The renowned, charmingly attractive market town of Stratford-upon-Avon is brimming with iconic history and heritage.

Its most famous son is, of course, William Shakespeare, and as his birthplace, the medieval town is a magnet for fans of the Bard, who can immerse themselves in every aspect of his life.

All of this great history is set against the lush backdrop of the River Avon, which meanders through the town, where the streets are lined with splendid Tudor architecture housing interesting shops and eclectic restaurants.

Where to stay in Stratford-upon-Avon

The spacious Dodwell Park is a seven-minute drive from town and has a bus stop just outside the entrance. Another option is Riverside Touring, where you can pitch by the riverbank. It’s a large, well-equipped campsite a half-hour walk from the town centre.

What to do in Stratford-upon-Avon on Day 1

10am – Begin at the Bard’s birthplace

Where better to start your visit to Stratford-upon-Avon than at Shakespeare’s Birthplace? Built in the 16th century, this fine house, located in the town centre, has been carefully restored.

Today, it’s a truly fascinating shrine to the playwright, with wide-ranging exhibitions and manicured gardens. You’ll need to book a one-hour slot when you buy your tickets.

A Shakespeare’s Story ticket will get you into the Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New Place and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage with no need to book separately.

Shakespeare’s Story tickets cost £26.50 for adults and £17.50 for children (aged three to 15 years).

11am – Shakespeare’s family home

A five-minute walk away is Shakespeare’s New Place, which was his family home until his death in 1616. Although the house itself was sadly demolished in 1759, the site is now a beautifully peaceful garden dotted with statues and artifacts.

Shakespeare’s New Place
Image: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust – Shakespeare’s New Place

1pm – Time for lunch

To enjoy an excellent lunch, head to Cork & Tile, a not-for-profit restaurant offering authentic Portuguese cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients. It also serves a good selection of evening meals and allows BYOB on Fridays and Saturdays.

3pm – Take to the water

With the lovely River Avon flowing through town, why not make the most of it by hiring a boat? At Avon Boating, you can choose from rowing or motor boats. If you don’t feel like doing all the hard work yourself, hop on one of the company’s public river cruises, from Bancroft Gardens.

The River Avon
The River Avon – image: Getty Images

5.30pm – Enjoy a pre-theatre dinner

Head back into town, where you’ll find the many delights of Sheep Street, lined with fascinating independent shops and restaurants housed in fine 16th-century buildings. Grab a delicious early dinner at Wildwood, where you can choose from a great menu of pizza, pasta and salads.

6.45pm – Enter the players

No visit to Shakespeare’s home town would be complete without a trip to see one of his magnificent plays.

Just a six-minute walk from Sheep Street and located right on the riverside is the Grade II* listed building that houses the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Image: David Tett – the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

All’s Well That Ends Well and Richard III are showing until 8 October. Performances start at 7.15pm, tickets cost £10-£65.

What to do on Day 2

10am – Tudor cottage

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, originally built in 1463, was the family home of Shakespeare’s wife.

The house, now wonderfully restored, gives visitors a real taste of daily life in those times, with period furniture and gorgeous gardens. It’s a little out of the way – a 25-minute walk or five-minute drive from the town centre – but is definitely deserving of the detour.

12pm – Lunch break

Back in the town centre, why not stop off at The Fourteas for lunch? This delightful vintage-themed café offers all sorts of delicious sandwiches, cakes and specials, or you can treat yourself to afternoon tea.

2pm – Parish church

Wander along the riverside footpath to discover Holy Trinity Church, Stratford’s oldest building and Shakespeare’s final resting place.

It features stunning stained glass, ornate carvings and a 14th-century sanctuary knocker. Shakespeare was baptised and married here, too, so keep an eye out for copies
of the original parish records.

4pm – Pause for the butterflies

For a change of pace, visit a little oasis on the other side of the river, Stratford Butterfly Farm. Home to hundreds of butterflies as well as snakes, frogs and iguanas, the centre really does have something for everyone. There’s even a beautiful wildflower garden to while away the hours in peace. Tickets cost £7.95 for adults, £6.95 for children.

Stratford Butterfly Farm

6pm – Dine in style

Time for an excellent dinner at The Woodsman, a rustic and welcoming restaurant housed in a Grade II listed building. The menu is a foodie’s delight, with a great choice of seasonal dishes using British ingredients.

The Woodsman
The Woodsman

Places to park in Stratford-upon-Avon

Bridgeway Surface Car Park and Bridgeway Multi Storey Car Park are a 10-minute walk from the town centre. If you want a quick stop while towing, the Leisure Centre Car Park has caravan parking at the back.

Food and drink

  • Plantarium Café: Colourful café with outdoor seating serving plant-based light bites, cake and coffee.
  • Loxleys Restaurant: Vibrant restaurant/bar with à la carte menu.
  • Salt: Gastronomic indulgence with optional wine pairing.

Lead image: Getty Images

Wondering where else you can head to for a weekend getaway? Then head to our Best of British: Weekends Away section, for more great ideas!

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