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13 Best Things to Do in Salisbury, England

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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. 

Salisbury is in southwest England, in the county known as Wiltshire. It has an approximate population of 40,000. Despite its modest size, the population lacks character and charm. The historic churches, cathedrals, and parks within Salisbury are among the city’s main tourist attractions.

The city is also convenient to areas such as Stonehenge and Bath. Salisbury is a good destination for a day trip from London. For travelers thinking of a trip to the South of England, here’s a list of things to do in Salisbury.

Things to Do in Salisbury, England

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

Aerial View of Salisbury Cathedral
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

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

A walking tour of the Old Town Center allows one to marvel at the architecture and sample delectable cuisine at the vibrant medieval market outside the beautiful Guildhall.

Wiltshire is famous for its pork, particularly its superb back bacon and hams and strong cheeses, so get stuck in! As you stroll through the Old Town Center’s bustling streets, you’ll see great sites like St. Thomas’s Church.

This beautiful medieval parish church was built in the 12th Century and added significantly in the 15th Century. What makes a walking trip even more enjoyable in Salisbury is that the Old Town Center is usually 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.  

2. Discover the beauty of the Roman Ruins of Old Sarum

Historic Old Sarum in Wiltshire, England

Address: Castle Rd, Salisbury SP1 3SD, United Kingdom

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. During the Norman period, it became a booming town complete with its castle and cathedral before being largely abandoned between the 13th and 14th Centuries, when most inhabitants migrated to neighboring New Sarum.

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 Arundells

Arundells in Salisbury, England
Source: Tripadvisor

Address: 59 Cathedral Close, Salisbury SP1 2EN, United Kingdom

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 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 the 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

Address: Salisbury SP1 2EJ, United Kingdom

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 country’s most significant historical landmarks and one of the most frequented religious places in Britain. Constructed in the traditional English style with an interior of brightly colored limestone, it 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. It 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 hear the chimes from the Cathedral’s iconic 14th-century clock, which may be the oldest clock in the United Kingdom that is 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.

See Related: How to Take a Month-Long Vacation

5. Explore the Halls and garden at Mompesson House

Sign for the Mompesson House, Salisbury
chrisdorney – stock.adobe.com

Address: The Close, Salisbury SP1 2EL, United Kingdom

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

Mompesson House is a fascinating place to explore. 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 has a fine collection of glassware and a beautiful oak staircase from the era. 

The attraction is notable for its interior, lovely walled garden, and charming tearoom, both located on the premises. Grab yourself a bite. The sandwiches are delectable.

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

See Related: Affordable Castle Hotels in Europe

6. Enjoy Exhibits at The Salisbury Museum

Front of the Salisbury Museum
Milos – stock.adobe.com

Address: The Kings House, 65 The Cl, Salisbury SP1 2EN, United Kingdom

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 explore.

Salisbury Museum includes a diverse collection of permanent exhibits and temporary exhibitions held throughout the year to 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 prehistoric artifacts. 

The Salisbury Museum also has a café where you can refuel and unwind after a long day of sightseeing.

7. Visit Stonehenge & Salisbury Plains

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

Address: Salisbury SP4 7DE, United Kingdom

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

Stonehenge is one of the most famous 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 Shrewton, Wiltshire village 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

Queen Elizabeth Gardens, Salisbury

Address: Salisbury SP2 7TD, UK

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, making it one of the most important sites in 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

Temple in Larmer Tree Gardens, Salisbury
Ydigresse / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Address: Larmer Tree, Tollard Royal, Salisbury SP5 5PY, United Kingdom

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 and as a picnic area. Try to 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 forest known as Cranborne Chase, for the first time in the United Kingdom.

10. The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum

Front and exterior of The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum in Salisbury, England
Sergii Figurnyi – stock.adobe.com

Address: The Wardrobe, 58 The Cl, Salisbury SP1 2EX, United Kingdom

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, which covers four floors, details British and regimental military history and soldiers’ daily operations over roughly 250 years.

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

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

11. Take a trip to Wilton House

Front of Wilton House, Wiltshire, England
memory87 / Adobe Stock

Address: Wilton, Salisbury SP2 0BJ, United Kingdom

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 surrounding the residence offers old and new trees and well-maintained paths for exploration. Take time to discover the beautiful medieval village of Wilton, a major seat of the Saxon region of Wessell and, later, of Wiltshire, which hosts a very attractive weekend market.

See Related: Interesting, Fun Facts About London

12. St. Thomas’ Church

St. Thomas Church, Salisbury, England

Address: St Thomas’s Square, St Thomas Square, Salisbury SP1 1BA, United Kingdom

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

Every year, the Salisbury International Arts Festival occurs from late May through June. It is a multiple-week-long event featuring a diverse program. It has become a popular event in Salisbury and attracts people from all over the world.

History Salisbury in Wiltshire, England

Aerial View of Wiltshire Countryside
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The history of Salisbury is interesting and informative for those interested in such things. The first settlement occurred around 700 BC and was established atop a hill where we now have an archaeological site called Old Sarum, 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, 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 beautiful stained glass windows, so you will not be disappointed by visiting this place.

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

Salisbury is part of what makes England an attractive tourist destination. There are many things to do there when you visit, whether 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 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.

If you are planning a visit to England for your next vacation, consider including Salisbury on your itinerary. Let it inspire you to decide where to tour next in the United Kingdom.

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FAQ

What is the most impressive attraction in Salisbury, England?

Salisbury Cathedral is the city’s most impressive attraction. Although several changes have been made over time, the cathedral building 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, dating back to the thirteenth century, is made from limestone sheathed in Purbeck marble. The cathedral is very impressive even from a distance, and it has been added to over the centuries, including its ornate spire, which was completed in 1365 after being started much earlier. It is one of England’s most recognizable landmarks and draws many visitors annually.

What is Salisbury, UK, known for?

Salisbury is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England. It’s famous 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. Stonehenge was damaged in WWI, not by air raids from German Zeppelins, but by an early tank ramming the megalith while on a training exercise! Some parts of Salisbury Plain 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 overlooking 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’s beautiful spire and famous ‘Chained Library.’
– Go shopping at The Friary Centre or 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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