If you’re looking for a charming small town to explore in the UK, look no further than Stratford-upon-Avon.
This lovely town is home to some of England’s most culturally significant historical sites, as well as plenty of delightful shops and restaurants.
Just a short train or bus ride from both London and Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon is a great place to spend an afternoon or even a few days!
There’s so many amazing things to do that you’ll be spoiled for choice. You’ll either have to plan a full weekend or plan to spend a couple days in the town. When I was living in Europe, I stopped by multiple times to enjoy the nature and the Shakespearean history.
Here are 22 of the best things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon today:
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Stratford-upon-Avon tourist information
How to get there
The nearest airport to Stratford-upon-Avon is Birmingham International (BHX), 18 miles away from Birmingham. Click here for airport transfers to Stratford.
Getting around Stratford-upon-Avon
There are a number of public transport options in the city, as well as an extensive road network with the M6 being the main motorway passing through the region.
Bus: Buses are easy to use and run regularly from numerous stops. An adult trip costs £2 (cards are accepted). You can even book a city-sightseeing Stratford hop-on-hop-off bus tour here.
Train: The main station is Stratford-upon-Avon right in the heart of the city and has great transport links to the rest of the UK. You can get a train from London to Stratford in 2 hours.
Best time to visit Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon Attractions Maps
22 Best Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
1. Visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Stratford-upon-Avon is most famous for being the birthplace of Shakespeare.
To honor him, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre is a must-see, and one of the best things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon for couples. Explore the theatre’s architecture and learn about how it has been used over the centuries.
There’s always a Shakespearean play on, but they cycle through them. It’s one of the rarer opportunities to get to see his lesser-known works. And it’s much cheaper than at the Globe Theatre in London!
2. See Shakespeare's Birthplace
For a truly unique experience, make sure to visit the house where Shakespeare was born.
The home has been preserved and restored, giving visitors an insight into what life was like during the Elizabethan era.
There’s also a museum onsite that highlights some of his writings and other artifacts associated with him.
Walking tours go past the house, but you can actually go inside with a Shakespeare Pass. The pass allows you entry to all of the Shakespeare attractions and more in Stratford-upon-Avon!
3. Tour Anne Hathaway's Cottage and Gardens
No, not that Anne Hathaway! Shakespeare’s wife!
Not far from the birthplace of Shakespeare is the former cottage home of his wife, Anne Hathaway.
The 500-year-old thatched house is a beautiful sight to behold, and you can explore its grounds as well as the inside of the cottage.
It’s one of Stratford’s most popular attractions and shouldn’t be missed.
It’s a long walk from the city centre.
You can either drive (although it’s hard to find parking when you return to Stratford-upon-Avon) or take the city bus. It drops you off right outside the cottage!
This ensures you can save your stamina for exploring more of the amazing things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon.
4. Check Out Shakespeare's Schoolhouse
There’s some debate as to whether or not this is actually Shakespeare’s schoolhouse, but historians believe it’s the most likely place for him to have been educated.
You’ll find the Schoolhouse unassumingly alongside the streets of Tudor houses.
The Schoolhouse has been restored and now functions as a museum, showcasing what life was like for students back in the 16th century.
You can explore the different classrooms, making it a great spot to take the kids. It’s a great way to make you appreciate having a laptop to type up notes in classes today!
5. Visit Shakespeare's Grave at the Holy Trinity Church
The Holy Trinity Church is the final resting place of Shakespeare, and it’s a popular pilgrimage for devoted fans of the bard.
Inside you’ll find his grave as well as several other memorials to him.
It’s also worth exploring this beautiful church more generally, not only for its spiritual significance but also because of its incredible architecture.
It’s also a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Stratford-upon-Avon!
A visit does cost money to help maintain the church. You can see the bard’s grave outlined in velvet rope at the front by the altar, along with other notable members of his family, including his wife.
6. Visit Hall's Croft
Hall’s Croft is the house of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, and her husband Dr. John Hall.
The house has been restored to reflect the lifestyle of a 17th century physician and his family.
This includes an outdoor herb garden, natural medicine displays, and an apothecary’s room with herbs and plants used to treat illnesses.
It’s a great way to get an insight into the medical practices of the time, and is particularly interesting for those in the medical field.
7. Stop by Mary Arden's Farm
The childhood home of Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden, is now a recreation of an Elizabethan farm.
You can explore the house and its outbuildings as well as take part in various activities onsite such as archery and falconry.
It’s a great way to get an insight into rural life during the Elizabethan period and also a great way to entertain the kids!
The farm runs various activities throughout the year as well, such as sheep shearing demos and traditional cider making.
8. Visit Shakespeare's New Place and Nash's House
This is the house where William Shakespeare once lived and is now a museum dedicated to his life.
The house has been given a facelift, with interactive displays to take you through the time he spent there.
You can also explore Nash’s House next door, which was once owned by Thomas Nash, one of Shakespeare’s friends.
The house has been beautifully restored to reflect the lifestyle of a late 16th century gentleman and his family.
9. Spot Shakespearean Statues Around Town
There are several statues of Shakespeare located around the town, making for great photo opportunities!
Others include prominent figures from his plays, such as Juliet by a fountain and Pip in an alleyway.
>> Visiting from London?
10. See the Home of the Founder of Harvard University
John Harvard, the founder of Harvard University, was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, and his home is now a museum.
11. Stratford Butterfly Farm
The Stratford Butterfly Farm is a great place to visit for those of all ages, and one of the most popular things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon for families.
It’s an interactive experience where visitors can get up close with over 30 species of butterfly, many of which are native to the area.
You can marvel at their beauty and learn about their lifecycles as they fly free in the tropical environment.
12. The MAD Museum
If you’re looking for unusual things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon, the MAD Museum is a great place to visit if you want to get creative!
It features a range of interactive exhibits and activities that the whole family can enjoy.
You can make your own creations using 3D printing, laser cutting, and robotics technology, as well as take part in workshops.
13. Tudor World Museum
The Tudor World Museum is an interactive museum that explores the life and times of William Shakespeare.
It features a range of exhibits, from costumes and furniture to weapons and artifacts.
You can also learn about the political climate of the time, as well as explore some of Shakespeare’s famous works.
14. Take a Boat Tour on the Avon River
In the summer, Stratford-upon-Avon is home to a number of boat tours on the Avon River.
The boats offer a leisurely way to enjoy sightseeing in Stratford, with guides providing interesting stories and facts about the area along the way.
15. Sample Gin and Rum at Shakespeare Distillery
If you’re looking for a unique experience, then head to Shakespeare Distillery.
This micro-distillery produces a range of locally crafted gins and rums, made using traditional methods.
The gin is infused with botanicals from the area, such as rose hips and elderflower, while the rum incorporates spices like nutmeg, cloves and ginger.
You can sample the spirits in their tasting room or pick up a bottle to take home with you!
16. Take a Ghost Tour
If you’re brave enough, then why not take a ghost tour of Stratford-upon-Avon?
It’s the perfect way to explore some of the darker sides of the town’s history as you take in its spooky sights.
17. Dine at the Oldest Pub in Town
The Black Swan (now known as the Dirty Duck) is the oldest pub in Stratford-upon-Avon, dating back to 1606.
It’s a great place to grab some traditional British pub fare and admire its historic atmosphere.
18. Have Tea at Hathaway Tea House
Tea is a British classic. I was so converted by their love of tea that I now travel with a portable kettle so I can make it anywhere!
So whenever I see a tea house, I have to stop in.
The Hathaway Tea House is a cozy spot in Stratford-upon-Avon, where you can enjoy traditional English tea and cakes.
Their selection of teas includes everything from black to herbal and green teas, so you’re sure to find something for everyone.
19. Go Tramping at the Welcombe Hills
Welcombe Hills is a favorite spot for hikers, with its stunning views over the Cotswolds.
Here you can stretch your legs and explore the rolling hills and woodlands, or just sit back and enjoy the tranquillity of nature.
20. Tour Stratford Armouries
The Stratford Armouries is a fascinating museum that showcases the town’s long history of armaments production. What’s more, it’s one of the top things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon for free.
It features displays on several wars, from WWI to the Falklands War, and you can also explore the old armory buildings.
Here you can learn about the different types of weapons used over the centuries, as well as the stories of the brave men and women who helped design and build them.
21. Walk Bancroft Gardens
Bancroft Gardens is a beautiful park in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, complete with a wide variety of flowers.
It’s also home to a statue of William Shakespeare, which makes it the perfect spot for a romantic stroll.
The garden is surrounded by colourful buildings, so you can take some great photos here.
22. Rent a Bicycle
If you want to explore the town at your own pace, then why not rent a bicycle?
The area is full of lovely cycle paths, so it’s easy to get around and enjoy the fresh air.
You can admire the countryside as you cruise along, or just take a leisurely ride through Stratford-upon-Avon’s picturesque streets.
General Information about Stratford-upon-Avon
- Area: 14.1km squared
- Weather: 1C (winter), 22C (summer)
- Population: 30,495
- Founded: 7th Century AD (by the Saxons)
- Nearest International Airport: Birmingham International Airport (BHX) – 18.2 miles away
- Famous Residents: William Shakespeare, Anne Hathaway, John Harvard
Don’t forget to book travel insurance
It goes without saying really that when you travel in Europe and beyond, travel insurance is super important.
I never always bothered though. For years I travelled without insurance as I thought, “what could happen?”
Well, I once got my bag stolen in Vietnam and I had an electric shock in a hostel bathroom in Mexico. What if you’re hiking up a mountain and your appendix suddenly bursts, leaving you in excruciating pain and requiring emergency treatment? Anything could happen.
Conclusion: 22 Best Things to Do in Stratford-upon-Avon, UK
Stratford-upon-Avon is a small town with a big history. From Shakespeare’s home to the many castles and gardens, there’s plenty to explore here.
Be sure to visit some of its iconic sites like the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, or go on an adventure and discover what else this town has to offer.
You can also enjoy some traditional British pub fare, have tea at the Hathaway Tea House, go tramping in Welcombe Hills and tour Stratford Armouries. Or if you’re feeling active, rent a bike and explore the area on two wheels.
No matter how you choose to spend your time here, you’re sure to leave with plenty of memories. So don’t miss out on Stratford-upon-Avon on your next UK visit!
Where to Stay in Stratford-upon-Avon:
- Baraset Barn Hotel (deluxe double rooms) $$$ – Superb 9.4
- The White Swan Hotel (double room) $$ – Superb 9.0
- No.82 B&B (Annex Suite) $$ – Exceptional 9.7
- Carlton Guest House (double room) $ – Superb 9.1
- Ingon Bank Farm Bed & Breakfast (double room) $ – Superb 9.4
Here’s the perfect 1 day itinerary for Stratford-upon-Avon:
- Enjoy brunch at Hathaway Tea Rooms
- Visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace
- Explore the MAD Museum
- Wander Shakespeare’s New Place and Nash’s House
- See Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall
- Visit the final resting place of Shakespeare
- Take a boat ride down the River Avon
- Go for dinner at the oldest pub in town: The Black Swan
- Catch a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RSC)
Just a 2-hour train ride from London (and 1 hour from Birmingham), Stratford-upon-Avon makes an excellent day trip for those wanting to learn all about the most famous poet in the English language, William Shakespeare, as well as the Tudor period. That being said, there are also lots of other exiting things to see and do in Stratford-upon-Avon that can easily fill a 2-3 day itinerary.
You can see some of the main highlights of Stratford-upon-Avon in 1 day, such as Shakespeare’s birthplace, Tudor World, Shakespeare’s New Place and Nash’s House, Guildhall, and a boat trip on the river Avon. However, with 2 days, you can go further and visit the MAD Museum, the Butterfly Farm, Bantock Gardens, the founder of Harvard’s House, and even catch a show at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Three days is the perfect amount of time as you can see everything – including Anne Hathaway’s House, Mary Arden’s Farm, and indulge in Stratford’s food and drink scene at the town’s historic pubs.
While the High Street features a wide array of shops and historic pubs, tea rooms and restaurants, Henley Street also has these plus it is where Shakespeare’s Birthplace is located, as well as the MAD museum, and other landmarks.
The Charter Market is held in Rother Market every Friday, as well as the Saturday and Sunday markets.
Shakespeare is deeply ingrained into English-speaking culture around the world, with some of the most iconic theatre productions and some of the biggest Netflix dramas based on Shakespeare’s characters. Hence, Shakespeare’s Birthplace is the prime sight in the town, and there is also his wife Anne Hathway’s house, their daughter (and her husband’s) home, Croft’s Hall, and the house of William’s mother, Mary Arden’s Farm. And if you’ll ever enjoy a Shakespeare performance, it’ll be right here, at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
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