Today is a big day on my blog. I’ve finally decided to embrace the fact that online video is slowly taking over the world and, therefore, created a Youtube channel! I love sharing fun videos on Snapchat during my travels, so I suppose this is the next logical step. Although, it definitely helped that my fabulous friend Jelayna joined me recently on a trip to Salisbury with Visit Wiltshire, and filmed our entire experience! I then gave her the difficult task of cramming the best bits into a sixty second video. I’ve had the idea to make a “60 Seconds in _____” series for awhile now as I think they will complement my blog posts nicely. Please let me know what you think!
I’m very proud of the results and I hope it grabbed your attention enough, leaving you wanting to learn more about the gorgeous city of Salisbury! This cathedral city, located less than two hours by train from London, contains 800 years of extraordinary history. 800 years! Let that sink in for a moment. The United States was founded less than 300 years ago so when I compare it to that, I’m pretty impressed.
This beautiful gate is just one example of their longstanding history. North Gate was built between 1327 and 1342 and is the main point of entry into the Cathedral Close. It used to house a small jail for those convicted of crimes in the local area. But I digress! While my aim is to share with you the best places to stay, eat, and explore in Salisbury, that’s not all I want to accomplish. Most travelers only spend a couple hours in Salisbury, or skip it all together, in favor of just visiting Stonehenge (I’ll get to that later!), which is a huge mistake in my opinion! 48 hours in Salisbury is what I’d recommend in order to properly take in all of the historic charm it has to offer.
WHERE TO SLEEP:
Wyndham Park Lodge is everything I’ve ever wanted in a bed & breakfast. From the moment the lovely owner Suzanne greeted us excitedly at the door, I knew we were in great hands. Suzanne lives with her family in this large, Victorian house, and has been running a bed and breakfast here since 1988. There are three charming guest rooms which range from 50 – 105 pounds a night, depending on when you book.
I declined Suzanne’s kind offer to carry my suitcase up the stairs (it might look small, but it’s a good 30 pounds) into our bright and cheery Wyndham Room. Overlooking the quiet street, you’ll find large windows, high ceilings, a fireplace, a spacious bathroom, and, quite possibly, the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on. This is their biggest room with a king sized bed and a single bed, and although I was kindly given the king bed, Jelayna said her bed was just as comfortable 😉
After settling in, Suzanne invited us downstairs into the breakfast room for a warm drink. We were extremely lucky with sunny, blue skies throughout our entire stay but being February, it was still cold! Naturally, we went with hot chocolate which ended up being so good, we ordered it the next two days over breakfast. Oh… the breakfast! Suzanne personally cooks breakfast for her guests every morning, serving a multitude of dishes which you can choose from, alongside fresh juice, fruit, yogurt, and her homemade granola and marmalades! What more could you possibly want in life?
Suzanne goes out of her way to spoil her guests and her passion for running Wyndham Park Lodge is quite obvious. It’s no surprise that she recently won Visit England’s Rose Award, given to businesses that go the extra mile in order to provide excellent customer service. We were genuinely sad to leave but there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be returning next time I’m in Wiltshire County. If you’re looking for a comfortable, charming, and affordable place to stay in Salisbury, you won’t be disappointed at Wyndham Park Lodge.
WHERE TO EAT:
If you happen to be visiting Salisbury on a Tuesday or Saturday, you’ll notice a market in the main square, with an additional Farmer’s Market on Wednesday’s. These markets are a good option for delicious, locally sourced food, as well as handmade gifts and souvenirs. Interesting fact: there’s been a market held here since the 1300’s! If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is!
Proof of this is in the picture above! Poultry cross is an old market cross which marks the site of the former markets. This particular one was constructed in the 14th century and is the only one remaining out of four market crosses that once stood in Salisbury.
If you continue up the street onto Butcher Row, you’ll stumble across Ox Row Inn, my favorite place to eat in Salisbury! This Grade II listed building is a pub that dates back to the 16th century. The food is hearty, affordable, quintessentially English pub food. And although I’m a bad blogger and didn’t take any photos inside, you’ll just have to trust me that it’s one of the coziest pubs in England!
England always has great Indian food so if you’re in the mood for some curry, visit Fisherton Street where you’ll find quite a few places to choose from! We ate at Bangla Lounge which was affordable and delicious. If you want something a bit more upscale and a local favorite, I’d visit Anokaa.
WHERE TO EXPLORE:
I forbid you to visit Salisbury and not step inside their famous cathedral. Construction for Salisbury Cathedral began in 1220 and it’s a glorious example of early English Gothic architecture. Please give yourself time to admire it from the outside before going in. Bill Bryson, one of my favorite travel writers, said, “Salisbury Cathedral is the single most beautiful structure in England, and the Close around it the most beautiful space.” I agree, Bill.
Salisbury Cathedral is free to enter, with a voluntary donation price of 7.50 pounds which helps to cover the incredible 12,000 pounds it takes PER DAY (!!!) to maintain the beauty of this place. Another way to contribute is by taking a 90-minute Tower Tour which run at least once a day, and cost 12.50 pounds for adults. Hands down, this was my most memorable experience in Salisbury and something I highly recommend every visitor to do. We were lucky to have Robert, an experienced volunteer guide, take us to the very top, while stopping at different levels along the way to get a “behind the scenes” tour of the cathedral.
There’s 332 steps to the top, with plenty of narrow staircases that might put off some visitors. But take it from me, someone who’s very claustrophobic, this is an easy climb! As I mentioned before, there are several different levels where you stop and learn about a particular section of the cathedral. I never felt like we were climbing for more than a minute or two at a time, spacing out the 332 steps perfectly.
I enjoyed getting up close and personal to the ancient stained glass, some of which were pretty funny. See those lions? Or at least they’re supposed to be lions. However, most of the stained glass artists back in the 13th century had never even seen a lion which explains their ridiculous faces! We also got to see medieval wooden scaffolding which was pretty incredible. Some of the wood are from trees a THOUSAND years old and yet it’s still holding up this magnificent cathedral in 2016. Terrifying? Yes. Impressive? YES!
Before you know it, you’re rewarded with the most incredible views over Salisbury and Wiltshire County. I especially loved seeing the shadow of the spire. We learned that this spire was added around 1320, almost 100 years after the initial construction. The height of the combined tower and spire from ground level is 404 feet, making it the tallest in England! It’s difficult to wrap my mind around the incredible hard work, skill, and bravery it took to build something like this without the help of modern-day machinery.
When you eventually come back down to earth and return to the cathedral, don’t miss seeing the beautiful font designed by the renowned British water sculptor William Pye in 2008. This was put in to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the consecration of Salisbury Cathedral. Another treasure you’ll find is one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta from 1215! The preservation of this historic document is amazing. You’re not allowed to take photos, understandably so, considering it’s 800 years old and extremely fragile!
Our visit lasted about three hours in total and I could’ve easily spent more time exploring every inch of this place. It’s that interesting, I promise! If you’re looking for more to do, there’s the Salisbury Museum right across the street. It has a vast collection relating to Stonehenge and local archaeology. It’s also housed in The King’s House, a Grade II listed building dating back to 1860, where King James I spent some time.
I’m sure it’s no surprise that Stonehenge is the last on this list! Located only 8 miles from the center of Salisbury, it’s very easy to get there by bus. There are several stops you can hop on throughout the city, one being just down the road from Wyndham Park Lodge! I would recommend booking tickets ahead of time (for the bus and for the stones!), especially if you’re there on a weekend. Stonehenge tickets start at around 15 pounds for adults if you reserve ahead online.
To be honest, I don’t want to tell you much about Stonehenge. I think it’s better to visit with an open mind and imagination. Why? Well, it’s quite a mysterious place as many historians have varying opinions on how the stones got there and what their purpose was. This leaves some people either fascinated or bored. Personally, I love a good mystery. There’s also a great audio guide you can download on your smart phone and a brand new visitor’s center which houses permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Do you need to spend all day here or even half a day? Definitely not. We were there for almost an hour actually looking at the stones and walking around them. It was a beautiful day but a bit too cold for a nice stroll or picnic! Despite our short visit, it felt pretty special to visit one of the wonders of the world and the best-known prehistoric monument in Europe.
I lived in London for a year in 2012 and I can’t believe it took me until 2016 to visit Salisbury! The city truly blew me away with its charm, history, and incredible preservation. Everything I mentioned in this post can be done in a day, but if you want an experience that isn’t rushed, I’d give yourself more time!
Have you been to Salisbury before? Do you prefer slower travel or seeing as much as possible? I’d love to know in the comments below! If you’re interested in more travel videos, feel free to subscribe to my new Youtube channel.