Salisbury is a city steeped in ancient history. You can see ancient druidic ceremonies at nearby Stonehenge, study the Magna Carta in the famous gothic cathedral or wander between the timber-framed Tudor buildings - it’s a place to feel lost in time.
But it’s one of Wiltshire’s liveliest towns too, its grand medieval spire overlooking art galleries, theatres, museums and upscale restaurants. Check out the programmes of theatre, film and live music at the Salisbury Arts Centre and the City Hall for a taste of what you'll find here.
Twice-weekly markets have been held in the city for over 600 years and exist alongside the new chic bars and cafés - giving you the chance to try much more than the city would suggest.
Salisbury is a great city to explore on foot, but local transport options are plentiful. Salisbury station is well served by local bus routes, including the city’s Park & Ride scheme and the direct Stonehenge Tour bus to Stonehenge. There’s a taxi rank directly outside the main station entrance. Cycle routes also run straight past, and there’s storage for 110 bikes in the 287-bay station car park.
AThe breathtaking Salisbury Cathedral, with the tallest spire in Britain, beckons visitors from miles around. The cathedral is home to the best preserved of the original Magna Carta manuscripts, housed within an exhibition opened in the cathedral’s Chapter House in 2015.
The Salisbury Museum in The King’s House opposite the cathedral offers an engrossing journey through the rich history and archaeology of ancient Wessex.
You can travel even further back in time at the Iron Age hill fort of Old Sarum Castle, where Salisbury’s first cathedral once stood. These days, costumed actors recreate medieval village life.
The Rockbourne Roman Villa in Fordingbridge is one not to be missed either. Of course, you can take a bus tour out onto Salisbury Plain to visit the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge. There’s a bus that leaves from right outside the train station.
Salisbury is a haven for artisan products. Fisherton Mill on trendy Fisherton Street, an 1880s grain mill has been turned into a gallery and studios for local artists, sculptors, glass workers and furniture makers to make and sell their pieces. The Mill even runs knitting workshops!
You’ll often find stalls filling Market Place for the twice-weekly Charter Market on Tuesdays and Sundays or regular farmer’s, vintage and teenage markets, and the Old George Mall is the place to go for high street fashions and sweet shops selling miniature ‘Fudgehenges’.
For dinner in a particularly historic setting, head to the 14th century Bell & Crown pub on Catherine Street. A more modern affair can be found at Anokaa, serving contemporary Indian food.
The best Salisbury hotels combine the city’s history with its thriving art scene. Merging Regency style and modern chic, the Milford Hall Hotel & Spa on Castle Street – a 10-minute river walk from the centre of Salisbury – is a Georgian mansion house with a refurbished contemporary wing.
There’s more period character beneath the Tudor beams of the Rose & Crown Hotel beside the River Avon, a 13th century coaching inn transformed into 21st century luxury lodging with a waterfront party area, while the 9 bedrooms above the Pembroke Arms in Wilton work as quirky pastiches of the Georgian and Victorian eras, with their fake-peeling woods and the sort of ornate bedstead that a French prince might have demanded.