Stonehenge, 10 miles north of the historic city of Salisbury on Salisbury Plain, is Europe’s best-known prehistoric monument. It’s so popular that visitors need to purchase a timed ticket in advance to guarantee entry. Exhibitions at the excellent Stonehenge visitor centre set the stage for a visit, explaining through audio-visual experiences and more than 250 ancient objects how the megaliths were erected between 3000 and 1500 BC, and sharing information about life during this time.
After walking around the various viewing points adjacent to these enormous stones, visit the authentic replicas of Neolithic Houses to see the tools and implements of everyday Neolithic life as volunteers demonstrate skills from 4,500 years ago. Although you can’t go inside the circle to wander among the stones during normal opening hours, you can reserve special early morning or late evening access into the circle through English Heritage, which manages the site.
The 150-year-old Big Ben Clock Tower is one of London’s top attractions. The name Big Ben actually refers not to the clock tower itself, but to the 13-ton bell housed within the tower and takes its name from the man who first ordered the bell, Sir Benjamin Hall. It is the 3rd largest free-standing clock tower in the world. The clock has become a symbol of England and London and has appeared in many films. In the movie Mars Attacks! for example, Big Ben is destroyed by a UFO attack.
The British Museum
With collections of antiquities that are among the world’s finest, the British Museum holds more than 13 million artefacts from Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, the Roman Empire, China, and Europe. The most famous ancient artefacts are the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon in Athens, as well as the famous Rosetta Stone.
But there are many other outstanding pieces on show here that help make this one of the best places to visit in London. The Ancient Egyptian collection is the largest outside of Cairo, and the hoard of Roman silver dating from the fourth century known as the Mildenhall Treasure, unearthed in Suffolk in 1942, is nothing short of spectacular.
If you’ve got time, be sure to look into joining a guided tour (private after-hour tours are fun), or participate in a workshop or lecture. Dining and shopping are also available on-site.
Located about an hour west of London, Windsor Castle is often called the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world. It is one of the official residences of Queen Elizabeth II who spends many weekends of the year at the castle, using it for both state and private entertaining. The earliest surviving buildings at Windsor date from the reign of Henry II who came to the throne in 1154. Much of the castle, including the magnificent State Apartments and St Georges Chapel, can be visited.
York Minster and Historic Yorkshire
The magnificent York Minster is second in importance in the Church of England only to the cathedral at Canterbury. It stands in the centre of historic York, surrounded by half-timbered homes and shops, medieval guildhalls, and churches.
In turn, York’s romantic streets are surrounded by three miles of magnificent town walls that you can walk atop for spectacular views over the city and its surroundings. While here, visit the National Railway Museum, one of England’s most visited tourist attractions.
York is also a good base from which to explore northeast England, in particular the rugged beauty of the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. Elsewhere in this corner of the country, you’ll find some of England’s most beautiful historic towns and cities, including Durham – famous for its castle and cathedral – and Beverley, which also boasts an attractive minster