Salisbury is in the perfect central location to visit the rest of the south of England, with easy access to the coast, the New Forest, the south-west, Cotswolds and London. Here we have selected our favourite places to visit from Salisbury, to help you plan your adventures, along with the best ways to get to each location.
Salisbury has the enviable position of being within easy reach of cities, coastline and countryside. We have hand-picked our favourites, which include a few places less well known to visitors to the UK, but which make for a fabulous day out. Using public transport is far better for the environment and will save you the stress of traffic and parking, although for a few of these places, a car is unfortunately the best option.
We have placed these locations in order of ease to get to by public transport:
1. Stonehenge, Wiltshire
The purpose of this pre-historic stone circle is still shrouded in mystery, but it is world famous and is on many people's bucket lists.
This is the obvious day trip for most visitors to the area, with lots of buses and tours to take you. In peak season it can be over crowded, so if you want to do it without the hordes, then consider a stone circle access tour which avoids the crowds altogether. You can also see the stones for free if you are prepared to do a bit of walking - Woodhenge to Stonehenge Walk and see both for free >>
Best way to get from Salisbury to Stonehenge:
The best way to get there is by bus trip from Salisbury train station or the centre of town. You can arrange the whole trip, book tickets, look at timetables and find out more from The Stonehenge Tour >>
You can of course drive there, or even walk there from Salisbury - a mere 3 hour stroll!
2. Bath, Somerset
Less than an hour's journey by train from Salisbury, the UNESCO heritage city of Bath has some amazing sites and plenty of things for the visitor to see and do.
The Roman Baths, the Abbey, the Georgian Royal Crescent, river cruises and beautiful buildings mean it is well worth the day trip. If you are visiting in the summer months then consider the unique experience of seeing the Baths by twilight, avoiding the crowds altogether, and still being able to catch a train back to Salisbury afterwards. Slow Travel's City Guide to Bath is coming soon!
Best way to get from Salisbury to Bath:
The cheapest and easiest way to get between the two cities is by train: there are regular trains, both train stations are in the centre of town, and tickets can be very cheap if you book in advance. Traffic in Bath can get busy, and parking can be tricky, so this is far the best option.
Train: Salisbury to Bath direct Frequency: Hourly Journey time: Approx 1 hour Cost: £19 adult single but £5 if you book in advance. Book here >>
London needs no introduction - there is so much to see and do there that there is something for everyone. (Slow London guide coming soon!)
About 90 minutes away by train, the day trip to London is an easy one to do, and if you book in advance, can cost as little as £12 for a return.
Best way to get from Salisbury to London:
The only sensible way to get to London for a day trip is by train. Coach is cheaper but can take longer and cut into your exploring time, and driving is a nightmare with traffic jams and parking charges. Arriving at Waterloo, you can access the whole city through the underground. If you want to spend several days in London, it is still cheaper to get the train there and back from Salisbury for a few days than it is to stay in a central London hotel.
Train: Salisbury to London Waterloo direct. Frequency: Every 30 minutes Journey Time: Approx 1h 30m Cost: £42 adult single but can be £12 if you book in advance.
Book your train tickets here, or set up an alert to notify you when they go on sale at the cheapest price possible.
4. Portsmouth, Hampshire
Portsmouth is a naval town with a long and vivid history, making it an excellent place for a day trip.
The Historic Dockyards are filled with naval history and include the Mary Rose, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and a submarine museum where you get to go inside a submarine - a truly unique experience.
There is also the D-Day Museum, a Sea Life Centre, the Spinnaker Tower with its glass floor, a seaside funfair and plenty of other attractions.
Best way to get from Salisbury to Portsmouth:
Train: Salisbury to Portsmouth direct. Frequency: Every hour Journey Time: Approx 1h 15m Cost: £20 adult single but far cheaper if you book 12 weeks in advance. Book train tickets here >>
Bournemouth is a very popular seaside town, with miles of golden sandy beaches and all the seaside attractions that come with them.
There are piers, pleasure gardens, theatres, bars and restaurants as well as museums, an oceanarium and lots of activities.
It can be a great place for a day by the sea - hiring a beach hut and watching the world walk by. There are quieter beaches for those who know where to look (details coming soon.)
Best way to get from Salisbury to Bournemouth:
The cheapest, and quickest way from Salisbury to Bournemouth is on the X3 bus. Buses save the hassle of parking in Bournemouth, which can be hard work and expensive in peak season, and the trains take too long as there is no direct line, and often involve several changes.
Bus: Salisbury to Bournemouth direct on the X3. Frequency: Hourly Journey Time: 1h30m Cost: £8.50 adult return, with concessions available. Timetables here >>
6. Winchester, Hampshire
Winchester is a cathedral city with a lot going on, and it has plenty of historical sites which are worth visiting, such as the Great Hall and the Hospital of St. Cross.
There is a fantastic science centre and planetarium and Marwell Zoo is nearby to keep the kids happy. There are nature reserves and lots of walks, theatres, museums and regular cultural festivals and a splendid Christmas market with an outdoor ice skating rink in the cathedral grounds.
Best way to get from Salisbury to Winchester:
There are no direct buses or trains, but the train journey only has one change and is an easy one to do. Driving is an option if you use the Park & Ride sites for parking, as parking in the city itself can be tricky, with a shortage of spaces, some confusing road systems and heavy traffic.
Train: Salisbury to Winchester (via Basingstoke). Frequency: Every 20 - 30 minutes Journey Time: 1hour Cost: £15 adult single, but much cheaper if you book 12 weeks in advance. Timetables and book your tickets here >>
7. New Forest, Hampshire
Harder to get to by public transport but still accessible if you make the effort, the New Forest is a glorious place to spend time, particularly in the summer.
Some areas are filled with tourists, but it is easy to find peaceful spots if you know where to look. Our Slow New Forest Guide is coming soon to help you avoid the crowds and to get the most from this beautiful part of the UK.
Best way to get from Salisbury to the New Forest:
Car is really the only practical solution to get to the Forest, although it depends on which part of the forest you want to visit. The New Forest has 8 train stations - Ashurst, Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst, Hinton Admiral, Lymington, New Milton, Sway and Totton. There are plenty of buses which zip around the forest so it can be done with public transport, but you will need to plan carefully. Moovit will help with your planning.
The World Heritage Site of Avebury has a neolithic stone circle where you can wander freely, as well as other neolithic monuments nearby.
West Kennet Longbarrow, Silbury Hill, the Sanctuary and more are all part of this pre-historic landscape.
Best way to get from Salisbury to Avebury:
There is no direct public transport route, but you can use a combination of trains and buses to get there, with the journey taking approx 3 hours. If you want to take in the other sites in this prehistoric landscape, then a car is really the only option.
Bus: Salisbury to Devizes to Avebury. Frequency: Every 3 hours Journey Time: 3 hours Cost: Approx £15
9. Highclere Castle, Hampshire
World famous for being the filming location of Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle is only open in the summer months but is an amazing place to visit and well worth the effort. Tickets sell out months in advance so make sure you book ahead.
With beautiful interiors and grounds as well finds from King Tut's tomb, there is plenty to see in a day trip. If you have any time left over, the the nearby Sandham Memorial Chapel owned by the National Trust, is only 5 minutes away and is an incredible and very moving place to visit.
Best way to get from Salisbury to Highclere:
Unfortunately the easiest and cheapest way is by car, which takes just 45 minutes.
Train: Salisbury to Newbury direct. Frequency: Every 30 minutes Journey Time: 1h30m Cost: £23 adult single. You will then need to catch a bus from Newbury Station to Hollington Cross, or catch a taxi (approx £24)
Bus: Salisbury to Marlborough to Newbury, then bus or taxi to Highclere.
10. Oxford, Oxfordshire
The ‘dreaming spires’ of this ancient University town have some incredible architecture and historical sites.
You can take hop-on hop-off bus tours, walking tours, a river cruise, or just wander around the college quads. You can visit some of the free museums such as The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, the incredible Pitt-Rivers Museum or listen to Evensong in one of the beautiful college chapels for free. The world famous Bodleian Library does tours and is most definitely worth a visit to see the ancient manuscripts.
Best way to get from Salisbury to Oxford:
There is no direct train, bus or coach between the two cities, but the train is definitely the quickest option, taking around 2 hours, whereas a bus takes at least 3. It is possible to drive there, but parking can be horrendous, unless you pre-book a parking space with an app such as Justpark - they have plenty of spaces available in Oxford.
Train: Salisbury to Oxford with 2 or 3 changes. Frequency: Every hour Journey Time: Approx 2h 30m Cost: £35 adult single but can be much cheaper if you book 12 weeks in advance.
11. Swanage, Dorset
Swanage is a lovely place. A seaside town with beaches, funfairs, a marina and plenty of locally owned shops and restaurants, it is the perfect place for a traditional day at the beach.
It also has a wealth of historical sites, mostly from World War II, and incredible clifftop views over the sea.
Shell Bay at nearby Studland has miles of golden sandy beaches which overlook a deep blue sea.
Best way to get from Salisbury to Swanage:
The cheapest and quickest way is by car, which takes just over an hour. Parking at Swanage can get hard at peak season, but otherwise is usually fine. There is usually plenty of parking at Studland which is free for National Trust members.
Swanage has no train station (although there is a heritage line from Corfe Castle to Swanage, where you can take a steam train.)
Bus: Salisbury to Swanage with 2 or 3 changes. Frequency: Every hour Journey Time: Approx 3 hours Cost: £15 depending on which route you take.
12. Weymouth, Dorset
Weymouth is a popular place - another coastal town with plenty of seaside attractions, as well as historical attractions such as Nothe Fort, the Tudor House and Sandsfoot Castle, which is free to visit.
Nearby is the very lovely Bennetts Water Gardens, Radipole Lake which is full of birdlife as well as Abbotsbury Swannery and Sub-Tropical gardens. The Portland Peninsula has miles of beaches and is a fascinating place to visit.
Best way to get from Salisbury to Weymouth:
For a day trip, car is the quickest and cheapest mode of transport to use. Coach is the next best option but takes 3 hours, meaning it is too long for a day trip.
Train: Salisbury to Weymouth (2 or 3 changes). Frequency: Every 30 minutes Journey Time: Approx. 2 hours Cost: £33 adult single but much cheaper if you book 12 weeks in advance.
Staying in Salisbury? Use our Salisbury Guide to find the best independently owned accommodation, restaurants, shops and things to do.