The medieval city of Salisbury is incredible to visit. Not only is it steeped in history, there are also ancient sites and sights that are thousands of years old in the wider region. Best of all, there are tons of the best things to do in Salisbury even in this cozy little town, all within easy walking distance and great weekend exploring.
We have visited Salisbury several times over the years. and it has always been so beautiful! It’s the type of city that is great for a day trip from London or part of a wider UK road trip.
You see, you can easily combine a visit to Salisbury with a trip to nearby places like; Stonehenge or further afield from historic cities like Bath.
To help you get the most out of your time in Salisbury, I wanted to introduce you to my favorite spots in the city.
Check out the best things to do in Salisbury below. Have a wonderful trip!
1.) Salisbury Cathedral
You can’t visit Salisbury without visiting the famous cathedral!
Salisbury Cathedral, one of England’s most popular cathedrals and one of the city’s oldest structures dating back to 1258, is known for being one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta. Its architecture is classically Gothic and has many unique and impressive features that you really cannot miss (inside and out).
In addition, Salisbury Cathedral is home to the oldest working clock in the world! It was built in the 13th century and comes first when entering on the left side of the nave. It’s so cool to see!
Inside you can also find medieval ones 13th century tombstones and stunning 19th and 20th century stained glass windows that are world famous.
End your visit to Salisbury Cathedral with a guided tour of the tower, which, according to its theme, also has the tallest tower in the country!
For great views, visit the banks of the Avon River in the Meadows through the north gate for breathtaking, picture-perfect views of the cathedral itself.
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2.) Salisbury’s historic center
Travel back in time as you wander through Old Town Salisbury. Immerse yourself in the architectural history of the area as you pass the poultry cross.
Now, Poultry Cross is a beautiful market cross (a kind of royal permit to hold markets) that has been proud of since the Middle Ages. Since then, Salisbury has hosted an open air market in the city since the 13th century. To this day, you can visit the market, which takes place on a Tuesday and Thursday, right here!
Then take a walk through it 15th century Salisbury, past buildings from the period including St. Thomas of Canterbury, a parish church, and the Plume of Feathers Inn for a drink.
Continue to the 17th century Joiner’s Hall, the 18th century Guildhall and the 20th century Red Lion Hotel.
Oh, and see the Salisbury Clock Tower too! The whole city is nice for a stroll.
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3.) Close the cathedral
In the area around Salisbury Cathedral, members of the cathedral traditionally lived near the cathedral.
You can easily take a stroll through Cathedral Close, following the route set by the National Trust. On a sunny day this is just perfect.
Take time to stroll past the King’s House, visit Mompesson House, discover Harnham Gate, and keep your eyes on the stunning objects from the Elizabethan and Georgian periods. We loved it.
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4.) Old Sarum
Old Sarum is located on a hill that has been fortified since the Iron Age. It is Salisbury’s earliest settlement.
To get here, drive north of Salisbury Historic Center (about 1.5 miles) to reach the ancient ruins. Old Sarum is now a well-protected English heritage site and one of the best things to do in Salisbury if you are a history buff.
The remains bear the traces of the many different peoples who have stood there over the centuries, including the Romans, Saxons and Normans!
Explore the historical settlement and give the old castle a little more time.
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5.) Salisbury Gates
There are four original city gates in the city and it is one of the best things to do in Salisbury if you want to continue your time exploring this long history.
As you wander around the city, make sure to check out my favorites – St Anne’s Gate near Salisbury Close Cathedral and the 12th century High Street Gate. Totally breathtaking and still proud in town.
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6.) The Salisbury Museum
Wiltshire County, where Salisbury is located, is full of ancient artifacts, medieval ruins and historical landmarks! It’s a county steeped in history that is easy to explore at the Salisbury Museum.
Inside, the Salisbury Museum delves into the long history, incredible culture and beautiful art of this part of England. Plus, it features incredible exhibits like that of the Amesbury Archer and informative exhibits like the archaeological collection of the Wexter Gallery that you really can’t miss.
Take a few hours to fully explore the exhibits.
If you’re looking for museums, be sure to stop by The Wardrobe, which is home to the Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museums. If you are into historical military exhibits, you will love this place. If not, you might be missing out!
Stonehenge is perhaps one of the most famous places in England – and right on Salisbury’s doorstep!
Located in the grasslands of the Salisbury Plains, Stonehenge is still more mysterious than ever. To this day, we don’t fully understand why it was built, and the secret quite intrigues me. My mind racing when I think about it!
With a history dating back thousands of years, it has been discovered that the stones for Stonehenge were actually transported from the Preseli Hills in West Wales. We recently went there and even visited Pentre Ifan, a Neolithic burial site that is 5,000 years old and is within earshot of the hill itself. Anyway, that’s a different story!
Take your time in Stonehenge to explore the city Prehistoric structures were created and the Neolithic houses examined to see what life might have been like back then.
You want to avoid the crowds, book your tickets online and visit just before your last entry. We always do this and only have a handful of people around Stonehenge. It’s so amazing and one of the best things to do in Salisbury if you’re looking for an afternoon getaway out of town.
Oh, and if you’re visiting in the summer, watch out for the hay fever! Mine is going crazy here !!!
8.) Wilton House
Built in 1653 after a fire in the Tudor house, Wilton House is a beautiful example of the classic Baroque design style and one of a kind.
With amazing portraits of King Charles and his family on the walls and ornate ceilings, Wilton House definitely deserves all the hype – especially for a couple of hours drive from central Salisbury
Oh, and don’t forget to check out both the Single Cubed Room and Double Cube Room, which Wilton House is best known for.
9.) The Haunch of Wild
known as one of the old English chophouses (from the 13th century), tHaunch of Venison is one of the oldest places to eat in the area.
The tasty and seasonal menu focuses on some English favorites like; spotted tail and good old fish and chips!
Not only that, the Haunch of Venison is considered one of the most haunted places in Salisbury! There was even a mummified hand in the fireplace! Apparently the lone hand belonged to a disgruntled patron from centuries ago. Apparently he lost it as a penance after being caught cheating on a card game!
Take a stroll on the paths along the River Avon through Queen Elizabeth Gardens to top off your lunch.
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