Stonehenge: Is it Worth It?

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Like the Great Pyramid, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sydney Opera House, Stonehenge is one of those attractions that is immediately recognizable.

Mostly because there are so many photos of it floating around out there, and it's on a lot of people's “must-visit” lists.


But why? Is Stonehenge actually worth the visit?

The mystery

Stonehenge is nothing more than a ring of large stones, many of which have toppled over and broken over the years. The real draw of the site is not the stones, but the mystery behind them – the fact that no one knows exactly how or why the ring was built in the first place.


The site dates back to at least 2000 BC (though scientists can't really agree on that date, either), but the rest of its history is anybody's guess. Theories about how and why Stonehenge was built range from it being a religious site erected by the Druids to a work of Merlin of Arthurian legend. If it wasn't for this mystery, chances are this little ring of stones wouldn't be nearly as interesting.


The size

When you see it in photos, Stonehenge looks pretty big; pretty impressive. But, in real life? Well let's just say that you're likely to hear “I thought it'd be bigger” (that'swhatshesaid) while you're walking around the site. The stones are quite tall, but by no means mammoth.


The commercialization

Over the years, as Stonehenge has grown in popularity as a novelty site in England, it has also become highly commercialized. AKA very touristy.


Today, you cannot get up close to the ring of stones for preservation's sake (and also for safety reasons, since they've decided to just let nature take its course and no longer reinforce the stones that are falling over).

You park at the visitor's center (with requisite cafe and gift shop) about a mile away, are bussed to the stones, and then are kept from getting to close by low ropes.


The visitor's center IS much better these days than it used to be (there's a cool 360-degree video presentation inside that lets you feel like you're standing in the middle of the circle), but it's bound to be crowded with busloads of people day tripping to Stonehenge from London.


If it's peace and tranquility you want while pondering the significance of a ring of standing stones, then Stonehenge probably isn't the site you want to visit (go to Avebury instead).

The verdict

So, considering the above, is Stonehenge worth a visit?

Well, believe it or not, I still think it is.


The site does have a curious history, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it's very easy to get to from London.

Plus it's just kind of cool to say you saw it in person.

However, I wouldn't recommend making a visit to Stonehenge the only motivation for a day trip from London. Pair it with Bath or Salisbury or another place of interest to make it worth your time. You'll be sorely disappointed if you drive all that way only to realize that you really only need about 30 minutes to fully experience this mysterious ring of stones.

Do YOU think Stonehenge is worth a visit?


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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61 Comments on “Stonehenge: Is it Worth It?

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  1. Disappointing, went there in 1978. Snuck under the ropes to touch the stones. ( crazy American ) just couldn’t believe it was so close to the highway. All the mystery went away.

      Welcome to the modern world! Before tourism was popular and possible for most people, ancient sites like this were destroyed and overlooked all the time. Thankfully now we make an effort to preserve places like this!

    You should tell your readers about the solstices when some extremely interesting locals show up, and you can interact with the stones as much as you want, including climbing on top of some.

      I’ve never been during a Solstice event! Though I would not support anyone climbing on the stones. That’s a great way to knock them over and ruin the site for everyone else.

    I found this page by googling stonehenge not worth it, and clearly, the opinions shared reinforced my thoughts. Next time when I’m in London I will down load a photo for everyone to see, ugh, Stonehenge.

      If you can pair up Stonehenge with a visit to another site, then I think I would probably go. But I wouldn’t make the trip out there JUST for Stonehenge.

    […] my mom as part of a day tour we took from London with City Wonders. The tour had us visiting Bath, Stonehenge, and some Cotswolds villages for lunch and […]

    It’s all changed now.. you park for £5 (after paying for your ticket to go to the site) at the new massive visitor centre complete with shop and cafe, then you either walk or catch the free bus to the Stones and join hundreds of people doing the same thing. I went recently and just found the number of people too much, everyone has the audio guides but they stop in groups to listen to what is being said or take photos.

    I’ve been twice now and I’m still not sure that it’s worth it but I think it’s one of those things that you just have to see regardless.

      I went for a second time just this summer. I actually think the changes they’ve made are good – the new visitor’s center is much nicer, and I kind of like that you don’t see the stones right away when you get there. As for the crowds… that’s just something you’re never going to avoid – it’s a famous site, so it’s always going to be popular.

      I still recommend going – just as part of a trip to see other things in the area, too.

    If you go either on the Summer or Winter Solstice, you can visit for free and go right up to the stones (no fences!). It’s the pagan holidays and tons of people show up, party/stay all night, watch pagan rituals and then wait for the sunrise in the morning. The Winter one will have much much less people.

    In regards to the fences, they’ve been there for over 20 years now. I was bought up nearby and think the last time we visited without the fences was in 1990 when you could still go up to them…and for free!

    I’ve heard this repeated in one form or another from a fair number of people. I wouldn’t mind seeing them (and I know Ali wants to, so we will happily go), but I think I might hunt out one of the other stone rings with fewer people to do some more exploring. Ever the upstream swimmer, tourist busloads of people not my thing.

      Sounds like a plan. I think it’s worth seeing simply for the recognition factor, but it sounds like some of the other stone rings in the UK might be more up your alley!

    Maybe my expectations were really low, but I really liked it and am very glad I went (with additional time in Salisbury tacked on). No regrets here. Would I go again? Probably not.

      Yeah I don’t think I’d go again, either, but I’m with you on being glad I saw it!

    I partied there last year for the summer solstice. They take down the fence, so you can spend the whole night in the stones until the sunrise (with thousands of other people). It was freezing but worth it.

    It quite regularly tops lists of “things people wish they hadn’t bothered visiting” and I have to say I’m in that camp. I just don’t see the appeal of the mystery- when they work out how it was done, then I’ll go and marvel at how impressive a feat it was. But I don’t know enough to have any input on the mystery beyond “aliens lol” so it doesn’t interest me much. If you’re down that way anyway though, I can see why you might pop in!

    (I also didn’t realise it was such a big deal to people visiting the UK! You learn something new every day).

      Totally understandable. Like I said, I don’t think I’d make a trip JUST for Stonehenge. But, at the same time, I AM glad I finally saw it in person.

    I stopped off to see Stonehenge but didn’t really get any ‘feeling’ from the place, being as you described kept a distance away on the path –

    I’d recommend (if one has time), looking on Ordnance Survey maps for ancient circles and going on one’s own discovery expedition 🙂
    I found a circle of stones and a nearby cairn in Scotland, when hiking the hills, where by being able to get up close you could feel the presence of history and ancient ceremonies that had taken place there right under your feet!

      Good advice, Linda! It’s always more fun to get off the beaten path.

    I struggle with the is it worth it question a lot – I hate to go see a sight that has been built up and over touristed.. there have been some that I definitely think were worth it and some where I left within 15 minutes of arriving!

    Glad to hear you still think it was worth it.. and I’ve always wanted to make a trip to Bath 🙂

      Well if you want to go to Bath anyway, it’s probably worth it to at least stop at Stonehenge, just to see it in person!

    Maybe it’s because its just up the road from where I live, and so I pass it whenever I’m doing Big Trips but Stonehenge is not so interesting to me.
    Avebury, on the other hand, less touristy, and in a village is similar and more impressive in my opinion.

      I’m sure if I lived there, I would quickly lose interest in it, too!

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