So you want to visit the 5 thousand-year-old, UNESCO-listed, English heritage gem of Stonehenge?
Embarrassingly it took a pandemic to finally get me to tick this mighty number off my bucket list, but I’m so delighted I finally have.
And here to bring you all the lowdown is my guide to buying Stonehenge tickets – how much they cost, what different sorts of tickets there are, where you can buy them, what they all mean and, most importantly, are they worth it.
Short intro over now folks, so what are you waiting for?
Start scrolling to learn all!
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Stonehenge Tickets: Basic Info
There’s one crucial thing that you need to know if you visit Stonehenge and that is, to access the site properly, you need to buy a ticket.
There are a few ways to see the site for free (which I’ll go into at the end of this ticket) but, by and large, the rule of thumb is you need to buy a ticket.
The other karmic advantage to doing so, is that buying a ticket supports English Heritage – a charitable organisation that maintains and preserves the site.
The less karmic, but still significant advantage in buying a ticket, is that this also gives you access to the Stonehenge museum and exhibition centre, as well as an audio guide to the site, which are 2 keys ways to learn more about the ancient wonder you’re witnessing.
In essence, therefore, buying a ticket is a good thing to do!
However it is worth noting that, even with a ticket, you cannot walk right up to the stones, nor touch or climb them.
Stonehenge is now a very heavily protected site and in order to safeguard it for the future (as it should be IMO), the closest you’ll get to the stones is a couple of metres away – unless you book a Stone Circle experience ticket, but more on that later!
However it is worth pointing out that this pretty close distance still allows you to fully appreciate the magic of this place, plus it is a close distance you can only attain with a ticket.
Any of the non-ticket options for Stonehenge (except the Solstice one) will involve you seeing the stones from much further away… but more on this later too!
So on that note, here are 5 main ways to buy tickets for Stonehenge:
- General Admission Tickets
- Stone Circle Experience Tickets
- English Heritage Pass Holders
- Stonehenge Tour Tickets
- London Day Trip Tours
I’ll cover each of these types of ticket, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, in the sections below.
I’m also going to discuss how to get to Stonehenge, what to do when you arrive, when the best time to visit the site is and 5 essentials you shouldn’t forget to pack for your trip there…
So basically, all the info you need!
#1 General Admission Stonehenge Tickets
These are the most common form of Stonehenge tickets, which cover your entire visit to the site.
This includes entrance to the stones, and the closest view you can get, as well as access to the visitor centre and museum, plus free car parking onsite in the off-peak months.
Regular entrance tickets also include the shuttle bus to / from the visitor centre to the Stones (in case you don’t want to walk) and an excellent and detailed audio guide to the Stones, their history, potential purpose and the research that has been conducted about them.
Regular entrance tickets are the most common form of Stonehenge ticket because they are for those who want to independently get to, and then visit, the site.
As such, these tickets are also the cheapest option.
Prices fluctuate depending on the time of your visit, but generally fall into 3 price categories, which range roughly between £21 and £26 for a single adult (prices valid up until March 2024.)
The 3 pricing categories are Off-Peak, Standard or Peak.
Obviously, off-peak times have the cheapest tickets and it’s during peak times that tickets are the most expensive.
Peak tickets times are generally days during the busy summer months and school holidays, while standard tickets cover the costs of visiting Stonehenge during the weekend the rest of the year.
Off-peak tickets are available Monday through Friday in the quieter, colder months, which are generally October through March.
You can buy them online in several different places – booking through English Heritage’s website gives you a 10% discount and also allows you to make an additional donation.
Also well as regular adult tickets, there are also discounted rates for children (5-17 years), concession holders, families (various configurations of adult and child numbers), as well as overseas visitor passes (which give unlimited access for either 9 or 16 days).
Learn more about your general admission ticket here.
#2 Stone Circle Experience Tickets
Stone Circle Experience tickets are also stand-alone entrance tickets, except they offer a more private experience.
Usually, Stone Circle Experiences at Stonehenge are conducted before or after the regular visiting hours and include no more than 30 people.
Select either a 9am, 4pm or 5pm experience depending on the time of year.
These unique, hour-long sessions give you an opportunity to wander in and around the stones without the crowds, with an expert on hand to answer any questions.
You can also take as many pictures as you like, up close and near the stones, as well as marvel at the details on them you can only view close up.
You are still not allowed to touch or stand on the stones.
Stone Circle Experience tickets also grant you access to the visitor centre and exhibitions and are priced at £59 for adults and £35 for children aged 5-17. Children under 5 are free.
These prices are valid up until March 2024.
Discounts are available for English Heritage Members.
Learn more about the Stone Circle Experience and buy your tickets here.
#3 English Heritage & National Trust Member Tickets
The great news is that if you are a member of either English Heritage or the National Trust for England (i.e. you pay an annual subscription fee to these charitable organisations) you can enter Stonehenge for free.
English heritage passes start from just £57 a year, which means if you visit Stonehenge, plus 2 other English Heritage sites, you’ll have soon covered the costs.
Memberships are available as either single, joint, family or lifetime passes and once bought, they allow you unlimited access to over 400 historic places around England, as well as discounted entry to 100’s of events, as well as free parking at any English Heritage owned car parks.
Learn more about English Heritage memberships here.
Although Stonehenge is run and preserved by English Heritage, the land the Stones stand on is owned by the National Trust, which is why members of this organisation also get free entry to Stonehenge and free parking onsite here too.
Memberships are available as either individual, joint, family or lifetime passes and once bought, they allow you unlimited access to over 500 national Trust sites around the UK, as well as free parking at any National Trust owned car parks.
Learn more about National Trust for England membership here.
English Heritage and National Trust for England members must bring their membership cards with them to get free access to Stonehenge.
Both pass holders qualify for free parking at Stonehenge Visitor Centre year-round, but during peak visiting months (basically the summer), I recommend to pre-booking your parking via this website.
#3 Stonehenge Tour Tickets (from Salisbury)
If you’re not a member of English Heritage or the National Trust for England, but want to avoid paying for parking at Stonehenge, or the hassle of driving there at all, then I recommend buying your Stonehenge Tickets as part of a Stonehenge Tour Ticket.
This is the option I actually used for getting to and visiting the stones, because it’s ideal for those who are travelling around the UK (or at least to Stonehenge) on public transport.
Yes, if you’re getting any form of public transport to Stonehenge, then the best place to head for is Salisbury.
From here, the easiest way to get to Stonehenge is, undoubtedly, via the Stonehenge Tour Bus.
This is less an organised tour with a guide (if you want that skip to the tour tickets section of this article), but is a bus service, with an audio guide, that takes you from Salisbury to Stonehenge, as there isn’t any other public transport method that does this.
The Stonehenge Tour Bus picks you up from either Salisbury Train Station or Salisbury City Centre – in the New Canal area.
The first Stonehenge Tour Bus leaves Salisbury Rail Station at 10:00 am and then calls at New Canal in the city centre before arriving at Stonehenge at roughly 10:30 am. This is the service I recommend you should get.
That’s because you’ll want at least 2-3 hours at the stones, meaning you’ll likely catch the 12:40 pm or 1:40 pm Stonehenge Tour Bus departing from the stones.
You then have the choice (depending on the ticket you buy, but why not do it all while you are here?!) to visit UNESCO-listed Old Sarum – arriving there at either 1:00 pm or 2:00 pm.
I’d allow an hour for visiting Old Sarum, meaning you’ll head back on the Stonehenge Tour Bus to Salisbury from there at either 2:00 pm or 3:00 pm.
You can also take any Salisbury Red bus that passes the same stop for free – just show your Stonehenge Tour Bus ticket and you will be dropped back in Salisbury City Centre within half an hour.
You can buy different sorts of tickets for the Stonehenge Tour Bus here.
Personally, I think the combination that includes the full bus tour and your Stonehenge entry ticket is the one to go for – it keeps everything streamlined and easy.
If you have an hour or 2 when you get back to Salisbury, then you should also visit the famous Cathedral here.
You can get a Stonehenge Tour Bus ticket which includes Cathedral entry too and again this just keeps everything streamlined and simple, without costing you anything extra.
Wandering through the giant Medieval religious building of Salisbury, as well as seeing one of the 4 original Magna Carta transcripts here, shouldn’t be missed – fitting this in at the end of your trip to Stonehenge is one of the main reasons I recommend getting the earliest tour bus at the start of the day.
#5 Stonehenge Tours from London
And finally, the other way you can get your Stonehenge tickets is as part of an overall day tour – most of which leave from London.
If you’re in the capital, this is an easy and smooth way to navigate both getting to Stonehenge and back, as well as seeing the amazing stones, along with several other top sites nearby.
These fully organised day trips sort out your entrance tickets, as well as all the logistics of visiting Stonehenge for you.
They often include a guided commentary too.
Here’s my pick of the day trips to Stonehenge from London:
- Small Group Stonehenge and Bath Tour with Secret Site
- Stonehenge & Roman Baths: Full-Day Tour from London
- Stonehenge, Glastonbury & Avebury Small Group Tour
- Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, Bath and Lacock Day Tour
- From London: Full-Day Windsor, Stonehenge & Oxford Tour
Arriving at Stonehenge
When you arrive at Stonehenge – no matter whether you’re driving or using a tour – you’ll disembark at the car park and then take a short stroll to the Visitor Centre.
Here you’ll show your ticket and then either have the choice of hopping on the free shuttle bus or walking to the stones.
This is a flat and beautiful stroll taking around 30 minutes, which I highly recommend you make if you can.
Once you reach the stones, you can listen to the Stonehenge Audio Book, which you have the option to download onto your phone in advance and then enjoy while you walk around.
You can then either walk or take the shuttle bus back to the Visitor Centre where you can view the Stonehenge museum.
I highly recommend doing this to learn more about the history of the stones.
Free Ways to See Stonehenge
So as we talked about, there are some ways to see Stonehenge for free i.e. without buying a ticket.
One of these options, we’ve already covered, which is basically by being an English Heritage or National Trust for England member.
The other option, if you want full access to the site, is to show your local resident pass.
This will also get you free access to the site, but needs to be booked in advance during covid times too!
Alternatively, the last method for getting vaguely near the stones is to visit them on June 20th.
This is the evening before the longest day of the year, the day when the sun rises behind the Heel Stone and shines its rays directly into the centre of the stone circle.
This is a sacred day for druids, many of them who live in the area and come to celebrate at the stones at this time.
Admission is free, but it also gets very crowded – you’ll need to be here by late afternoon if you hope to find a space to park or sit for the view!
If you’re not fussed about being just a few metres from the stones, but want to see them in all their glory nevertheless, then you can also take a walk to the stones, which will take you quite close to them at a free viewpoint.
You can walk from either the nearest town of Amesbury (just 2 miles away) or fellow Neolithic and National Trust site Woodhenge (about 2.5 miles away when walking).
Walking from Woodhenge will take you past the heritage sites or Long Barrow and Kings Barrow, which are signed and marked on Google maps.
Walking from Amesbury can take you along several routes, but the most popular is probably that which goes via Old King Barrows cemetery before heading along The Avenue – thought to be the traditional path people took to Stonehenge thousands of years ago.
Learn more about this walking route here.
With both these walking routes, you can then either buy a Stonehenge ticket at the visitor centre, or enjoy the view from a few meters beyond the paid admission area.
And finally, you can also see a Stonehenge without a ticket, by doing a sneaky drive-by.
The stones can actually be seen from a distance along the A3030 (often why there are traffic jams here!), but perhaps a better place is at the intersection between Willoughby and Fargo Road – just type one of these roads into Google maps and you’ll soon find them.
Other Top Stonehenge Travel Tips
When to Visit Stonehenge?
Given its outdoor setting, there’s no question the best time to visit Stonehenge, in my opinion, is during the summer months – this is when days are longest, warmest and sunniest in the UK and will make for the perfect stone touring conditions.
That said, Stonehenge can get very busy, especially on sunny weekends and during school holidays, so be careful to avoid these times if you can.
Visiting mid-week, outside of school holiday periods, are your best bet for avoiding the crowds!
Don’t forget the summer and winter solstice days (21 June and 21 December) are also very busy here due to druid ceremonies take place.
Stonehenge is generally open from 9:30am to 5pm, 7 days a week, although this does fluctuate according to the seasons and the hours of daylight there is in England in any given month.
Do remember ticket prices fluctuate depending on the time you wish to visit too (see more in the top section of this article) – so you may want to consider this if you are on a really tight budget.
Where to Stay near Stonehenge?
Check out these top accommodation picks in Salisbury, which is the nearest city to Stonehenge at just over 15km away and makes for a great place to base yourself.
5 Stonehenge Packing Essentials
And finally, here’s my list of the top 5 packing essentials you shouldn’t head to Stonehenge without…
#1 A Good Camera – No doubt you’re going to be snapping like crazy in this amazing landscape and need to ensure you have a good camera to do the place justice. I love my Sony A6000, which is light, compact and great for travel days.
#2 Decent Walking Shoes – No point coming this far and not being able to enjoy a walk to or around the stones comfortably. Get prepared therefore and ensure you have a decent pair of walking shoes – these cross trainers from New Balance are ideal (and totally stylish) for the job.
#3 Light Waterproof Jacket – Whatever the time of year, you have to remember this is England after all, a country in which the heavens can open at any point! Don’t get caught out there and ensure you have a good lightweight and waterproof jacket with you. This North Face one is perfect.
#4 Compact Hiking Day Pack – I never go on any day trip without a sturdy backpack to ensure I’ve got room to carry everything I need and that the weight is equally distributed across my back and shoulders, This super featherweight Kompressor from Marmot is my go-to, because it folds down to nothing and is water-resistant.
#5 Portable Power Bank – There’s no denying, power can be an issue on day trips, when constant photo taking, map reading and information sourcing can wear down your phone battery fast. My solution: Come armed with a fully charged Anker power bank, so you can fire up your phone, camera or other devices whenever and wherever you need.
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I really hope you’ve now got all the information you need about buying your Stonehenge tickets, as well as the pros and cons of the different options.
I really think buying a ticket, although expensive, is worth it to support English heritage in their endeavours to preserve the site and also for the audio guide and exhibition at the visitor centre, which both provide a unique opportunity to learn more about this amazing place.
Have you been to this amazing site?
Which ticket or free option did you go?
Please tell me all in the comments section below…