Have you been to Salisbury lately?
Heritage meets contemporary cool in Wiltshire's only city - read on for our guide to the best bars, restaurants, things to do as well as under-the-radar highlights.
Did you know Salisbury has been upping its cool creds of late? A tad arty, off-beat and with culture by the bucketload there are a cluster of indie places to shop, eat and drink but not so much that you’ll bust a tourist gut which makes it the perfect destination for a weekender staycation or day trip, don’t you think? Right on cue, our bang-up-to-date insider guide to the city.
For a small city, Salisbury punches well above its weight when it comes to its quirky independent foodie scene. First up, Nole Pizza serves up sourdough pizza to die for, either in town On The Square or out at The Pembroke Arms at Wilton. Fresh ingredients, inventive toppings, expert dough and friendly staff. When pizza’s this good it’s hard to beat.
The new cool kid in town is Wilding. Focus is on the wine, (there are over 45 to choose from by the glass or 350 bottle available to buy from the shop) with sharing boards, small plates, burgers and pizzas to soak it up in a stylish interior.
Anokaa on Fisherton Street is the place for a less run-of-the-mill Indian. Its street food-style twice cooked beef vindaloo curry, chardonnay soaked crispy duck breast and Persian spice rub and oven roasted Gooshargh’s organic black leg chicken breast (try saying that after a couple of Tiger beers) will sort you out.
Mexican Tinga is a hit with locals and visitors alike – its crazy-colourful interior screams Friday night tequilas & quesadillas.
And finally, a nod goes to the Old Ale and Coffee House for its Sunday roasts, plus there are some pretty cool beach huts out back – perfect for losing a summer afternoon.
Come evening (or lunch? Depends on how you roll, I guess), Craft Bar at The Salisbury Arms offers plenty of craft beer and cider (obvs), but also top cocktails, a cool street food kitchen and welcoming vibe. It’s an independent, young family business, which we always like to hear, and the gourmet burger and cheesemary (rosemary and cheesy) fries are legendary. Need to lend a sense of occasion to proceedings? Caboose is a frankly bonkers twenties-inspired bar to get your Gatsby on with a delightfully over-the-top interior and cocktails to match. Their luxe cream teas look splendid too.
For heritage and history with the added cool factor, check out micropub Haunch of Venison – it’s the oldest hostelry in Salisbury (and certainly the most haunted). Look out for the former bread oven with a smoke preserved mummified hand inside (no joke – an 18th century whist player lost it in a card game while cheating) and a Horsebox bar with rare gravity-fed spirit taps used by Churchill and Eisenhower during the planning of D-Day landings in 1944.
Salisbury has a thriving café scene including The Yard, a shop and gallery as well as tea rooms – think mismatched furniture in a renovated warehouse; Muddy 2021 Award winner The Cafe at Fisherton Mill (it also won the Observer Food Mag Best Cheap Eats, so it’s not just us); Boston Tea Party nestled in beautiful Grade 1 listed The Old George Inn which once boasted the likes of William Shakespeare, Oliver Cromwell and Samuel Pepys amongst its guests. Be sure to check out the expert coffee art of resident barista Alex, see him on insta @coffee.by.alex.
The Old Mill Hotel is brimming with history, set in a 15th century building with features dating back to 1250, and views of the Harnham Hills, River Nadder and pretty riverside garden from the 11 ensuite rooms. You’re also just a 10 minute stroll through the beautiful Harnham Meadows to the city centre. Elsewhere, in Wilton, there’s The Pembroke Arms (a Muddy Awards Boutique Stay Finalist, no less) where trad pub meets Soho House cool in its nine individually designed rooms.
Salisbury is small so a walk around the centre is easily do-able in a day. Wander around at your own pace or if you fancy a history lesson, the Salisbury City walk is a goodie heading past the Cathedral (the home of one of four original surviving copies of Magna Carta) as well as the world famous Doom painting and the store where the Duke of Buckingham’s ghost haunts the Blue Boar Inn.
When your feet have had enough, Salisbury Punting will take you out on the water to escape the busy pavements and see the city as you never could on foot.
Fancy something spooky? Get the chills on Friday evenings with Salisbury Ghost Tours; there seems to be no shortage of gruesome material in this City’s past.
There are some cracking indie treasures tucked away if you know where to look, including OSO Boutique (another Muddy Award-winner!) on the High Street, with a beautifully curated collection of stylish and affordable jewellery, clothing and accessories. Dinghams Cookshop is worth a snoop too, as is florist Paloma Lily for the best blooms in town, and some lustworthy take-home goodies. We’re also loving Casa Fina for its creative mix of vintage and new homeware and gifts.
Treasure Trails is a great way for kids to see Salisbury – they offer a murder mystery-themed walking trail around the city which’ll keep them busy for an hour or two – or rent bikes from Hayballs and explore the flat traffic-free trails around town. Then there’s Splash of Colour in Fisherton Street, where you can put your feet up with a flat white whilst the kids get creative with pottery.
For the arts we love Wiltshire Creative (a collective formed by Salisbury Arts Centre, Salisbury International Arts Festival and Salisbury Playhouse) for its mix of art and performance, from experiential al fresco shows (often FREE), to big-hitter, high-quality theatre. Or for heritage, Stonehenge is also just a 20 minute drive out of the city.
The City is doing us proud right now with the Fayre on the Square throughout August. The Salisbury City Garden Pop-up Bar, bookable mini golf and street food stalls all on the daily for your entertainment. The Lost Cinema are screening under the stars in the cathedral grounds over the August Bank Holiday.
Head to the edge of the city (walkable in an hour) and you’ll find this pretty market town which has become a hub of cool happenings; The Guild with its indie shop and cafes, including Herbs & Wild and Hole & Corner workshops; Bird & Carter farm shop – perfect if you fancy a picnic; Ted Heath’s lovely old gaff Arundell’s is open to the public; The Pembroke Arms and Paloma Lily Florist; Stately home Wilton House with its stunning grounds, impressive art collection and adventure playground (an afternoon out in itself).
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