Culture

Top Things to Do in Salisbury, Wiltshire

A medieval cathedral city in Wiltshire, Salisbury is known for its fascinating heritage, world-famous historic sites, beautiful countryside and shopping and dining opportunities. Here we share some of the top attractions and activities to look forward to during a luxury holiday in Salisbury.

Salisbury was originally known as Old Sarum and was situated 2 miles from today’s city, nestled between the River Bourne and the Hampshire Avon. Later, it was relocated to its current site in the 13th Century – a monumental chapter marked by the construction of the city’s incredible Gothic cathedral. In fact, so monumental was this build that the cathedral’s spire remains the tallest of its kind in the country. 

If you’re lucky enough to visit Salisbury today, you’ll see the area’s extensive history is evident throughout the city and its surrounds. All around, the countryside is peppered with Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age forts and monuments (including the world-famous Stonehenge), while in the city itself the streets are lined with a wonderful architectural medley of buildings showcasing life throughout the centuries. 

While you will be truly spoilt for activities and attractions, we’ve picked our favourites things to do in Salisbury.

Salisbury Cathedral

The original Salisbury cathedral was built in Old Sarum in 1092, while in 1220 the foundations were laid for the cathedral you see today. As well as being one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in the UK, Salisbury Cathedral has two other superb reasons to visit. Firstly, its spire rises to 55 meters above the tower – 123 meters high in total – making it the tallest spire in Britain. Secondly, the cathedral houses the world’s best-preserved Magna Carta – one of the most important documents in English history. 

Avon Valley Path 

Salisbury Cathedral marks the start of the 34-mile Avon Valley Path, a long-distance walking route from Salisbury to Christchurch. Heading from the country and emerging onto the coast, this route skirts the New Forest National Park and crosses counties into Dorset, showcasing a range of beautiful landscapes. Divided up into five sections, this walk is definitely one of the best things to do in Salisbury for walkers looking to relish the Great Outdoors.

Salisbury Museum 

If you’d like more insight into the history of Salisbury, then you should pop Salisbury Museum on your list of places to visit. Amongst its eclectic exhibits are all kinds of intriguing collections, including artefacts from Stonehenge, Iron Age coins, Medieval pottery, 18th Century ceramics and more. You can even see the skeletal remains of the famous Amesbury Archer, a 4,000-year-old-archer found buried near Stonehenge in 2002. 

Stonehenge

A trip to Stonehenge has to be one of the highlights of any visit to Salisbury. A World Heritage Site and the most famous prehistoric monument in Europe, Stonehenge remains a source of wonder and intrigue to this day. Head over to Stonehenge’s world-class exhibition and visitor centre to learn about the origins of Stonehenge and its 4,500 years of history, browse the various displays and wander amongst Neolithic houses.

Old Sarum 

The original city of Old Sarum can still be visited today, providing a fascinating window into the past. Centred around an Iron Age hillfort, the site has played home to major civilisations and societies over the centuries from the Romans to the Saxons to the Normans. These days, though deserted, it is still a fascinating place to explore – head over and explore the remains of the original cathedral, old castle and ramparts. A sure-fire way to get the imagination whirring, the ramparts also afford stunning views over the Wiltshire plains. 

Cathedral Close 

At 80 acres in size, Salisbury’s Cathedral Close is the biggest of its kind in England. Steeped in history, the close is overlooked by beautiful houses dating from the 14th to 18th Centuries. Of particular interest are Arundells (the former home of Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath) and the National Trust-run Mompesson House. Within the close are also the Wardrobe, which houses The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum, and Salisbury Museum, an award-winning museum with extensive displays and a gift shop and café. 

Salisbury City Guides 

Taking a leisurely stroll around cities can be a really great way to orientate yourself, but you can often miss out on hidden gems and interesting tales behind the sights you see. Fortunately, there are guided tours around Salisbury that regularly depart from Salisbury Information Centre and share the city’s history, myths and legends with you. For a fun twist, there are also specialist themed walks during the year, as well as spooky city ghost tours.

Boscombe Down Aviation Collection

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply want to feel what it’s like to pilot an extraordinary aircraft, head over to Boscombe Down Aviation Collection in Salisbury. Home to an amazing collection of aircraft, replicas, model weapons and more, you can learn all about the story of flight in the UK. To give you a real sense of what it’s like to fly one of these planes, you can also jump in the cockpits of a Meteor NF11 jet fighter, a Canberra T4 bomber, a Sea Hawk fighter jet and more. 

Feeling inspired? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Wiltshire here

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