Skip to main content.
Guides

Adventures in Shakespeare's Hometown - A Guide to Stratford-upon-Avon

Find a place to stay

A centuries-old market town in the middle of England, Stratford-upon-Avon is best known as William Shakespeare's place of birth. The great playwright died here too, and visitors now come from all over the world to wander the well-preserved streets and houses where the "Bard of Avon" spent his childhood and later years. Beyond the town's historic charms and modern attractions, you also have the lush green Warwickshire countryside to explore.

On the Shakespeare trail

 

Whether you're a true devotee of William Shakespeare or simply curious about his life and times, you can learn all there is to know at various locations in and around Stratford-upon-Avon. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust runs the 5 main historic houses associated with him. Shakespeare's Birthplace itself is a timber-beamed shrine to the bard with original Elizabethan furnishings and regular exhibitions, while Anne Hathaway's Cottage makes for a pleasant excursion just out of town. There you can explore the thatched farmhouse and garden where the young playwright courted his future wife.

 

  • Shakespeare's Birthplace, The Shakespeare Centre, Henley St, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6QW; Tel: +44 789 204016; Website: Shakespeare's Birthplace
  •  

  • Anne Hathaway's Cottage & Gardens, 22 Cottage Lane, Shottery, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 9HH; Tel: +44 1789 338532; Website: Anne Hathaway's Cottage & Gardens

Exploring the Tudor town centre

 

Stratford-upon-Avon was a bustling market town in the English Midlands as long as 800 years ago. Its most distinctive buildings are the timber-framed Tudor structures that have lined the main streets since the 16th century. While many of these old frontages are now home to modern retailers, you can still feel like a time traveller as you wander the atmospheric thoroughfares of Henley Street, Meer Street, and High Street. On the latter you'll find Harvard House, an intricate example of that period's architecture. Built in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, it is now home to a pewter museum.

 

  • Harvard House, 26 High Street, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6AU; Tel: +44 1789 338534; Website: Harvard House

 

Boating on the Avon

 

The River Avon runs through Stratford. A walk along the banks is a pleasant way to get your bearings, but to experience the full charm of the place, take a cruise by boat or barge. You'll pass along the backs of Stratford's legendary riverside theatres, sail past the famous local swans, and drift under weeping willows. Avon Boating offers a 40-minute tour, as well as a choice of rowboats, pleasure punts, and canoes to rent for those who would rather make their own way down the river.

 

  • Avon Boating Ltd, The Boathouse, Swan's Nest Lane, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 7LS; Tel: +44 1789 267073; Website: Avon Boating Ltd

 

Further afield in Warwickshire and the Cotswolds

 

Stratford-upon-Avon makes a great base for road trips, walking holidays, and historic tours of the surrounding countryside. Rural Warwickshire is all rolling hills and quiet stone-built villages, dotted with major sites of interest like Warwick Castle, one of England's most robust medieval strongholds. You can also venture south into the Cotswolds, an unspoiled expanse of rich green grasslands and limestone valleys. Go Cotswolds run day tours of the region from Stratford-upon-Avon, and veteran guide Tom Benjamin will fill you in on thousands of years of local myth and history as you go.

 

  • Warwick Castle, Warwick CV34 4QU; Tel: +44 871 265 2000; Website: Warwick Castle
  •  

  • Go Cotswolds; Tel: +44 7786 920166; Website: Go Cotswolds