Explore the historic market town of Stratford-upon-Avon. This is the birthplace of the world’s greatest playwright William Shakespeare, where you can follow his life story from the cradle through to his grave at the Holy Trinity Church.
A market town with more than 800 years of history, Stratford-upon-Avon contains not only many buildings that have survived and would have been familiar to Shakespeare, but also a thriving community offering a wide variety of leisure, accommodation and shopping experiences.
There are many things to explore in Stratford-upon-Avon, which is why visitors flock back every year to discover more.
No visit to Stratford would be complete without finding out more about the English poet and playwright that makes it famous. At Shakespeare’s Birthplace you can visit the place the world’s most famous playwright was born and grew up, where you can discover more about his early years.
Stratford has many famous events, including Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations, and there are many other family events being staged throughout the year.
Where is Stratford-upon-Avon?
Stratford-upon-Avon is perfectly located in the heart of England, and the county of Warwickshire. Just two hours from London by road or rail and 30 minutes from Birmingham and Birmingham International Airport, Stratford-upon-Avon also sits on the edge of the beautiful Cotswolds.
The closest motorways to Stratford-upon-Avon are the M40 and M42 meaning it is within manageable driving distance from much of the UK. With a small yet lively town centre, Stratford-upon-Avon is surrounded by rolling countryside. Once you have explored the town centre and it’s many places to visit, you can enjoy some excellent walks on the country routes and canal tow paths which meander around the edge of the town itself.
If you’re travelling by train you can reach Stratford train station within two hours of London Marylebone, and Birmingham International Station from London Euston making it an ideal location for a weekend getaway or short break away from the city.
If travelling by car, there are plenty of car parks around the town, and if arriving by bus or coach, there is a coach park at Stratford-upon-Avon Leisure Centre just a short walk from the main attractions.
Find details on parking in Stratford-upon-Avon here.
The family home and Birthplace of William Shakespeare stands in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon and receives thousands of visitors every year. Visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace to hear tales of family life in the playwright’s early years, and learn about life as a glove maker’s son in an Elizabethan market town.
Discover objects that tell the story of Shakespeare’s life, and hear the origins of some of the English language’s most unusual sayings and myths.
After exploring Shakespeare’s Birthplace you can visit the other Shakespeare family homes in and around Stratford-upon-Avon that continue the story of his life and family - Shakespeare's New Place, and Anne Hathaway's Cottage.
A visit to Shakespeare’s Birthplace is the perfect place to begin the life story of a remarkable man who still shapes our lives and language today.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre
The works of William Shakespeare are renowned and loved around the world, and are still performed today in the very town where he wrote some of his most famous lines at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
The Royal Shakespeare Company is based in Stratford-upon-Avon and runs three permanent theatres within the town. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and the Swan Theatre share a building alongside the River Avon, and The Other Place which is a short walk away.
The 1,018 seat Royal Shakespeare Theatre is the RSC’s main auditorium where you can regularly enjoy Shakespeare’s plays and other works. The Grade II listed building retains many of the original features of the 1932 Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, it was re-opened in 2010 after an extensive three-year restoration project.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre is open to the public for theatre-goers attending productions, and also as a unique space to meet, enjoy a bite to eat or a drink in the Riverside Cafe or the Rooftop Restaurant where your meal comes with impressive views over Waterside, Bancroft Gardens and the River Avon. Visitors can also purchase theatre tickets in the Box Office and Shakespeare souvenirs in the gift shop. Take a trip up to the top of the 32m theatre tower for more splendid views across the Stratford-upon-Avon and the surrounding countryside, and book a Guided Tour around the theatres and backstage areas - including the fascinating RSC Costume department which is located just across the road from the theatre.
Antiques, galleries, shops, cafes and more
As well as its links to William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon is a wonderful treasure trove waiting to be explored. Stroll along charming streets lined with independent boutiques and gift shops, as well as more familiar household names. Discover a unique piece of art to take home in one of the local art galleries, or hunt for treasure in quirky antique emporiums tucked away in winding alleyways and side streets.
Visit Stratford-upon-Avon on a Friday for the busy Rother Street Market, or on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays for the ever-popular Upmarket for unique gifts, clothing, food and drink, and handmade items.
When you have worked up an appetite or you’re in need of refreshments, you will be spoilt for choice among the many cafes and tea rooms that are dotted throughout the town waiting to offer a quick bite, tasty sweet treat, or a coffee to sip as you take a window or pavement seat and watch the world pass by.
Restaurants, hotels and pubs
As a busy British market town visited by tourists from across the world, Stratford-upon-Avon promises a taste for all palettes within the many local restaurants, pubs, and hotels in the town, with both independently run and more familiar chains.
With award-winning restaurants serving carefully crafted tasting menus, relaxed bistros with delicious dishes, cosy traditional pubs, chic hotels, and international flavours, there is always a place to eat serving something yummy to tempt your appetite.
Searching for a unique souvenir to take away from your visit to Stratford-upon-Avon? Head to one of the local antique shops tucked away from the main shopping streets, where you can spend hours discovering antique treasures, vintage clothing and jewellery, and gorgeous paintings and home decor.
Parks and Countryside
Enjoy a stroll along the banks of the River Avon, watch the swans glide by and row boats gently splashing in the water. Bring a ball game and gather your crowd for a game of cricket or football on the Recreation Ground, or stop for an ice cream on Bancroft Gardens, listen to a street performer, and watch the barges come through the locks. Let the kids burn off some energy at the playgrounds a short walk from the Recreation Ground, or take a walk out of town along the Canal paths.
Just a short distance from the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon you can hire a bike and take a ride along the Stratford Greenway, the perfectly flat track is also ideal for a run if you feel the need to burn off the excesses of your trip!
You can also discover some excellent walking routes around the outskirts of the Riverside town, including a refreshing walk in the Welcombe Hills where you can get up close to the Obelisk that stands on a hilltop visible from the town, and enjoy perfect views across the countryside.
If walking isn’t your thing, why not join a river cruise or hire a rowing boat for a trip along the River Avon? It’s the perfect way to enjoy a relaxing afternoon, and unique riverside views of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and the Holy Trinity Church.
Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon