Travel to Stonehenge from Bath
Stonehenge, like Bath, is one of the big West Country sights, and it is possible to combine the ancient monument and the Georgian city. The distance between Stonehenge and Bath is 35 miles by road, and it takes around an hour to drive between the two sights. If you’re staying in Bath you can join a Stonehenge bus tour for a day trip, or travel independently by public transport – more details of this below. As Stonehenge is close to several other interesting places, like the attractive town of Salisbury and the ruined hill fort Old Sarum, it’s also worth considering staying overnight in the area and exploring it further, if you have the time.
The ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is one of the most famous sights in Britain, and one of the most mysterious. There are plenty of theories as to the monument’s function and history, but very little is known for certain.
Stonehenge lies on a spot where a series of circular monuments were constructed between 3000BC and 1600BC. Originally made of earth and wood, the stones which now stand in a circle, aligned with the solstice rising sun, were brought from various locations: sarsens from the Marlborough Downs (these are the large standing stones in an outer ring, connected by lintels), and bluestones brought all the way from Wales; a considerable achievement. Stonehenge is part of a fascinating wider landscape, including various burial mounds, Neolithic long barrows, an earthwork of unknown purpose and Woodhenge, also oriented to the solstice sunrise.
Stonehenge is managed by English Heritage and is surrounded by land owned by the National Trust. Members of both these organisations are admitted free. All visitors must book timed tickets in advance from English Heritage.
The site endures huge visitor numbers, and the commercialisation of the attraction, with a new visitor centre, does not please everyone. Visitors may only walk within the stone circle by special advance permission (and even then they may not touch the stones), and in bad weather it may not be possible to use the walkway around the site.
Bath to Stonehenge by public transport
Travel by public transport from Bath to Stonehenge begins with a train journey from Bath to Salisbury railway station, which is an hour’s by train from Bath on services heading towards Portsmouth Harbour. From Salisbury a special bus service, the Stonehenge Tour Bus, runs to the monument, with a route also including Old Sarum. Allowing for the change between train and bus, the journey from Bath to Stonehenge would usually take around two hours. Although travelling there and back in one day means a lot of travel time, taking this public transport option does allow visitors the chance to spend some time in Salisbury as well.
For visitors looking for a more time-efficient excursion but who are staying in Bath without a car, or who prefer not to drive, it’s possible to book special coach or mini-bus trips from Bath to Stonehenge.
Stonehenge coach tours from Bath
A number of different options for Stonehenge bus tours are available from different companies: a straightforward coach trip to Stonehenge and back, a guided tour including a drive through scenic villages, or a full day out with at least one other stop, such as the pretty village of Lacock. Obviously prices vary considerably according to what type of Stonehenge trip you choose.
Check whether entrance to Stonehenge is included in the tour price; usually you are expected to buy your own ticket on arrival, though there may be a discounted admission price for tour customers. Entrance to the monument is free to English Heritage or National Trust members. It’s advisable to book your tour in advance online, by telephone, online or in Bath Tourist Information Office (by the Abbey). The tours listed depart from the centre of Bath, close to the Abbey. Visitors should check the latest details with the companies below. There are often private tour options available if you are interested in more flexible, private or personalised travel.
Stonehenge Tour – Scarper Tours – Scarper Tours offer daily tours from Bath to Stonehenge. Theirs is a four-hour scenic trip departing from Terrace Walk in Bath, with two hours at the monment. They offer all-inclusive tickets, but offer partial refunds covering admission fees toNational Trust/English Heritage members.
Stonehenge, Avebury and Lacock – Mad Max Tours – Mad Max tours offer a variety of scenic tours including a full-day bus tour which visits Stonehenge and also Avebury and the National Trust village of Lacock. The tour leaves Bath at 8:30am most days of the year, leaving from North Parade. They also operate tours of the Cotswolds, and more expensive ‘special access’ evening trips to Stonehenge. If you have the time to spare, this is a good way to see more of the area.
Stonehenge Guided Tours – As well as full-day tours from London to Bath and Stonehenge, Stonehenge Guided Tours also offer half-day tours from Bath visiting Stonehenge, Woodhenge and Lacock.
Stanton Drew Stone Circle – an alternative
No-one would claim it is as dramatic as Stonehenge, but if you want to experience a stone circle up close, away from the tourist crowds, then Stanton Drew makes an interesting alternative destination. The stone circles are among fields in a rural setting, and you might find yourself the only visitor. A further group of three stones is situated in the garden of a village pub, the Druid’s Arms. The site is to the west of Bath, near Chew Valley Lake.
Stay near Stonehenge
If you’re planning a touring itinerary or are flexible in your travel arrangements, you may find it worthwhile to stay near the stone circle overnight. This would be convenient for early or late visits to the stones, and would mean you could explore the surrounding area. One of the nearest places to stay is the Holiday Inn Salisbury-Stonehenge, or for a more characterful countryside stay with a garden, Mill House B&B in the village of Berwick St James is a good alternative. For travellers using public transport the most practical option would probably be to spend the night in Salisbury and travel by bus to Stonehenge.