Stratford Upon Avon is only a two hour drive from London but couldn’t be more different if it tried. This town has an other worldly feel. Steeped with history and crammed full of impressive Tudor buildings, a visit to Stratford Upon Avon feels like stepping back in time. It’s the perfect place to visit for a quintessentially British weekend away. Here’s the 10 best things to do in Stratford Upon Avon to help you get the most from your visit.
Ten best things to do in Stratford Upon Avon
Take a look below to find our favorite ten things to do in Stratford Upon Avon.
One: Visit Shakespeare’s birth place
Without a doubt, Stratford Upon Avon is most famous for being the birth place of William Shakespeare. He was born in Stratford Upon Avon and brought up their too. No visit to this town is complete without visiting the Shakespeare estate.
There are two buildings to visit. The first is the house that he was born in (the birth place) and the second is the house that he grew up in with his family (the new place.) You can buy a ticket that allows you to visit both, or you can choose which one to see. More information and tickets are available here.
Don’t forget to walk by the school that Shakespeare briefly attended too!
Two: Visit Anne Hathaway’s cottage
Anne Hathaway was of course, Shakespeare’s wife! You can also visit the house that she grew up in too. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, this property is well worth a visit. Especially if you want to learn more about Anne’s life. You can also buy a ticket for Shakespeare’s properties which allows you to visit the cottage too.
Find out more here.
Three: Shop at the independent stores
Stratford is full of independent shops. The bright and colorful window displays decorate each and every street. If you’re visiting with children, check out the beautiful Beatrix Potter book shop, Timeless Tales, on Henley Street. The other shop we love is Nutcracker Christmas store. It’s Christmas every day in this shop and you can buy stunning decorations for your tree.
Four: Go ghost hunting at Tudor World
Tudor World is a small but interesting museum in the heart of Stratford Upon Avon. Here you can learn everything there is to know about the Tudor period. Not only that, but this building is reported to be one of the most haunted in the United Kingdom. Look out for the ghosts and ghouls as you explore the museum. Tickets can be bought at the Museum or in advance.
Five: Celeb spot in the actor’s bar at the Dirty Duck
Fun fact, the Dirty Duck is the only pub in the UK with two names. The legal name of the pub is actually The Black Swan. But it was nicknamed the Dirty Duck by American soldiers living in Stratford Upon Avon during World War II and the name has stuck around.
You can find it on Google Maps as The Dirty Duck – co-ords here.
From the outside, it seems like a generic Greene King pub, but don’t be fooled. The small nook to the right of the pub, referred to as the “Actors Bar” is a fascinating little spot for a drink. The walls are adorned with black and white photos of actors who have all starred in productions at the nearby theater and walked the floors of the Dirty Duck whilst they were at it. Look out for famous faces making guest appearances. Oh, and did we mention a happy hour from 17:00 to 19:00?
Six: Take in a show in the home of theater The Royal Shakespeare Theater
The theater in Stratford Upon Avon takes pride of place just by the river. If you time it right, you can catch a production during your visit to Stratford Upon Avon.
Check out the Royal Shakespeare Company website here for details of the latest productions and tickets for a show.
Seven: Do a walking tour with a twist
When we visit a new place, one of our favorite things to do is to walk around to get our bearings. If there’s a walking tour of a city, especially a free one, then we will take it. But we like our walking tours to be a little different, as a generic walking tour can feel a little stale. This is how we discovered the Questo App.
The Questo App is a free to download app, with a series of walking tours in cities and towns around the world. But, there’s more. Each tour includes a quiz type challenge. You follow the clues and answer the questions to get the next direction. It’s a great way to see a new place and learn some new information and have fun along the way.
The Questo walking tour of Stratford is newly created and still in testing mode (as of May 2023.) This means you can get access to it for free. We really recommend giving this a go if you have limited time in Stratford and want to see all the sites.
As an alternative, Tudor World also offers a two-hour walking tour. Check their website for the latest rates and times. And, of course, Get Your Guide also has some interesting activities too (see below).
Eight: Meander along the river Avon
The river Avon meanders through the town. You won’t want to miss the opportunity to spend some time by or on the water. There are two great options to see the river in Stratford Upon Avon.
Either you can take a walk along the river. There’s a wonderful path that enables you to enjoy a stroll. Alternatively, you can choose a boat trip down the river Avon. Canal boats offer the opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy the view. Look out for trips available by the river, or book in advance to secure a space.
Nine: Enjoy a cocktail at one of the towns wonderful bars
We think that Stratford Upon Avon might just have more drinking establishments per square foot than most British towns. There seems to be a pub or bar at every corner and they all look so enticing.
If you’ve tired of the Tudor inns, it might be time for a cocktail or two. For a sophisticated tipple check out The Officers Mess – a 1940s style cocktail venue Sheep Street.
Ten: Feast like a Tudor
Stratford Upon Avon has many delightful restaurants, where you can feast like a Tudor.
You’ll find the usual chains, Giggling Squid and Pizza Express. But, where Stratford really shines is with its independent restaurant scene. Whatever cuisine you fancy, whether Greek, Turkish, Italian or Chinese, you should be able to find it in Stratford Upon Avon.
The two that we recommend are Hussains, a delightful Indian restaurant with excellent service and for Vietnamese try Four Seasons. And for a fancier bite to eat, you could try Michelin Star restaurant Salt, on the beautiful Church Street.
Things to do near Stratford Upon Avon
The area around Stratford Upon Avon has plenty to do. One option is to visit the city of Coventry, a short 30 minute drive away. You can find more about fun things to do in Coventry here
Warwick Castle can also be found within around 30 minutes of Stratford Upon Avon, a spectacular example of a medieval fortress. You can buy tickets and find our more here.
Finally, you can explore the beautiful Cotwsolds. Consider visiting the quaint market town of Moreton in Marsh, a stones throw from Stratford Upon Avon.
Stratford Upon Avon at Christmas
Stratford Upon Avon becomes even more magical at Christmas time. We visited in spring, but I hope to come back at Christmas. A visit at this time of year is bound to fill you with yule tide joy. Firstly, there are a few Christmas markets to visit. Secondly, there are often festive themed performances at the theater. Finally, to get you feeling really in the spirit, you can go ice skating at an outdoor rink in the city centre.
Best hotels in Stratford Upon Avon
The Tea Pot Cottage in Stratford Upon Avon is not a hotel, but an apartment. I’ve included it on this list as it is very central in the town and gives you access to free parking!
For a real treat, Hotel Du Vin is a fabulous choice, a delightful hotel set in a leafy area of the town.
The White Swan is a charming hotel in a Grade II listed building in Stratford Upon Avon. Only a ten minute walk to the theater too!
Best B&Bs in Stratford Upon Avon
A B&B can be a lovely way to spend a few days in Stratford Upon Avon.
Here are three of the best B&Bs in Stratford Upon Avon.
The Boathouse Stratford Upon Avon is a quaint B&B with riverside views, as the name would suggest. A little way out of the town, but it makes up for it with the surrounding countryside.
Caffeine and Machine wins the prize for the B&B with the most imaginative name, it has fantastic guest reviews. Although a little way out of the town, it is perfect if you also plan to visit Warwick Castle and surrounding areas.
No 82 B&B is one of the closest B&Bs to the town, only a 15 minute drive. Plus, there’s free car parking at the B&B.
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