Destinations,  Europe,  United Kingdom

Visiting Hadrian’s Wall | Solo travel in England

Hadrian’s Wall is an ancient stone defensive fortification created by Romans in Northern England. It was built in AD 122 to keep the Picts out, basically, and runs the whole width of that part of England. (Read more about the history of the Wall here.) Nowadays it’s a major tourist destination and an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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If you’re traveling through England up to Scotland (or the reverse), it’s worth it to stop a few days and explore the Wall area, especially if you’re a hiker or enjoy learning about ancient history. As for timing, I’d say do a full day’s tour of the wall and spend another half day to explore Newcastle itself. If you plan to hike the whole wall trail (84 mile or 135 km), you’ll need at least a week.

For my trip in 2022, I did a short visit, staying in Newcastle and then doing a day trip out to the Wall. If/when I go back, I’ll be sure to do at least TWO days at the Wall, so I can maybe visit a fort as well as do some hiking. On this trip, I only did a bit of hiking, really.

Self-guided tour or group tour?

Hadrian’s Wall is very easy to see as a solo traveler on an independent tour, but there ARE some group tours available if that’s what you prefer.

Hadrian’s Wall group tours tend to start from Edinburgh, so it can be a good day trip option if you have the time. They cost about $100-150 per person for a small group tour which includes a travel guide, transportation to/from Edinburgh to the Wall, and admission to one of the Roman forts (Vindolanda or Birdoswald Fort).

A three day self-guided tour will cost something like $75 for three nights’ accommodation, $25 for a 3 day bus pass, and roughly $30 for entrance fees to a few forts and museums. While it overall costs more than the day trip group tour package, you get to spend a lot more time exploring Newcastle and walking along the Wall itself.

I did the self-guided tour option, so that’s what this post will mostly be about. 😉

My experience at Hadrian’s Wall

I stayed in Newcastle for a few days and did a day trip out to the actual Wall itself. It took about 2 hours to get to the part I wanted to hike from Newcastle, and I spent all day wandering around looking at stuff. It wasn’t crowded at all, and there were wonderful views of the countryside, the Wall, and some cows.

If I were doing it again, I’d do at least two days at the Wall so I could do some hiking AND stop at some of the Roman forts/museums. That said, it was well worth stopping and visiting the Wall, and I highly recommend hiking at least a short part of the Path if you can. It’s SO pretty out there!

Secret money-saving tip!

Psst– BEFORE you leave your home country, sign up for a membership with the English Heritage Trust. It costs £72 for a year or £6 monthly, and gives you FREE entry to over 400 historic sites in the UK, INCLUDING the ones along Hadrian’s Wall. You have to join when you’re at home because they send you a physical card in the mail (like it’s the stone age) and you’ll need that card to get into the sites. If you’re planning a long trip to the United Kingdom and want to visit historic sites, it’s well worth getting the membership card to save on entrance fees.

They also have an Overseas Visitors Pass for 9-16 days, valid for 100 historic sites. You an book it online and collect it from any staffed site, so if you’re already on the road and plan to REALLY cram in a bunch of visits, this might be a good option. A 9 day pass costs £47 and a 16 day pass costs £56 for one individual person.

Hadrian’s Wall Accommodation

Book your accommodation as early as possible, ESPECIALLY if you’re traveling in the summer. rooms book up fast and you may miss out on good deals if you wait too long.


This is where I stayed! If you visit during summer months, you can snag a student dorm room for a good price. I paid about $25 USD/night when I stayed there in 2022. Student dorms often include ensuite bathrooms and sometimes kitchenettes, and they’re much cheaper than regular hotels or even private hostel rooms.

Newcastle itself is a somewhat industrial area still, but it has a charming downtown and a nice growing artsy scene in several neighborhoods. My dorm suite was located just next to the famous Ouseburn neighborhood, where you can visit the Victoria Tunnel on a tour (worth it!).

The downside is that Newcastle is quite far from Hadrian’s Wall itself, necessitating transiting into Hexham first to catch the Hadrian’s Wall bus. This adds an extra 1-2 hours transit time.

Hexham & Nearby

If you only want to visit the Wall and the Roman museums, then staying in Hexham or nearby is a good idea. Or there’s always the option of staying somewhere along the AD122 bus route, which’ll make sightseeing much easier.

Tip about booking hostels in the UK: Many of them can’t be booked online, so you have to call for a reservation. This is very annoying, but I suppose it’s one way they keep costs down. Check websites like for a directory of available hostels/B&Bs and get their contact info.

Also, they book up FAST. Book as soon as you know the dates you’re going to be there.

  • Newbrough Bunkhouse has female dorms as well as mixed. Its about 20 minutes from Hexham, and you can catch the 687 Tynedale Links bus to connect to the AD122 bus at the Hexham bus station. Single rate is £26pp for a dorm bed, with bedding and towel included.
  • Greenhead Hostel is technically within walkable distance to Walltown Quarry Country Park (about 1.1 miles), or you can pick up the AD122 bus at the Village Hall stop which is right across the street. Rates are £24pp for a dorm bed or £60 for a private double room.
  • Slack House Farm is just off the 681 Tynedale Links bus route, which can connect to the AD122 bus route. You can also walk 0.6 miles to the Birdoswald Roman Fort if you’d like. Rates are £35pp for a dorm bed and includes continental breakfast, bedding and towels.

Getting to Hadrian’s Wall

No worries if you don’t want to drive, it’s quite easy to tour the Wall it yourself using public transit and a guidebook.

Hadrian’s Wall Bus AD122

The AD122 bus, very comfortable and modern.

The AD122 Hadrian’s Wall Country Bus is a great way to see the wall and surrounding areas. A day pass costs £12.50 while a three day pass costs £25. It runs every day, all year round, and the ticket includes a 10% discount on entry fees to Vindolanda, Roman Army Museum, Housesteads, Chesters and Birdoswald.

The bus route starts at Hexham and ends at Haltwhistle, and stops at the following Wall attractions: Chesters Roman Fort; Roman Army Museum, Walltown; Vindolanda; Houseteads; The Sill; Walltown Crags; Birdoswald Roman Fort.

It also stops at several hotels along the way, including: Wall Village Hadrian Hotel, Chollerford George Hotel, Milecastle Inn, Herding Hill Farm Campsite, Greenhead Hotel/Hostel.

The first bus leaves Hexham Bus Station towards Haltwhistle at 08:35am and the last bus leaves Walltown Quarry Car Park back towards Hexham at 5:47 pm. It takes about an hour to get from Hexham to Walltown Quarry. I suggest getting the three day pass because you really only have time to visit one or two spots along the line if you plan to take your time and explore the area.

If you only want to visit the Wall itself and don’t want to stop at any of the museums, then you can get on the AD122 bus and go straight to Walltown Quarry Visitors Center from Hexham and just pay the direct fare. This should only cost about £2 one way, so £4 for a return ticket to Hexham.

Public Bus

Some of the coverage for the Northumberland Day Rover pass.

Northumberland Day Rover one day pass can be used for the AD122 bus AND all operators’ local bus services in Northumberland for £5.00. Here’s a quote from the Go North East website:

These tickets allow travel on Go North East services in West Northumberland and Tynedale, including Prudhoe, Hexham, Haltwhistle, Alston, Allendale and Bellingham. These tickets can also be used on the 10 to the Metrocentre and Newcastle, and on the 74, 684 and X85 to Newcastle. The Northumberland Day Rover is valid on all operators’ local bus services in Northumberland, and can also be used to visit Hadrian’s Wall on our AD122 service.

So presumably you’d be able to buy a day pass and use it to explore parts of the Wall, for about half the price of the AD122 day pass. However, note that some bus routes don’t run on Sundays, or during certain times of the year, and some routes have very sparse timings. Be sure to check your routes on Google Maps first to make sure it’s running for the dates you want.


The Hadrian’s Wall National Trail starts in Wallsend and ends in Bowness-on-Solway for a total distance of 84 mile (135 km). You can walk all of it, or just a tiny part as I did.

Here are three short circular walks starting from different points along the Wall. You can take the bus to the start these walks if you’d like.

Between Easter and the end of October, you can get a Hadrian’s Wall passport and stamp it at different locations along the trail. Great fun for us stamp enthusiasts!

Hadrian’s Wall Walking Guides

Hadrian’s Wall Tourism Resources

Here’s some more info for visiting Hadrian’s Wall and nearby areas:

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Anastasia is a former librarian turned digital nomad. She's been traveling the world full time for two years and has visited 18 countries so far! Just Gone Wandering is a travel resource for solo female travelers on a backpacker's budget-- or slightly more-- and highlights amazing places to visit as well as providing tips and tricks for traveling smart and frugal. Read more...

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