sensibility.

    Location: The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EL, UK

    Open: March–November: daily from 11 am to 5 pm. November–December: Wednesday–Sunday from 11 am to 3.30 pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1722 335659

    Map

    photo by Tony Hisgett (CC BY 2.0) modified

    8

    Salisbury Arts Centre

    A creative hub with classes led by local artists

    • Families
    • Group

    The Salisbury Arts Centre is one of the main creative hubs of this Wiltshire town. All the magic happens in a Gothic-era church off Bedwin Street, which you can reach on foot from the centre in just a few minutes. The stroll will open up a multi-faceted workshop where all mediums and styles are welcome.

    Expect regular classes in everything from dance to clay pottery, children's music-making to choir singing. There are also occasional art-house film screenings, stand-up comics, scholarly art talks, ballet shows – you name it. A great way to meet people and get started is the Friday night quiz session.

    Location: Bedwin St, Salisbury SP1 3UT, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1722 321744

    Map

    photo by Stephen Craven (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    9

    New Forest National Park

    Spot wild ponies while traversing natural trails

    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    The New Forest National Park covers around 220 square miles of forest trails, heathland and quaint villages. It’s perhaps best known for its native ponies, but there’s plenty of wildlife to see. The Deer Sanctuary in Bolderwood, towards the centre of the park, is a popular attraction. Keep your eyes peeled for rare birds, or test your fly-fishing skills in the River Test.

    Besides wildlife watching, popular activities at the New Forest National Park include hiking, cycling and horseback riding. Remember to pack some sandwiches to eat in the designated picnic area, where you can relish unspoilt natural views.

    Phone: +44 (0)1590 646600

    Map
    10

    Dark Revolution Brewery

    A local brewhouse offering tasty craft creations

    • Food
    • Nightlife

    The Dark Revolution Brewery has risen to become known for its cutting-edge and tasty beer creations. It's one of the leading brewhouses in Salisbury, occupying a quirky location in a light industrial estate under the gaze of Old Sarum fort.

    Drop in to be welcomed to their onsite taproom. That's where you'll get to sample tipples like the Super Sonic pale ale and the Orbital session ale, both of which are core labels in the Dark Revolution brand. You can even find adventurous drinks like milk stout and aged-cask beers, and there's a shop for any treats you might want to take with you.

    Location: Unit 3-5 Lancaster Rd, Salisbury SP4 6FB, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)1722 326993

    Map
    11

    Milford Street

    Salisbury's nightlife hub for drinking and dancing

    • Nightlife

    Milford Street is one of the main nerve centres of nightlife in Salisbury. It cuts right through the heart of the town, from the A36 to the market square. That means it's a cinch to reach, even after a big dinner when the sun has disappeared.

    This is the place to be once it's dark and you're keen for a nightcap or a boogie. Venues like YOYO and Kludo Bar lead the way when it comes to craft cocktails. Later, the colossal Chapel Nightclub pumps with DJ tunes and laser lights. Milford Street also touts wine bistros for those after something a tad more refined.

    Location: Milford Street, Salisbury SP1 2AP, UK

    Map

    photo by Peter Jordan (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    Joseph Francis | Contributing Writer

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