Things to do in Wiltshire

Things to do

Things to do in Wiltshire

Steeped in history and enjoying a staggeringly stunning landscape (don’t worry, it’s metaphorically staggering – the actual scenery is beautifully level and ideal for walking!), Wiltshire is a quintessentially English paradise with many fabulous things to do.

Almost half of Wiltshire is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which means photo-perfect vistas and selfie backdrops are around every corner alongside fascinating ancient sites where you can discover the depths of Wiltshire’s heritage. Spend the day exploring or wind down in one of Wiltshire's many wonderful pubs, which boast log fires, traditional charm, and delicious homecooked food.

From standing stone circles to beautifully curated gardens, there’s something to tickle everyone’s fancy… Here are just some of our favourite things to do in Wiltshire.

 

Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury

The impressive façade of Salisbury Cathedral in Wiltshire

Wrapped in 800 years of history – and with the tallest spire in Britain to boot – Salisbury Cathedral has been attracting eager visitors for centuries. You’ll also find the largest cloisters and biggest cathedral close in the country at Salisbury, alongside the oldest clock in the world tucked away in this beautiful cathedral of epic proportions.

Book yourself onto one of the tours to get the chance to wind your way up the 332 steps that take you to the foot of the spire – that’s right, 332 steps don’t even get you to the top of the spire, that’s how tall it is! You can also visit the Stonemasonry Works Yard with a backstage tour, as well as the library, which houses over 10,000 books and dates back to 1445.

 

Stonehenge, nr Amesbury

The iconic landmark of Stonehenge in Wiltshire

As far as stones go, Stonehenge is perhaps one of the world’s most famous ones (sorry, boulder from Shrek). The enigmatic monument is considered to be one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the world. It’s also one of the most puzzling ones as, while our understanding of the history of Stonehenge has improved considerably in recent years, there is still much we don’t know.

Was it built by giants after King Arthur’s Merlin magically transported the stones to Wiltshire from Ireland, or does its origins lie in the stars, with aliens playing a role in the stone circle’s beginnings? Delve into the history of Stonehenge yourself as you visit this impressive historical marvel. Walk around the looming stone structure and pop into the Stonehenge Visitor Centre to explore the exhibition where you can see the face of a man who walked this ground over 5,000 years ago. You can also continue your Stonehenge journey at Salisbury Museum, which holds a fascinating exhibit on Stonehenge and its intriguing past. The surrounding Salisbury Plains are great for walkers, especially those who are a fan of the wartime epic 1917, which was filmed across the farmland.

 

Longleat Safari, Warminster

One of the adorable meerkats at Longleat Safari in Wiltshire

Known to many as the best safari in the UK, as well as one of the biggest attractions in Wiltshire, Longleat is a firm favourite of visitors and locals alike. Taking you into the belly of the beast, the safari drive-through gives guests the chance to get up close to some of the park’s wildest inhabitants, from lions to wolves to Anne the beautiful elephant. Wind up the windows for this excursion as the monkeys are just as naughty as you’d expect!

Outside of the car, you’ll find even more animals to marvel over. Giant otters and crocodiles provide an impressive water-based show, while Koala Creek is just as adorable as it sounds. The little ones will love the many play areas, especially the Adventure Castle, which offers a fantastic place for their imaginations (and themselves) to run wild. With guided tours and stunning Capability Brown (the greatest landscape architect of the time who was also responsible for the stunning gardens at Blenheim Palace) landscaped grounds, Longleat House is well worth a visit too. You’ll find an incredible display of Elizabethan architecture (one of the best in Britain) as well as acres of refined splendour in the gardens, perfect for a relaxed stroll and scenic picnic.

 

Stourhead, nr Mere

The stunning lake and Palladian house at Stourhead in Wiltshire

If there’s one thing you can count on across the UK, it’s the National Trust offering an impressive day out packed to the brim with heritage and history, and Stourhead is no exception. The world-famous landscaped garden and iconic Palladian house offer visitors one of the most picture-perfect spots for a picnic out there, which is saying something in this stunning neck of the woods.

Exotic trees dot the grounds while the lake allows you to enjoy the view twice, once the right way up and again in a beautiful shimmering reverse. With over 2,000 acres of estate, a walk is never out of reach at Stourhead, whether you fancy rolling chalk downs or ancient woods. The Stourhead house is of special interest too and offers a stunning contrast of influences. Outside, you can see the Ancient Greek Palladian features, which provide an impressive complement to the scenic surrounds, while inside Regency tastes flourish, creating a most fascinating tour. Stop by the library for a window that’s more a work of art than anything else or the ‘Pope’s cabinet’ for an incredible example of craftsmanship. There is a café and a shop at Stourhead so you can get your hit of retail therapy (and an obligatory coffee and cake) during your visit.

 

Bluestone Vineyards, Cholderton

Rows of vines at Bluestone Vineyards in Wiltshire

How do you make your holiday in Wiltshire sparkle? Add sparkling wine, of course! Bluestone is a family-run vineyard in Wiltshire that produces a very tempting selection of English sparkling wines. Throughout the vineyard you’ll find Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes, the wines of which you can taste with one of the many tours and tastings.

For the ultimate Bluestone experience, why not make the most of their vineyard picnic offering? You’ll arrive to a picnic basket ready to go and full of all sorts of tasty treats, from local cheeses, meats and bread, to a bottle of Bluestone Classic Cuvee – can you think of a better lunch? You can then extend your joyous visit more by popping over to Cholderton Rare Breeds Farm, where you can marvel and coo at an adorable selection of animals, from highland cows to rabbits.

 

Silbury Hill, Avebury

The curious manmade mound at Silbury Hill in Wiltshire

If you’re looking for a walk that encompasses one of Wiltshire’s other curious landmarks, Silbury Hill is a great addition to your walking to-do list. The largest artificial mound in Europe, Silbury Hill is comparable in both size and volume to the Egyptian pyramids, providing you with a hefty base to walk around.

Situated within the Avebury World Heritage Site, a walk around this area will provide you with many fascinating remnants of the past. We recommend starting your trail at the Alexander Keiler Museum as you can learn all about the different sites in the area before heading off on a loop around the monumental landscape that surrounds you. How many Neolithic and Bronze Age sites will you spot?

 

Lacock Abbey, nr Chippenham

One of the many beautiful rooms at Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire

Included on our lists of the top things to do and the best places to visit in the Cotswolds, Lacock Abbey is popular with visitors for many reasons. Perhaps one of the more recent reasons is that the Abbey has been featured in many top films and TV shows, including Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, and Pride and Prejudice. The other reason (which is possibly the reason the Abbey has enjoyed such a rich career on the big screen) is the incredible architecture.

Although it has monastic roots, Lacock Abbey is actually a country house that was once the home of William Henry Fox Talbert, the inventor of the photographic negative. In fact, if there’s a shutterbug in your party, swing by the Fox Talbot Museum for an in-depth look at the history of photography and Lacock Abbey’s unique role.

 

Wiltshire’s White Horses

The white horse at Westbury etched on the hillside 

Just as the Cerne Abbas giant provides a sightly walk in Dorset, the White Horses of Wiltshire provide many opportunities to marvel at the area’s creative heritage. Perhaps one of the more unusual things to do in Wiltshire, a visit to a giant white horse etched into the hillside is an opportunity that can’t be missed (literally, they can be hundreds of feet long).

The oldest of the horses lies in Westbury and is thought to be around 250 years old, while the youngest white horse (or should we say foal), can be found in Devizes and was carved in 1999 in celebration of the Millennium. There is a 90-mile trail that takes you around the eight chalky equines in Westbury, Cherhill, Marlborough, Alton Barnes, Hackpen, Broad Town, Pewsey, and Devizes. Don’t worry, it can easily be split into shorter chunks, or you can visit the fascinating figures by car (or horseback if you’re feeling droll).

 

Bowood House and Gardens, Calne

The impressive house and private walled garden at Bowood House and Gardens in Wiltshire

Situated within 100 acres of stunning Capability Brown landscaped parkland, the Bowood House and Gardens offer a picture-perfect place to visit in Wiltshire. One of the grandest stately homes in the county, the manor house is home to a unique collection of art and historical treasures, which have been collected over 300 years.

The gardens are made up of four one-acre squares, that while similar in size, could not be more different in look, which makes for a wonderfully diverse garden wander during the guided tours. The private walled garden houses a great variety of displays, which perfume the air with hints of rose, honeysuckle, and lavender. To make the most of this serene setting, you can book a number of fabulous workshops such as autumn wreath making and photography. And for those who love combining the great outdoors with the silver screen, the open-air cinema is perfect – plus it has wood-fired pizza for the ultimate movie snack!

 

Castle Combe

The pretty bridge and honey hued cottages of Castle Combe in Wiltshire

If you’re unsure if a village can be a ‘thing to do’, let us assure you, it absolutely can. On our list of prettiest towns and villages in the Cotswolds and the prettiest sights, you know you’ll be met with charming scenes straight from a storybook (or rather straight from a film, as the village has been the backdrop for many a box office smash).

Cobbled streets, a quietly winding river, and plenty of homes coloured with the golden hue of Cotswolds stone, it’s easy to see why this village is considered one of the prettiest in the UK. Having allowed your eyes to feast on the winsome surrounds, it’s time to give your stomach the same five-star treatment, which calls for a visit to one of the best places to eat in Wiltshire and best Michelin Star restaurants in the Cotswolds, Bybrook Restaurant at The Manor House.

 

Excited to get stuck into the many wonderful things to do in Wiltshire? Explore our lovely collection of cottages in Wiltshire and start planning your fun-filled stay.

More reading

Famous film and TV locations to inspire your next holiday in the UK

Famous film and TV locations to inspire your next holiday in the UK

From the magical world of Harry Potter to the windswept wiles of Poldark, these famous filming locations are sure to inspire your next UK stay.

Places to Go 7 months ago Annie Cowen
Cosy holiday cottages near a pub

Cosy holiday cottages near a pub

Whether you want a log fire in your living room or your local taproom, this collection of cosy holiday cottages near a pub is perfect for your winter getaway.

Property 1 year ago Annie Cowen
Best holiday cottages for groups

Best holiday cottages for groups

From country houses with hot tubs to coastal retreats with sea views and space galore, these holiday cottages are perfect for a group holiday.

Property 1 year ago Annie Cowen
Best places to visit for autumn colours in the UK

Best places to visit for autumn colours in the UK

From copper-dipped woodlands with waterfalls to lakes, lochs, and russet landscapes, immerse yourself in the colours of autumn with these UK destinations.

Places to Go 4 months ago Annie Cowen