Salisbury is one of the most well known places in England, home to historic sites such as the Cathedral and Stonehenge. It makes for a perfect UK weekend break, with 2 days in Salisbury being the perfect amount of time, or you could combine it with lots of other things to do in the area and make a week of it. I visited in September 2021 with my parents for a lovely (mostly) sunny stay. Here are 10 reasons to visit this great place.
1. Salisbury Cathedral & Magna Carta
Salisbury Cathedral was built in the 1200s, and is home to England’s tallest spire. Whilst this ancient building isn’t as ornate as some Cathedrals in England, it is beautiful in its simplicity. There is a stunning courtyard, as well as a very striking font and lovely choir stalls. One of the highlights is seeing the Magna Carta – a document which was created in 1215 and set original standards of justice, fairness, and human rights in England. Only a few copies now remain, and to see such an ancient transcript is pretty special.
Stonehenge is one of the most famous ancient sites in the world. At over 5,000 years old, its mystery endures with no-one being certain about how the stones got there, or what they were for. Regardless, a visit to this historic site is a must when in Salisbury – you can visit any time to walk around the perimeter and visit the on-site museum, but if you want to get close to the stones and wander without the crowds, then the private Stone Circle tour is a must. You can read my post on it HERE.
3. Old Sarum
After the Norman invasion in 1066, Old Sarum’s motte and bailey castle was constructed in the Wiltshire countryside. A beautiful cathedral was also built on the site. In this Medieval castle, Eleanor of Aquitaine was kept prisoner for 16 years, but by 1240 the site was in decline and the people, trade and cathedral all moved to Salisbury, with now just ruins remaining.
4. Cathedral Tower Climb
Now, this was special. We booked on to a 2 hour tower tour in Salisbury Cathedral and it was incredible. Our guide was so knowledgeable and took us up in to the roof where you can see the inner workings of everything – from the structure and how the Cathedral stays up, to the maintenance work that needs doing, to Medieval graffiti to keep away the devil and much more. Of course you also get to go out on the balconies at the top for incredible views out across Salisbury.
5. Mompesson House
Mompesson House is a grade I listed National Trust property in the centre of Salisbury. The building was constructed for Sir Thomas Mompesson, an MP in the late 1600s. The site was purchased at the end of the 17th century and the house reflects the classic style of that period with Chilmark stone frontage. It’s interesting to visit the house, which you can tour inside and out to enjoy a trip back in time!
Arundells is a house which used to belong to English Prime Minister, Edward Heath. The house is now a museum to his tenure as Prime Minister, as well as his other accomplishments as a sailor and as a soldier. From the contributions he made during WW2, to winning the Sydney to Hobart yacht raise, to his policies as Prime Minister you can learn all about them in the house. Over the years, the house saw visitors from Michael Palin to Steve Redgrave to Princess Margaret – if only the walls could talk. The garden is also beautiful and a great place to sit with a book for an afternoon.
7. The Close
Salisbury Cathedral Close is the largest of such closes in the country – it’s home to lots of stunning houses and is the perfect place to stroll around and drool over the real estate. A full walk around the close will take around 30 minutes, but you’ll want to stop every minute for a photo of yet another dream house.
If you get a chance to stop for some food, then I also really recommend Rifleman’s Table, a lovely local restaurant which serves delicious lunches and cakes, right in the Close.
8. Market Square
The Market Square is the main shopping area in Salisbury and hosts some nice pubs and restaurants as well as shops. It’s a good area to stroll around and take in whilst in the city.
9. St Thomas’ Church
St Thomas’ Church is a lovely spot just off the market square. This church is special as it is home to the largest and best preserved Doom Painting (depictions of the last Judgement) in the UK. Painted around 1470, it was covered with lime whitewash during the Reformation and not seen again until 1819. Now following its most recent restoration in 2019 it is back to its vibrant, detailed glory and is worth a visit for anyone in Salisbury. If you’re in the UK and watch Who do you think you are? (Or not in the UK and know Joe Sugg because of his blog/Youtube/Strictly Come Dancing), this is also where they visit in the show as his ancestor was vicar here and oversaw the finding of the Doom Painting.
10. Escape to nature
Salisbury is the perfect weekend break, but if you do have a bit of extra time, it’s really worth exploring beyond the city limits. Salisbury is close to the Hampshire border and beautiful places like Mottisfont (post coming soon) or the area of outstanding natural beauty that is Cranborne Chase (post HERE). If you get the chance to, then driving the 20-30 minutes to them is well worth it.
What do you think of beautiful Salisbury – have you been or would you like to visit? Have a great rest of your week everyone and as always, stay safe and happy travelling.