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Is Stonehenge truly a must-see?

Has anyone ever skipped Stonehenge and regretted it?

Posted by
2 posts

Stonehenge is definitely worth the trip, but it is more commercialized that you'd think. I found that getting the audio headphone tour was well worth it--it blocked out any tourist noise and kept me focused on the timeless feel of the place. Don't expect to have the place to yourself, but don't miss it!

Posted by
75 posts

Avebury is a lot better. You can walk around the stones, it is in the middle of a lovely little town, two muaeums.

Posted by
2638 posts

Hi Lauren, I have to agree with Tom. Avebury is better do to the fact that you can walk around the stones, no fencing. Stonehenge is nice to see once, but it is crowded. The first time I was at Stonehenge we could walk around the stones, a lot nicer then. Avebury has a nice pub across from the stones, nice place for lunch.

Posted by
2023 posts

I would not skip Stonehenge. We saw it on a cloudy cool day and there were few tourists. Had an opportunity to take great photos. On another trip we stopped by Avebury and I found it somewhat disappointing--very spread out and the town was not especially cute. A charming place near Avebury is Laycock Abbey and the village--quaint place that surely most be on postcards.

Posted by
6 posts

We went to both in August. Avebury is a lot bigger but we found some of the areas (the tomb) not well marked and couldn't find it in the pouring rain! The stones are more accessable there than at Stonehenge but you literally are walking in the middle of a sheep pasture along with all sheep droppings!

Stonehenge was a not too crowded and definately made an impression-i wouldn't miss it

Posted by
57 posts

I've seen Stonehenge twice and I still think of it as just a pile of rocks (I really didn't want to the 1st time, but big sis wanted to -- who am I to tell someone she can't see or do what she really wants to?). My 2nd time seeing it was my little sister's 1st time seeing it. I got a kick out of watching her because she was so excited about it. (She has a degree in engineering & the whole idea of ancient peoples building something like that really impresses her.) If it's something you really want to experience, then I say go for it.

Posted by
410 posts

We were totally underwhelmed by Stonehenge. Incredibly crowded (April) and situated where it is between 2 motorways seriously detracted from the experience. But many love it that is for sure so it is very hard to say for you.

Posted by
977 posts

I too was totally underwhelmed by Stonehenge. I went in 1995 when you could still walk around the rocks. I expected the structures to be much bigger.
I wouldn't go out of my way to go there.

Posted by
389 posts

I guess I'm with the majority. I spent a day on trains and buses to get to Stonehenge and was so disappointed, both by the investment and the fact that I've been to a replica in the Columbia River gorge which was better. I've seen other stone circles close up that were at least as interesting and cheaper. If I were with people who hadn't been there and we were driving by I'd probably stop, but if I ever go out there again I'm going to Salisbury Cathedral which is much more impressive if completely different. Find a circle in a field that's free and doesn't have the fees to see it.

Posted by
991 posts

I have been to Stonehenge many times and once to Avebury. Though access to the stone circle (Stonehenge)ceased in 1978, one can still get a Stone Circle Access visit. www.english-heritage.org.uk/stonehenge and follow the links to "planning your visit". This is well worth the bother..visits are twice per day, before opening hours and after closing. Avebury is fun but you do have to share it with the sheep.

Posted by
20 posts

You make a good point, Paul n Sara, but I really value feedback from other Rick Steves fans. I might get slightly different advice if I set up the question this way: If you had a free morning, would you spend it seeing Stonehenge or exploring more of Bath?
(My husband and I are staying two nights and 1.5 days in Bath, with half our daytime devoted to a bus tour through the Cotswolds. Thinking we might be shortchanging Bath, we're torn between spending our check-out morning in the city or at Stonehenge.)

Posted by
3551 posts

Do Avebury instead. it is wonderful. I know at some point it too will be fenced off, so see it now.

Posted by
109 posts

Lauren, I have been researching Stonehenge tours and have found "Private Access" tours which visit the site before and after hours. You ARE able to walk among the stones at that time. Google "private access stonehenge". There are lots of tour operators and you can also book directly with Stonehenge for a private access on their website.

Posted by
683 posts

The tone of your question seems to say that you don't think Stonehenge is that important and that you are seeking suppoort for that view. What is a "must-see" varies. It all depends on what things you value and see as special. You neednt see something bcuz others tell you that you must and it is equally true that you might rave about a place that makes others yawn.

Posted by
196 posts

Interesting way to ask a question. I, unfortunately had the expierence of taking a "guided bus" tour of Salisbury, Bath & Stonehenge - w/a guide who I am sure was 'rare' as he totally was anti-american.. and this was in 1994. We took the tour from Victoria Station and when we got back to London it dropped us off at the other side of London.

Anyway your question was about Stonehenge. I advise to skip it. I was SO disappointed ... I actually regretted seeing it @ it was really touristy and their were these fences around it to keep people out. Bath & Salisbury were fantastic! I wish I had more time in Bath and Salisbury.

Posted by
15 posts

I was at Stonehenge on Sept 7. I had read all about how you can't really get up close to the stones and how it was a waste of time. But, I was very impressed with it and I actually liked the fact that no one could get close to the stones because I have pictures of just the stones and not people in among the stones.

It does depend on how much time you have to take there. If you are rushing through it you might not get as much out of it as you would if you took more time to understand it. Get the audio guide and a guidebook to really understand it. The engineering feat that it took those people to get those stones there is beyond comprehension for most of us.

We were on a guided tour from Bath to Stonehenge when I looked over on the hillside and saw the Westbury horse!! I was amazed.

Great trip! I'm sorry it's over.
Angie

Posted by
5762 posts

Do any of you who were underwhelmed by Stonehenge and complain because you couldn't walk into it ever wonder why it's now behind fences. Because some soccer twits took spray paint cans to it to proclaim their love for their team and because countless folks truly believe the "others" are coming to Stonehenge and try to camp out there. Somewhere along the line selfishness has ruined the collective experience. As far as being smaller than you think did you even try to think how those stones were moved and stood up in 2200 BC. That still remains mystery and that's why you go to see it. Then again I guess it's all in your interpretation. I'm a Yank and think the Grand Canyon is just a big hole in the ground.

Posted by
93 posts

"I'm a Yank and think the Grand Canyon is just a big hole in the ground."

LOL! Thank you - I needed a good laugh!

Posted by
3419 posts

Lauren- Bath is nice, but 1/2 to 3/4 of a day will do ya. Stonehenge was nice for 1 visit, but I am "into" history, Celts, and mystisim. Consider other options. Cardiff is a nice train ride from Bath. Well worth a day trip.

Posted by
991 posts

Claudia, as someone whose "people" came from the Salisbury Plain...Thank you

Posted by
45 posts

I'd have to agree with some of the other posters- it was underwhelming. But, in another sense, it did make me the while staring at theses huge rocks- how DID they do that? I'd say if your contemplating whether or not to go, go ahead and do it. If you don't go, you may think to yourself, "Should I have gone?"

Posted by
196 posts

I'd recommend Avebury over Stonehenge unless you have time to do both. Salisbury Cathedral is well worth a visit.

Posted by
448 posts

Recent program on CNN...top 10 disappointments in travel included the Mona Lisa (too small) and the Eiffel Tower (too crowded). I guess it all depends on your expectations. Are you worried that when you get home someone will scold you for skipping Stonehenge?...I think I visted the spot, BUT can't really remember, and no one ever asked me if I'd been there.....We were just in Krakow and skipped the Salt Mines. I don't feel bad yet.

Posted by
5 posts

I went with a private tour guide on my birthday to Stonehenge, Avenbury, Silbury Hill, the Tor and West Kennet Longbarrel... it was fabulous and altho it might be said that these sites are less than you imagined, there is an energy to them that speaks louder than the visual impact. Vincent at keefsmoney@co.uk can help you see beyond the obvious...

Posted by
6 posts

I have visited stonehenge twice. The first time was with my sister on a Evan Evans tour a few years ago. The last time was with my cousin on a Golden Tour this Sep. The first time was really impressive. This time was a definite bust. My pics on computer are so much better and larger! The tour this year was lousy!!! Dont know if can get closer to stones on Evan Evans, but my sister reminded me that not everyone could get close then. Check before going and do not take Golden Tours!

Posted by
112 posts

Way off topic. But crowds depend on time of year.

Too crowded? You should all experience travel in November through March, Christmas holiday period not included.

Sure, it's cold. I actually prefer that. But there are rarely crowds of uninformed tourists who don't understand why the site they gawk at is important or historic, or Asian tour bus companies full of tourists shooting the shit out of everything that moves with their video cameras..

Westminster Abbey in late November? Walk right in. Eiffel Tower in the cool, crisp evening in December? Hardly a soul around or below (except for the touts selling miniature light-up towers). Brandenburg Tor covered in snow in mid December? Only thing about are Germans scurrying to a nearby market for Gluhwein. Budapest is gorgeous in February with plenty to still see an do.

I hate crowds and tourists. I love travelers. Most everyone here is a traveler, not a tourist which is awesome.

Posted by
9363 posts

LOL, Kent... I was just thinking the same thing.

Posted by
89 posts

Stonehenge CAN be missed for sure. You cannot go close to it like before. There is a fence surrounding it. Like someone else said, see Avebury instead. -Kim

Posted by
3 posts

IT is also a treat to visit Glastonbury and Wells near Stonehenge and Avenury. The roads there are easier to drive on for Americans than further north towards Bath and the Cotswolds. (which are very hilly and narrow!)

Posted by
11798 posts

Traveling West from London, the must see places for me are Bath, Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge.

There are so many things to see, you'll have to decide what's best for you.

Posted by
4 posts

Can anyone recommend the best way to get to Stonehenge? Car? Bus? Train?

Posted by
16 posts

Stonehenge is NOT a "must-see" in any way. I visited it as a kid several times (when you could climb and touch them) and I've driven past it several times since.
Although nice to see once in your life, I wouldn't designate a 1/2 day to see Stonehenge. Time would be better spent in Wells or Bath.

Posted by
852 posts

Hi Lauren,
... as they say, you should leave something undone and believe you will return ... Stonehenge could be that something for you ...
... If you are ever in south Texas (near the town of Hunt), check out the 3/4 scale Stonehenge replica. It's free... and worth every penny.
Go to www.Google.com (images) and type into the search box "Texas Stonehenge". I can honestly say that my own urge to see a henge is now completely satisfied, though I saw a smaller version.
Lauren, have a HAPPY NEW YEAR !
and all the best,,,, P.

Posted by
5762 posts

Let's see. No one has really figured out what it means or how the stones got there. So if you are impressed by mystery and myth then go see it.

Secondly, the reason you can no longer get into or wander around the stones is because some soccer twits spray painted it with slogans about 20 years ago.

For me, it's an intriguing mystery and well worth the trip.

Then again I have NO clue why people are intrigued with Las Vegas.

Same thing with Hollywood and I live here.

Guess that's why there is chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

Posted by
991 posts

a p.s. to Claudia: Not to mention people hacking off bits to take as souvenirs. Lauren, I've not regretted it every time I've been.

Posted by
157 posts

I am planning a trip this summer to London and had considered a stop at Stonehenge. I read with great amusement the posts on this topic. Thanks all for some interesting comments – While I am at it I will skip future trips to the Grand Canyon and Vegas too. LOL

Posted by
11450 posts

Well, I missed it, and I didn't miss it at all.

Like anything it is personal tastes and interests that really determine whether any site is a " must see".

Posted by
12 posts

We visited Avebury first, at sunset. It was an amazing experience, steeped in antiquity and mystery with the added mist caused by a little bit of jet-lag. The day we visited Stonehenge we were at first somewhat disappointed by the fences and all, but we immersed ourselves in the history and really looked around. It's not just the standing stones(incredible engineering), but the whole area that is a prehistoric site - there are burial barrows and ancient pathways and you can side-trip a few km. to Woodhenge for a different experience and to Old Sarum (outside Salisbury) for Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II (what a love story THAT is!). Salisbury itself was my favorite English town. So there's lots to do on Salisbury plain that makes for a memorable day.

Posted by
1 posts

I visited England in Jun 07, and Stonehenge was definitely on my "to see" list. Went there with some British friends. While I was dismayed by the commercialism and by the real-time surrounding traffic, still glad I went. Took lots of pictures, some better than what you see online. Had plenty of time to meditate & reflect, even with the crowd. This is a historic English monument, and I feel fortunate to have been part of the experience. I believe an English historical society has plans to route traffic from about 2 miles away, and bus visitors to/from the actual site. Good idea!

Posted by
1986 posts

As a very late post. It is well worth seeing BOTH Stonehenge and Avebury. I would do them in that order. Stonegenge is a must see much better before the crowds move in. And Avebury is only twenty minutes away (max) by car. You can walk and touch the Avebury stones, and there is a little village almost surrounded by the circle. Lacock is a quick visit in my opinion, unless you are into photographic history

Posted by
101 posts

I have to say, last time I went I was dissappointed.. I guess it's because I remember as a kid driving up a country lane and parking on the farmers field and having a picnic lunch with my Mum Dad & siblings while sitting on the stones... No entrance fee, no concrete car park and no tacky tourist souvenirs in sight!! I took my hubby a few years back and was shocked to see a main road within view. the biggest dissapointment was that we weren't allowed to touch and walk around and mingle with the stones.

Posted by
970 posts

Don't make a special trip to see Stonehenge. See it as part of a larger visit. It's an interesting place, but of little real significance. And it really doesn't take much time to see it. So, stop by for an hour or two on your way somewhere else.

Posted by
3419 posts

PLEASE NOTE
The date on the original post was 2007!!! This was brought forward by someone with only a few recent posts. I am sure Lauren has completed her original trip and maybe made several more.

Posted by
991 posts

Toni, Maybe so, but it's still a question that gets asked. A Lot.

Posted by
1595 posts

If it intrigues you, then arrange for private access and visit early morning or evening after it closes to the general public. You need to schedule this about six months in advance...... We find it fascinating and try to see it every time we go to the UK...... I am baffled why anyone would say it is "of little real significance." However, those who aren't very interested should skip it, since it tends to be quite crowded and doesn't need additional visits from tourists who feel "obligated"!

Posted by
52 posts

If you want a more impressive memory, go to Stonehenge with a small group which enters before or after the public hours. Before you go, read Mary Stewart's series of Arthur stories.
While you are at Stonhenge, you will picture Merlin's tale of how and why the stones were collected and built. And you will not go away thinking that Stonehenge is just another pile of rocks.

Posted by
14 posts

I visited Stonehenge on a very small bus tour of Stonehenge, Salisbury and the New Forest. We went in early November and the weather was crazy--no rain, thank goodness--but dramatic clouds. I have the best pictures of that circle o' rocks... For me, it was something I really wanted to see and I wasn't disappointed. I was very amused that it's sitting in the middle of what is now a pasture for sheep, roped off though it is. I had the pleasure of watching some security guards chasing off rogue sheep during my visit. Definitely spring for the audio guide if you go.