Planning Stonehenge day tour from London- Options and tips

Stonehenge is an ideal day trip destination from London and most visitors go there if they have an extra day. I visited Stonehenge a month ago and this post shares 3 ways how you can visit Stonehenge from London. I will write about the actual Stonehenge experience in a separate post.

There're three ways you can visit Stonehenge from London. Quick summary below.
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Mode
Pros
Cons
1
Public transport
(Train+bus)
Can be cheapest option if planned well

Option to explore Salisbury town and cathedral

Flexible timings
Last min peak hour train ticket can be expensive, at times making day tours cheaper

More time
2
Tour bus from London
(coach tours)
Convenient
Not too expensive compared to public transport option
Many tours include Bath
Tours that extend to Bath often skip Salisbury town.

Fixed itinerary and limited time

Prior booking needed, cancellation charges high.
3
Own car/rental car
Might be cheaper groups of 4-5
Convenient
Parking fees, fuel, penalty for any violations etc

Option 1: Public transport- Train to Salisbury and Stonehenge tour
I tried this option. I had to take a train from my hostel to Waterloo station, then take another train to Salisbury and from there tour bus to Stonehenge.

Reaching Waterloo station
I spent approx 4.4 pounds from hostel to Waterloo and back on tube. Depending on where you stay and how you wish to reach Waterloo (bus/taxi/tube/walk) factor a few founds for this journey.

Train to Salisbury from Waterloo
Salisbury is the main train station close to Stonehenge, served by South Western Railway. Paid some 46.4 pounds for London Waterloo to Salisbury and return train ticket, purchased at the counter minutes before the train.

My mistake was not booking London Waterloo to Salisbury train ticket in advance. I could have got the same 46 Pound ticket for 27 Pounds if I had booked the ticket in advance (2-3 weeks). Paid almost 20 pounds extra as I didn't book in advance. At the same time, if I had booked in advance and plans change, I had to lose it 100%.

I took at 7.44 train, reached Salisbury in about 2 hours, got some 15 minutes to roam around, came back to station in time for Stonehenge tour bus.

Salisbury to Stonehenge: Tour Bus
I didn't find any local bus to Stonehenge from Salisbury. Only option was to take Stonehenge tour bus. The stonehenge tour bus had 3 options
Option 1: Bus only at 16 Pounds (useful for those who have free entry to Stonehenge like National Trust Members)
Option 2: Bus + Stonehenge entry + Old Sarum: 31.5 Pounds
Option 3: Bus + Stonehenge entry+ Old Sarum + Cathedral at 38 Pounds
I option for Option 2, as I wanted to enter Stonehenge- costs 19 Pounds in ticket, so it would be wise to book bus+Stonehenge option. Cathedral I was not very keen, kept it optional if time and interest permits.

Should you book this Stonehenge tour in advance?
No need. There's no price advantage (online costs extra in bank fees) and no reserved seats. You can book on the spot which will give you better flexibility (not having to lock on a date etc)

This Stonehenge tour bus from Salisbury runs at a fixed schedule, you can get down at any stop and continue with next bus. Unlike coach tour buses which give you limited time at Stonehenge, with this Stonehenge tour gives option to spend more time and take next bus back to Salisbury.

The Stonehenge tour bus I boarded left from station at about 10.15 AM (as against 10 AM, due to lots of people and driver needing time to check their tickets/issue tickets), spent another 15-20 mins in city centre picking up more passengers and reached Stonehenge by about 11.30 AM. I spent about an hour or so, returned to city by 12.40 bus, spent an hour in Old Sarum, a few more hours in Salisbury visiting Cathedral etc, took some 3.30 PM train back to London Waterloo.

Thus the Stonehenge trip cost me some 4+31.5+46.4= 82 Pounds total in travel & entry fee that day.

This is not cheap because a day trip to Stonehenge begins from about 52-55 GBP. However this cheapest option will not include any other destination (like Salisbury, Bath etc) and wraps up in 6 hours. I could explore Salisbury, Old Sarum etc and spend more time as per my convenience.

Most popular Stonehenge tours cost about 100 GBP per person, usually includes Salisbury, Bath or some other destinations nearby. So for about 20 Pounds more I could have had a more comfortable trip in a coach bus. Refer next section

Option 2: Coach tours from London
There're many tour companies operating Stonehenge tour from London. Few include additional stops such as Bath (popular for Roman Spa) and Windsor Castle or Salisbury etc. Prices typically range from about 100 Pounds per person, might vary a bit depending on operator, itinerary, if lunch is included or not etc. I didn't try this but you can find one through online search or from a travel shop near you in London.
Most tours will have multiple pick up points, few pick up from major hotels also.

I visited Bath and Bristol separately from Newport later, so limited by Stonehenge visit to Stonehenge and Salisbury only.

Option 3: Car rental/drive/taxi
Good option if you're a group or can spend more for luxury/privacy.

Standby for detailed post on visiting Stonehenge and Salisbury.

Similar: Wicklow Mountain tour from Dublin * Giant's Causeway tour from Belfast * Edinburgh free to explore attractions * Brecon Beacons National Park * London Public Transport explained

2 comments:

  1. I wish to travel to London and besides a whole lot of other site seeing. Stonehenge is on my list too. Just waiting for an invitation from my sister in law

    ReplyDelete

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