What are the best times to visit Stonehenge to avoid crowds?

Step back in time, to a world shrouded in mystery and steeped in history. The towering stones of Stonehenge, set against the rolling English countryside, compel visitors from around the globe to delve into the enigma of this ancient site. A visit to Stonehenge is a journey into the past, a chance to touch the stones that have stood sentinel over millennia. Yet, for many, the experience is marred by the throngs that throng this iconic site. So, when is the best time to visit Stonehenge to avoid the crowds? Let's explore.

Planning Your Day Trip to Stonehenge

If you've decided to take a day trip to Stonehenge from London, getting the timing right is crucial. The journey itself will take a couple of hours, so you'll need to factor this into your planning. The best time to arrive is either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Early Morning Visits

Arriving in the early morning is one of the most effective ways to avoid the crowds, particularly during the summer months when the site attracts most visitors. Stonehenge opens at 9:30 am, but the tour busses and most visitors usually don't arrive until around 11 am. If you can manage an early start, you are likely to have a much more peaceful and enjoyable visit. Plus, the morning light often provides a stunning backdrop for your photos, making an early start even more rewarding.

Late Afternoon Visits

Alternatively, consider visiting Stonehenge in the late afternoon. Most day trippers tend to leave by 3 pm, and the last admission is usually at 5 pm, giving you a couple of hours to enjoy the site at your leisure. The setting sun can cast a magical glow over the stones, providing the perfect end to your day out.

Booking Your Tickets

Pre-booking your tickets is essential, particularly if you plan to visit during the peak summer months. Tickets to Stonehenge are time-slotted, meaning that you must choose the time of your visit when you book. This system has been designed to limit the number of visitors on the site at any one time, helping to protect the stones and enhance the visitor experience.

When booking your tickets, check the sunrise and sunset times for the day of your planned visit. Consider booking the first or last slot to maximise your chances of having a quieter visit. You can book your tickets through the official English Heritage website, where you'll also find a wealth of information about the site to enhance your visit.

Timing Your Visit Throughout the Year

While the time of day is key in determining the crowd levels at Stonehenge, the time of year can also play a significant role.

Off-Peak Seasons

Visiting Stonehenge during the off-peak seasons - from November to March - can be a good way to avoid the crowds. While the English weather can be unpredictable during these months, a winter visit can offer a unique and enchanting experience, particularly if you're lucky enough to see the stones dusted with snow. However, do bear in mind that the site closes earlier during these months, with last admission usually at 3 pm.

Peak Seasons

The summer months, particularly June and July, are the busiest at Stonehenge, with thousands of visitors flocking to the site each day. If you do choose to visit during these months, timing your visit for early morning or late afternoon is particularly important.

Visiting the Stonehenge Visitor Centre

Your ticket to visit Stonehenge also includes entry to the Stonehenge Visitor Centre, where you can delve deeper into the history and mysteries of the site. The Visitor Centre is about 1.5 miles from the stones, and a free shuttle bus runs between the two.

If you're aiming to avoid the crowds at the stones, consider visiting the Visitor Centre at peak times, when most people are at the stones. The early afternoon, around lunchtime, can be a good time to visit the Centre, as many visitors will be taking a break for lunch.

Remember, no visit to Stonehenge is complete without spending some time at the Visitor Centre, where you can immerse yourself in the site's history and learn more about the people who constructed this ancient monument.

The Best Times for a Guided Tour

For a deeper understanding of Stonehenge, consider joining a guided tour. These are typically led by knowledgeable guides who can share fascinating insights into the history and significance of the stones. Tours can be booked as part of your ticket and generally last for about an hour.

Indeed, timing your visit to Stonehenge to avoid the crowds can greatly enhance your experience, allowing you to fully appreciate the mystery and majesty of this iconic site. Whether you're a history buff, a lover of the English countryside, or simply looking for a memorable day out, planning your visit with care will ensure you get the most from your trip to Stonehenge.

Additional Activities Nearby

There's more to a trip to Stonehenge than just the stone circle itself. The surrounding area boasts a wealth of other historic and cultural attractions that can be incorporated into your visit.

The city of Salisbury, just a short drive away, is home to the Salisbury Cathedral, one of the finest examples of Early English architecture. The Cathedral houses one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta, making it a must-visit for history enthusiasts. If you opt for a Stonehenge tour from London, many packages include a stop at Salisbury.

Windsor Castle, another historic gem, is also within driving distance from Stonehenge. As the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, it's a sight to behold. Just like with Salisbury, Windsor Castle is often included in Stonehenge tours from London.

Remember to consider these additional attractions when planning your visit to Stonehenge. Incorporating them into your day trip can make your journey even more memorable and rewarding.

Stonehenge Special Access Visits

For those who want an even closer experience with the stones, the Stonehenge Special Access Visits are a fantastic option. These visits allow you to venture inside the stone circle, which is usually roped off to the public. They are conducted outside of regular visiting hours, either early in the morning or late in the evening, providing another opportunity to avoid the crowds.

However, these visits are very popular and places are limited, so they must be booked well in advance. The tickets are not available through the standard booking system - you'll need to apply directly via the English Heritage website.

The Special Access Visits are a unique opportunity to stand amongst the stones and experience Stonehenge from a completely different perspective. If you manage to secure a place, it's an experience you won't forget.


There's truly no bad time to visit Stonehenge, but some times are certainly better than others if you're hoping to avoid the crowds. The best time to visit largely depends on your personal schedule and preferences, but generally, early morning or late afternoon visits are the most advisable.

Regardless of when you decide to embark on your journey, a visit to Stonehenge promises to be a transformative experience. This ancient site, with its enigmatic stone circle standing tall against the lush English countryside, holds mysteries that have puzzled historians for centuries. Whether it's your first visit or your hundredth, the magic of Stonehenge never fades.

Planning your visit with care, keeping in mind the tips shared in this article, will help you make the most of your Stonehenge experience. From the awe-inspiring stones themselves, to the informative Visitor Centre, to the historic attractions in the surrounding area, Stonehenge offers a rich and rewarding trip into the past. And who knows? You may even leave with more questions than answers - but that's all part of the Stonehenge experience.