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Home | Guidebooks | Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick and Leamington Spa

Your Guide to

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick and Leamington Spa

Stratford-upon-Avon Guidebook

“Birthplace of Sir William Shakespeare; arguably the greatest playwright of all time’”

Whether you are a lover of all things literary, a culture vulture, or just adore immersing yourself in history, there is no denying that Stratford-upon-Avon ticks all the boxes. Best known as the birthplace and indeed the resting place of William Shakespeare, who is generally regarded as one of the greatest playwrights and poets of all time, there is no end to his legacy here in Stratford. From the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), a world-class theatre that attracts actors from across the globe, to tours of his birthplace and the home of Anne Hathaway, where he courted her during their early years.

There is however much more to Stratford-upon-Avon than simply the birthplace of the bard. From the colourful delights of a butterfly farm, home to the largest collection of tropical butterflies in the UK, to ghostly tours through ancient streets and an abundance of independent places to shop and dine.  Winding streets open up to courtyard boutiques, and the River Avon provides a picturesque backdrop while offering a variety of activities – from stand-up paddleboarding to romantic boat trips where you can recite original poetry to one another, even if it’s not quite Shakespeare! 

With multiple festivals and regarded as the cultural hub of Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon is a feast for the senses all year round.

Neighbouring towns Warwick and Royal Leamington Spa have a host of historic landmarks and picturesque parks and gardens on offer.  Both towns have a wide range of independent shops set along picturesque streets and fantastic options for eating and drinking. With river walks, parks and gardens, and popular attractions within a short drive, both Warwick and Royal Leamington Spa are inspirational destinations at any time of year.

We hope you enjoy your stay in this much-loved part of the country. To help you plan your days we’ve put together a collection of our favourite experiences so you can make the most of Stratford-upon-Avon and the surrounding area.

Quintessentially Warwickshire:

Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon
Explore where the story began in William Shakespeare’s birthplace and family home. Hear tales of family life and see where he lived and raised a family after his marriage to Anne Hathaway.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery
Constructed in 1463, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage was originally a three-room farmhouse – two of the original rooms survive today. Uncover the stories of more than five generations of Hathaway’s and see where the woman who would marry William Shakespeare grew up.

Mary Arden’s Farm, Wilmcote
Experience all the sights, sounds and smells of a working Tudor farm, that was once the home of Shakespeare’s mother. See rare breeds, watch the ‘Tudors’ going about their daily life, and immerse yourself in farm life. There’s a playground for the children plus falconry displays, nature trails, and a café and picnic area.

River Avon Trail, Stratford-upon-Avon
This gentle 3.5-mile walk starts in front of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and explores the River Avon to the south of Stratford. This is an easy, flat riverside walk (take care after rain). It also offers the opportunity to visit Holy Trinity Church where William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway are buried.

Compton Verney Art Gallery, Compton Verney
Both an art gallery and a 120-acre park, there’s something for everyone to discover at Compton Verney. Explore the historic ‘Capability’ Brown landscape and world-class exhibitions and, if that wasn’t enough adventure for you, there is also a dedicated adventure park. Various events are held throughout the year, both art and wellness-focused, and the grounds are dog-friendly.
National Trust – Charlecote Park, Wellesbourne
This beautiful 16th-century country house sits in stately grandeur surrounded by its own deer park just a few miles from Stratford-upon-Avon. Owned by the Lucy family for more than 900 years, this beautiful estate lies on the banks of the River Avon. Wander through both the formal and woodland gardens and explore the wider parkland.

Warwick Castle, Warwick
Back in 1068, a certain William the Conqueror built a wooden fort; this motte and bailey castle was then rebuilt in stone during the 12th century. Today, you can explore more than 1,110 years of history. There are 64 acres of grounds to discover, towers, walls, and ramparts to scramble over, the UK’s largest birds of prey show to marvel at, and a terrifyingly exciting dungeon experience.

Chesterton Windmill, Chesterton
This famous Warwickshire landmark can be seen from miles away and overlooks the Roman Fosse Way. The Grade I listed windmill is accessed from nearby parking and offers views across the surrounding countryside.

Kenilworth Castle & Elizabethan Garden, Kenilworth
This breathtaking castle and gardens are a must-see during your stay in Warwickshire. With Tudor towers, a Medieval keep, and a unique Elizabethan garden this is a family-friendly day out full of history and beautiful gardens. An English Heritage property it is worth checking before your visit if there are any special events on.
Find our tailored collection of services, available at your cottage in our Experiences section on our website!

Connect with Culture:

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
Owned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, this Grade II-listed building sits on the banks of the River Avon. The 1,018-seater auditorium is the main theatre where Shakespeare’s works are regularly performed, with appearances from celebrated actors from around the globe.

The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon
Also owned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, this is where you’ll find music, poetry, and family-friendly events. It plays host to new writers, smaller and more intimate performances, and where new plays are showcased, either in the 200-seat theatre or the café bar.

Tudor World, Stratford-upon-Avon
This living history museum sits in the middle of the town within a 16th-century Grade II-listed building. Via historical settings, discover the lives of the Tudors, William Shakespeare, Sir Francis Drake, Henry VIII and more. It doesn’t have artefacts or period pieces but rather tells the stories by recreating Tudor life.

Stratford Literary Festival, Stratford-upon-Avon
Over six days in November, the Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival features a stunning programme of bestselling authors, workshops, and celebrities. Let’s be honest – as the birthplace of the world’s most famous playwright, it wouldn’t be right if there wasn’t some celebration dedicated to all things literary.

Art Gallery & Museum, Leamington Spa
Found in the historic Pump Room in the centre of Leamington Spa, the Art Gallery and Museum has a number of exhibitions on offer throughout the year. Indoor spaces include the main gallery, a dedicated family gallery and a local history gallery which tells the story of the town and includes a cooling room which has been preserved from the Turkish baths which stood on the site.

Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations, Stratford-upon-Avon
This annual event brings visitors from far and wide to celebrate on the closest weekend to the bard’s birthday. Usual festivities include parades with much frivolity and pageantry, street entertainment, readings, performances, and more. You can even get into the spirit completely and dress up in period style if you want to.

Montpellier Gallery, Stratford-upon-Avon
The Montpellier Gallery is one of England’s longest-established retail craft galleries and showcases a wide and varied range of exhibits including glass, contemporary jewellery, and ceramics as well as fine art and sculpture

Stratford Music Festival, Stratford-upon-Avon
The Stratford-upon-Avon Music Festival is a week-long celebration of chamber music with a focus on the local community and in particular, young artists. The festival is an important date in the annual cultural offerings that Stratford is renowned for and takes place in the heart of the town.

Leamington Street Art Trail, Leamington Spa
Enjoy a day spotting the hidden artwork around Leamington Spa with this free, self-led walking tour. Download the map produced by Brink Contemporary Arts and head out to see sights many other tourists could easily miss.

Museum of the Queens Royal Hussars, Warwick
If you are a military history buff the QRH Museum is not to be missed. Walking you into the past you will travel through the history of the Hussars back to 1685. Including sections on Churchill, the evolution of weapons and what life in the regiment is like today you will feel like you were there fighting alongside the hussars.

Wine and Dine:

Baraset Barn, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: dinner
The Baraset Barn offers a lovely dining experience in an atmospheric, 200-year-old barn. The original flagstone floors remain whilst the on-view glass-fronted kitchen brings it bang up to date. The main menu is a mix of smaller sharing plates and larger dishes (for those who don’t like to share), featuring traditional classics, new dishes, and seafood specials.

Box Brownie Coffee, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: coffee and bacon sandwiches
By their own admission, Box Brownie are completely geeky about their coffee and cakes – their brownies are quite outstanding, as are the bacon sandwiches – in a setting which is warm and friendly. It’s also not in the least intimidating even if you have no idea what sort of coffee you’d like to try. The coffee is from local artisan roasters Monsoon Estates, who are just down the road.

El Greco, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch, pre-theatre meals and dinner
This family-run restaurant offers home-cooked, big-flavoured authentic Greek dishes in one of Stratford’s beautiful, historic buildings. Expect dishes such as kleftiko, stifado and moussaka, plus a fabulous 22-course mezze banquet if you’re feeling hungry.

Lambs, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch and dinner
Believed to date back to the early 16th century, probably when Henry VIII was still wandering the streets, Lambs offers a wonderful dining experience in Stratford-upon-Avon. The menu showcases modern British classic bistro dishes along with daily fish specials.

Loxleys Restaurant & Wine Bar, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
Loxley’s offers stylish eclectic interiors and a vibrant, fun atmosphere. Enjoy a cocktail or two as you browse a varied menu of seasonal dishes including fish and grill specials. The Sunday roasts also have a reputation for being excellent. We recommend booking ahead.

Old Thatch Tavern, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
The Old Thatch Tavern is possibly one of the town’s most historic landmarks dating back to 1470. Visit for a bit of history, a warm family welcome, and a very British menu of classics including some wonderful home comfort puddings.

Salt, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch, dinner and special occasions
Salt is a fabulous fine dining experience in Stratford and a proud holder of a Michelin star. The ambience is relaxed and the food superb, using the finest possible ingredients. Come prepared to relax, indulge and take your time over the four- and six-course lunch tasting menus or the eight-course evening menu. Booking is essential.

The Dirty Duck, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: casual lunch, dinner
The Dirty Duck (original name is the Black Swan) acquired its moniker from a bunch of American GIs who were camped over the river during WWII. This is where the great and good of the theatre crowd hang out. It’s just over the road from the Royal Shakespeare Company. Expect traditional, good value, quality pub classics.

Carisma Tapas & Wine Bar, Leamington Spa
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
An authentic tapas restaurant in the heart of Leamington Spa, you can enjoy group platters or choose your favourites just for yourself. Great no matter the weather with both indoor and outdoor seating.

Dough & Brew, Warwick
Perfect for: dinner, vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free
Award-winning sourdough pizzas and classic mains are on offer at Dough & Brew. They also host events throughout the week and have a great range of local craft beers. Vegan and gluten-free options are available.

The Fourteas, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea
This 1940s-themed tearoom is kitsch, fun and superb. Expect plenty of WWII memorabilia including an air raid shelter in the garden. They serve an all-day breakfast and plenty of light lunch options, but they are best known for afternoon tea. Fluffy scones, with lashing of jam and cream and generously filled sandwiches, are served up to a background of swing music.

The Garrick, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch and dinner
Reputedly the oldest pub in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Garrick has a rich and colourful history covering plagues, fires, and priest holes. At more than 600 years old it has lots of character and charm and is perfect for a drink or a casual meal.

The One Elm, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch and dinner
The best way to describe The One Elm is a proper pub serving honest, simple food. The menu focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients which are ethically and locally sourced. This is still a traditional pub at heart with a drinks list which may be short but is exceptionally well put together. Ale comes from the Church Farm Brewery and Purity Brewing Co., whilst the gin is distilled close by in the Cotswolds

The Woodsman, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: a memorable dinner
Offering a very traditional approach to contemporary British cooking, the Woodsman operates under the guidance of renowned restaurateur Mike Robinson. A field-to-fork philosophy runs through all they do; ingredients are sourced locally and used to create dishes that are a celebration of wild food cooked using the oldest method known to man – flame.

Turquoise Kitchen, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch and dinner
Enjoy authentic Turkish cuisine at the Turquoise Kitchen with a varied range of delicious, homemade dishes. The menu is extensive, and the lunchtime set menu is particularly good value.

Veeno, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: wine tasting and sharing platters
Based around the wonderful ethos of aperitivo; time spent with great company, good wine, and a snack, Veeno focuses on tasting platters, pasta and a small menu of pizza all enhanced with a wine list curated from the family vineyards. Wine and food pairings are highly recommended.

Fuzzy Duck, Armscote
Perfect for: lunch and dinner
Highly regarded gastro-pub with rustic-chic interiors and a menu of elegant dishes and country pub classics. The Sunday lunch is also very popular and we advise booking.

The Boathouse, Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch and dinner
Independently owned riverside bistro and bar with glorious river views. Set in an 18th-century boathouse, this popular dining spot offers both a lovely menu and a memorable setting.

The Bowling Green, Warwick
Perfect for: dinner and super Sunday roasts
If you are looking for a traditional meal out, the New Bowling Green has a fantastic Sunday menu to cater to all dietary requirements and a range of 10 handmade pies. Booking is advised.

The Drawing Board, Leamington Spa
Perfect for: lunch, dinner
Decorated with a comic book and gaming theme with log burners and comfortable seating, their menu includes tapas and gourmet bar food. Open every day for lunch and dinner, it is easily found in the centre of town.

The Cape of Good Hope, Leamington Spa
Perfect for: lunch, dinner and proper Sunday roasts
At the canal’s edge with a lock outside, this traditional pub is a hidden gem in Warwick. An extensive evening menu and range of sandwiches for lunch make this a great spot to relax watching canal boats pass. On sunny days it can be busy so be prepared to wait.

Warwickshire Explorers:

British Motor Museum, Gaydon
Home to the largest collection of historic British cars, there are over 400 spanning the classic, veteran, and vintage eras. For younger visitors, there are themed trails, touchscreen exhibits, interactive zones and tours delivered by guides in costume.

National Trust Hidcote, Hidcote Bartrim
This Arts and Craft-inspired Garden is just a short drive from Broadway and full of surprises. There is plenty for children young and old to explore with a maze of narrow pathways, secret gardens, and wilderness areas. There are some tranquil spots too and you might spot woodpeckers and buzzards soaring high overhead.

Twycross Zoo, Twycross
On Warwickshire’s northern border, Twycross is home to the largest collection of apes and monkeys in the Western world. Expect to see the endangered bonobo, gibbons, gorillas, and orangutans. It is generally regarded as one of the best zoos in the country.

Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, Silverstone
Home to the British Grand Prix, Silverstone also plays host to incredible driving experiences and is where you will find the Silverstone Museum. Discover the stories, the stars, and the history of some of motorsport’s greatest drivers. It’s fun, interactive and a great day out for the whole family.

Stoneleigh Abbey & Country Park, Kenilworth
The imposing historic Stoneleigh Abbey has been home to a number of important people throughout the years. These days you can join a guided tour to see inside the house, and visit the website to book in advance. Outside you can wander the extensive grounds designed by Humphry Repton.

National Trust – Coughton Court, Alcester
This Tudor country house has been home to twenty-one generations of the Throckmorton family, who have lived here since 1409. Although the National Trust has owned the house since the late 1940s, the family still live here. Explore 114 acres of parkland with its ancient bluebell wood, see the collection of Catholic treasures in the house and enjoy the beautiful gardens.

Kenilworth Castle, Kenilworth
Kenilworth Castle was once one of the most formidable fortresses in the country. Today, this medieval relic is still an impressive place to visit. Explore the Castle Keep, the heart of the castle for more than 500 years, walk in the footsteps of Elizabeth I as you explore the Elizabethan Garden and bring the past to life through the interactive exhibition.

Packwood House, Lapworth
National Trust-owned Packwood House is a restored 16th-century Tudor home with 150 acres of parkland. You will also find the Yew Gardens, one of Britain’s major topiary gardens.

Twycross Zoo is the only zoo in the UK to exhibit all four species of great ape: bonobo, gorilla, chimpanzee and orangutan

Ultimate Days Out for the Family:

All Things Wild
With a myriad of indoor and outdoor activities, there is plenty to keep both the young and old entertained at All Things Wild, near Evesham. Meet the farm animals, go bug hunting, and ride the Dino Land Train, back to a land that time forgot where you can see Diplodocus, Triceratops, T-Rex, Stegosaurus and more in the Dino Field.

MAD Museum
Discover all you could ever need to know about mechanical art at MAD the Mechanical Art & Design Museum. This is the UK’s only permanent venue for mechanical art and promotes science, technology, engineering, art, and design. It’s interactive, informative, and creative.

Magic Alley
There’s a little bit of magic in Stratford, and you can find it at Magic Alley. Home to The Enchanted Manor, this is where stories spring into life and a magic school awaits you. It’s also home to The Emporium where there are curious gifts, vintage games, and books you never knew existed.

Shakespeare’s School Room & Guildhall
Dress up Tudor-style, play Tudor games and take part in a Tudor lesson and brush up on your Latin! Explore where Shakespeare was inspired to write and test your skill with a quill and ink – maybe there’s a budding playwright inside bursting with creativity just waiting to be discovered.

Hatton Adventure World
The perfect day out for the family, Hatton Adventure World has everything you could need and more. Over 450 animals will fascinate and amaze and there is plenty of choice for play areas. Seasonal events are on offer throughout the year, so it is well worth checking the website for further information before your visit.

Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Farm
Stratford’s Butterfly Farm opened in 1985 and has been a delight to the public ever since. It is a tropical paradise and has grown from a simple walk-through butterfly experience to a fully-fledged nature reserve with a highly successful breeding programme. Come rain or shine, these tropical blossoms, thundering waterfalls, and fish-filled pools will be waiting for your visit.

The Stratford Greenway
Running from Stratford-upon-Avon to Long Marston, the Greenway is a 5-mile walking and cycling trail that runs along a former old railway line. It’s a valuable green, wildlife corridor that is free for all in a peaceful, traffic-free environment. Bicycle hire is available from Stratford Bike Hire at the start of the Greenway.

Avon Boating
Spend a few hours just messing about on the river. The River Avon flows through the very heart of Stratford-upon-Avon and its gently flowing waters are ideal for a boating adventure. Hire one of the motor or rowing boats, or pre-book an electric launch. If you’d prefer something a little less energetic then join one of the public river cruises that depart from Bancroft Gardens.

Did You Know?
British politician John Profumo, of the infamous Profumo Affair, was the MP for Stratford-upon-Avon from 1950-1963

Relax and Revive:

Alveston Manor Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon
Tucked into beautiful grounds, the spa at Alveston Manor is a wonderful place to relax and indulge in a little pampering. Whether you are looking for a restorative, deep tissue massage or a facial to leave you feeling and looking revitalised, enjoy a range of treatments that are designed around you.

Stratford Manor Spa, Stratford-upon-Avon
Relax in a state of bliss with a visit to the Stratford Manor Spa, with a welcome as warm as their fluffy robes. This is a tranquil sanctuary for a little ‘you time’. Featuring Elemis skin and body care and a range of treatments plus a thermal suite and spacious pool area, why not book a spa day as a real indulgence?

Mallory Court Country House & Spa, Leamington Spa
Elan Spa at Mallory Court is a peaceful retreat offering spa treatments in a picturesque setting. Other amenities include a hydro pool, vitality pool, family pool and children’s pool.

Bannatyne Spa Wildmoor, Stratford-upon-Avon
Part of the Bannatyne Group, Wildmoor offers the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind. There are single and dual treatment rooms, manicure and pedicure stations plus a crystal steam room, herbal sauna, caldarium, and hydrotherapy spa.

Billesley Manor Spa, Alcester
Take some time for yourself at Billesley Manor Spa. Partnering with leading Spa brand ESPA, enjoy a wonderful array of treatments and spend some time in the pool, sauna, and steam room for a break away from life’s stresses.

Ardencote Spa, Claverdon
Enjoy a luxuriously relaxing experience at The Destination Spa at Ardencote. With thermal facilities, relaxation lounges, an outdoor pool and hot tub you will leave feeling fully replenished. Book in for your favourite treatment or indulge with a spa day.

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Please Note: Information correct at time of publishing. Please check the destination/attraction direct website before visiting to confirm opening hours and visitor details.

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