Our trip to Italy earlier this year saw my family tick of two of the Wonders of the World – the Colosseum of Rome and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Therefore, when my cousin and his family bought us an English Heritage Membership last Christmas it made sense that our first port of call would be to visit another: Stonehenge.
What to Know about Visiting Stonehenge
First of all visits to Stonehenge are recommended to be booked in advance, as it is managed through timed tickets (this includes English Heritage and National Trust Members). Last admission is two hours before closing time and parking is free. The exception is for the Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice – where entry is free and parking £5 per car and £2 per motorbike (but it is limited). There is a bus to the monument but disabled users have priority during the solstice period – permits again must be applied for in advance. Alternatively there is an approximately 30 minute walk.
Length of time spent at Stonehenge
How long you spend at Stonehenge on your visit will really depend on how much you want to take everything in. As well as the Stone Circle monument there is the Neolithic Houses and the Stonehenge Exhibition – which includes the experience of Standing in the stones. There was also the opportunity to see how many of you were needed to move one of the Sarsen boulders (a replica of Stone 60 which weighs about 28 tonnes).
As English Heritage Members we had free audio books which we could listen to as we went around the Stone Circle. Due to the fact that there are over one million visitors every year to Stonehenge visitors are unable to go into the Stone Circle and touch the monument, except for on special access days. There was an adult and children version – this was great but unfortunately the children only had short facts and so were ready to move on (and bored) before we had a chance to take it all in. Plus then you have to factor in how much time you spend in the gift shop and whether you want to stay for something to eat and drink. We had a packed lunch and it was really cold so stayed for 2 and a half hours. I was hoping to stay until it got dark but the children had really had enough by then.
Thoughts on our Family Visit to Stonehenge
We decided to visit Stonehenge on the 10th December (and actually missing a very good snow day back at home). I thought that it would be too busy during the Winter Solstice when we had never been before. It was unusual that there was a bit of snow – and this unfortunately also meant that we were unable to see the sunset. In general the children were more or less board and didn’t see the point. They did enjoy the Neolithic Houses however, especially as they had learnt about them during their Stone Age topic at school. My husband enjoyed soaking up all the facts and it was interesting to hear about the magical and healing properties of the stones. I think it would be an interesting experience to visit during the Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice, possibly minus the children. It was not that busy during our visit and as we had gone at the end of the day it was easy to have family photos with just us and the stones. I am glad we have been so that we can say we have experienced it, plus it does make you consider why they were built in the first place.
Other Wonders of the World for us to visit are:
- Catacombs of Alexandria.
- Great Wall of China.
- Porcelain Tower of Nanking.
- Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (sometimes called the Church of Saint Sophia)
- Colossus of Rhodes.
- Great Pyramid of Giza.
- Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
- Lighthouse of Alexandria.
- Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
- Statue of Zeus at Olympia.
- Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
- Mount Everest in Nepal.
- Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe.
- Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA.
- Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
- Northern Lights.
- Paricutin volcano in Mexico.
- Harbor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.