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Home | Guidebooks | Stratford-upon-Avon

A visitor’s guide to Stratford-upon-Avon

About Stratford-upon-Avon

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 a cultural hub of Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon is a feast for the senses all year round.

  1. Royal Shakespeare Theatre
  2. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
  3. Stratford Butterfly Farm
  4. MAD Museum
  5. River Avon Boat Hire or Cruise
  6. Shakespeare’s Birthplace
  7. Mary Arden’s Farm
  8. Tudor World
  9. Guided walking tours
  10. Holy Trinity Church (Shakespeare’s resting place)
  1. Stratford Butterfly Farm
  2. MAD Museum
  3. Shakespeare’s Birthplace
  4. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
  5. Tudor World
  6. Royal Shakespeare Theatre
  7. Halls Croft
  8. Shakespeare’s School Room
  9. Shakespeare Distillery
  10. Tudor World

MAD Museum
Stratford-upon-Avon

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 creative, interactive, and informative.

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.

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 and poetry as well as 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 artifacts or period pieces but rather tells the stories by recreating Tudor life.

Tudor World

Alcester Spring & Autumn Food Festivals
May and October

There’s nothing that the pretty town of Alcester likes more than to close the roads, hang out the bunting and celebrate all things foodie. Local shops, cafés and pubs are all open alongside more than 100 stalls selling all sorts of wonderous goodies from cheese, pies and bread, fresh and cured charcuterie along with award-winning street food.

Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations
April

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

Stratford-upon-Avon Christmas Market
December

Get into the festive spirit with a wander around the Victorian Christmas Market. This themed, award-winning event sees stall holders dressed in Victorian costumes, fabulous food stalls and street entertainment, including a traditional funfair with a vintage carousel. If this doesn’t get you into the festive spirit, nothing will!

Stratford-upon-Avon Food Festival
September

This foodie favourite festival fills the streets with more than 100 fabulously delicious food stalls. Celebrating local and global traders, cooking demonstrations, workshops, and live entertainment, the Stratford-upon-Avon Food Festival is a true feast for the senses.

Stratford-upon-Avon Literary Festival
November

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.

Stratford-upon-Avon Music Festival
November

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.

Stratford-upon-Avon River Festival
July

For two days in July the beautiful River Avon in Stratford comes alive with a whole host of activities and entertainment. With vibrant live music, fabulous food and drink,  a whole host of family-friendly activities, a craft market, and theatrical performances.

Stratford-upon-Avon River Festival

MAD Museum
Stratford-upon-Avon

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
Stratford-upon-Avon

There’s a little bit of magic in Stratford, and it can be found 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.

Mary Arden’s Farm
12-minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon

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 ‘Tudor’s’ 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.

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.

Shakespeare’s School Room & Guildhall
Stratford-upon-Avon

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.

Stratford-upon-Avon Butterfly Museum
Stratford-upon-Avon

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.

Warwick Castle
17-minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon

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.

Baraset Barn
10-minute drive from 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: morning coffee

By their own admission Box Brownie are completely geeky about their coffee and cakes – their brownies are quite outstanding – 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.

El Greco
Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch, pre-theatre, 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. It’s also great value!

Honey Blue
Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: coffee

Tucked away in a little courtyard, Honey Blue is the perfect spot for morning coffee. Offering a range of wonderful coffee, cakes and light bites, this is a great place to re-fuel as you explore the charms of Stratford.

Lambs
Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch, 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 have a reputation for being excellent.

No 9 Church Street
Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch, pre-theatre menu, dinner

Generally regarded as one of the best places to dine in the town, No 9 sits within the hallowed walls of a 400-year old building. The frequently changing menus reflect the superb local produce – fish is fresh from Cornish day boats, and the meat from the same butcher who supplies the queen!

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.

Old Thatch Tavern Stratford-upon-Avon

Salt
Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

Proud holder of a Michelin-star, Salt is a fabulous fine dining experience in Stratford. The ambiance 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.

The Dirty Duck
Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

The Dirty Duck (original name is the Black Swan) acquired its moniker from a bunch of American GI’s 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 road from the Royal Shakespeare Company. Expect traditional, good value, quality pub classics.

The Fourteas
Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: breakfast, lunch, 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, 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 drink or a casual meal.

The One Elm
Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch, 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: dinner

This is a very traditional approach to contemporary British cooking and the Woodsman operates under the guidance of renowned restaurateur Mike Robinson. The 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: take away, dinner

Enjoy authentic Turkish cuisine at the Turquoise Kitchen with a varied range of tasty dishes including homemade Turkish bread. Dine in the vivid, colourful restaurant or pick up a takeaway to enjoy in the comfort of your holiday cottage.

Veeno
Stratford-upon-Avon
Perfect for: lunch, dinner

Serving up wonderful Mediterranean and Southern Italian dishes, Veeno focuses on tasting platters, pasta and a small menu of pizza’s all enhanced with a wine list curated from the family vineyards.

Avon Boating
Stratford-upon-Avon

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.

Compton Verney
20-minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon

Both an art gallery and 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 a dedicated adventure park as well. Various events are held throughout the year, both art and wellness focussed, and the grounds are dog friendly.

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 (care should be taken after rain). It also offers the opportunity to visit Holy Trinity Church where William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway are buried.

The Greenway
Stratford-upon-Avon

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.

Warwick Castle
17-minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon

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.

Warwick Castle

Bonds Lifestyle
8-minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon

This unique lifestyle store is design-led and features pieces from around the globe. In addition to ceramics, soft furnishings, and homewares you’ll also find plants, clothing, and a beautiful café with locally sourced produce.

The Barn
15-minute-drive from Stratford-upon-Avon

The Barn is a fabulous space that incorporates a bistro, interiors shop and a retail area covering more than 13,000 sq. ft, showcasing a wide variety of antiques, furniture, and collectables. It’s entirely possible you’ll find something you had no idea you needed… until you spotted it!

Henley Street Antiques Centre
Stratford-upon-Avon

Explore two floors of quality antiques, curios, jewellery, and collectables. Browse through the vintage clothing and pick up a treasure or two. The antiques centre is a little like the Tardis, from the outside it looks quite small, but it has a rabbit warren of rooms to explore.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
5-minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon

Built 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.

Compton Verney
20-minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon

Both an art gallery and 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 a dedicated adventure park as well. Various events are held throughout the year, both art and wellness focussed, and the grounds are dog friendly.

Halls Croft
Stratford-upon-Avon

Not only is Halls Croft the Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, physician John Hall, but it is also the location of a beautiful medicinal walled garden. Dr Hall would have used many of the herbs within his remedies, and you can enjoy the fragrant cures on your historic stroll. Halls Croft is centrally located within Stratford.

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.

Warwick Castle
17-minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon

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.

Halls Croft Stratford-upon-Avon

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to walking trails in and around Stratford-upon-Avon. In addition to the town walks, 5-mile Greenway trail and the 3.5-mile River Avon Trail, you’ll also find trails through the Heart of England Woods and the Welcome Hills.

For more information about walking and cycling, take a look at our Walking and Cycling Guides online.

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
10-minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon

Relax into 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.

Wildmoor
10-minute drive from 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.

All Things Wild
20-minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon

With a myriad of indoor and outdoor activities, there is plenty to keep both the young and old entertained. 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.

Bancroft Gardens
Stratford-upon-Avon

Located by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in the centre of Stratford, Bancroft Gardens are the dreamy backdrop to the River Avon. True to its heritage, a performance centre is on one side, where outdoor theatre is often performed. There is also a Swan fountain, various statues, and two bridges over the canal basin and lock. It is the quiet slice of green within the town – a perfect pitstop for lunch or just resting the sightseeing legs.

Charlecote Park – National Trust
15-minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon

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 the formal and woodland gardens and explore the wider parkland.

Compton Verney
20-minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon

Both an art gallery and 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 a dedicated adventure park as well. Various events are held throughout the year, both art and wellness focussed, and the grounds are dog friendly.

Halls Croft
Stratford-upon-Avon

Not only is Halls Croft the Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband, physician John Hall, but it is also the location of a beautiful medicinal walled garden. Dr Hall would have used many of the herbs within his remedies, and you can enjoy the fragrant cures on your historic stroll. Halls Croft is centrally located within Stratford.

Compton Verney
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