Somebody asked me before our trip, What do you want to see in UK?” Without thinking, I immediately blurted “The Stonehenge.” Then he sarcastically said, “Really? But those are just stones.”
Well, indeed that was true, they are just stones, but there’s more to that which made me want to see it. A visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as to the City of Bath, was on top of our priority list when we were doing our UK itinerary. As much as I wanted to do this trip on our own, we ended up going on a tour due to some factors such as the cost, effort and travel time. Plus most of our friends who’ve been there advised us that it is more efficient to join a tour.
We booked our trip with Golden Tours UK. This Company offers various tours within and outside London, and they were the cheapest when I compared their packages with the other tour agencies. Every tour comes with a free subway meal (cheese and veggies sandwich, chips, a cookie and water) and a free hotel pick up (check if your hotel is included on their list, if not, you can go to the nearest listed hotel within your area).
The tour started around 8:45 am at Golden Tours Visitor Center. It was a big group, more than 30 persons I guess. The bus was able to accommodate us all, it was equipped with wifi, toilet and the seats were super comfy. While on our way to the City of Bath, our tour guide named Jojo, made an introduction on our itinerary for the day and the places that we will visit. He also gave us a lot of funny and useful information about London, the Queen and some of the places we passed by.
It was almost 11 am when we arrived at the City of Bath. We were first given enough time to eat our snacks and wander around. Then, a short and informative walking tour was done around the city, until we approached the Roman Baths. Once inside, we were on our own and given 2.5 hours to roam around.
Left: The Royal Crescent Apartment was our view when we were having our snacks. Right: Entrance to the Roman Baths.
The Roman Baths is one of the best well-preserved Roman remains in the world. During the ancient times, people come to this place to bath, relax and socialize; but at present time, it is considered as one of the most visited tourist sites in UK. There were different divisions to walk through once inside the Roman Baths. See the pictures and descriptions below:
Terrace – This is the first site that you will see upon your entrance. It is lined with Victorian statues of Roman Emperors and governors of Britain. Once you look down, you will already catch a glimpse of the Great Bath.
Museum: This houses some of the bath and temple models, as well as some Roman artifacts found all over this place. Above are some of the items we saw inside. Click on each photo to enlarge and to know more about it.
The Spring Overflow and the Sacred Pool.
The Great Bath – a big pool filled with hot spring water. Visitors nowadays are not allowed to dip or even touch the water, as it is considered unsafe and contaminated, since it still flows on its original lead pipe.
Some of the rooms and pools at the side of the Great Bath.
Spa Water Fountain – At the end of your visit, you can try to drink hot spa water which contains 43 minerals. I’ve tried it and it tasted like rust.
After this, we drove for another hour to reach our next destination, which was the Stonehenge. If you are also planning to visit this place, I would strongly suggest that you check out first the Visitor Center. There are exhibitions, audio visual room and replicas of Neolithic Houses, which will be a great introduction on your visit to the actual site. There are also volunteers within the area that you can ask if you have some questions. Once done, you will have to decide whether to ride another bus (less than 5 minutes) or walk your way (around 20 minutes) going to the actual location of the Stonehenge. We chose to do the former as the weather was hot that time and the sun was burning our skin.
The bus, one of the Neolithic Houses replica (believed to be the dwellings of those people who built the Stonehenge) and sarsen stone (stones used in building the Stonehenge, you can actually try to pull this stone if you can).
The Stonehenge is one of the famous landmarks in UK. Researchers and visitors of this place have different interpretations or theories on why this was built. Some says it’s a Burial Site, some claims that it’s a place for Astronomical Alignments, while others believe that it is a Healing Site. I guess whatever you want to think of it is fine, because that’s the mystery of this place, only the people during the Neolithic era knew what is this for.
Photos of Stonehenge from different perspectives.
We spent almost 2 hours wandering around Stonehenge. Then, we drove back and reached London around 8:00 pm. Good thing it was summer that time, so the sun sets around 9 – 9:30 pm, which means we can still go to other places in London.
It was a very informative tour, a memorable experience and a fulfilling trip. Whether you choose to do this trip on your own or join a tour, these are the places that you should not miss when visiting UK.
If you have already visited these sites, let me know your experience by commenting down below, or if you haven’t, let me know why you wanted to see them.
What you Need to Know:
- Our tour costs GBP 72 per person. It already includes entrance fees, use of audioguides (very helpful), snacks, hotel pick up, transportation and services of tour guide. Each tour that you purchase would also entitle you to join one of their free tours such as The Royal Walking Tour or The Beatles London Walking Tour.
- For more information about Golden Tours UK, you may visit this website.
- Before your tour, make sure to check out the websites of Roman Baths and Stonehenge, so you will know what to expect.
- When joining a tour, always respect other tourist who are with you, so always be on time and make sure to listen to the instructions of your tour guide.
- If you’re planning to go on a day tour outside London, choose something that will let you visit few places so you will appreciate it more and you won’t feel rushed. There are some tours that offer a visit to 4 or 5 places, but you will only be given a few time to spend at each destination.
P.S.: This tour company has a good customer service. Due to conflict on our itinerary schedule, we requested our tour date to be moved to another day. We were happy that they were quick to respond to our email and they were very prompt to arrange our request. Two thumbs up for that guys.
Credits to Wikipedia, Romans Baths and Stonehenge official site for some information, particularly on the artifacts.