— Post updated on July 17th 2018 — (In short: it is still possible to visit Stonehenge for free + 100% legal)
The South of England is an amazing place for a road trip. A rough coastline, the white cliffs of Dover, impressing towns like Bath, with amazing Roman baths and a beautiful abbey. When driving through the green fields, you cannot miss the mystical place that is called Stonehenge. Huge monolithic rocks in a circular pattern, right in the middle of a green meadow. If you are in South-England, take a detour to visit this place. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the different ways to plan your visit (both paid and for free).
What is Stonehenge?
Stonehenge is a prehistoric building situated 3 kilometers west of Amesbury. The monument dates from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. In summary, it is a ring of standing stones that are 4 meters high and weigh about 25 tons. It is a famous landmark in the United Kingdom and considered as a British cultural icon.
Because the monument is placed on a henge (flat area of earth in a circular shape that are encircled by a ditch with a bank on the outside of the ditch built with the earth from inside the ditch), this place is very photogenic. Probably one reason why this place is often visited. Another reason might be the tales that surround this monument, attracting poets, philosophers and pilgrims from around the world. The stones are subject of many theories about its origin, some being scientific, others being more paranormal. But until now, no one knows for sure the exact function of these rocks.
In the visitor center, you can find more information about the monument and its history by visiting the permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Plan your visit – paying option
Visiting Stonehenge the regular way is an expensive trip. A standard adult ticket costs approximately 20 EUR. The ticket includes the visitor center, the shuttle bus and access to the Stonehenge site. We strongly recommend you to book your tickets online and in advance, because the site still has a lot of visitors each year.
When you book a ticket, you will see that you have the choice between different time slots. They indicate the time you have to get to the ticket desk at the visitor center. We recommend you not to book between 10.30 – 12.00 am because this is the time that tour buses from London arrive. Because this place is photogenic, we would advise to plan your visit during the golden hours (one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset).
The tour starts from the visitor center, where a shuttle bus will take you to the Stonehenge site. Note that you will not be able to stand in the circle, but are only allowed to look at the stones from a certain distance. Access to get closer to the stones is during a Special Access Visit. These visits are outside the regular visit hours, far more expensive and allow only 26 people each visit.
Plan your visit – free option
From our experience, free options to visit a place are often a bit disappointing. There is a huge fence, you are standing too far from the place to have a good view, … However, the free option to visit Stonehenge is equally as good (or even better) than the paying option. And it’s really easy!
When driving on the A303 from Anesbury, you will spot Stonehenge on your right side. Drive past it and then take the first dirt road on the right. Next to this dirt road, you can easily park your car. Continue to walk on the dirt road until you cross an asphalt road (the official entrance to Stonehenge). Cross the road and keep walking on the dirt road for a couple of 100 meters. On the right, you will see an opening in the fence that allows you to enter the meadow. Follow the path through the meadow. Because this is a regular walking path, you are not doing anything illegal. After walking a couple of minutes, you are standing just 50 meters from Stonehenge.
UPDATE: We received different messages from readers (thanks for that!) that it is no longer permitted to drive on the dirt road (the road is blocked) and it is not permitted to stop and/or park on the main road. However the area has a lot of hiking tracks, and we would be suprised if they would close these hiking paths anytime soon. Our suggestion is to park your car near the visitor center. From the visitor center to the fence opening takes about 25 minutes.
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Thanks for reading,