the medieval city of Salisbury is incredible to visit. Not only is it steeped in history, but the wider region also has thousands of years of ancient sites and spots to see. Best of all, even for cosy little city, there’s a heap of the best things to do in Salisbury that are within easy reach on foot and great to explore over a weekend.
Over the years, we’ve visited Salisbury a number of times; and it’s always been so lovely! It’s the kind of city that’s great for a day trip from London or part of a wider British road trip.
You see, you can easily partner a visit to Salisbury with a trip to nearby spots like; Stonehenge or even further away from historic cities like Bath, too.
So, to help you get the most out of your time in Salisbury, I wanted to share with you my most-loved spots to see in the city.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in Salisbury. Have a gorgeous trip!
1.) Salisbury Cathedral
You can’t visit Salisbury without heading to its iconic cathedral!
Known for holding one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta, the Salisbury Cathedral, one of England’s most popular cathedrals and one of the city’s oldest structures, dating back to 1258. Its architecture is classically gothic and has many unique and awe-inspiring features that you really can’t miss (both inside and out).
Not only that, Salisbury Cathedral is home to the world’s oldest, still functioning, clock! Built back in the 1300s, it stands pride of place on the left hand of the nave when you enter and is so cool to see!
Inside, you’ll also find medieval tombstones dating as far back as the 13th century, and breathtaking 19th and 20th-century stained-glass windows that are world-renowned.
Finish up your visit to Salisbury Cathedral by taking a guided tour up the tower which, keeping with the theme, also has the country’s tallest spire!
Also, for a gorgeous view, head to the banks of the River Avon, in the meadows through the North Gate, for an amazing, picture-perfect view of the cathedral itself.
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2.) Salisbury’s historic centre
Travel back in time while wandering around Salisbury’s Old City Centre. Soak in the architectural history of the area as you passing by Poultry Cross.
Now, Poultry Cross is a gorgeous market cross (a sort of royal approval to hold markets) which has stood proudly since medieval times. Since that moment, Salisbury has held an open-air market in the town all the way back since the 1300s. To this day, you can still visit the market that happens on a Tuesday and Thursday at this very spot!
Afterwards, take a stroll through 15th century Salisbury, passing by buildings of the time including St. Thomas of Canterbury, a parish church, and the Plume of Feathers Inn where you can stop for a tipple.
Then, continue on to 17th century’s Joiner’s Hall, 18th century’s Guildhall, 20th century’s Red Lion Hotel, too.
Oh, and be sure to spot the Salisbury Clock Tower, too! The whole city is lovely to stroll around.
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3.) Cathedral Close
Surrounding Salisbury Cathedral, Cathedral Close was traditionally where the members of the Cathedral would live their day-to-day lives.
You can easily take a stroll around Cathedral Close, following the route outlined by the National Trust and it’s just perfect on a sunny day.
Take time to ramble past King’s House, visit Mompesson House, spot Harnham Gate and keep your eyes peeled for the stunning Elizabethan and Georgian Era properties. We loved it.
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4.) Old Sarum
Located on a hill fortified since the Iron Ages, Old Sarum is Salisbury’s earliest settlement.
To get here, drive north of Salisbury’s historic centre (for around 1.5 miles) to reach the ancient ruins. Old Sarum is, nowadays, a well-protected English Heritage site and one of the best things to do in Salisbury if you’re something of a history buff.
The remains bear the marks of the many different peoples that have stood there over the centuries, including the Romans, the Saxons and the Normans!
Explore the historic settlement, giving a little extra time for the ancient castle, too.
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5.) Gates of Salisbury
There are four original city gates to see in the city and it’s one of the best things to do in Salisbury if you want to continue your time exploring this area long history.
As you wander around the town, be sure to spot my favourites – St Anne’s Gate that’s close to Salisbury Cathedral Close and see High Street Gate that dates all the way back to the 1200s. Totally stunning and still standing proudly in the city.
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6.) The Salisbury Museum
Wiltshire County, where Salisbury is located, is absolutely chocked full of ancient artefacts, medieval ruins and historic spots to see! It’s a county steeped in history and one that can be easily explored within the Salisbury Museum.
Inside, Salisbury Museum dives into this long history, incredible culture and beautiful art of this area of England. Not only that, it showcases incredible displays, like that of the Amesbury Archer, and informative exhibits, like Wexter Gallery’s archaeological collection that you really can’t miss.
Give yourself a good few hours to fully explore the exhibits.
Also, if it’s the museums you’re after, be sure to stop off at The Wardrobe that houses the Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum. If you’re into historic military exhibits, you’ll love this place. If not, maybe give it a miss!
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Stonehenge might be one of England’s most famous spots to see – and it’s right on the doorstep of Salisbury!
Perched within the grassy land of Salisbury Plains, Stonehenge is still as mysterious as it has ever been. Still, to this day, we don’t fully understand why it was built and the mystery is pretty intriguing to me; my mind races when I think about it!
With thousands of years of history, it’s been discovered that the stones for Stonehenge were actually transported from the Preseli Hills in West Wales. We headed there recently and even checked out Pentre Ifan, a neolithic burial site that dates back 5,000 years and within earshot of the hills themselves. Anyway, that’s another story!
Once at Stonehenge, be sure to take your time to wander around the prehistoric structures were created and check out the Neolithic homes to see what life may have been like back then.
Want to avoid the crowds, book your tickets online and visit just before last- admission. We always do this and end up with only a handful of people around Stonehenge. It’s so incredible and one of the best things to do in Salisbury if you’re looking for an afternoon trip away from the city itself.
Oh, and if you’re visiting in Summer, watch out for the hayfever! Mine goes crazy here!!!
8.) Wilton House
Wilton House, built-in 1653 after a fire destroyed the Tudor home, is an absolutely gorgeous example of classic Baroque design style and is so unique to see.
With amazing portraits of King Charles and his family hanging on the walls and ornate ceilings Wilton House definitely deserves all the hype – especially for a few hours trip from the centre of Salisbury
Oh, and don’t forget to check out both the Single Cubed Room and the Double Cube Room for which Wilton House is most famous.
9.) The Haunch of Venison
known as one of the old English chophouses (dating back to the 1300s), the Haunch of Venison is one of the oldest establishments in the area for a bite to eat.
It’s tasty and seasonal menu focuses on some English favourites like; spotted dick and good old fish and chips!
Not only that, the Haunch of Venison is said to be one of Salisbury’s most haunted spots! There was even a mummified hand found in the fireplace, too! Apparently, the lone hand belonged to a disgruntled patron from centuries ago. Apparently, he lost it as penance after being caught cheating at a card game!
To work off your lunch, take a stroll down the trails that line the River Avon, via the Queen Elizabeth Gardens.
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