I had visited Stratford-Upon-Avon for a day with my parents and brother when I was a kid, but I have to say that I don’t remember much of it apart from seeing Shakespeare’s house from the outside and visiting a teddy bear museum.
Luckily, through a campaign I’m doing with Visit Britain & Visit England, I have the chance to return for almost a full day and soak up the atmosphere of this interesting place. While I unfortunately had to leave before dinner, here are my suggestions on things to see and do while you’re in Stratford-Upon-Avon:
One Day in Stratford-Upon-Avon England
Stratford Town Walk
With over 800 years of history, there are plenty of stories to tell about Stratford-Upon-Avon! The knowledgeable guides from Stratford Town Walk are the perfect place to start getting a sense of place.
Our Guide John was super funny, had very interesting stories and showed us details in every location that you might otherwise have not known about. He even performed a bit of Shakespeare for us at the end of the tour!
This tour runs daily from the Swan Fountain in front of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. You don’t need to book, just pay on arrival, the tour lasts for about 2 hours. Stratford Town Walk also run a Ghost Tour at night… if you dare!
More Information: stratfordtownwalk.co.uk
The Swan fountain in front of the Royal Shakespeare Theater
Here are some of the places John showed us during the walking tour:
1. Shakespeare’s Birthplace
No visit to Stratford-Upon Thames really is complete without a visit to the birth house of William Shakespeare. You can step into the house where Shakespeare grew up and you can see where he worked, played, ate and slept.
More Information: shakespeare.org.uk/visit/shakespeares-birthplace
Handy Tip: With the “Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Two Houses Pass“, you can visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace and any two of the following properties:
- Hall’s Croft
- Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
- Mary Arden’s Farm
- Shakespeare’s New Place
Get the pass in advance from the VisitBritain Shop!
2. Shakespeare’s New Place
New Place is the site of Shakespeare’s last home and the place where he died in 1616. This place reopened in 2016 and features a new exhibition centre with rare and important artefacts relating to Shakespeare’s life, as well as a beautiful garden with commissioned artworks.
More Information: shakespeare.org.uk/visit/shakespeares-new-place
Next door is the King Edward VI School and Guild Chapel where the young Shakespeare used to go.
3. Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall
In this amazing building, you can discover the schoolroom where William Shakespeare was educated from about 1571 to 1578. You’ll follow in William’s footsteps, exploring the classroom where he studied between the ages of 7 and 14. You can watch a short film about the kind of lessons he went to, and try some Tudor homework.
More Information: shakespearesschoolroom.org
Handy Tip: Buy your tickets to the Schoolroom & Guildhall in advance and save 15%! The visit includes entrance fee and the company of a knowledgeable guide with the schoolmaster whilst you are there.
Get the pass in advance from the VisitBritain Shop!
4. Church of the Holy Trinity
Pay a visit to Shakespeare’s Grave and the graves of Anne Hathaway, Dr John Hall and his wife Susanna Shakespeare and Thomas Nash in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church. The church is free to visit, but there is a small fee to get into the section of the graves.
Be aware that the church is not open on Sunday mornings (you can enter after the service, around 12:15) and when funerals are on.
More Information: stratford-upon-avon.org
5. Hall’s Croft
Hall’s Croft was home to Shakespeare’s eldest daughter Susanna and her husband, physician Dr John Hall before they moved to New Place on Shakespeare’s death. The building dates back to 1613 and is an impressive piece of architecture reflecting the Hall’s comparative wealth and status.
Besides walking through the house, you can visit the garden which features many roses and medicinal herbs. The cafe serves locally sourced, home-made food and drinks.
More Information: shakespeare.org.uk/visit/halls-croft
Photo Credit: Pixabay
6. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
This adorable 600-years old cottage was the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway. It’s located a bit out of the old center of Stratford-upon-Avon.
Inside, you can see many rare family items of furniture that date back to Anne’s time, including the finely carved, oak Hathaway bed. The gardens are also beautiful here and you can have a tasty English afternoon tea here as well!
More Information: shakespeare.org.uk/visit/anne-hathaways-cottage
7. Tudor World
This small independent museum is based in an original Tudor property and recreates different areas of Tudor life, interweaved with stories of the building’s rich history and the history of Stratford upon Avon.
More Information: tudorworld.com
Looking for more Tudor experiences? Then you’ll perhaps also like to visit Mary Arden’s Farm, which is a the childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother and sits alongside Palmer’s Farm, a living history experience transporting you back to the 1570’s.
More Information: shakespeare.org.uk/visit/mary-ardens-farm
8. Stratford Butterfly Farm
Opened in 1985, this butterfly farm is housed in a large greenhouse. It’s full of waterfalls, ponds and a wide variety of tropical plants. And of course hundreds of exotic butterflies from all over the world! This Butterfly Farm is the largest attraction of its type in Europe.
More Information: butterflyfarm.co.uk
Photo Credit: Pixabay
09. The MAD Museum
The MAD Museum stands for the Mechanical Art and Design Museum. This is the only specialist attraction of its kind in the UK. You can find the best pieces of Kinetic Art and Automata from pioneering artists from all over the world. Expect marble runs, high-tech robots, witty design and mind-blowing intricate moving contraptions. Perfect for the whole family!
More Information: themadmuseum.co.uk
10. Royal Shakespeare’s Company Theatre
The Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres in Stratford-Upon-Avon re-opened in 2010 after undergoing a major £112.8m renovation known as the ‘Transformation Project’. The renovation included the creation of a 1040+ seat thrust stage auditorium where the actors and audiences are close together. There is no seat further away from the stage than 15 metres (49 ft)!
The project also included the creation of a variety of public spaces, including a new Riverside Cafe and Rooftop Restaurant, a 36-metre (118 ft) observation tower, and improved backstage conditions for the actors and crew.
Next to these theaters, you can find ‘The Other Place’, which is a creative hub for learning, research and development with rehearsal rooms and a 200-seat studio theatre featuring non-Shakespeare related plays.
More Information: rsc.org.uk
When you’re here, don’t miss the fun interactive exhibition ‘The Play’s The Thing’, where you can learn all about the history of Royal Shakespeare Company and even dress up and perform in your own play!
BONUS: Rooftop Terrace at the Royal Shakespeare’s Company Theatre
When you’re in Stratford-Upon-Avon and feeling a bit peckish, I can highly recommend visiting the amazing Rooftop Terrace bar and restaurant in the top of the Royal Shakespeare Theater! It has a funky interior with old posters from all the plays that have performed here and you can order amazing Shakespeare-themed cocktails and beautifully styled food and Afternoon Tea’s.
Don’t forget to enjoy the amazing view as well!
My vegetarian burger with Portobello mushroom, halloumi cheese, tomato & relish on a brioche bun with chips was delicious!
This lemon and vanilla cheese cake with sloe gin poached blackberries was divine!
How to get to Stratford-Upon-Avon from London?
The easiest way to travel to Stratford-upon-Avon from other UK cities is by train. From London, you get on board at the London Marylebone station and take the train that goes via Banbury, Leamington Spa and Warwick.
To save money, it might be worth checking out the following rail passes offered by the VisitBritain Shop:
- BritRail England Pass
- The BritRail England Pass offers unlimited travel on any scheduled train over the whole of England within its period of validity – so it’s never been easier to get around! Please note: this pass is not available to buy in the UK – you have to order before you travel!
- BritRail GB Pass
- This pass is for unlimited train travel throughout England, Scotland and Wales (the whole of Great Britain). Please note: This pass is not available to buy in the UK – you have to order before you travel!
Where can I park in Stratford-Upon-Avon?
There are many car parks close to the center, which cost around £4.00 (up to 4 hours), £6.00 (up to 9 hours), £8.00 (up to 12 hours), £10.00 (up to 24 hours) and £20.00 (up to 72 hours).
They are located at: Bridgeway, Riverside, Swans Nest Lane, Unicorn Meadow and Church Street. More parking for the same rates at Recreation Ground, Arden Street, Windsor Street and the Coach / Lorry Park.
Another option is to go for the Stratford Park and Ride, which costs £1.00 for a day (after 9AM). Then you pay £2.00 for a day return on the bus, which leaves every 10-15 minutes from this parking direct to Stratford town centre. Read more here or here.
How to get around Stratford-Upon-Avon?
The city center is really compact, so walking everywhere is totally possible, even if you’re just visiting for one day. The most important streets are: Henley Street (Shakespeare’s Birthplace), Bridge Street, Wood Street (with the oldest shop in town: George Pragnell), High Street, Sheep Street (Town Hall), Meer Street (Designer Shops), Rother Street and Canal Basis (Boat Tours and Riverside Gardens).
Other options are to go on an open-top sightseeing bus, take a nice river boat cruise or hire a bike. More information here.
Don’t forget to book the following tickets in advance to save on money:
What events are on in Stratford-Upon-Avon?
Have a look at: visitstratforduponavon.co.uk/events-and-festivals
What walks should I do in Stratford-Upon-Avon?
There are many great walks you can do, but if you download the following brochure, you’ll find a River Walking Route and a Historic Walking route around town:
Other handy products and passes for planning your trip in and around Stratford-Upon-Avon:
- Mobile Wi-Fi – Wireless Internet in Britain with TEP
- This Pocket Mobile Wi-Fi service provides you with wireless internet access during your travel in the UK. With it you will have your own personal Wifi hotspot and the freedom to access mobile internet wherever you want. Includes unlimited data, powered by the UK’s largest mobile internet 3G network.
- National Trust Touring Pass
- With access to unique historic houses, castles and gardens, the National Trust Touring Pass offers overseas visitors to the UK a fascinating first-hand look at Britain’s famous historical sites.
- English Heritage Overseas Visitor Pass
- Castles, abbeys, Roman ruins and prehistoric monuments; an English Heritage Pass entitles unlimited access to more than 100 of the most important places in English history, plus entry to special events. Visit only three of the possibilities and the pass will pay for itself! NOTE: This product is not available to UK residents. A specific English Heritage membership scheme exists for UK residents.
For all locations mentioned in this article, check our map to plan your trip:
Of course, we only scratched the surface of things to do in Stratford-Upon-Avon with our article. So we recommend reading these great articles by our fellow travel bloggers for some more great tips!
- Stratford, The Cotswolds and Bicester Village with England Experience – The Little Backpacker
- Lady’s Lovely Stratford-upon-Avon Video – A Lady in London
- Lady’s Weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon – A Lady in London
- How to Have a Classic Day Trip to Stratford-upon-Avon – Travel on the Brain
- Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare on a summer’s day – The Quirky Traveller
- Stratford-upon-Avon: Visiting Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Grave – The Everywhereist
- Stratford Upon Avon: A fleeting visit to Shakespeare – Rexy Edventures
- The Saturday City: Stratford Upon Avon – Nomadic Matt
- Stratford-Upon-Avon – Rhyme & Ribbons
Looking for more great adventures around the United Kingdom? Check out this site: www.visitbritain.com/jointheworld
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Disclaimer: This post was brought to you as a result of the #lovegreatbritain campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with Visit Britain and Visit England. All photos (unless where mentioned otherwise) and opinions are my own.
This post is also available in: Dutch