From its record-breaking church spire to millenia-old ruins, those looking for places to visit in Salisbury (pronounced Sawls-bree) are truly spoiled for choice.
Salisbury is a destination in England oft seen as a jumping point to Stonehenge, but there is far more to this historic city than just its (admittedly iconic) nearby rocks.
In this post, we’ll be sharing our top picks for places to visit in Salisbury and brilliant places to see nearby.
We hope you enjoy learning about this historic piece of Wiltshire, and be sure to let us know in the comments which Salisbury must-sees we should add to our list!
Perhaps the most amazing place to visit in Salisbury is the city’s renowned cathedral, home to one of only four remaining copies of the original 1215 Magna Carta, and even the oldest mechanical clock in the entire world.
Of all the cathedrals we’ve visited in England, this may be one of the most fascinating and visitor-friendly, with turquoise sashed volunteer guides ready to explain the Cathedral’s fascinating little secrets, along with clear info panels explaining many of the more important artifacts and displays.
Even the cathedral’s spire is noteworthy – it’s the tallest one to be found in all of Britain!
PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR VISITING: Tickets must be booked online in advance for a timed slot, but purchasing one ticket will get you free re-entries for a year. Photos are only permitted when there is no service going on. The Magna Carta is located in the Chapter House (a separate building), and there’s an on-site restaurant (the Refectory Restaurant) with a large selection of food, and seating in the cloisters so you can enjoy a scenic coffee or lunch.
While it (quite literally) lives in the shadow of Salisbury Cathedral, the city’s Cathedral Close is a noteworthy must-see in its own right.
Spanning 80 acres of grassy lawns and and picnic-worthy spots, this is in fact the largest Cathedral Close in Britain, with a slew of interesting attractions lining its lush set of lawns. From Arundells (former home of Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath, now a museum) and the Mompesson House (a lovely National Trust property) to the award-winning Salisbury museum, this close is home to some of the most interesting places to visit in Salisbury for culture and history lovers.
A walk around the Close also offers new and unique vantage points of Salisbury Cathedral that are well worth the effort.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR VISITING: Many of the sites in Cathedral Close have an “off-season” and close during the winter, so be sure to double check opening times before you visit.
While a fairly obvious pick, it’s impossible to make a list of places to visit in the Salisbury area without mentioning Stonehenge.
This mysterious prehistoric circle of 100+ stones has been a source of mystery for hundreds of years, with no clearcut answers as to what its purpose was (although ‘funeral site’ is a common theory), who put the stones there, or even how exactly these giant bluestones got to WIltshire… all the way from Wales.
It’s these mysteries (and frequent reference in pop culture) that have cemented Stonehenge’s status as one of the most recognized landmarks in England, if not the world.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR VISITING: Pre-booking is strongly recommended for Stonehenge, and visitors should know that close-up access to the rocks is no longer possible, and therefore your visit is restricted only to a pre-set path. Unless coming by car, the easiest way to visit from Salisbury is by booking a tour, as public transport does not go all the way there.
Before Salisbury was known as Salisbury, it was known by the name New Sarum… and before that, Old Sarum.
Today, “Old Sarum” refers to another one of the most historic places to visit in the Salisbury area – an Iron Age fort perched on a hill about 2 miles north of central Salisbury, where the original city once stood.
While what remains today of Old Sarum are merely ruins, a pinch of imagination (and some informative panels!) can help you picture the over 5000 years of history that have unfolded on those grounds.
Pre-booking is strongly recommended online here. If you don’t have a car, the easiest way to explore Old Sarum would be a tour like this one.
Salisbury Market Place
While Salisbury Cathedral is probably the most famous place in the city, some might argue that it’s actually Salisbury’s Market Place which constitutes the heart of the city.
This is where the Salisbury Charter Market is held on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but it’s of course a worthwhile place to see in Salisbury regardless. Lined with picturesque shops and pubs, it’s the perfect place to stop and admire the centuries of history Salisbury has to offer… after all, market traditions in this very spot date back to the 13th century!
The Old City Centre
Salisbury bills itself as a “modern, medieval city”, a fact that becomes quickly apparent when you start strolling around the historic city centre.
Here, crooked half-timbered buildings house modern chain shops and bakeries, with medieval structures wedged between more modern additions made of brick. This whimsical mix of architecture makes a walk around the city centre quite the delight, especially for keen shutterbugs and shoppers.
The Poultry Cross
At the junction of Silver Street and Minster Street in central Salisbury, you’ll find a historic Market Cross known the Poultry Cross, which was installed back in the 14th century to mark the presence of a market.
Of all the market crosses that once stood in the city, today the Poultry Cross is the only one that remains. You can find it in front of the Haunch of Venison, another must see place in Salisbury.
The Haunch of Venison
Since 1320, the Haunch of Venison has stood proudly on Minster Street in Salisbury, weathering wars, plagues and the theft of mummified limbs.
Yes indeed, this cozy historic pub is actually considered one of the most haunted pubs in the country, with multiple ghost sightings and even its own resident mummified hand, which was proudly on display until it was mysteriously stolen in 2010. Today, a replica stands in its place.
Legend even has it that this pub is where Churchill and Eisenhower got together to discuss the D-Day Landings.
Parish Church of St. Thomas
While church talk in Salisbury usually revolves around Salisbury Cathedral, another noteworthy church to visit in Salisbury can be found nearby at the Parish Church of St Thomas, which dates back to the 13th century and (according to some) was a place of worship for those who were constructing and working on the nearby Salisbury Cathedral.
This church is known for its Doom painting, which is considered the largest and best preserved painting of its kind in the UK.
In recent years, Salisbury has developed quite the reputation for its independent shops and boutiques. One place in Salisbury where you can appreciate this is Fisherton Street.
Conveniently en route from Salisbury Train Station to the center, this stretch of shops dates back hundreds of years, and today offers an eclectic mix of small businesses to browse and enjoy.
The crown jewel of Fisherton Street is no doubt Fisherton Mill, which has definitely come a long way from its early days as a Victorian Grain Mill.
Today, the mill is home to an array of independent boutiques, an award-winning café, and a large electic gallery with gifts to browse from over 200 British artists. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also one of the prettiest spots in the city for a stroll along the water.
If you’re looking for a unique shopping or dining experience, Fisherton Mill is definitely one of the top places you should visit in Salisbury.
While not in central Salisbury, Wilton House is located less than a 15 minute drive away, which is why we’ve decided to include it in this list of noteworthy places to visit in and near Salisbury.
Why is this Grade I Listed manor such a must-see? Well, not only is it home to some deliciously opulent rooms and some of the prettiest gardens in the country, its beauty has actually been immortalized countless times through films and TV shows.
Among the house’s many credits are Bridgerton, where it stood in for Buckingham Palace, and other residences, as well as the Crown and Pride and Prejudice.
Plus, there’s plenty of history to enjoy here as well. This stately home has served as the seat of the Earls of Pembroke for over four centuries.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR VISITING: For visits to both the House and Grounds, booking is essential, however walk-ins are permitted for those just visiting the Grounds. Do also double check the opening dates if you want to visit the House, as it is not open to the public every day. Note – Wilton House usually closes for the winter season from January until April.
Have we missed any of your favourite places to visit in Salisbury?
Let us know in the comments!