The Best Alternative To Stonehenge That's Just As Amazing But Way Less Tourist Trap-Y

England has several defining monuments, including Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Stonehenge. Located in Southern England in Wiltshire on the Salisbury Plain, Stonehenge is a mysterious stone circle created by ancient peoples 5,000 years ago. Although it is unclear why they built Stonehenge in the first place, more than a million people visit the landmark annually. Despite this, Stonehenge was named one of the biggest tourist traps in the UK in 2023 by Casago, a vacation rental agency. Likewise, reviewers on Tripadvisor say that Stonehenge is underwhelming, crowded, and expensive.

Nevertheless, an underrated destination in England provides a similar experience as Stonehenge: Avebury, home to the Neolithic Avebury henge and stone circles. Like Stonehenge, Avebury is in Wiltshire and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other Neolithic structures exist in the area, including West Kennet Avenue, West Kennet Long Barrow, Windmill Hill, Silbury Hill, and the Sanctuary. However, Avebury henge dates back to 2850 BC and is the main attraction. 

Avebury henge is the largest stone circle in the world, per New Scientist. It features 180 stones, and similar to Stonehenge, its origins are obscure. Experts theorize that Avebury henge was once a ceremonial site. Whatever the case, tourists are encouraged to walk the landmark and explore the rest of the village, which is surrounded by the henge.

Getting the full Avebury henge experience

There is no admission fee to the Avebury henge and stone circles, which are open from dawn to dusk. If you prefer a guided tour, head to the visitor reception in the Old Farmyard at the nearby Alexander Keiller Museum. It offers tours for under $10 and has public bathrooms. Moreover, paid parking is available near the Avebury Henge if you have a rental car. Prices vary, but it costs less than $10 for all-day parking. All that said, you should not leave Avebury without visiting the Alexander Keiller Museum.

Keiller was a Scottish archaeologist who bought and excavated Avebury henge in the 1930s. Avebury henge was deserted in 1800 BC and later defaced; its stones were buried throughout the centuries, and Keiller restored the site as best he could. The museum is partly housed in a 17th-century barn and features objects like skeletal remains and pottery, as well as more found by Keiller during his excavations around Avebury.

Adjacent to the museum is Avebury Manor, Keiller's former residence. The manor dates back to the 16th century and has rooms representing different periods. One room, for example, was designed to look like Keiller's office from the 1930s. In addition, it has a gorgeous garden. Hours for the Alexander Keiller Museum and Avebury Manor vary depending on the day and season and can be viewed online. Admission prices for adults start at $7 at the museum and around $15 for the manor and gardens.

Where to stay to visit the Avebury henge

Avebury is about two hours away from London and is a day trip idea if you stay in the city. Although driving is the fastest way to get to Avebury from London, you can also take a 1-hour Great Railway Train from Paddington station to Swindon, a town in the South West of England. A roundtrip ticket is under $75. Avebury is about 30 minutes from Swindon, and Line 49 of the local Stagecoach bus can take you to and from each destination. The bus fare for a single ride is less than $3.

The small village has a few lodging options for an overnight stay in Avebury. The Dorwyn Manor is a bed-and-breakfast with rooms named after Avebury's Neolithic structures (think the Silbury Room, etc). It offers a classic English breakfast for guests and free wifi and parking. The rooms vary in size, but all are under $200 per night. The Dorwyn Manor is within walking distance of the Avebury henge and stone circles.

However, if you want to stay directly next to the henge in a vintage setting, opt for the Avebury Lodge (pictured). Two of its rooms, including the Ensuite Room, have views of the landmark. Notably, the Avebury Lodge provides guests with a vegetarian or vegan breakfast. Prices for a single occupancy room start at around $250 per night.