Nestled amidst the rolling green hills of Wiltshire, the medieval city of Salisbury makes for an idyllic weekend escape from London.
With its awe-inspiring 13th-century cathedral, quaint cobbled streets, and a plethora of pubs and restaurants, Salisbury has all the ingredients for a quintessentially English weekend getaway.
Though small, Salisbury packs a serious sightseeing punch and is steeped in history. A landmark achievement of early English architecture, Salisbury Cathedral, and its 123-metre spire dominate the city skyline.
Old Sarum, the original settlement of Salisbury, boasts the impressive remains of an Iron Age hill fort, Roman camp, and Norman castle. With two to four days in Salisbury, you’ll have ample time to take in the highlights and uncover some hidden gems.
Let’s explore the best places to visit in Salisbury England.
Visit Salisbury Cathedral, UK (© Billy, BRB Gone Somewhere Epic)
Best Places to Visit in Salisbury England
Visit Salisbury Cathedral
No trip to Salisbury is complete without marveling at the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral. Dating back to 1220 AD, Salisbury Cathedral boasts the tallest church spire in the UK at 123 metres.
Even if you’re not particularly religious, the ornate Gothic architecture, stained glass windows, and historic Magna Carta exhibition make this a must-see. Don’t forget to stroll through the peaceful Cathedral Close, unchanged since the Middle Ages.
Be sure to go inside and gaze up at the elaborate ribbed vaulting – it’s a true feat of medieval engineering. Look out for the fascinating historic clock mechanism dating from 1386, claimed to be the oldest working clock in the world.
Tour of Salisbury Cathedral (© Diego Torres, Pixabay)
Explore Salisbury Cathedral Spire
For daredevil views over Salisbury, book a spot on the “Tower Tour” at Salisbury Cathedral, which allows you to ascend the 123-metre spire. Be prepared for shallow spiral staircases, narrow passageways, and dizzying heights across three different levels.
After a breathless climb, you’ll be rewarded with jaw-dropping vistas across the city and surrounding countryside. Not recommended for claustrophobes or the unfit! Book well in advance as tours are very popular.
Climb Old Sarum
Just 2 miles north of the city lies the atmospheric ruins of Old Sarum. Occupied since prehistoric times, Old Sarum has served as an Iron Age hillfort, Roman camp, and Norman stronghold throughout its long history.
Climb to the top of the grassy ramparts for sweeping views over Salisbury and the Wiltshire countryside.
Wander through the ruins of the abandoned 11th-century cathedral and imposing Norman castle, which served as inspiration for Salisbury’s new cathedral after the clergy abandoned Old Sarum.
On summer evenings, Old Sarum hosts open-air theatre productions amongst the evocative ruins.
Stroll Along the River Avon
Meandering through the heart of Salisbury, the peaceful River Avon provides a lovely spot for a leisurely stroll or picnic. Follow the trail along the waterfront for just over a mile, crossing under the medieval bridge into the Cathedral Close.
Keep your eyes peeled for elegant swans gliding across the shallow water and Kingfishers nesting along the banks. On sunny days, watch people punting gently downstream. Pack a picnic or stop at one of the waterside pubs like The Mill and Ye Olde Kings Head.
Visit Salisbury Museum
To delve into the history of Salisbury, spend an hour or two at Salisbury Museum, located just a short walk from the Cathedral.
Highlights include an interactive replica of the stunning Chapter House ceiling from Salisbury Cathedral, the ancient clock mechanism from the Cathedral, and pockets of giant gold coins known as the Salisbury Hoard.
Don’t miss the Stonehenge galleries which showcase artifacts recovered from the iconic ruins just 8 miles from Salisbury. The Pitt Rivers galleries hold an eclectic collection of objects from around the world.
Take a Tour of Salisbury Castle
While not an actual castle, the hilltop home of the Earl of Pembroke is known locally as “Salisbury Castle”.
Built in the 18th century, parts of the house are open on selected weekends for fascinating guided tours. Wander through opulent staterooms with lavish decor, paintings and furnishings.
Climb the castle keep for far-reaching views, and explore the tranquil grounds and gardens. It is one of the best places to visit in Salisbury so be prepared as advanced booking is essential, and private tours can also be arranged.
See the Street Art in Salisbury
Salisbury has an impressive collection of street art scattered throughout the city. Take a self-guided walking tour to spot large-scale murals, small stencils, and artistic graffiti tags.
Highlights include the giant fish mural on New Canal, the Eels mosaic on Fisherton Street, and Bruce Munro’s illuminated installations.
Street art in Salisbury England (© Billy, BRB Gone Somewhere Epic)
Where to Eat and Drink in Salisbury
Salisbury has a lively food and drink scene with numerous atmospheric pubs, trendy cafes and excellent restaurants to choose from. Here are some top picks for memorable meals from the best places to eat in Salisbury Wiltshire:
The Old Mill
For a romantic riverside dinner, it’s hard to beat The Old Mill. Housed in a converted 12th-century mill, the exposed brick interior is full of character. Local produce shines in dishes like pan-fried chalk stream trout, Wiltshire lamb and fresh watercress soup. Leave room for the epic desserts! => READ REVIEWS OF THE OLD MILL
Attached to the Cathedral, The Refectory is the perfect spot for afternoon tea or a light lunch. Scones with clotted cream, finger sandwiches, and homemade cakes pair perfectly with the soaring Cathedral views through the floor-to-ceiling windows. => READ REVIEWS OF THE REFECTORY
The Rai d’Or
For authentic Punjabi and Bangladeshi curries, look no further than the Rai d’Or, a Salisbury institution since 1988. Their extensive menu covers all the classics like rich curries, fluffy naan breads and crisp poppadoms. Go for the great value weekday set menus. BYO beer or wine. => READ REVIEWS OF RAI D’OR
Amazing places to eat in Salisbury England (© Billy, BRB Gone Somewhere Epic)
Where to Stay in Salisbury
With quaint B&Bs, sleek boutique hotels and chain hotels, Salisbury has varied accommodations to suit all budgets and styles. For maximum convenience, look for somewhere near the city centre.
Here is a list of hotels in Salisbury Wiltshire that have taken some steps towards sustainability.
Legacy Rose and Crown Hotel
This historic 14th-century coaching inn turned boutique hotel seamlessly blends period charm with contemporary comforts. Sleek rooms with luxury linens and monsoon showers provide the perfect night’s rest. Unwind at the stylish bar and restaurant downstairs. => SEARCH BEST DEALS AT LEGACY ROSE & CROWN HOTEL
The Merchant’s House, BW Signature Collection
A charming 4-star hotel with historic character, offering comfortable air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, along with a bar/restaurant onsite. The central location is a big plus factor. => SEARCH BEST DEALS AT THE MERCHANT’S HOUSE
The Old Railway Porton
The Old Railway in Porton is a cosy bed and breakfast featuring a garden, terrace, bar and free WiFi. The homely rooms also come with a flat-screen TV and a seating area. => SEARCH BEST DEALS FOR THE OLD RAILWAY PORTON
Peartree Serviced Apartments
Peartree Serviced Apartments provides modern, well-equipped accommodations in the heart of Salisbury. Ideal for extended stays, they offer a home-away-from-home experience with convenience and self-catering facilities. => SEARCH BEST DEALS FOR PEARTREE SERVICED APARTMENTS
Four Day Salisbury Itinerary
With four full days in Salisbury, you can take in all the major sights at a relaxed pace, with time left for strolling, shopping, relaxing at pubs, and spontaneous discoveries. Here’s a suggested four-day itinerary in Salisbury England:
Start with an early visit to Salisbury Cathedral – arrive as it opens at 9am to avoid the biggest crowds.
Stop for a coffee at one of the cafes in the Cathedral Close, then walk into the city center via Queen Street, popping into independent shops and cafes. Have lunch at a riverside pub like The Mill or Kings Head.
In the afternoon, rent a punt and leisurely explore the River Avon. Walk back into town along the waterfront footpath, then climb up to Old Sarum for sunset views over Salisbury. Finish up with a traditional dinner at The Haunch of Venison pub.
On your second day, take the train out to Stonehenge to wander around the iconic stone circle and learn about its history on a special access tour.
You can visit Stonehenge for free, or for peace of mind, book a ticket in advance and get the shuttle from the visitor centre to avoid traffic and parking issues at the site.
On your return, stop in at Salisbury Museum to see their collections of Stonehenge artifacts and historic treasures from the Cathedral.
Have an early dinner at hip bistro Charter 1227, then take an evening stroll through the Cathedral Close.
Day trip to Stonehenge (© Regina Wolfs, Pixabay)
Discover one of Britain’s most spectacular lavender fields just a short drive from Salisbury. Somerset Lavender showcases over 200 lavender varieties that bloom in vivid purple hues between June and August.
Meander through row after fragrant row of the iconic flowers for unforgettable photos. Their creative Lavender Labyrinth maze provides a fun way to immerse yourself in the experience.
After exploring the fields, browse the onsite shop filled with diverse lavender products. Time your visit for July to experience Somerset Lavender’s annual Lavender Festival, featuring workshops, food stalls, and live music.
End the day by browsing the boutique shops and art galleries of Queen and Brown Street.
On your final day in Salisbury, book a morning tour of Salisbury Castle to explore the grand rooms and gardens of this stately home.
Spend the rest of the morning shopping at Salisbury’s Charter Market which runs on Tuesdays and Saturdays, picking up local produce, meat, baked goods and more.
Take a leisurely walk through Salisbury’s streets, admiring the many works of artistic street art along the way. Search out murals, mosaics, stencils and light installations.
Grab lunch from the market to enjoy in the water meadows along the Avon River Footpath. Follow the pretty path all the way to Old Mill Hotel for a rewarding last supper in Salisbury before you head home.
Salisbury Travel Tips
To make the most of your weekend in Salisbury, keep these need-to-know tips in mind:
Purchase a Stonehenge and Salisbury Visitor Pass to save on entrance fees to top attractions like Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, and Old Sarum.
Book tickets for the Salisbury Cathedral spire climb and castle tours well in advance as spots are limited.
The city centre is easily walkable, but Salisbury also has frequent buses connecting the train station and outskirts.
Salisbury train station connects to London, Southampton, Exeter, Bristol, Cardiff, Bournemouth, Plymouth, Brighton, Winchester, and various regional destinations. Check Trainline for your tickets and times.
Stop by the tourist information center by the marketplace to grab maps.
Bring clothing suitable for rainy weather – umbrellas are a must!
If you have a car, consider day trips to countryside villages, Stonehenge, or Bath. Alternatively, hire a car for your day trips. Check car rental prices with Discover Cars.
So, there you have it – everything you need plan an amazing long weekend in Salisbury!
Base yourself in the lively city center near the Cathedral for easy exploration. Marvel at the tallest spire in England atop Salisbury Cathedral, ramble around atmospheric Old Sarum, and punt along the River Avon.
Round out your weekend with riverside strolls, traditional pubs, and browsing markets. Salisbury’s small size means you can cover the highlights in just 2-3 days.
With quick train connections from London, it makes for a convenient historic getaway. Use this guide to help plan your perfect Salisbury weekend full of history, culture, and quintessential English experiences.
What are the top things to see and do in Salisbury?
The magnificent Salisbury Cathedral, atmospheric ruins of Old Sarum, riverside walks, and lively pubs and markets. Don’t miss the Cathedral tower tour.
How many days do you need in Salisbury?
2 full days lets you see the top sights at a relaxed pace. Add extra days to visit Stonehenge, Bath, or countryside villages.
What is the best way to get to Salisbury?
Salisbury has excellent train connections from London and elsewhere. It’s about 1.5 hours from London Waterloo to Salisbury station. CHECK TRAIN TIMES
Where should I stay in Salisbury?
Aim for the compact city centre near the Cathedral for easy sightseeing. B&Bs and boutique hotels offer charm while chains like Mercure are reliable.
Is Salisbury accessible without a car?
Yes! The medieval city centre is very walkable. Buses and taxis connect the train station and outskirts too.
What is the weather like in Salisbury?
Salisbury has a temperate oceanic climate. Expect cooler weather year-round with average highs in the 50s Fahrenheit (10°C). The best months for warm-weather activities are from late June to early September. Although rain is common so best to bring an umbrella!
How much does a weekend in Salisbury cost?
Excluding transport, expect to budget £200-300 per person for a mid-range weekend with the hotel, sightseeing, meals and fun. Go budget or luxury to tailor spend.
Handy Links To Visit Salisbury Wiltshire
Here are some useful links for your long weekend in Salisbury to help you find tours, places to stay, and gear to take. These are companies I have used and can recommend with confidence.
Hotels In Salisbury Wiltshire
Best accommodation deals in Salisbury with Booking.com
Tours In Salisbury
Book day trips and multi-day tours with Viator
Find local guides and day trips on Tripadvisor
Deals on English Heritage membership
Discounts On Recommended Gear
GET 15% OFF WATER-TO-GO Bottle (Code WM15)
GET 10% OFF ARTFULLY WILD sustainable clothing (Code: WM10)
PINS FOR BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN SALISBURY ENGLAND