Wiltshire is perhaps most famous for Stonehenge, which together with Avebury forms a World Heritage Site. Stonehenge is one of the wonders of the world, and still today it's formation is a mystery. Stonehenge was built in stages and the unique lintelled stone circle was erected in the late Neolithic period at around 2500 BC. Avebury is another of Wiltshire's world famous historic attractions and is a stone circle that dates back to prehistoric times.
Another must visit when in Wiltshire is Salisbury Cathedral which was built in the 13th Century and has the tallest spire in Britain. If you want to visit a medieval village head to Lacock with has an Abbey or towns such as Malmesbury and Devizes. Located in Devizes are many fine Georgian houses and also a 19th century castle built on the site of a Norman stronghold.
Wiltshire is also home to many stately homes including Longleat House, an Elizabethan mansion that also has its own safari park. Longleat is a popular attraction and provides a great day out for all! Other stately homes include Wilton House, Lydiard House and the Merchant's House in Marlborough.
Visitors can learn more about the history of Wiltshire at the Wiltshire Heritage Museum and Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum.
Wiltshire is one of the greatest places to walk in the country. There are around 8,200 paths and almost half of the region is classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Discover this magnificent countryside at your own pace. There's a route for everyone and many are safe and traffic free. Walks include The Ridgeway, The Clarendon Way, The Thames Path and Avon Valley Path.
If you want to explore Wiltshire's marvellous countryside at more of a pace, cycling is the way to go. With a 160 mile cycle route there's great access for all whether your an experienced cyclist or with the family. There's plenty of woodland paths and quiet country lanes to satisfy all your needs. Below are links to five cycle routes:
Cycle Route 1 - Avon Valley Explorer (45 km/ 28 miles 5-6 hours Moderate)
Cycle Route 2 - Wylye Valley Explorer (33 km/ 20.5 miles 4-5 hours Moderate)
Cycle Route 3 - Salisbury Plain Explorer (53 km/ 33 miles 6-7 hours Moderate)
Cycle Route 4 - Woodford Valley Circuit (26 km/ 16 miles 3 hrs 30 mins Moderate)
Cycle Route 5 - Wylye Valley and Grovely Ridge (27 km/ 17 miles 4 hours Moderate OR 15 km/ 9.25 miles)
If you enjoy fishing then Wiltshire is the perfect destination for you. There's plenty of opportunities to go fly fishing or coarse fishing in Wiltshire including in one of the 70 lakes at the Cotswold Water Park. The Kennet and Avon Canal is another fantastic place to fish but visitors must contact the Angling Associations or Fishing Clubs first as they have sole rights for fishing there.
Other great places to fish include Brokerswood Country Park or the River Avon with the Manningford Trout Fishery.
Why not discover Wiltshire from above? Wiltshire has many opportunities for skydiving and visitors can join Skydive Netheravon with a tandem parachute jump. Or for those you are an experienced parachutist you can skydive with them at one the UK's best drop zone facilities.
For those who aren't looking for so much of a thrill, you can view Wiltshire's glorious countryside from the air in a balloon. Aerosaurus Balloons take off from the Larmer Tree Gardens, for spectacular views over the Cranborne Chase.
Museums, such as Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum and Wiltshire Museum give visitors an in depth insight into the history and heritage Wiltshire has to offer. At The Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum visitors can discover and learn about Stonehenge, see the recently discovered Amesbury and exhibitions showcasing the medieval Cathedral town of Salisbury.
Visitors to the Wiltshire Heritage Museum can explore the exhibits showcasing artefacts from the prehistoric times of Avebury and Stonehenge as well as one of the greatest Bronze Age collections in the UK. Wiltshire was once a county that thrived in the woollen industry and the Trowbridge Museum offers visitors the chance to explore Wiltshire's industrial past.
A great day out for those interested in train, aviation or cars, Wiltshire has several museums dedicated to them, STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway in Swindon, the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection on the outskirts of Salisbury and the Atwell Wilson Motor Museum in Calne.
Arts & Culture
Wiltshire is a vibrant county and is rich in culture. There's a mixture of larger festivals showcasing international art to independent galleries exhibiting the work of local artists.
Over the course of two weeks every year The Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival takes place. The festival showcases a mixture of world music, theatre, dance, visual arts, classical music and much more. In the past themes of the festival have included China, Russia and Brazil.
Another fabulous festival to visit is the International Street Festival and Carnival in Devizes. The festival takes place over two weeks in the summer and is a vibrant and exciting festival with a confetti battle and carnival parade.
For those visiting who are keen artists or art enthusiasts a must visit is Fisherton Mill, which is home to the largest independent gallery in the South West. There are many artists residing in Fisherton Mill and visitors have a great chance to see the artists in their studios. The artists also have many works on sale including handmade jewellery. Other great venues to visit are the Black Barn Gallery in Kington Langley or the Church Farm Arts Venue.
If you want to see some live music, the Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon has concerts throughout the year. Past acts include the City of London Sinfonia, jazz legend Courtney Pine and famous guitarist John Williams.
(Photo: ©VisitEngland/VisitWiltshire/Chris Lock)