Last year I visited Stonehenge for the first time and was blown away by it. The unique prehistoric monument and UNESCO World Heritage site is one of Britain’s most popular tourist attractions and should be on any UK bucket list. However, tickets aren’t cheap, so ever the budget traveller I have done some digging to find out how to visit Stonehenge for free, or how to get the best bang for your buck!
Is Stonehenge Worth Visiting?
100% yes! I couldn’t believe I had waited this long to visit Stonehenge, but I am pleased to confirm that yes it absolutely is worth visiting. Learning about the history of this fascinating place and imagining people walking among the stones thousands of years ago was a wonderful experience and one of the best things to do in the UK.
Just thinking about how Stonehenge was built is kind of mind-blowing, even more so when you consider the age of Stonehenge and that it was constructed around 5000 years ago! Some of the stones used to build Stonehenge weigh up to 30 tons, and no one is really sure how the stones were brought to Stonehenge.
There are also plenty of other historical sites to visit in the area, and nearby Salisbury is a lovely city to explore with a magnificent cathedral. You could easily spend three or four nights in the area and not see everything, so don’t miss it!
However, Stonehenge isn’t cheap to visit, so to make the most of your visit I’m sharing some of the ways you can visit Stonehenge for free!
Stonehenge Entrance Fee
Since 1901 an entrance fee has been charged to visitors to Stonehenge. This is to ensure that visits to the site are regulated and that it continues to be protected. English Heritage which manages Stonehenge is a charity and includes a voluntary donation with each ticket. If you prefer not to donate, ask for your ticket ‘without donation’.
You must reserve a timeslot for your visit in advance, which you can do on the official Stonehenge website here or through GetYourGuide which is the same price. However, before you buy your ticket for Stonehenge, keep reading for tips on how to visit Stonehenge for free!
Currently, the Stonehenge admission fee is as follows:
Adult: from £19.50 or £21.50 with the voluntary donation
Child (5-17 years old): £11.70 or £12.90 with donation
Students or Over 65s: £17.60 or £19.40 with donation
Family of 2 Adults & Up to 3 Children: £50.70 or £55.90 with donation
Family of 1 Adult and Up to 3 Children: £31.20 or £34.40 with donation.
What is Included in the Stonehenge Admission Price?
Your Stonehenge ticket price includes free parking at the Stonehenge visitor centre, and access to a visitor shuttle bus if you are unable to walk the distance between the visitor centre and the stones – approximately one and a half miles away.
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There is a Stonehenge exhibition at the visitor centre, which explains more about the history of Stonehenge including information about the stones, the landscape, the people and some unusual Stonehenge facts! It’s a combination of audio-visual experiences and nearly 300 archaeological objects, finds from Stonehenge and other nearby monuments.
You can also download a free audio tour in English in advance from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store or via the free WiFi available at the visitor centre. Due to COVD restrictions, there are no audio guides available at the visitor centre, so be sure to download the guide – don’t forget to bring your own headphones to listen to it!
A gift shop, café and picnic areas are also available at the visitor centre, as well as toilets and baby change facilities. There are no toilets at the monument, so be sure to go before you set off on the walk to the stones!
How Close Can You Get to the Stones at Stonehenge?
I’ll explain more below about the free public footpath that runs alongside the paid visitor area – you can still get a reasonable view from there but it is quite far away from the stones.
Once you’ve bought a ticket to Stonehenge, the visitor footpath circles around the outside of Stonehenge, then part of the path cuts in closer. You cannot get inside the actual monument of Stonehenge to walk between the stones, unless you pay for a special VIP Stone Circle experience to get you closer, or if you visit for summer or winter solstice.
I personally was happy with the view from the footpath, although it would be a wonderful experience to get even closer, I’m sure! Learn more about the Stone Circle experience here.
Visiting Stonehenge for Free
There are several ways to visit Stonehenge for free, and all totally legal – no fence-jumping required. Please do remember that Stonehenge is a national monument and should be protected so you must follow the rules in place designed to protect it.
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Visit Stonehenge for the Solstice
The summer and winter solstice at Stonehenge are the only times that the public can get up close and personal with the stone circle. However, in 2020 due to COVID restrictions, the event was live-streamed instead. It remains to be seen whether you will be able to go to Stonehenge to see the solstice this year! Keep an eye on the English Heritage website for more information.
Become a Member of English Heritage
Stonehenge is managed by English Heritage, a charity which cares for over 400 historic buildings, monuments and sites in England. If you become a member you can visit all of their sites for free, which include a variety of places from world-famous prehistoric sites like Stonehenge, to grand medieval castles like Dover Castle.
There are various membership options available for individuals, joint memberships (for adults living at the same address) and family memberships. Each adult membership includes free entry for up to six children under 18 and within the family group. The joint adult membership includes free entry for up to 12 children.
GET 15% OFF ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP WITH THE CODE EH2020 (VALID UNTIL 31ST MARCH 2021)
Individual adult membership: £63 per year (joint £109 per year) > LEARN MORE
Senior adult aged over 65: £55 per year (joint £84 per year) > LEARN MORE
Young adult/student 18.25 with a valid NUS card: £49 per year > LEARN MORE
Visitors from abroad can also buy an Overseas Visitors Pass which is valid for 9 or 16 consecutive days and grants access to over 100 sites, including Stonehenge. Before you buy, check which sites you are planning to visit. Visiting 2 or 3 English Heritage sites during your visit to England should be enough to make the pass worthwhile.
You must bring your membership card with you when you visit.
Take a Virtual Tour
Of course, it’s not as good as visiting in real life, but if English Heritage’s virtual tour of Stonehenge is as close as you can get it is certainly better than nothing! The interactive images show you where to click to get more information about different parts of the monument and there is a section where you can watch the sunset or sunrise live from the comfort of your own home.
Become a Member of the National Trust
Members of the National Trust in England also get free tickets to Stonehenge but this does not include members of National Trust Scotland. The National Trust manages the land all around Stonehenge, so in partnership with English Heritage, National Trust members get free entry.
Move to Amesbury
Local residents who live within certain areas around Stonehenge are entitled to free entry with a Local Resident’s Pass. I realise that this won’t be an option for most people, but on the off chance that you live in the area, you are in luck!
The Local Resident pass entitles one adult and up to three children to free access to Stonehenge during normal opening hours.
According to the English Heritage website, the qualifying areas (which currently account for just over 30,000 residents) are:
- The Town Council of Amesbury;
- The Parish Councils of Bulford, Figheldean, Durrington, Durnford, Woodford, Winterbourne Stoke, Shrewton, Orcheston, Tilshead, Winterbourne, Idmiston, Allington, Newton Toney, Netheravon;
- The Parish Meetings of Milston, Wilsford-cum-Lake, and Cholderton.
Passes are available from Amesbury library (with the appropriate ID and proof of address) and are valid for one year, after which they must be renewed.
If you are in the area you could also look at volunteering at English Heritage as there are a variety of volunteer and ambassador roles available, and you can share your passion for history with visitors from all over the world.
Walk the Public Footpath Nearby
If you just want to see Stonehenge from relatively close, but still from a distance, there is a public footpath which runs along the visitor footpath on one side of Stonehenge.
It is completely free to access and is a good way to explore the rest of the area as you can walk to other sites such as Woodhenge from here. However, you can’t guarantee a good view for photos, especially on a busy day, as paying visitors will be walking between you and Stonehenge – unless you time your visit to be outside normal opening hours.
Which is the Best Way to Visit Stonehenge?
If you are in London and want to take a day trip to Stonehenge from London, probably the best way to visit Stonehenge is to join a guided tour. These tours usually include your entry fee into Stonehenge, as well as transport to Stonehenge from London. However, you will be restricted by the amount of time you can spend at the stones, so if you prefer to explore slowly then this may not be for you.
Half-day tours from London to Stonehenge often spend two hours driving to Stonehenge, allow two hours at the site, then spend two hours driving back.
There are also various day tours to Stonehenge from London, which also combine other attractions such as a visit to Bath, Windsor Castle and or Oxford.
If you have more time than just one day, I highly recommend spending a full day in and around Stonehenge and Salisbury, and spending the night somewhere nearby. I loved just sitting by the stones to eat a picnic then taking a bike ride to Woodhenge and seeing more of the countryside. Whichever option you choose, I hope you find the best one to suit you so you can enjoy this magnificent historic site.
I really enjoyed my visit to Stonehenge, and I hope that I helped you to decide the best way to visit Stonehenge for free, or at least for the best value!
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