How to make the most of one day in Salisbury

You’ve already been to Stonehenge, Old Sarum and Woodhenge, and you’ve got just one day in Salisbury to see the city itself. Is it possible? The short answer is no. But, you can make the most of it.

I’ve been twice now and I think I’d still like another crack at it – just to wander the streets and look at the stunning heritage buildings.

My most recent trip to Salisbury was with Visit Wiltshire just this past weekend. We were treated to hot sunny days (and possibly a spot of sunburn, don’t forget your sunscreen!) and a lovely walk around the town.

If you’ve just got one day, here’s how you can make the most of it:

Salisbury Cathedral and Magna Carta

First up, it’s just not a visit to Salisbury without stopping to see the Cathedral, known formally as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s a popular spot, both inside and out; you’ll see many locals enjoying time in the sun (if it’s out!) on the lush green lawn around the building, and many tourists within the Cathedral itself.

This Cathedral has a fascinating history, so I highly recommend taking an official tour. Did you know it was built in just 38 years and without any plans for a tower? If you’ve been to a lot of very old churches and cathedrals, you’ll notice that they are often a mix of architecture styles because the building process was so long and thus spanned different periods of ‘fashion’. The Salisbury Cathedral has just one style – English Gothic.

One day in Salisbury - Cathedral

one day in Salisbury - Cloisters at Salisbury Cathedral

The tower

I didn’t get a chance to do the Spire Tour, but it comes highly recommended by Emma. She says you can’t go to Salisbury without climbing the tower, especially because it’s Britain’s tallest spire. This tour takes about 105 minutes in total.

Something to look out for: When you go, your tour guide will point out the impact the tower has had on the building. Because it was added afterwards, the weight of the tower has actually ‘squashed’ the centre of the Cathedral.

One day in Salisbury - Salisbury Cathedral Tower

See the Magna Carta

The ‘Great Charter’ is one of the most celebrated documents in British history and one of the four best-preserved original copies from 1215 can be found at Salisbury Cathedral. Make sure you visit the Chapter House to see why it’s such an important document and how it influenced politics and laws today.

The Salisbury Cathedral is open every day. There is a suggested donation of £7.50 per adult for Cathedral access and £13.50 per adult for the Tower Tour, which includes access to the Cathedral. There are free tours of the Cathedral floor available throughout the day. It’s free to enter the cloisters and see the Magna Carta in the Chapter House.

Historic Salisbury Museum and Mompesson House

Once you’re out of the Cathedral, the Salisbury Museum and Mompesson House are very close by. If you’ve really only got the one day in Salisbury, it might be best to pick just one and enjoy it thoroughly.

Salisbury Museum

I’ve noticed that every town has its own museum and I’ve found that they are always worth a visit. The Salisbury Museum is definitely no exception, especially if you like archaeology.

Given its location (near Stonehenge, Old Sarum and Woodhenge), the Salisbury Museum showcases some brilliant archaeological finds, including the Amesbury Archer who was buried near Stonehenge more than 4,000 years ago with a large number of items, including gold!

One day in Salisbury - Salisbury Museum

The museum also houses some gorgeous ceramics and local historical objects, including the Salisbury Giant, which has existed in some format since the 1400s (below).

One day in Salisbury - Salisbury Museum

The Museum is open every day and an adult ticket costs £8.

Mompesson House

This 18th Century townhouse – a National Trust Property – was featured in the award-winning film Sense and Sensibility in 1995.

It’s a gorgeous example of English Baroque and has beautiful features, including ornate plasterwork and woodwork. You’ll see some stunning examples of glassware and elegant furniture throughout the building. If you’re visiting in Spring or Summer, you’ll have to visit the (almost) secret garden behind the house where you’ll enjoy the tranquil setting and the beauty of England in bloom.

One day in Salisbury - Mompesson House
Photo courtesy of

Mompesson House is open every day and an adult ticket will cost £6.80, unless you’re a National Trust member like me in which case you’ll go in for free.

Local artists and a spot of lunch at Fisherton Mill

At this point, you’re going to be hungry and in need of a break, so I can recommend heading over to the award-winning Fisherton Mill. It offers good food and artwork by local artists.


For some reason over the last year, I’ve found myself keenly interested in local art – particularly ceramics. So I was pleasantly surprised to walk into Fisherton Mill and find myself facing a gallery of stunning pieces. They have everything from jewellery to homewares from more than 200 artists in the South West. Make sure you leave some time to take a look at what’s on show.


Now, as for food – I can definitely recommend one of their sandwiches, made on their homemade sourdough. Even if they had just given me bread, I would have been pretty satisfied. They also make their own cakes, so make sure you leave room for dessert.

One day in Salisbury - Fisherton Mill

Important note: Fisherton Mill isn’t open on Sundays.

A self-guided treasure hunt

It’s actually much harder than it sounds to just wander the streets of a town. That’s the case for me anyway. However, when given a treasure hunt map and time to explore, you’ll see historic sights you may normally miss if you’re heading from activity to activity.

We were given maps from Treasure Trails (who have a range of options for cities and towns across the UK) and set off on a journey.

One day in Salisbury - Treasure Trail

I just want to say at this point that treasure maps are not just for kids! The Treasure Trails map actually required us to put our thinking caps on and we really did have fun working on the clues (and questioning our IQ levels).

While you can certainly do these activities in any order, I recommend doing this one in the afternoon. The suggested time frame is about one and half hours, but if you like to stop and take photos (or perhaps grab a pint), you may end up taking longer and missing out on tours and museums.

The Treasure Trail map is £6.99 and you can pick yours up at the Salisbury Information Centre which is also the starting point of the trail.

One day in Salisbury - Treasure Trail

One day in Salisbury – Pin for later!

There’s so much to see and do in Salisbury and if you love history and culture it’s a must visit.


Fifi and Hop
Two Traveling Texans

Karis is an Aussie living in Bristol. During the working week, she works in communications, and in her spare time she’s scouring the Internet for cool places to visit and great travel deals, as well as talking about food on her podcast, At the Sauce. She loves good food and history, so her travel itineraries usually reflect this. Places she loves include Vietnam, Japan, France and Spain. Places she can’t wait to get to include Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Poland and Georgia.


  • Clare Thomson

    Poor Salisbury has been having a pretty rough time of it recently, hasn’t it? It’s a city I love because I grew up there. My kids would enjoy doing a treasure trail and although we’ve taken them to the Cathedral and to see the Magna Carta, they’d love to climb up the spire. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

    • Karis Bouher

      I was there in early May and couldn’t believe that barriers were still up. Thankfully most of them have come down now, but I really feel for the local businesses.

  • Usha

    Salisbury Cathedral is so wonderful. And seeing the Magna Carta is so wonderful. I missed the National Trust house. I would love to visit again. #farawayfiles

  • Paul

    This is a great round up of Salisbury, I’ve been once before but obviously didn’t see enough of it. I’m a bit of a sucker for movie locations so I’d definitely want to check out the Sense & Sensibility location! Is it wrong that I’d be more interested in that than the cathedral?? #farawayfiles

  • fifi + hop

    I’ve never been to Salisbury but hear it’s beautiful and I love the idea of doing the Treasure Trails. You’re right, it can be just as much fun for the adults as it is for kids! Thanks for linking up with #farawayfiles

    • Karis Bouher

      It’s a must visit. And there is so much to see in the surrounding Wiltshire area if you do happen to have a spare moment after seeing everything Salisbury has to offer!

  • Tanja

    I’d love to visit it! I was in Bath and Stonehenge but there wasn’t enough time to stop here as well:) #theweeklypostcard

  • Anisa

    I just went to the Salisbury Cathedral in May so I saw the origami art installation which was amazing, but i didn’t have time to do the spire tour. So next time I am in Salisbury I need to do that and also visit the museum. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard

  • MummyTravels

    Salisbury is such a gorgeous city – and last time we visited, we took the Treasure trail, I’m a big fan of those for helping you spot some of the quirky details. We didn’t have chance to do the whole thing – or the Tower, though we did see Magna Carta and do some wandering – so we evidently need a return trip. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

    • Karis Bouher

      Did you make it to Stonehenge and some of the other places? If not, you absolutely must return to tick a few more things off the list 🙂

  • RobRob @TravelLatte(.net)

    So much history! One thing we keep promising ourselves is a long trip to England. Hasn’t happened yet, but when it does, Salisbury is high on the Travel To Do list, with the Cathedral near the top. We hadn’t heard about the Mompesson House, so thanks for the heads up! It looks wonderful. Thanks also for joining us again for #TheWeeklyPostcard!

  • Sara

    I love the treasure hunt maps. I think that would be a great way to explore a city that you couldn’t find a tour of – or if you had limited time to visit! I think the architecture of the Salisbury cathedral looks absolutely lovely. I would enjoy visiting there and seeing the Magna Carta for sure!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: