Salisbury is a historic city in south Wiltshire that is best known for its cathedral, which boasts Britain’s tallest spire.
Salisbury has its origins in the hillfort of Old Sarum, whose ruins can be visited around 3km (2 miles) north of the modern city. Old Sarum has been inhabited for around 5,000 years and by the mid-12th century, it had become a bustling town. However, by the early 13th-century disagreements between the clergy and the military caused the cathedral to be relocated a site 3km (2 miles) to the south that became New Sarum. Shortly afterwards, Old Sarum was abandoned as most residents moved to the new town. New Sarum was the official name for Salisbury until as recently as 2009.
Although a fictional work, the 1987 Edward Rutherfurd novel, Sarum, charts the history of the town (both Old and New Sarum) from prehistoric times right up till the mid-1980s. The book is an excellent in-flight read that will give you a crash course in English history that will certainly give you a greater insight into your visit to Salisbury and the surrounding area.
Salisbury is also a popular base for travellers visiting the nearby Stonehenge stone circle. Although Amesbury is closer to Stonehenge, it is much easier to visit Stonehenge by public transport if you base yourself in Salisbury.
Although many visitors to Salisbury come here primarily to visit Stonehenge, it is worth spending an extra couple of days as there is quite a bit to see and do within the city. The main attractions are clustered in the Cathedral Close and these include the cathedral as well as Arundells, Mompesson House and the Salisbury Museum. The museum is particularly interesting if you’re visiting the nearby sites of Stonehenge and Old Sarum as it contains many artefacts that date from the period that these monuments were constructed.
The Boscombe Down Aviation Collection is also located nearby (not too far from Old Sarum) and it is certainly worth a look if you’re interested in military aircraft from the Cold War era.
Salisbury is well connected by regular rail links (at least one train per hour) to Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, London, Portsmouth and Southampton. The railway station is just a few minutes’ walk to the city centre and around a 15-minute walk to the attractions in the Cathedral Close.
National Express coaches stop at the Millstream Coach Park north of the city centre. This is the cheapest way to get to Salisbury from London.