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19 Of The Best Things To Do In Salisbury, UK!

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Discover top things to do in Salisbury: visit the majestic Salisbury Cathedral, ancient Stonehenge, Old Sarum ruins, and enjoy local markets and museums

England is blessed with beautiful cities and towns that are steeped in history. From the rolling hills of the Cotswolds to the cobbled streets of York, you’re never far from an idyllic English escape. One such place that epitomizes quintessential English charm is Salisbury.

Nestled in the southern county of Wiltshire, Salisbury is a medieval market town that has been an important settlement since prehistoric times. Its crowning jewel is the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral, home to the tallest spire in the UK.

Beyond the cathedral, Salisbury charms visitors with its quaint streets, independent shops, cozy cafes and proximity to prehistoric sites like the iconic Stonehenge.

Salisbury makes for a fantastic weekend break or day trip from London.

Here are the best things to do in Salisbury to make the most of your visit!

By Billy from BRB Gone Somewhere Epic

The Best Things to do in Salisbury

Admire Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral © Image Courtesy of quisait from Getty Images by Canva
Salisbury Cathedral © Image Courtesy of quisait from Getty Images by Canva

No trip to Salisbury is complete without exploring the historic Salisbury Cathedral. This impressive Anglican cathedral dates back to the 13th century and boasts the tallest church spire in the UK, at 123 meters tall.

Inside, marvel at the ornate tombs, stained glass windows, medieval clock, and the best preserved of the four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta.

Join a tower tour to climb up the spire and soak up panoramic views over the city and surrounding countryside. Don’t miss the cathedral close, a beautifully maintained space with manicured lawns and surrounding historic buildings.

Admission to the cathedral is free, although a small donation is recommended. For the tower tours, book in advance online to secure your spot.

Wander Around Salisbury City Center

Salisbury Town Centre © Image Courtesy of travellinglight from Getty Images by Canva
Salisbury Town Centre © Image Courtesy of travellinglight from Getty Images by Canva

Salisbury’s city center radiates out from the cathedral close through a web of charming medieval lanes. Meander along the main shopping streets of High Street, Queen Street and Market Square to discover independent boutiques, cafes, restaurants and historic architecture.

Look out for The Haunch of Venison, a timber-framed pub that dates back to 1320. Pop inside the Odeon Cinema to see an original 1936 art deco auditorium. And peruse the stalls and shops at the Charter Market, which has been running for over 800 years every Tuesday and Saturday.

Don’t miss the small museums like the Salisbury Museum and Arundells, former home of former UK Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath. 

Entry to wander the streets is free. Museums and attractions have paid entry.

Take a Food Tour Through Salisbury

The best way to experience a new city is often through its food scene. Join a food tour for insider access to Salisbury’s tastiest treats.

Group tours like Eat Adventures offer walking tours stopping at artisan cafes, delis, local markets and independent restaurants. You’ll learn about Salisbury’s food history and sample regional specialties along the way. Private and customized tours are available too.

It’s a fun way to discover hidden gems you may have otherwise missed, with a local guide to give you tips and share their city secrets. You’ll leave full of food and new knowledge of Salisbury!

Day Trip to Stonehenge

Stonehenge © Image Courtesy of Edward Haylan from Getty Images by Canva
Stonehenge © Image Courtesy of Edward Haylan from Getty Images by Canva

One of the most popular day trips from Salisbury is the short drive out to the iconic Stonehenge ruins. Dating back 5,000 years, Stonehenge is one of the UK’s most famous prehistoric monuments and an unforgettable sight.

The massive circle of vertical standing stones intriguingly aligned with the solstices still baffles historians and archaeologists as to its exact purpose and construction.

You can actually visit Stonehenge for free, or book an entry ticket in advance and take the shuttle from the visitor center to avoid traffic and parking issues at the site. Audio guides are available to learn more as you walk around the stones.

For the ultimate experience, book a Stonehenge sunrise or sunset access tour. You’ll gain access to the inner circle without the crowds for that magical atmosphere at sunrise or sunset.

Relax in Queen Elizabeth Gardens

Right in the heart of Salisbury, you’ll find the beautiful Queen Elizabeth Gardens. These landscaped gardens offer a tranquil spot to relax alongside the River Avon.

Originally the grounds of a medieval hospital, today you’ll find beautiful flower displays, broad lawns, mature trees and a riverside walkway.

Have a picnic on the grass, snap photos of the cathedral views, or take the kids to the large play area. Look out for open air theatre and live music in summer.

As well as the main gardens, don’t miss the neighboring colleges’ grounds at Trinity Hospital and Wardrobe Place. Entry to all areas is free. It’s the perfect place to while away an afternoon.

Take a Day Trip to Old Sarum

Aerial view of the Old Sarum © Image Courtesy of Alexey_Fedoren from Getty Images by Canva
Aerial view of the Old Sarum © Image Courtesy of Alexey_Fedoren from Getty Images by Canva

Just 2 miles north of Salisbury are the atmospheric ruins of Old Sarum. This Iron Age hillfort settlement was an important site for centuries. The original Salisbury Cathedral was built here before moving to its present location in 1220.

Climb up the ramparts for views over the Wiltshire countryside. Learn about Old Sarum’s long history in the onsite exhibition. See the stone foundations of the former cathedral on the grounds. Look out for re-enactment events that bring the history to life.

Entry is free for English Heritage members, or paid for non-members. It’s an easy walk, bike ride or short drive from Salisbury city center.

Go Glamping at Wilton Windmill

For a unique accommodation experience near Salisbury, go glamping at Wilton Windmill! This restored 18th-century windmill offers a mill cottage and shepherd’s huts decked out in bohemian style.

Fall asleep to the sound of wind whistling through the sails and wake up to chickens clucking outside your door. Enjoy campfire nights under the stars, yoga classes in the meadows and helicopter rides over Stonehenge. It’s glamping at its finest.

The windmill is just 10 minutes drive west of Salisbury, so you can easily enjoy the area’s attractions before returning to your countryside escape. Book well in advance for popular dates.

Take a Day Trip to Longleat Safari Park

Giraffe at Longleat Safari Park © Image Courtesy of chris148 from Getty Images by Canva
Giraffe at Longleat Safari Park © Image Courtesy of chris148 from Getty Images by Canva

For family-friendly adventures just outside Salisbury, visit Longleat Safari Park, which features among the UK’s top 20 zoos and safaris. This 400-acre drive-through safari lets you get up close to wildlife from the comfort of your own car.

Wind through enclosures housing lions, tigers, monkeys, giraffes, zebras and more. Pack a picnic to enjoy on the grounds after your drive. Longleat also has anxiety-reducing walking safaris, animal shows, play areas and the historic Longleat House to explore.

Longleat makes an easy and exciting day trip for all ages. Buy your tickets online in advance which are dated for your chosen day. Avoid the busiest weekends in summer if you can.

See a Show at Salisbury Playhouse

Salisbury is home to one of the UK’s leading producing theaters, the Salisbury Playhouse. This intimate 480-seat theatre puts on a diversity of shows annually.

Expect a mix of touring productions, musicals, new writing, comedy nights and family-friendly plays. Standout shows have included The Mousetrap, The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner, and The Play That Goes Wrong.

Check the upcoming shows calendar online and book your tickets directly through the theatre. The central location by the river makes it easy to visit for evenings out during a Salisbury trip.

Attend the Salisbury Festival

Every late May to early June, Salisbury explodes into life for its huge annual Salisbury Festival. The multi-arts festival transforms the city for two weeks with hundreds of theatre, dance, music, literature, art, film and family events.

Artists and companies from around the world come to perform alongside local acts. Many events are free to allow everyone to participate. Look out for open-air concerts, special cathedral services, pop-up food stalls and the vibrant medieval pageant parade.

It’s hard to escape the festival atmosphere, with banners and outdoor venues set up across the city. Accommodation fills up fast, so book your tickets and rooms early. The festival always draws big crowds ready to enjoy this cultural celebration.

Shop and Eat at the Salisbury Charter Market

No trip to Salisbury is complete without experiencing the bustling Salisbury Charter Market, held every Tuesday and Saturday year-round. Officially opened by King John in 1227, it’s one of Europe’s oldest continuously operating markets.

Browse the colorful stalls selling everything from local produce, meat, baked goods, cheeses, pies and unique crafts made by independent sellers. Grab a snack as you explore, like artisan bread, crepes, hog roast sandwiches or a milkshake from the vintage Citroen van.

The market runs from 8am to 4pm in Market Square in the heart of Salisbury. Free to enter, just bring cash to purchase items from your favorite stalls. Don’t forget to arrive hungry – you’ll want to sample some of the region’s delicious offerings.

Visit Somerset Lavender Fields

Somerset Lavender Fields – things to do in Salisbury © Image Courtesy of TheBristolNomad from Getty Images by Canva
Somerset Lavender Fields – things to do in Salisbury © Image Courtesy of TheBristolNomad from Getty Images by Canva

For a beautiful day trip just outside Salisbury, head to the purple fields at Somerset Lavender near Tisbury. One of the most sensational lavender fields in Britain, this family-run farm comes to life with over 200 varieties of English lavender between mid-June and August.

Wander through fragrant rows bursting with purple blooms. The peak flowering makes for stunning photo opportunities. Don’t miss the Lavender Labyrinth – a fun hedge maze to weave through.

Afterward, shop for lavender products in the onsite store. Schedule your visit to coincide with the annual Lavender Festival in July, with workshops, food stalls and live music. Entry is free with paid parking.

Go Wild Swimming at Grovely Wood

Escape the city and dive into nature by trying wild swimming at Grovely Wood near Salisbury. This ancient woodland has a series of ponds open for swimming all year round.

There’s a shallow kids’ pond along with two deeper ponds for adults. Take a bracing dip surrounded by nature and trunks rising out of the water. The water comes from natural springs, feeling cool and refreshing.

Facilities include changing rooms, toilets and a cafe. Sessions must be pre-booked online with different time slots for families or adults only. It’s a unique way to experience the beautiful Wiltshire woodlands. Don your swimsuit under your clothes and bring a towel.

See Art at Salisbury Museum

Salisbury’s history through the ages is showcased at the Salisbury Museum in the King’s House on the cathedral close. Their collections cover archaeological artifacts, local paintings and the stunning Medieval Salisbury Giant embroidery.

Must-see exhibits include the Amesbury Archer burial artifacts and the Stonehenge collection. Learn about the medieval cathedral close neighborhood and see paintings depicting historic Salisbury. Upstairs are galleries showcasing modern British art.

The King’s House building itself dates to the 13th century. Admission includes an audio guide to get more from your visit. Time your visit to coincide with their special exhibitions and events.

Boat Down the River Avon

River Avon © Image Courtesy of Mike B from Pexels by Canva
River Avon © Image Courtesy of Mike B from Pexels by Canva

See the English countryside from a new angle by boating down the River Avon. Salisbury-based companies like Enjoy the Water rent out row boats, motor boats and Canadian canoes for a fun day out.

Pack a picnic and navigate 15 miles downstream from Salisbury to Christchurch. Along the way you’ll pass under medieval bridges and by water meadows dotted with grazing sheep and cows. No experience is required and tuition is provided.

Boats launch from various spots just outside Salisbury, so you can start and finish wherever is convenient. Online booking in advance is recommended, especially in peak season. Prices start from £25 per person.

Play a Round of Golf

With its rolling green landscape, it’s no surprise that Wiltshire offers world-class golf. If you’re looking to play a round during your Salisbury trip, you’re spoiled for choice.

South Wilts Golf Club is conveniently located right in Salisbury, established in 1904. Just outside the city you’ll find Salisbury and South Wilts in the quaint village of Breamore and Oaksey Park Golf Club near Malmesbury.

Further afield, Wiltshire gems include Bowood Golf Resort, Manor House Golf Club and Cottrell Park Golf Resort. Most venues welcome visiting golfers if you call in advance to book a tee time. Don’t forget your clubs!

Admire the Street Art Trail

Salisbury Streetart © by BRB Gone Somewhere Epic
Salisbury Streetart © by BRB Gone Somewhere Epic

In recent years, Salisbury has embraced street art with many works popping up all around the city. Taking a self-guided walk will lead you to discover some impressive gems around town. Popular pieces to spot include:

• Salisbury Cathedral Choir – A photorealistic mural of the cathedral choir singing, found in the passageway between Ox Row and Queen Street.

• Kingfisher – A giant blue kingfisher spotted on the side of The Platform pub.

• Fish Out of Water – Nine bronze fish sculptures leaping out of the pavement leading to the Market Square.

• Salisbury Pride – The LGBTQ+ rainbow stripes decorate the High Street, created for the city’s first Pride.

• Dragon Bike – Spot a green dragon wrapped around a bike rack on Chipper Lane.

The trail is ever expanding, so keep your eyes peeled when wandering around Salisbury!

Watch a Polo Match

The sport of polo originated in Persia but found popularity amongst the English gentry. For a fun summer activity, attend a polo match just south of Salisbury at Druids Lodge Polo Club.

Matches take place most weekends from April to September. Arrive in your best dress, set up your picnic blanket pitch-side and watch the thrilling live action with pint in hand. Food and refreshments are also available onsite.

The family friendly atmosphere makes for a wonderful summer’s day out in the Wiltshire countryside. Check their website for the match schedule and buy your grandstand tickets online in advance.

See Concerts at Salisbury City Hall

When it comes to evening entertainment, the place to be is Salisbury City Hall. Opened in 1982, this venue hosts concerts, comedy shows and talks from household names.

Upcoming acts include classical concerts from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, comedians like Alan Carr and musical legends Jools Holland and John Mayall. See what’s coming up during your visit and book directly through City Hall’s website.

The sizable main auditorium boasts great acoustics and excellent views. Enjoy pre-show drinks at the onsite bar. The central location makes City Hall a convenient evening option for Salisbury trip-goers.

Final Thoughts

Salisbury effortlessly blends historic English charm with a lively contemporary arts and culture scene. This compact medieval city has enough attractions to keep visitors busy, complemented by an idyllic natural setting perfect for riverside strolls.

Beyond the headline sights like the cathedral, Salisbury rewards those who take the time to wander its cobbled lanes, shop its stalls, or punt down its river. The city provides a convenient base for exploring Wiltshire’s wealth of heritage while offering plenty to occupy within its own winding streets.

When planning your trip to Salisbury, be sure to refer to a general packing list for the UK so as not to forget essentials like an umbrella, travel adapter, and sturdy walking shoes.

Come ready to soak up the market town atmosphere, centuries of history, and imaginative public art. Salisbury charms all who visit with its blend of tradition, scenery, and culture.

Salisbury FAQs: Things to do in Salisbury

Salisbury Cathedral View © Image Courtesy of quisait from Getty Images by Canva
Salisbury Cathedral View © Image Courtesy of quisait from Getty Images by Canva

Is Salisbury worth visiting?

Yes, Salisbury is absolutely worth a visit for its magnificent medieval cathedral with the tallest spire in the UK, charming historic streets, proximity to Stonehenge, and surrounding idyllic English countryside.

How many days do you need in Salisbury?

2 full days is ideal to see Salisbury’s top sights like the cathedral, Old Sarum, river walks and museums, with time for relaxing picnics. Allow 3-4 days to also visit nearby attractions like Stonehenge, Avebury and Longleat.

What is Salisbury known for?

Salisbury is best known for having one of England’s most beautiful cathedrals, home to Britain’s tallest spire and best preserved Magna Carta. Its history as an important settlement dates back to prehistoric times.

Is Salisbury a good base for Stonehenge?

Yes, Salisbury makes an excellent base for visiting Stonehenge, as the famous ruins are just 8 miles north of the city. You can easily day trip to Stonehenge from Salisbury by public bus, tour or car.

Is Old Sarum worth visiting?

Yes, Old Sarum is worth a visit to see the atmospheric Iron Age hillfort ruins with sweeping views, learn about its history, and see where Salisbury Cathedral originally stood.

How do I get from London to Salisbury?

The fastest way to travel from London to Salisbury is by train, with regular direct trains taking just 1 hour 40 minutes from London Waterloo to Salisbury station. 

Where should I stay in Salisbury?

The best area to stay in Salisbury is the city center within walking distance of the cathedral and sights. Alternately stay just outside the city in nearby villages for a peaceful countryside location.

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