Home Destinations 16 Lovely Things to Do in Stratford-upon-Avon: A Detailed Guide to Shakespeare’s Birthplace

16 Lovely Things to Do in Stratford-upon-Avon: A Detailed Guide to Shakespeare’s Birthplace

by Michele
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Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Anne Hathaways Cottage Michele 2
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To see and what not to see…that is the question! Here are the best things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon, how to get there, where to stay, and where to eat in Shakespeare’s adorable hometown.

Some trips push your body to the limits, others leave in you awe of nature’s beauty, while others teach you so much that you stay on a constant high even a week after returning.  Visiting Stratford-upon-Avon was one the latter. I learned so much in Shakespeare’s hometown including Tudor daily life, historical events, and about the English language, including the origins of many common expressions we still use today. My brain is buzzing with incredible knowledge and my heart is full of newfound appreciation for William Shakespeare and how much he contributed to the English language. There are plenty of things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon. So, to see, and what not to see? That is the question…

This is the most comprehensive guide to visiting Stratford-upon-Avon with only the best things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon. If you still questions, please ask in the comment section at the bottom of this page and I’ll get back to you.

In the meantime…Pray you, follow. (That’s Shakespeare talk for, ‘come with me’)

A brief history of Stratford-upon-Avon

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Stratfords Historic Spine Chapel StreetWelcometh to Stratf’rd-upon-Avon a medieval market town located in the county of Warwickshire some 100 miles northwest of London along the river Avon. Stratford-upon-Avon is most famously known for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, the renowned English poet and playwright who was also an actor.  But more on that later.

Stratford-upon-Avon, locally referred to as just Stratford, was founded by the Anglo-Saxons when they invaded present-day Warwickshire back in the 7th century AD. It remained a village until in 1196 Stratford was granted a charter from King Richard I to hold a weekly market in the town. Yes, you had to ask for permission! This gave Stratford-upon-Avon a new status as a market town which prompted the increase in trade and commerce as well as urban expansion.

Origins of Name: Stratford-upon-Avon

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - River Avon CruiseStratford-upon-Avon’s hyphenated name sound and look quite unusual but it’s a fairly common structure for place names in England which are situated on a river. For example, there is also Staines-upon-Thames and Stoke-upon-Trent.

In the case of Stratford-upon-Avon, the word ‘Stratford’ is made up of Celtic and Saxon words.

The word ‘strat’ come from the Old English strǣt (from Latin stratum), meaning ‘street’ and ‘ford’, indicates a shallow part of a river or stream, allowing it to be crossed by walking or driving. Finally, ‘avon’ is the Celtic word for river. So literally, Stratford-upon-Avon means ‘street to the ford on the river.’

As the birthplace of Shakespeare, there are plenty of things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Watch my vlog on the best things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon

So, to see, and what not to see? That is the question…

Map of the 16 lovely things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon

Want to know where you’ll be going? Take a look at the detailed map below.

Tip: For a larger view of the map, click on the icon in the top right corner. 

Click on this interactive map and see where this itinerary will take you. I’ve created this map using Google Maps which you can save and use as you visit Stratford-upon-Avon. The coloured pins represent different pockets of the town to explore. Click on any pin for more information.

Things to do – Yellow pins
Where to eat – Pink pins
Where to stay – Green pins

1. Visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespeare Birthplace Garden Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespeare Birthplace FrontWhat makes Stratford-upon-Avon so wonderful is that you can literally experience each stage of Shakespeare’s life, from visiting where he was born, educated, lived, to his final resting place. I highly recommend exploring Shakespeare’s hometown tracing his life events in chronological order. This will help you paint a picture of his life and build a deeper understanding about his life, work and times. With that in mind, the best place to visit first is Shakespeare’s Birthplace.

Located in the town centre on Henley St., William Shakespeare was born by the fireplace in this house on April 23, 1564. That year, Stratford-upon-Avon lost 15% of its population due to an outbreak of the bubonic plague. Many victims were young children who didn’t yet have strong immune systems.

William’s parents, John Shakespeare and Mary Aarden, had already lost two baby girls before William was born so it’s probable that Mary played it safe by taking William out to her parent’s farm in the countryside at Wilmcote where he would be safer. Thank God she did! This is probably the reason why Shakespeare survived.

Complete with 16th-century furniture, Shakespeare’s Birthplace is a beautiful and fascinating building to visit. You’ll see where William spent his childhood, had his meals, the bed he shared with his younger brothers, and his father’s workshop where he ran his business as a glover and wool-dealing activities that supported his family.

Actors bring Shakespeare’s Birthplace to life as they explain the ins and out of Tudor life and the fascinating origins of some common English expressions. Ever wondered why we say ‘hit the hay’ or ‘sleep tight’, before going to bed? Well, back then your mattress was made up of hay, horse hair and other sorts of stuffing which would move around during the night forming lumps. So, before going to bed you would literally ‘hit the hay’ with a wooden stick to even it out. This mattress was supported and held in place by a rope wound through the bed frame. Overtime this rope would loosen and needed tightening, which gives us the expression ‘sleep tight.’ Pretty interesting, right?

Want to learn the origins of other common English expressions? Check out my post here.

Outside is a beautiful large garden which wouldn’t once been used to grow vegetables, fruit, and herbs. There would’ve also been outbuildings for storing animal skins, and a barn and stable for a horse. Today, the garden hosts live performances of Shakespeare’s works which you can enjoy as part of your visit.

The birthplace house remained in the ownership of Shakespeare’s descendants until 1670 when his granddaughter Elizabeth died. Since she didn’t have any children, Elizabeth left the estate to her relative Thomas Hart. Shakespeare’s great nephew.

Tips for visiting Shakespeare’s Birthplace

Admission prices

Shakespeare’s Birthplace is one of several locations owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which was established in 1847 to preserve, protect, and promote five Tudor houses linked to Shakespeare’s life. I recommend buying ‘The Full Story’ ticket which will not only save you money but will give you access to all five locations which you can visit as many times as you like over a 12-month period.

The Full Story ticket costs Adult: £22.50 / Child: £14.50 / Concession: £21.00. Compare that with a single ticket to Shakespeare’s Birthplace which costs Adult: £17.50, Child: £11.50, and Concession: £16.50. Save time, skip the queue and book your tickets online.

Address: Henley St, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6QW, UK

Opening times 2019:

  • 1 January – 31 March: 10am-4pm
  • 1 April – 27 October: 9am-5pm
  • The closing times listed are last entry, the house closes 30 minutes after last entry.

2. Learn Latin in Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespeare Guildhall Schoolroom FormsThis is where all the magic happened. Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall also known as King Edward VI Grammar School, is where William Shakespeare learned Latin, Greek, rhetoric, and studied the Classics. Shakespeare’s favourite poet was Ovid, a Roman who wrote Metamorphoses in 8 AD, his work greatly influenced Shakespeare’s writing later in life.

The class contained up to 65 students ranging from 7-15 years of age (only boys went to school),  and began at 6 am finished at 5 pm. Students didn’t sit at desks, (these weren’t invented yet,) but on ‘forms’ a long wooden bench. On each form sat up to 8 students, each year they would move to the next form. This is how we get the term Form 1, Form 2 etc instead of Grade 1, Grade 2, an expression my parents still use today! There was a lot of emphasis on reading and reciting which trained the memory. This is where we get the expression, ‘to learn by heart.’

It is very probable that Shakespeare also witnessed professional actors here too.  In 1568, when Shakespeare was five years old his father became Bailiff (Mayor) of Stratford Borough Council. Later he became an Alderman who was in charge of vetting performances by touring players in the Guildhall to ensure they were appropriate for public presentation.

Mayor of Stratford-upon-Avon, Cllr John Bicknell 2019

Mayor of Stratford-upon-Avon, Cllr John Bicknell 2019

Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall provides a wonderful interactive experience. Upon arrival, you’ll watch a short film about the Schoolroom and Guildhall before heading up to the top floor for a Latin class with a Tudor schoolmaster. Afterwards, you’ll get a chance to practice your calligraphy with a quill and ink and marvel at a medieval wall painting.

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespeare Guildhall Schoolroom Desks Vertical Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespeare Guildhall Schoolroom Quill LatinTips for visiting Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall

Admission prices

Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall isn’t part of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (as much as it should be), so tickets will need to be purchased separately.  Tickets cost Adult: £7.65 / Child: £5.50 / Concession: £6.50. To save 10%, by booking online via the Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall website.

Address: Church St, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6HB, UK

Opening times 2019:

  • Open every day 11am – 5pm.
  • Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

3. See Shakespeare’s Will at Shakespeare’s New Place

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespeare New Place Garden ViewWhen he was eighteen, William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, who was twenty-six. It was a rushed marriage because Anne was already several months pregnant at the time of the ceremony. Together they had three children. Their first daughter, Susanna, was born six months after the wedding and was later followed by twins Hamnet and Judith. Sadly, Hamnet died when he was just 11 years old. During this time, Shakespeare would have lived with his family in their house on Henley Street.

By 1592, Shakespeare had become an established player and playwright in London and author of several plays. Five years later at the age of 33, Shakespeare had earned enough money to buy his first and only property for his wife Anne Hathaway and family to live in. Known as Shakespeare’s New Place, Shakespeare lived here from 1597 until he died in 1616.

‘New Place’, or ‘the Great House’ cost £120 (the average yearly salary of a schoolmaster was £20) and was built in the 1480s by Hugh Clopton, a prominent figure in Stratford-upon-Avon and Lord Mayor of London.

At the time, the house was the largest and most expensive house in town. Located next to Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall, Shakespeare would’ve passed it every day and probably dreamed of owning it someday.

Sadly, the original house was destroyed but from extensive archaeological digs we know it had 20-30 rooms and in the property deeds, it mentioned two gardens and two orchards. In addition, John Leland (a librarian to Henry VII) described it as being ‘a pretty house of brick and timber’.

Highlights of visiting Shakespeare’s New Place includes wandering around the extensive gardens decorated with Shakespeare-inspired sculptures by America artist Greg Wyatt and

seeing a copy of Shakespeare’s will where he famously leaves his “second best bed with the furniture” to his wife. The term ‘furniture’ refers to the curtains and bedcover. It might sound strange but in Shakespeare’s time, a bed was an expensive and luxurious item, generally regarded as a valuable heirloom to be passed down the generations rather than given to a surviving spouse.

Tips for visiting Shakespeare’s New Place

Admission prices

Shakespeare’s New Place is included in  ‘The Full Story’ ticket. Alternatively, single tickets cost  Adult: £12.50, Child: £8.00, and Concession: £11.50. Save time, skip the queue and book your tickets online.

Address: 22 Chapel St, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6EP, UK

Opening times 2019:

  • 1 January – 31 March: 10am-4pm
  • 1 April – 27 October: 10am-5pm
  • The closing times listed are last entry, the house closes 30 minutes after last entry.

4. Visit Hall’s Croft: Shakespeare’s Daughter’s Home

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Halls Croft ExteriorThe eldest of Shakespeare’s children was Susanna. In 1607, she married Dr. John Hall and lived in Hall’s Croft a beautifully furnished Jacobean home. Hall’s Croft is a short walk from Shakespeare’s New Place, which Susanna later inherited and moved into after Shakespeare’s death.

Dr. John Hall was a wealthy and compassionate physician who treated both rich and poor, Catholic and Protestant. After his death, Dr. John Hall’s case notes were published and became a popular textbook for other doctors for many years. Inside the house is an exhibition about Dr. John Hall’s career and the strange medical practices of the period.

Dr. John Hall based his treatments on plants, herbs, animal extracts, gemstones, and rocks. Many of these ingredients are planted in a large garden at Hall’s Croft.

Tips for visiting Hall’s Croft

Admission prices

Hall’s Croft is included in  ‘The Full Story’ ticket. Alternatively, single tickets cost Adult: £8.50, Child: £5.00, and Concession: £8.00. Save time, skip the queue and book your tickets online.

Address: Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6BG, UK

Opening times 2019:

  • 1 January – 31 March: 10am-4pm
  • 1 April – 27 October: 10am-5pm
  • The closing times listed are last entry, the house closes 30 minutes after last entry.

5. Pay respects to Shakespeare at Holy Trinity Church

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Holy Trinity Church tombstonesHoly Trinity Church is where William Shakespeare was baptised, where he worshipped and is his final resting place alongside his wife and other close relatives. In the olden day’s, date and birth and death weren’t recorded, only the day of baptism and burial. Documents show that Shakespeare was buried on 25th April 1616. As was custom at the time, he would’ve been buried two days after his death, meaning Shakespeare likely died 23rd April 1616 – his 52nd birthday.

In those days, grave robbers we common, for fear of having his grave dug up Shakespeare placed a cursed on this grave as a deterrent. His epitaph reads:

Good friend for Jesus’ sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here:
Blest be the man that spares these stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones.

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespeares GraveAbove his grave on the wall is a statue of Shakespeare holding a quill. Each year, the head student Shakespeare’s old school, King Edward VI Grammar School replaces the quill marking the start of Shakespeare’s annual birthday celebrations. Also, note the family coat of arms, it may look like a quill but it’s, in fact, a spear, representing the family name. Different versions of the Shakespeare coat of arms can also be found at the front of Shakespeare’s Birthplace and above the entrance to Shakespeare’s New Place.

Shakespeare wasn’t buried up front and centre up at the foot of the chancel steps because he was an important man or famous, but because he paid for the privilege. Yup, that’s right, before you died you would visit the church, chose a stone under which to be buried and agree on a price for the privilege. In those days, you weren’t buried six-feet under in a coffin, but a couple of feet under and covered in a shroud. After a couple of days, the decaying body started to stink up the church, which is where we get the expression “stinking rich” from.

Tips for visiting Holy Trinity Church

Admission prices

Holy Trinity Church is free to enter, however, to visit Shakespeare requires a £4 donation. This can be bought on arrival

Address: Old Town, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6BG, UK

Opening times 2019:

  • 9am-5pm.
  • Last entry is 20 minutes before closing.

For more details, visit the Official Holy Trinity Church website

6. See Anne Hathaway’s Cottage home before she married Shakespeare

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Anne Hathaways Cottage Michele Just a 20-minute walk from the town centre in the village of Shottery is Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, a picturesque 500-year-old home where William courted Anne.

Anne Hathaway was the eldest of the eight children who lives with her family in what was a big farmhouse, then called Hewland Farm. Her father, Richard Hathaway, was a successful yeoman who upon his death in 1581 left Anne a considerable inheritance.  Anne continued living at Hewland Farm with her siblings and step-mother in the farmhouse until she fell pregnant to William Shakespeare and married three months into her pregnancy. Anne was 26 and Shakespeare was 18. After the wedding, Anne went to live with her husband in his parents’ house in Henley Street.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage still contains its original furniture and features a large flower garden which would’ve been more like a meadow of wildflowers than the quintessential English garden you see today.

Tips for visiting Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Admission prices

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is included in ‘The Full Story’ ticket. Alternatively, single tickets cost Adult: £12.50, Child: £8.00, and Concession: £11.50. Save time, skip the queue and book your tickets online.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is only 1.2 miles (2 km) from town and can be easily reached on foot. The path leads through the now residential part of town is both well-marked and very pleasant Head here after visiting Holy Trinity Church.

Address: Cottage Ln, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 9HH, UK

Opening times 2019:

  • 1 January – 31 March: 10am-4pm
  • 1 April – 27 October: 9am-5pm
  • The closing times listed are last entry, the cottage closes 30 minutes after last entry.

7. Visit Mary Arden’s Farm: A Working Tudor Farm

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Mary Ardens FarmWilliam Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden, lived in what is now Mary Arden’s Farm. Located in Wilmcote, 3.7 miles (6 km) from Stratford-upon-Avon, this is where Shakespeare would’ve spent time a lot of time as a boy, especially as a newborn.

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Mary Ardens Farm Exterior MicheleFrom the 18th century until recently, Mary Arden’s actual house was believed to be a 16th-century Tudor building. It wasn’t until 2000, that the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust discovered evidence proving that the neighbouring farm was the real Mary Arden’s Farm. Both buildings are owned by the trust and together form Mary Arden’s Farm which functions as a working Tudor farm, making for a wonderful family day out.

Just like any good farm, there are plenty of farm animals to see including, pigs, cows, donkeys, goats, sheep, and chickens. There is even a falconry display and archery area.

Tips for visiting Mary Arden’s Farm

Admission prices

Mary Arden’s Farm is included in ‘The Full Story’ ticket. Alternatively, single tickets cost Adult: £15:00, Child: £10.00, and Concession: £14:00. Save time, skip the queue and book your tickets online.

Getting to Mary Arden’s Farm is a bit tricky. It’s not located all that far away but there is no public transport which services it. I waited 20 minutes for an Uber to come pick me up from Anne Hathaway’s Cottage to take me there. When I tried to bed back into town, Uber couldn’t find me a driver and the local taxi company was fully booked. Luckily, I was able to flag down a Stratford-upon-Avon Hop-On Hop-off bus who then took me back into town. I recommend buying a ticket, even if you just used it to get to/from Mary Arden’s Farm. It’ll save you the time and the hassle of getting a taxi.

Address: Station Rd, Wilmcote CV37 9UN, UK

Opening times 2019:

  • 6 March – 31 March: 10am-4pm
  • 1 April – 27 October: 10am-5pm
  • 28 October – 3 November : 10am-4pm
  • Mary Arden’s Farm closes for the winter and reopens in spring.
  • The closing times listed are last entry, the house closes 30 minutes after last entry.

8. See a Shakespeare play performed at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Royal Shakespeare Theatre Sunset Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Royal Shakespeare Theatre Sunset GardenNow that you’ve visited each of Shakespeare’s historical landmarks and know more about his upbringing and life, make sure to see one of his plays. The Royal Shakespeare Company owns and operates three different theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon including The Other Place, the Swan Theatre and the biggest of them all, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Surely, coming to Stratford-upon-Avon to see a Shakespeare play is an essential bucket list item. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre features a viewing tower with panoramic views of the town and a theatre restaurant with riverside views. Come here early to have a meal before heading inside to enjoy the show.

To find out what’s showing and book tickets, check the official Royal Shakespeare Theatre website.

9. Walk around the Stratford-upon-Avon’s old town

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Bridge and Ferris Wheel Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Historic SpineStratford-upon-Avon is super pretty and picturesque. So, while you will see much of the old town moving between each of Shakespeare’s landmarks, there are lots of other lovely places to visit and explore.

Beginning in Henley Street at Shakespeare’s Birthplace, wander down Chapel Street, also known as Stratford’s Historic Spine because many of the town’s most important and historic buildings are located here.

Not to be missed is the beautiful HSBC building located on Chapel Street. Built in 1883, this Victorian Gothic building features the image of William Shakespeare above the entrance as well as a series of relief panels depicting scenes from his plays. Located opposite is the Town Hall where with a statue of Shakespeare’s located in a niche on the exterior of the building.

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - HSBC Building Shakespeare's Plays

HSBC building located on Chapel Street

Continue to Hall’s Croft towards and Holy Trinity Church, before looping back towards with centre by taking the riverside garden path. Slowly follow the river back as you watch countless swans and canal boats cruise along the river.

Once you reach the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, stop by the Swan Fountain before crossing over the old tramway bridge to visit Stratford’s Ferris wheel.

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Royal Shakespeare Theatre Swan Fountain

The Swan Fountain

10. Admire the sculptures at Gower Memorial

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Gower MemorialGower Memorial is actually a memorial to Shakespeare. This multi sculpture homage to Shakespeare was commissioned and created by Lord Ronald Gower who presented it to the town of Stratford in 1888.

At the centre of the monument is Shakespeare seated on a pedestal, surrounded by statues of Hamlet, Lady Macbeth, Prince Hal, and Falstaff. These characters were intended to showcase the diversity of Shakespeare’s creative versatility representing philosophy, tragedy, history, and comedy.

Gower Memorial is situated in Bancroft Gardens in front of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

11. Learn all about Stratford-upon-Avon on the Stratford Town Walk

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Puck Statue

Puck from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’

Going on this multi-awarding winning walking tour was one of the absolute best things I did in Stratford-upon-Avon. I thought I learned in all visiting each of Shakespeare’s historic landmarks, but Helen from Stratford Town Walks shared even more interesting insights and history. Helen is a fountain of knowledge and covers everything from the foundations to the town, Shakespeare’s life, fascinating story behind many English expressions we still use today, as well as other tidbits you would otherwise miss.

An if that wasn’t enough, each tour ticket includes discount vouchers at a bunch of shops, restaurants, pubs and attractions including 20% off entry to the Shakespeare Houses and 50% off entry to Shakespeare’s School.

Tips for joining the Stratford Town Walk

The tours last approximately 2-hours and runs Monday-Friday and Sunday at 11 am, and twice on Saturdays at 11 am and 2 pm. Christmas Day at 10.30 am.

Tour walks are cost £6 for adults, over 65’s and students £5, children (under 16) £3, and under 8 years are free. No booking is required. You just meet at the Swan Fountain in front of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and buy your tickets in cash on the spot.

12. Get a duck’s eye view of Stratford-upon-Avon with a canal tour

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Canal boatsSit back and watch the world go by as you float down the River Avon on a famous Edwardian vessel. The tour lasts 40 minutes and has an open front deck and a sheltered seating area in case you get cold.

Tickets include an onboard audio guide which you can listen to as you pass the various landmarks. This is so much nicer than listening to someone at the bow yell out commentary.

Tips for taking a canal tour

Tickets can be purchased online or in person at the dock.

Admission prices

  • Adults: £7.00
  • Concessions (over 65s): £6.00
  • Children (under 16s): £5.00
  • Family £22.00 (2 Adults and up to 3 Children)

Address: Pick-up and drop-off is from Bancroft gardens next to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Opening times 2019:

  • Tours run daily from March to October with trips departing every 20-30 minutes from 9 am to 6 pm.

13. Spot street lamps from international cities

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Street lamp State of Israel A fun and unique thing to do in Stratford-upon-Avon is to spot the beautiful cast iron street lamps donated to the town. Helen from Stratford Town Walks explained that 15-20 years a man working in the local council asked his peers to donate a streetlamp on behalf of their city as a nice way to represent the diversity of visitors who come to Stratford-upon-Avon. Most of the donations came from within the UK and a small selection comes from abroad.

There are about 50 street lamps and slightly different in style. Each one is painted in a different colour emblematic of their hometown. A local favourite is the one from the State of Israel which feature additional statues

Tips for spotting street lamps

The street lamps are located along Waterside, Southern Lane, and Old Town between the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Holy Trinity Church

14. Get spooked on a Stratford Ghost walk

Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon - Street lamp red mailboxThe same wonderful people who run Stratford Town Walk also run the award-winning Ghost Walk. Tours are led by professional entertainers or actors who bring a series of haunting true tales to life.

Tips for joining the Stratford Ghost Walk

Unlike the Town Walk, the Ghost walk must be booked in advance. Tickets are £7 for adults, and £5 for children. Tours run every Saturday from 7.30 pm to 9 pm.

To book, call either on the day or a few days before (between 9 am and 6 pm) on 07855 760377 or 01789 292478. For more information, visit the official Stratford Town Walk tour website.

15. Be a big kid at MAD museum

The MAD (Mechanical Art and Design) Museum showcases some of the world’s finest pieces of Kinetic Art and Automata and is the only specialist attraction of its kind in the UK.  Catering to both young and old, visitors can interact with these extraordinary and intricate hand-crafted machines. From marble runs, to dancing lasers and high-tech robots there’s loads of fun to be had.

Tips for visiting MAD museum

Admission prices

  • Adult £7.80
  • Concession/ Student £6.30
  • Child (6-15yrs) £5.20
  • Child 5yrs & under Free
  • Family ticket (2 adult + 2 children 6-15yrs) £22.00
  • Extra child with family ticket £3.50

Address: 4-5, Henley St, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6PT, UK

Opening times 2019:

  • April – September – Monday- Friday 10:00am – 5:00pm, Saturday – Sunday & Holidays 10:00am – 5:30pm
  • October -March – Monday- Friday 10:30am – 4:30pm, Saturday – Sunday & Holiday 10:00am – 5:30pm
  • Last entry is 45 minutes before closing time.

16. Learn about the Tudor’s at Tudor World

Tudor World is a small independent museum set in an original Tudor building. Tudor World doesn’t include original period furniture or artefacts but unravels life as a Tudor though stories of the building’s rich history dating back to the late 12th century.

Tips for visiting Tudor World

Admission prices

  • £6.00 adults
  • £5.00 concession
  • £3.00 children* (6-15) 5 and under are free
  • £14.00 family ticket (two adults and two children)

Address: 4-5, Henley St, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6PT, UK

Opening times 2019:

  • Open daily from 10.30am to 5.30pm, excluding December 25th

For more information, visit the official Tudor World website

Where to eat in Stratford-upon-Avon

Old Thatch Tavern

Where to eat in Stratford-upon-Avon - Old Thatch Tavern Exterior



Old Thatch Tavern claims to be the oldest pub in town. The building dates back to 1470 and is the only one in town to maintain its original thatch roof. This charming, family-run tavern serves traditional pub food including plenty of tasty vegetarian options. Their apple crumble was so good I went back twice! The restaurant is small, so book ahead to avoid disappointment.

Address: Greenhill St, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6LE, UK

Garrick Inn

Where to eat in Stratford-upon-Avon - Garrick Inn

One of the oldest pubs in town, the Garrick Inn was named after David Garrick, a celebrated Shakespearean actor, playwright. Garrick is most well-known for being responsible for putting Stratford upon Avon on the map with his Shakespeare Jubilee.

The Garrick Inn is set in a beautiful Tudor building and is famed for being haunted, more of which you’ll learn all about during the Ghost Walk.

Address: 25 High St, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6AU, UK

The Dirty Duck / The Black Swan

Located in close proximity to two Royal Shakespeare Company theatres, the Dirty Duck also known as The Black Swan is regularly frequented by actors performing at the theatres.

On the walls inside The Dirty Duck are numerous photos of well-known actors who have performed at the RSC theatres and visited the pub including Judi Dench and Richard Burton plus other famous patrons including Laurence Olivier and Richard Attenborough. Peter O’Toole even broke the world record for the fastest time of downing a yard of ale.

Address: Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6BA, UK

Countess of Evesham

For something extra special, have lunch or dinner aboard the Countess of Evesham a 70ft restaurant cruiser serving traditional food according to the seasons. The 3-hour cruise provides a unique dining experience as it passes by some of the most delightful stretches of the gently flowing River Avon.

For more information, visit the official Countess of Evesham website.

Hathaway Tea Rooms

Enjoy an iconic Cream Tea or Afternoon Tea at Hathaway Tea Rooms, one of the town’s finest tea rooms. Located inside a Tudor timber-framed house dating back to 1610, the striking black and white façade matches its interior, with exposed beams and vintage décor creating a cosy atmosphere.

Address: 19 High St, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6AU, UK

How to get to Stratford-upon-Avon

By train

From London

I travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon from London by train departing from London Marylebone station. I was lucky enough to get relatively cheap tickets (£47 return) as late as a week before travelling, however, I wouldn’t advise booking at the last minute as the cost of ticket fluctuates immensely.

I travelled over a long weekend with a Bank/Public holiday on the Monday. I left work before 5 pm so I was able to benefit from getting an ‘Off-Peak’ ticket. Remember, you will pay significantly more if you travel ‘Peak’ versus ‘Off Peak’ or ‘Super Off Peak’. Book your train tickets with Trainline.

Trains from London Marylebone usually depart from Platform 6 and will require a change at Leamington Spa. Once you arrive, you will usually have about 5 minutes to change to platform 3 which will take you to Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s a small station so you’ll have plenty of time.

On the train to Stratford-upon-Avon, don’t get off at ‘Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway’, wait for the next stop which is ‘Stratford-upon-Avon’. Total journey time is about 2 hours. From the train station, it’s less than a 10-minute walk into town.

Seats are unreserved and the train gets fairly busy so aim to arrive 20-25 minutes early at London Marylebone get a seat.

Trains also depart from London Euston Station but take a bit longer with a 3-hour journey.

From other major cities

If you’re travelling from elsewhere in the country, search the West Midlands Railways website to find trains connecting Birmingham, Hereford and Coventry to Stratford-upon-Avon.

Return tickets start as low as £8.40 return. If you’re travelling from Birmingham you can benefit from the new discounted Rush Tickets where you can choose from selected performances at RSC and pay only £20 for theatre and return train tickets. Not bad at all!

Tips for saving money on train tickets:

  • Never buy 2 one-way tickets, return tickets rather than are always cheaper
  • ‘Anytime Return’ might be more convenient, but ‘Off Peak’ can be cheaper. Compare prices before deciding.
  • If you’re a student, between 16-25, or over 60 you may be eligible for discounted railcards.

By car:

If you’re planning on visiting more than just Stratford-upon-Avon, such as the delightful Cotswolds located nearby, you might be better of hiring a car. The drive is relatively easy following the M40 and will take just under 2 hours from London. Compare prices and hire a car here.

By bus:

You can also travel to Stratford-upon-Avon from London by coach. Choose from either National Express and Megabus who departures every 1-2 hours throughout the day. The journey duration can fluctuate a lot, 2-4hrs so compare both prices and times and book as far in advance as possible to avoid extortionate prices.

With a tour group:

Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon and the Cotswolds from London – Full-day tour of Stratford-Upon-Avon and the Cotswolds from London. Includes a visit to Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and visit the pretty villages of Bibury, Burford and Bourton-on-the-water in the Cotswolds

Oxford, Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick Castle Day Trip from London – If you’re short on time during your trip to London and want to see a bit of everything, this tour is a great option.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Stratford-upon-Avon

The White Swan Hotel

Where to stay in Stratford-upon-Avon - The White Swan Hotel Room

During my 3 night stay, I stayed at the super lovely White Swan Hotel. Located in a Grade II listed building, White Swan Hotel oozes with historic charm but has all the modern comforts. Adjoined to a Fuller’s pub, breakfast is located in the cosy restaurant with low ceilings, open fires, and antique furniture.

Where to stay in Stratford-upon-Avon - The White Swan Hotel BathroomThere are various room types to choose from, catering to all budgets. I missed out on getting a character room (they sell out quickly), which is located in the oldest part of the building so I got the deluxe double room which I was just as happy with. Each room has an en-suite bathroom, flat-screen TV, complimentary toiletries and tea and coffee making facilities, with fresh milk and free Wi-Fi.

The location is excellent too. It’s just a 10-minute walk from Stratford-upon-Avon Station, and all of the places on this list are just a stone’s throw away. Check availability and book your stay here. If you’re new to Booking.com, use my special reader link and get 10% of your trip back.

Where to stay in Stratford-upon-Avon - The White Swan Hotel Restaurant

Where to stay in Stratford-upon-Avon - The White Swan Hotel Breakfast


For an alternative accommodation option, I would recommend renting out an apartment or room through Airbnb. Cute Airbnb options are popping up all over the town so you’ll find some really beautiful places at very affordable prices. Airbnb has numerous convenient options to choose from. If it’s your first time get US$65 OFF here or get £50 OFF your first stay here, when you sign up using my unique reader referral link.

Planning a trip and need travel insurance? Get a free quote from World Nomads here.

Visiting the UK? Check out my other posts

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16 Lovely Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon

Over to you!

Do you have a question about visiting Stratford-upon-Avon? Ask me below! Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.

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1 comment

Shelley May 14, 2019 - 10:55

Lovely post Michele – we’re off to the Cotswolds next month so we will have a trip here and try out some of your suggestions. 🙂


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