Whether you are coming for a relaxing weekend break or planning a longer stay, you won’t run out of interesting and fun things to do in Salisbury or places to visit near Salisbury.
For couples on a romantic getaway, friends enjoying a relaxing break or families looking for a fun-filled holiday, here’s our guide of things to do in Salisbury. If you have extra time, we’ve also included plenty of places to visit near Salisbury. There are so many Salisbury attractions, we guarantee, you won’t be bored!
One thing to do in Salisbury that’s a priority is a visit to the magnificent cathedral. Towering above the city, the majestic medieval cathedral is open to visitors all year round. It’s a fine example of early English gothic architecture with the tallest church spire in the country, standing at 123m.
Visit the Chapter House and steal a glimpse of the famous Magna Carta, the document thought to be the historical basis of today’s democracies. Attend a church service or wander the cloisters. If you have a head for heights, take the tower tour and gaze at the impressive cathedral from up high, as well as panoramic views across Salisbury.
Once a thriving town, the English Heritage site of Old Sarum is now just a ruin. Hike up the top of the ramparts and enjoy the views of the city of Salisbury and in the opposite direction, Salisbury plain. You really can get a feel for life in the old Iron Age fort and stand in the footings of the original Salisbury cathedral. You don’t need a car to visit Old Sarum, if you fancy a walk. Take the town path out of the city and enjoy a country walk. There’s plenty of space for a picnic once you get there.
Take a trip to the romantic ruins of Wardour Castle near Tisbury. Built in the 14th Century this Grade I listed castle was bombarded by Cromwell’s army when under siege during the English Civil War. It was owned by the Arundell family, who eventually let the battered castle return to nature when they built New Wardour Castle. Open to visitors throughout the year, atmospheric Wardour Castle is worth the short drive.
The Rifles Berkshire and Wiltshire Museum
If you have an interest in military history, this fascinating Salisbury attraction can be found in the Cathedral Close. Discover the history of the Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiments. Tour the collections detailing stories from the Peninsular War, Crimean War, Boer War, First and Second World Wars right up to modern day conflicts, such as Afghanistan.
Salisbury Charter Market
A twice-weekly market, held in the city centre, the Charter Market has been running since 1270! Visit on a Tuesday or Saturday to browse the seventy stalls. Pick up freshly made artisan food and drink from local producers, traditional food products such as fruit and veg, meat and cheese. Or check out the craft stalls, clothing, bags and shoes, homewares, plants and flowers and more! If you want to visit a traditional English market, the Charter Market is a fine example and a great Salisbury attraction. When you’ve finished treating yourself, grab some street food from the vendors selling food from around the world.
Take a short drive to Wilton and visit The Guild. Formerly a carpet factory, The Guild has now been transformed into a shopping village with something for everyone. You’ll find an eclectic mix of independent and national shops, ranging from homeware, interiors, lifestyle, gifting and wellbeing. When you are all ‘shopped out’ visit Herbs and Wild for a fresh, seasonal bite to eat.
West Quay Shopping Centre, Southampton
A huge, out-of-town shopping experience, West Quay has over 130 shops, where you will find all the major retailers. Including John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Apple, Waterstones, Zara, Fat Face and much more, West Quay will keep even the most die-hard shopaholic happy. Only a 30-minute drive or a quick trip on the train if you don’t fancy driving, it’s one of the places to visit near Salisbury if you plan to shop until you drop.
New Forest Water Park
Try your hand at a variety of daring water sports at the New Forest’s biggest water park. Choose from cable wakeboarding, paddle boarding or kayaking, from beginner to advanced levels. The whole family will enjoy a session at the aqua park, an inflatable obstacle course on the lake. It looks easier than it actually is! They also run open-water swimming sessions. When the family have worn themselves out, you can grab a locally sourced lunch at the Café by the Lake.
Arniss Riding Stables and Livery Yard
Explore the biggest of South England’s national parks, the New Forest, on horseback! Book your riding experience with the British Horse Society approved riding stables, Arniss Livery Yard in Godshill, half an hour outside of Salisbury. Choose from short lead-rein hacks for beginners and children, one or two-hour rides and even all-day pub rides for experienced riders.
Go Sky Dive!
If you are feeling really brave, head out to Go Sky Dive for a tandem sky-diving experience, ten minutes outside of Salisbury. They are the UK specialists for first time jumpers and you can choose from 7000 feet up to 10 000 feet high tandem plane jumps. An exhilarating activity which will ensure you will never forget your holiday in Salisbury!
Enjoy The Arts
Fisherton Mill Gallery
Based in a beautifully restored Salisbury building, Fisherton Mill Gallery is home to a dozen artist studios where you can watch local craftspeople at work. The gallery showcases an ever-changing collection of art and The Gallery shop sells beautiful paintings, jewellery, ceramics, glassware, prints, sculpture, lighting and home furnishings for all budgets from over 200 different artists. Well worth a visit if you want to find a gift or two, for yourself or a loved one.
Salisbury Playhouse and City Hall
With locally produced performances to national touring theatre productions, Salisbury Playhouse pride themselves on offering something for everyone and the shows are always of the highest standard. Their annual Christmas pantomime is incredibly popular!
City Hall hosts a huge programme of national touring shows. If you are looking for fun things to do in Salisbury in the evening, have a look at the City Hall schedule. Popular comedians, tribute bands, real bands and celebrity variety acts all stop by when they are touring.
Salisbury Arts Centre
Salisbury Arts Centre is a venue for theatre, music, dance, comedy, family shows, films, exhibitions, and workshops, housed in an old church. They run a variety of educational and community events where you can join a workshop and revel in your creative side. Many of the events and workshops are free and children are welcome.
Salisbury International Arts Festival
If you happen to be visiting Salisbury in the Summer you may be lucky enough to find the annual multi-arts festival is running! For anyone in love with the arts, it is the best of the Salisbury attractions. The festival holds 150 art events each year, in and around the city. Events include concerts, comedy, poetry, dance, exhibitions, outdoor spectacles, and commissioned works, many of which are free.
Several events are held at places to visit near Salisbury such as the local historic settings of Stonehenge, Old Wardour Castle, the Wiltshire chalk downs and Salisbury Cathedral. It’s well worth checking out the schedule if you are here at the right time of year.
Get Out in Nature
The rolling chalk downlands of South Wiltshire surround the city of Salisbury. Whether you enjoy rambling, running or cycling there is no shortage of countryside and ‘the great outdoors.’ Take a short route along the River Avon or head out and see the water meadows, made famous by the paintings of William Turner. If you want to head further afield, the New Forest offers all the outdoor space you could ever need. Head in the other direction to enjoy the vast expanse of Salisbury Plain, one of the least light-polluted areas in the UK. Visit the Tourist Information Office in the city centre to get a map of local routes or ask us for more information when you arrive.
Steeple Langford lakes
‘Twitchers’, aka bird watchers, will love the four lakes at Steeple Landford, run by Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. Over 150 different species of birds have been spotted here including kingfishers, reed warblers and if you are lucky, osprey. The five bird hides allow visitors to observe the lakes without being spotted. A beautiful and relaxing place to visit, hidden away halfway between Warminster and Salisbury.
The New Forest
One of the largest of England’s national parks, the New Forest covers southwest Hampshire and southeast Wiltshire. William the Conqueror proclaimed it a royal forest in the Domesday Book and it has remained that way since then! People living in the forest still benefit from commoner’s rights and New Forest ponies, donkeys and pigs roam free. Get active and explore on foot, bike or horseback. If you are looking for a more relaxing tour, visit one of the pubs, villages or attractions that are scattered throughout the forest.
Fun Family Activities
River Bourne Community Farm
A fabulous community-run city farm, just outside Salisbury centre, it’s free to visit. If you are looking for things to do in Salisbury for your family, go and support the River Bourne Community Farm. The main purpose of the farm is to educate younger people about farming and provide volunteering activities in a safe and friendly environment. Go along to meet the animals, join a workshop or enjoy a cuppa at the café.
Another place popular with families and history lovers is Wilton House, home to the 18th Earl of Pembroke. Set in 21 stunning acres of landscaped gardens, wander through the rose gardens and dip your feet in the River Nadder on a hot day. Kids will love the fantastic wooden treetop playground, set amongst some of the ancient trees of the gardens. When the kids have run out of steam, take a tour of the historical house and visit the Earl of Pembroke’s vast collection of classic cars.
Moors Valley Country Park
You can fill a day full of activities at Moors Valley Country Park. The kids will love the free wooden play trail! Take a ride on the narrow-gauge steam railway, hire bikes and enjoy the cycle trails. If you are feeling a little lazy you can hire a Segway to see the forest.
Feeling brave? Try Go Ape. There are three blood pumping treetop trails for different ages and abilities, with an epic zip wire to finish. After all that, if you still have some energy left you can play a game of golf or try your hand at fishing.
Paulton’s Park Family Theme Park
This is the home of Peppa Pig, the popular children’s character! Take the family along to this New Forest amusement park with over 70 different attractions for kids and adults of all ages. Apart from Peppa Pig World, there are animatronic dinosaurs, acres of parkland and a collection of birds and animals. Open from Easter to October, it’s a fun day out for everyone.