How can you avoid the crowds when visiting Stonehenge?

11 June 2024

Stonehenge, the iconic structure of ancient standing stones nestled in the English countryside, beckons millions of visitors each year from all over the world. With its tantalizing mysteries and unparalleled historical significance, it's no wonder that you are planning to make this marvel of human ingenuity part of your upcoming London trip. However, like many prominent tourist destinations, the throng of visitors can be overwhelming. This article will help you orchestrate a memorable Stonehenge visit without wrestling through the usual crowds.

Identifying the Best Time of Day for Your Visit

Identifying the best time to visit Stonehenge can be the difference between standing shoulder-to-shoulder with throngs of tourists and having a more serene, personal experience with these ancient stones.

Stonehenge opens its gates to the public at 9.30 AM and closes at 5 PM. Most visitors typically arrive between 11 AM and 3 PM, making this timeframe the busiest. To beat the rush, your best bet is to aim for an early morning or late afternoon visit.

Visiting Stonehenge in the early morning not only helps you avoid the midday rush, but also offers a unique opportunity to witness the glorious sunrise over the monument, a spectacle that has enthralled people for centuries. Alternatively, a late afternoon visit will reward you with a calming, golden sunset, casting long shadows of the massive stones.

Selecting the Best Day of the Week for Your Visit

The day of the week that you choose for your Stonehenge visit will also significantly impact the crowd levels.

As one would expect, weekends and public holidays are the most popular times for tourists and locals alike to take a day trip to Stonehenge. Therefore, visiting on these days will usually mean wrestling with larger crowds.

To sidestep the bulk of visitors, consider planning your trip for a weekday. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are often the least crowded days to visit Stonehenge. Not only will you face shorter lines for tickets and less competition for the perfect photo spot, but you will also enjoy a more peaceful interaction with the monument.

Making the Most of Off-Peak Season Tours

While it might be tempting to travel to London during the popular summer months, this timing could mean sharing your Stonehenge tour with crowds of other visitors.

Visiting Stonehenge in the off-peak season, typically from November to March, can be a smart move to avoid the crowds. Not only will the monument be less crowded, but you might also have the chance to benefit from cheaper travel and accommodation rates in London.

Yes, the weather could be a bit chilly, and the daylight hours are shorter, but the trade-off is a more intimate experience with Stonehenge and the possibility to save some money. Remember to dress appropriately for the weather and enjoy the added bonus of seeing Stonehenge dusted with snow or shrouded in early morning mist.

Utilizing Advance Ticket Booking

Now that we've established the best times and days to visit Stonehenge, it's time to secure your tickets.

Stonehenge is a ticketed attraction, and it's always a wise move to book your tickets in advance, especially if you're visiting during peak hours or peak seasons. By purchasing tickets ahead of time, you will avoid the lengthy ticket lines and guarantee your preferred time slot.

Tickets for Stonehenge can be booked up to two months in advance and are available for purchase online. The ticket includes access to the Stone Circle, the Stonehenge Exhibition, and the Visitor Centre.

Opting for Special Access Tours

For those of you who wish for a truly special Stonehenge experience, you might consider booking a Special Access Tour.

These tours are exclusive before and after-hour tours that allow a select number of visitors to walk among the stones, a privilege not granted during regular visiting hours. As these tours only allow a maximum of 30 people at a time, you will enjoy a uniquely personal and uncrowded experience.

The Special Access Tours typically sell out months in advance, so it's crucial to book well ahead of your planned visit. Although they are more expensive than standard tickets, the chance to walk among the stones and witness their grandeur up close is well worth the extra cost for many visitors.

Exploring Other Nearby Attractions

Once you have planned your visit to Stonehenge, you might consider exploring other nearby attractions to make the most of your trip. Luckily, the region around Stonehenge is rich in historical sites and natural beauty, offering a variety of enjoyable day trips.

Windsor Castle, located just an hour's drive from Stonehenge, is a popular choice among tourists. As one of the official residences of Her Majesty The Queen, Windsor Castle is steeped in history and offers a fascinating glimpse into royal life. A visit to the castle can easily be combined with your Stonehenge tour for a day full of historical and cultural exploration.

Another great option is the city of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its beautiful architecture and, of course, its ancient Roman Baths. If you have a car, you can drive from Stonehenge to Bath in about an hour. Alternatively, several tour companies offer day tours from London to Stonehenge and Bath, making it easy to visit both sites in one day.

For those interested in archaeology, Avebury, another prehistoric stone circle, lies just a short drive north of Stonehenge. Many visitors find that Avebury offers a different and less crowded experience than Stonehenge. Plus, unlike Stonehenge, at Avebury, you can get up close to the stones at any time of day, for free.

Conclusion: Making Your Stonehenge Visit Truly Memorable

In conclusion, visiting Stonehenge can be a remarkable experience, particularly if you take the time to plan your visit strategically. By choosing the best time to visit, booking your tickets in advance, and considering a Special Access Tour, you can avoid the usual crowds and enjoy a more personal interaction with this incredible monument.

Remember, the key to a successful Stonehenge tour is to plan ahead. Reserving your tickets well in advance, opting for a weekday visit, and visiting during the off-peak season can significantly reduce the number of other visitors you encounter.

Moreover, don’t forget to explore the other attractions in the region. Combining a visit to Stonehenge with a trip to Windsor Castle, Bath, or Avebury can make your day tour even more rewarding.

Lastly, don’t forget to take some time to explore the Stonehenge Visitor Centre. Here, you’ll find plenty of fascinating information about the history of Stonehenge and the people who built it. There’s also a cafe where you can grab a hot drink and a bite to eat before or after your visit to the stone circle.

Visiting Stonehenge is undoubtedly a bucket-list experience. By following these tips, not only can you avoid the crowds, but you can also make your visit to this extraordinary English Heritage site truly unforgettable. Enjoy your visit!

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