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13 Fun & Best Things to do in Salisbury, England

13 Fun & Best Things to do in Salisbury, England

Salisbury is a city filled with history and culture. These are the best things to do in Salisbury, England.

Salisbury is a city in southwest England and the county town of Wiltshire. With a population of just under 40,000 people, it’s not all that big – but what it lacks in size it makes up for with charm and character. 

The city of Salisbury is in southwest England. It’s in Wiltshire, the county of which is known as Wiltshire. There are approximately 40,000 people in Salisbury.

Despite its modest size, the population lacks character and charm. The historic churches, cathedrals, and parks that are within Salisbury are among the city’s main tourist attractions.

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The city is also convenient to areas such as Stonehenge and Bath. Salisbury is a good destination for a day trip from London.

History Salisbury in Wiltshire, England

Aerial View of Wiltshire Countryside
Wiltshire Countryside Credit: Kyle Kroeger/ViaTravelers

The history of Salisbury is interesting and informative for those of you interested in such things.

The first settlement occurred around 700 BC and was established on top of a hill where we now have an archaeological site called Old Sarum which is an Iron Age hill fort.

This settlement became known as Sarum and was populated by the Celtic tribe who had occupied the area since the Iron Age.

The Romans arrived in the 1st century, by 43 AD they had captured the whole of England and it was under Roman rule until about 367 AD when they left due to internal disputes and increasing pressure from outside sources.

Salisbury is a historic city with many things to see and do.

One attraction to visit is the Salisbury Cathedral which was founded in 1220 AD.

It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations for visitors because it was designed by Sir Christopher Wren who is well-known for his contributions to architecture. The cathedral also has some beautiful stained glass windows so visiting this place will not disappoint.

The Folly Tower at Wilton House is last on the list but still worth visiting. It’s a water tower built in 1826 which was used to store drinking water for the residents who lived in the house.

Salisbury is part of what makes England an attractive tourist destination. There are many things to do there when you visit, whether it be sightseeing or simply exploring, it will be a memorable experience.

If you travel to South England’s medieval cathedral city of Salisbury, once known as New Sarum, you’re in for an unforgettable travel experience. In addition to being gifted with outstanding natural beauty, the town is also rich in historical landmarks.

The city is a gold mine for some of  Europe’s most breathtaking scenery and historical attractions. There are numerous fascinating things to do in and around the town of Salisbury, located in the southern English county of Wiltshire.

A journey of discovery awaits when you visit Salisbury, England, where you may see Arundells, the former residence of Prime Minister Sir Edward “Ted” Heath, take a stroll around the historic city center, or marvel at the Salisbury Cathedral, among other things.

Surrounded by stunning countryside, and filled with wonderful old architecture, Salisbury is a town that never seems to run out of incredible views to absorb no matter where you go.

Best Things to do in Salisbury, England

For you travelers thinking of a trip to the South of England, here’s a list of things to do in Salisbury.

1. Enjoy a Walking Tour at Salisbury’s Old City Center

Aerial View of Salisbury Cathedral
View of Salisbury Cathedral Credit: Kyle Kroeger/ViaTravelers

One of the most enjoyable things to do in Salisbury is just to stroll the cobblestone streets of the Old City center. You will have the opportunity to tour the medieval city’s heart and take in Salisbury’s ancient architecture and notable landmarks. 

Taking a walking tour of the Old Town Center not only provides an opportunity to marvel at the architecture, but it also provides the opportunity to sample delectable cuisine at the vibrant medieval market, just outside the beautiful Guildhall.

Wiltshire is famous for its pork, particularly its superb back bacon and hams, as well as strong cheeses, so get stuck in!

As you stroll through the Old Town Center’s bustling streets, you’ll be able to see great sites such as St. Thomas’s Church.

This beautiful medieval parish church was built in the 12th Century and added to significantly in the 15th Century, and is famous for its awesome Doom fresco.

What makes a walking trip even more enjoyable in Salisbury, is that the Old Town Center is normally filled with an infectious, dynamic ambiance, typical of Old English market towns. 

If you fancy more walking after visiting the city center, you might like taking a stroll along the River Avon, taking in the picturesque rolling meadows along the way.  

2. Discover the beauty of Roman Ruins of Old Sarum

When in Salisbury, touring Old Sarum is among the best things to do for history buffs and lovers of the Great British Outdoors. These fascinating ruins are located a couple of miles north of the center of Salisbury. 

Old Sarum is on a prominent hilltop that had once been a simple Neolithic settlement, seeing growth in the Iron Age and then a strategic garrison town for the Romans. 

The city was razed, abandoned, and rebuilt during the Saxon period, and became a booming town, complete with its own castle and cathedral during the Norman period, before being largely abandoned between the 13th & 14th Centuries when the majority of inhabitants migrated to neighboring New Sarum.

Seeing the ruins and knowing that for centuries it was once a whole town in its own right is awe-inspiring.

Once you’re done learning about the history of Old Sarum, take some time to enjoy a picnic, for Old Sarum has some breathtaking overlooking views of the lovely Wiltshire countryside.

3. Explore Ted Heath’s Arundells

Arundells was the residence of the former and somewhat controversial Conservative British Prime Minister Edward (Ted) Heath.

This beautiful old house is one of the most famous historic structures in the area and is on a site that has seen inhabited use since at least the 13th Century.

The oldest parts of the building itself are likely from the 13th Century, but most of it was added to the structure between the 16th and 18th Centuries.

Artifacts from the former Tory British Prime Minister’s long political career and his personal life are on display, as are luxury custom furnishings designed just for the space and unique decor. In addition, there is a substantial art collection and musical artifacts on display in residence.

Once you’ve toured this marvelous old house, enjoy basking in the sun in its beautiful sprawling gardens.

4. Marvel the Magna Carta and the Salisbury Cathedral

Interior View of the Salisbury Cathedral
Interior of Salisbury Cathedral

Your journey to Salisbury is incomplete unless you take time to marvel at the magnificence of the Magna Carta, which can be found at the stunning Salisbury Cathedral.

The cathedral is one of the most significant historical landmarks in the country and one of the most frequented religious places in all of Britain. 

Constructed in the traditional English style with an interior made of brightly colored limestone, the Cathedral is one of the most majestic in the world.

For more than 800 years, Salisbury Cathedral has served as a site of devotion, hospitality, and compassion for the people of South England.

Here you may also learn about how one of only four surviving original copies of the Magna Carta written in 1215 came to be housed in the Cathedral. This globally significant document is housed in a special display that details its history and how it continues to be relevant to our lives today and will likely be relevant when we are all gone. 

While The Magna Carta is just as (if not more) important than the cathedral itself, perhaps the most notable feature of Salisbury Cathedral is its gallery-like tall central space, which is truly extraordinary.

Here, you can catch the chimes from the Cathedral’s iconic 14th-century clock, which may be the oldest such clock in the United Kingdom still operational.

The Cathedral grounds are another place to enjoy a delicious picnic.

Cathedral Close, located outside the Salisbury Cathedral, is a verdant oasis in the middle of the city, with sweeping green lawns bordered by charming old residences.

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5. Explore the Halls and garden at Mompesson House

While in Salisbury, it is highly recommended that you visit Mompesson House, which is another one of the city’s many historical attractions to explore. It is one of the most iconic buildings in Cathedral Close, and it is also one of the most visited National Trust properties in the county.

Mompesson House is a fascinating place to spend some time exploring. With a luxurious and immaculately maintained interior, this 18th Century house, built in the Queen Anne style is a sight to behold.

In addition to outstanding plasterwork and vintage furnishings from the 18th century, the museum also has a fine collection of glassware and a beautiful oak staircase from the era. 

The attraction is notable not just for its interior but also for its lovely walled garden and charming tearoom, which are both located on the premises. Grab yourself a bite, the sandwiches are simply delectable.

Because of its elegance, and care to preserve it, the mansion has appeared in several television shows and films over the years, including the famous 1995 adaptation of the Jane Austen classic Sense and Sensibility. 

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6. Enjoy Exhibits at The Salisbury Museum

The fascinating and award-winning Salisbury Museum is housed in a beautiful medieval mansion known as the King’s House, which overlooks the magnificent Cathedral Close and is a beautiful spot to spend some time exploring.

Salisbury Museum includes a diverse collection of permanent exhibits as well as temporary exhibitions that are held throughout the year that emphasize the art and history of South England

The outstanding Wessex Gallery, which contains the museum’s extensive archaeological collection, is a particular highlight.

This display of archaeology houses one of Europe’s most extensive collections of Stonehenge relics and ancient artifacts and is one of the world’s largest collections of prehistoric artifacts. 

The Salisbury Museum also has a café on the premises where you may refuel and unwind after a long day of sightseeing.

7. Visit Stonehenge & Salisbury Plains

Stonehenge During Winter Solstice Sunset
Sunset at Stonehenge Credit: Kyle Kroeger/ViaTravelers

Nearby Stonehenge is an absolute must and I’ll wager you probably got to this article simply by researching what to do nearby this historical landmark!

Stonehenge is one of the greatest renowned ancient, stone age structures in English heritage and arguably the entire world. The prehistoric structure appears spectacular, in contrast with the generally flat terrain of the Salisbury Plain.

The site is home to several visitor centers, providing an unusual insight into the construction of the 5000-year old structure.

Ensure you also visit nearby Woodhenge, where the remains are visible from the remains of an old burial mound. The inscriptions were done in concrete.

Visit the village of Shrewton, Wiltshire, within just 2km of its historic center. Stone Circle Access passes give people their best possible access before or after the general entrance for any visitor.

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8. Take a stroll down Queen Elizabeth Gardens

Take advantage of some free time and visit Queen Elizabeth Gardens.

This riverside park is full of vast green fields with brightly colored flowers and a canopy of bushes along the shore. Access to these sites is free of charge, therefore it’s one of the most important sites in the case you have limited funds.

Other sights nearby are The Cathedral of Avon riverfront. Enjoy a marvelous walk around the garden and admire your surroundings.

9. Larmer Tree Gardens

Larmer Tree Gardens are named for a historic tree that provided shady shelter for King John around 1190. The 11-acre attraction was the first privately owned green space for public use.

The grounds have become extremely desirable for wedding planning as well as a picnic area. Try and time your trip for musical events or festivals held here, especially the three-day Lake Forests Festival.

Visit nearby Tollard Royal, Salisbury, the oldest settlement in the old forest known as Cranborne Chase for the first time in the United Kingdom.

10. The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum

The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum is a great military museum that combines the collections of the Royal Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiments, both historic infantry regiments with long lists of battle honors to their names. It’s also one of several museums dedicated to their descendant regiment The Rifles – the largest infantry regiment in the British Army.

This award-winning regimental museum covers four floors that detail British and regimental military history as well as soldiers’ daily operations over roughly 250 years.

The original building on the site was constructed in 1254 and was rebuilt in the 15th Century. Historically the building was used to store the robes of the Bishop of Salisbury, giving the building the nickname of “The Bishop’s Wardrobe” or just “The Wardrobe”.

In the summer, be sure to stroll along the paths through the garden and follow the Avon River for the view into Water Meadow and head to the tea room.

11. Take a trip to Wilton House

The Wilton House is one of the oldest surviving buildings in town, dating back to 1653 and designed by Inigo Jones.

One room is covered with gold-painted flower petals and fruit trees and measures 35 feet long by 20 feet wide. Rembrandt, Ruben, and Reynolds’s works were among the most significant pieces exhibited.

The enormous landscaped park which surrounds the residence offers old and new trees along with well-maintained paths for exploration.

Take time also to discover the beautiful medieval village of Wilton which is a major seat of the Saxon region of Wessell and later, of Wiltshire, and also hosts a very attractive weekend market.

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12. St. Thomas’ Church

Around 1240, the new Sarum Catholic church was dedicated and then expanded in 1300 and 1400 when the tower was constructed. This church is located on a beautiful St. Thomas’s Place, which has a historical chapel with three sides.

Wood frame trim decorates the chapel, which boasts a view of wooden framing. Lady Chapel features wall paintings depicting the coats of arms of the Earls of Pembroke and Wilton, the Canons of Salisbury, and St. Thomas.

The church’s exterior is constructed with flint and limestone dressings in a Decorated Gothic style with Lancet windows and an embattled parapet.

The tower is Perpendicular Gothic in style with an embattled parapet and corner pinnacles.

13. Salisbury International Arts Festival

The Salisbury International Arts Festival is a festival that features a diverse program of music, theatre, film, dance, spoken word, visual arts, family, and free events.

The festival began in 1973 and has continued to grow in popularity. In 2018, the Salisbury International Arts Festival became part of Wiltshire Creative.

The Salisbury International Arts Festival takes place from late May through June every year. It is a multiple-week-long event that features a diverse program. It has become a popular event in the city of Salisbury and attracts people from all over the world.

Final Thoughts 

The city of Salisbury has a great deal to offer in terms of natural scenery, incredible history, and marvelous attractions. 

This ancient medieval city is a genuine gem for visitors seeking sights, relaxation, culture, historic buildings, and some great food.

Consider including Salisbury on your itinerary if you are planning a visit to England for your next vacation, and let it inspire you about where to tour next in the United Kingdom.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to follow us on Instagram via our handle @viatravelers or check out the ViaTravelers YouTube channel.

Cheerio!

FAQ

What is the most impressive attraction in Salisbury England?

Salisbury Cathedral is the city’s most impressive attraction. The cathedral building itself has had several things added over time but it still stands firm at 225 feet tall which helps make it an imposing presence on Salisbury Plain which is rather flat otherwise.

The main structure is made from limestone sheathed in Purbeck marble that dates back to the thirteenth century.

The cathedral is very impressive even from a distance and it has been added to over the centuries including things like its ornate spire which was completed in 1365 after being started much earlier. It is one of England’s most recognizable landmarks and draws a huge number of visitors each year.

What is Salisbury UK known for?

Salisbury is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England. It’s also famously known for its large 13th Century stone cathedral with a unique square spire. In the center of town is the famous Market Square which has an amazing variety of things to do and see.

It’s also been a key barrack town and training area for the British Army for centuries. In fact, Stonehenge was damaged in WW1, not by air raids from German Zeppelins, but from an early tank ramming the megalith while on a training exercise! There are parts of Salisbury Plain that are still used as live fire training grounds for infantry, armor and artillery, typically marked with large red flags – do not stray into these areas!

You might enjoy shopping at one of the many trendy boutiques or beauty stalls, strolling through art galleries, touring castle grounds, or checking out Salisbury Racecourse – Britain’s oldest established race track that overlooks stunning countryside views.

How do I spend a day in Salisbury?

Here are some things you might like to do when spending a day in Salisbury:

– Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Stonehenge, one of the most famous prehistoric ceremonial monuments anywhere.
– Check out Salisbury Cathedral with its beautiful spire and famous ‘Chained Library.’
– Go shopping at The Friary Centre or at Arcade Court Shopping Centre.
– Explore Salisbury’s historic character through its winding streets, hidden gardens, and small parks.
– Visit Salisbury Racecourse, one of the South West’s top attractions for horse racing and social events.

Salisbury is truly an inspiration for England’s charm. Make sure to take walks around The Close where you’ll find 400-year-old buildings that house shops, offices, restaurants, and services all within a short walk from each other.

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