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12 Things to Do in Stratford Upon Avon

Famous for its connection with William Shakespeare, the great English playwright, there are many fun things to do in Stratford Upon Avon. Although I visited with the whole family it is still somewhere I’d recommend for solo travels as there is plenty to do.

Of course, you can’t miss the Shakespearean experience when you visit Stratford Upon Avon it is the main thing to do here. And we enjoyed learning about Stratford Upon Avon’s most famous son. There are at least five houses in and around Stratford Upon Avon connected to the life of William Shakespeare and in this post, I’m going to cover them all.

That said Stratford Upon Avon’s things to do aren’t limited to Shakespeare. There are so many other exciting things to do near Stratford Upon Avon, a bustling city by the river Avon. The town’s attractive gardens are remnants of the rich Tudor-era life, and there are many beautiful trails and parks.

In this guide, I’m sharing the best places to visit in Stratford Upon Avon and Stratford Upon Avon attractions.

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 
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What to Do in Stratford Upon Avon

Where is Stratford Upon Avon?

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Stratford Upon Avon is located in England’s Warwickshire country, in the West Midlands. It’s one of the most accessible tourist towns via train, coach, or road. The town is just two hours from London and an hour from Birmingham

The main reason we visited Stratford Upon Avon while in England is the Shakespearean experience. Everyone who reads English literature knows about the famous writer, and many have probably seen adaptations of Shakespeare’s famous works. Stratford Upon Avon can be a day trip, or you can do what we did and stay in town to enjoy all the Stratford Upon Avon things to do.

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

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Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

How to Visit Stratford Upon Avon

: The closest airport is Birmingham, just 25 miles away, and Heathrow Airport is 90 miles away. Both cities are well connected to Stratford Upon Avon by public transport. 

Train: If you’re traveling from London by train, reaching Stratford Upon Avon will take about two hours. There are trains from the London Marylebone station every 60 minutes. You can also journey to Stratford Upon Avon from Birmingham Moor Street, which is only 40 minutes of travel time. Search for tickets on Red Spotted Hanky and book them at least two months in advance.

Bus/Coach: This is the cheapest way to get to Stratford Upon Avon. Nation Express runs several daily coach trips from the London Victoria Coach Station to the Stratford Riverside Bus Station. The most direct route takes two and a half hours, and the longest can take up to four hours. You can also check  Mega Bus.

Car: Driving is the fastest way to reach Stratford Upon Avon from London. It’s roughly a 100-mile drive on the M40. Parking is available in the city center, and many hotels offer free parking. We stayed at the Hotel Indigo Stratford Upon Avon, which had a secure parking lot.

You don’t need a car to visit Stratford Upon Avon attractions if you stay at a hotel in the city center. The only one we drove to was Ann Hathaway’s house which is a good walk from the center and we didn’t want to do it with a toddler.

If you do have a car however there are plenty of exciting things to do near Stratford Upon Avon, like the British Motor Museum in Gaydon and Warwick Castle. You’ll want a car rental for these activities.

How Long to Stay for Top Things to Do Stratford Upon Avon

If you’re into literature, history, and Shakespeare, you’ll need at least three days to tour all the Stratford Upon Avon attractions. You can always take a quick day trip to visit William Shakespeare’s birth home and walk by the river. However, I suggest spending more days in the Tudor-era town.  We spent 2 days in Stratford Upon Avon and it was a good amount of time, but I’d have liked an extra day so we could have seen a little more.

Best Time to Visit Stratford Upon Avon

Things to do in Stratford upon avon

The summer months of July to September are the best for enjoying things to do in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Shakespeare’s birth and death day is celebrated on April 23, so the town hosts a week-long literary festival. It may not be warm in April, but the city comes alive with actors and theater lovers to commemorate the most significant English playwright. Since the town is a big tourist attraction due to its Shakespearean legacy, it’s typically busy on the weekends.

Where to Stay in Stratford Upon Avon

My number one recommendation of where to stay in Stratford Upon Avon is the Hotel Indigo. We had a fantastic stay there, and I can’t speak highly enough about it. The location is central with free on-site parking, the restaurant is out of this world, and the staff was terrific. Don’t get me started on the delicious breakfast!

You can read my full review of Hotel Indigo Stratford Upon Avon here.

Here are a few other recommendations of where to stay in Stratford Upon Avon, depending on your budget:

Ashgrove House
Broom Hall Inn
The White Swan Hotel

Top 12 Things to Do Stratford Upon Avon

Many of the most popular things to do in Stratford Upon Avon focus on Shakespeare, but there are other options, too. Here are my top picks for places to visit in Stratford Upon Avon and can’t-miss Stratford Upon Avon attractions.

1. Visit Shakespeare’s Childhood Home 

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You must check out his birth and childhood home when you’re in William Shakespeare’s town. Hear tales about his family as you tour Shakespeare’s birthplace on Henley Street. The premises include beautifully preserved heritage homes, cottages, and gardens. The house where William Shakespeare was born was first owned by his father, John. William Shakespeare spent his childhood here and lived there with his wife, Anne Hathaway (no relation to the actress!), for five years. 

The house where William spent his prime years has been converted into a museum showcasing some of his family’s belongings. The property is now under the care of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which also opened a modern visitor center with the world’s most extensive Shakespeare-related library and archives. You can’t visit Stratford Upon Avon without experiencing this slice of Shakespeare’s life!

2. Follow Shakespeare in Love at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage 

A house with a thatched roof nestled in a beautiful garden in Stratford upon Avon.

Anne Hathaway’s cottage is a must-visit for William Shakespeare’s love sonnets fans. Anne was born and raised in this quaint cottage built on a farmhouse. “Shakespeare in Love” happened when young William courted Anne at the 500-year-old property. The cottage still exists and is being preserved by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The cottage’s original furniture, features, and garden have been well maintained. You can wander around the nearby orchards to experience the place where Shakespeare was inspired to write his most famous love sonnets.

The only thing I would say about it is if you have young children the house isn’t the most accessible and it was a bit complicated getting up and down the ladders with Charlie!

3. Watch a Play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre 

Are you a theater-lover wondering what to do in Stratford Upon Avon? The Royal Shakespeare Company performs plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. Sadly with a toddler in tow we weren’t able to do this!

The original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, built in the 17th century, was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt in 1932 and is now handled by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The company offers a fascinating one-hour tour of the building, where guides lead you through public and behind-the-scenes areas.

You can see one of Shakespeare’s works at the Theatre during your visit if you’re lucky. Check the Royal Shakespeare Company schedule before your trip to book a ticket. The Theatre also has a rooftop restaurant with a stunning River Avon view where you can enjoy a nice British brew or some English tea.  

4. Enjoy Some Tudor-Era Drinks at the Shakespeare Gin Distillery

There are modern places to visit in Stratford Upon Avon that pay homage to Shakespeare, including the Shakespeare Gin Distillery. Visit this distinguished distillery, which opened a few years ago, for amazing Tudor-era-inspired spirits.

Shakespeare Distillery is an artisan spirit producer crafting a range of premium, handcrafted gins and rums. The spirits are made entirely on-site at the distillery, including its award-winning Stratford Dry and Jester White Rum. The distillery offers fun experiences like tours, gin schools, gin cruises, and cocktail-making classes. 

5. Walk Along the River

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Two miles along the River Avon banks, you can enjoy a nice walk exploring some of the city’s most famous landmarks. There’s a stroll on both sides of the river, making it one of the best things to do in Stratford Upon Avon for a serene, wholesome experience. 

You’ll get an outstanding view of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried. The eastern side of the river provides the best angles to photograph these Stratford Upon Avon monuments. 

We went in the early evening and it was such a lovely walk. We took the pram as most of the walk is a long a path. You can walk right along and cross over the bridge to walk back. Or simply tour around and walk back.

Cross over the bridge connecting the banks to visit the Holy Trinity Church. Pay respect to the dead playwright’s grave and see the Avon Bank Gardens next door. Further down that road are the Memorial Theatre Gardens, Bancroft Gardens, and some lovely cafes and shops.  

The entrance to a restaurant in Stratford upon Avon with a tree in front of it.

We stopped off in one of the pubs for a drink in the beer garden.

6. Take a Boat Ride on River Avon 

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If you don’t want to walk two to three miles along the river, make a stopover where boats are parked at the canal. You can hire a small rowing boat by the hour or self-drive a motorboat and enjoy the tranquil waters of River Avon as you enjoy one of the most romantic things to do in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Another classic way to sail through the waters is hopping on an Edwardian passenger vessel for a public cruise. Expect to be surrounded by green parks and flower-filled gardens, with stunning views of Stratford Upon Avon attractions. Spending a sunny afternoon cruising on the river is well worth your time.

If you visit Stratford in and around September, the autumn foliage colors will leave you wanting another ride. You may encounter a family of swans crossing by!

We didn’t do this as I didn’t trust Charlie not to try and jump in haha.

7. Ride the Big Wheel

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The Big Wheel is one of the most exhilarating things to do near Stratford Upon Avon. Take a ride on the 40-meter Ferris wheel to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the city. It offers breathtaking views, so look for the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre, River Avon, Holy Trinity Church, and the Welcombe Hills, topped by the unmistakable obelisk. This offers a fantastic experience to view the Shakespearean town and its surroundings.  

8. Enjoy a Meal at the Woodsman Restaurant

A woman holding a baby at a table with wine glasses in Stratford upon Avon.

One of the best additions to Stratford Upon Avon is the Woodsman, a modern farm-to-table restaurant and bar with rustic chic interiors that’s a must for foodies. The Woodsman’s building was used as an inn from 1655 to 1661 and hosted the Royal Shakespeare Club’s annual dinner in the early 19th century. Besides the delicious food, it’s a fascinating and historic attraction.

The Woodsman is part of the quaint Hotel Indigo and is famous for its unique menu. The delicacies here are made authentically using the oldest cooking methods known to man (wood, charcoal, and flame), giving everything a rich taste.

The restaurant has won many hearts, or should we say many guts! There are countless testimonies praising its delicious food, portion sizes, classic English breakfast, friendly staff, and impeccable service. Reserve your table in advance, as the restaurant remains full most of the time.   

9. Visit a Spectacular Butterfly Farm

The Stratford Butterfly Farm is Europe’s largest butterfly farm, so you can’t miss it. Seeing the colorful, dainty insects flying around the shrubs and plants in the glistening sun rays is heavenly. 

The farm is built like a warm greenhouse with tropical plants for the butterflies to flourish. You’ll see butterflies, caterpillars, spiders, beetles, tarantulas, and many other insects that live in the ecosystem. There is also a pond full of carp and iguanas!

Thankfully, the farm is also easy on the wallet. Finish your trip to the Butterfly Farm by stopping at the on-site gift shop packed with unique presents for nature lovers and soft plush toys.

10. Take an Open-Air Bus Tour 

If you want to check out the best Stratford Upon Avon attractions, an open-air bus tour is perfect. These tours highlight Shakespeare’s birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s cottage, and Mary Arden’s Farm. Watching the bustling Stratford Upon Avon streets while passing the historical sights is fun.

11. Take the Stratford Town Ghost Walk 

This is no ordinary walk of Stratford Upon Avon! It’s guided by professional actors and entertainers who share tales of the town’s supernatural occurrences, murder, and mystery.

The walk starts in the evening, adding to the ghostly effect and leaving you thrilled and surprised. This is a unique way to explore the Tudor town at night—the old buildings, cobbled paths, and nighttime eeriness provide a spine-chilling experience.

12. Cycle Along the Stratford Greenway

To explore the Warwickshire countryside, rent a bicycle and ride the Stratford Greenwa for a rural, rustic experience. This Greenway is a 5-mile cycle route that starts from the bridge over River Avon and passes through the Stratford race course, over Stannals Bridge, and along the tree-lined road to Long Marston. It’s an easy and fun route for riders of all ages and abilities to explore.  

The Stratford Bike Hire and Carriages Café is an exciting venue made of refurbished railway carriages. If you’re riding the path in spring, you’ll have a chance to watch Eurasian birds. Listen to the shrill sounds of nesting skylarks and spot bright yellow splashes of cowslips nestling in the woodlands.

3 Things to Do Near Stratford Upon Avon

1. Visit the British Motor Museum

A woman and a child standing next to a Shaun sheep truck in Stratford upon Avon.

The British Motor Museum in Gaydon is one of the best places to visit near Stratford Upon Avon. Located just an hour away, it’s home to the world’s most extensive collection of historic British cars. There are over 400 cars on display from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust and the Jaguar Heritage Trust, making it an exciting place to learn about the history of British cars.

You’ll see unique old models that transport you to another era, including classic Mini Coopers, Land Rovers, Fords, Rolls Royces, and more. The British Motor Museum is located off junction 12 of the M40, and there’s a coach service from Stratford Upon Avon to visit the museum. 

2. Take a Trip to the Cotswolds 

The Cotswolds, just 30 miles from Stratford Upon Avon, offers beautiful British rural charm with honey-colored stone homes, ancient pubs, medieval churches, and excellent food.

Drive through the panoramic view of Dover’s Hill, explore the historic market village at Chipping Campden, and take amazing pictures of Bibury’s Arlington Row. Be amazed at the Bourton-On-the-Water, considered the “Venice of the Cotswolds.”

The Cotswolds can easily be done as a day trip. Many minibus group tours are organized from Stratford Upon Avon, or you can drive your rental car. 

3. Experience a Medieval Knight’s Life at Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle is eight miles from Stratford upon Avon, in case you want a fun destination with a short drive. You can spend hours exploring the castle and its surroundings, including the world’s largest working catapult launch, a tall tower with a panoramic view of the fort, 64 acres of beautiful gardens, and an exciting history dating back to the 10th century.

Warwick Castle is one of the most well-preserved in the United Kingdom, thanks to Merlin, the management company that oversees attractions like Madame Tussauds and Legoland. You can visit Warwick Castle by tour coach, train, or car—all easily accessible, though there’s no free parking.

💡Quick Tip
View my full UK packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my UK Essentials shopping list here.

UK Travel Guide Planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for UK?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to UK which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for UK on Amazon here.

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance. I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise, Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in UK?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options available!

🚗 Where can I book rental cars or private transportation?

I strongly recommend using RentalCars. They are available in more than 60.000 locations and customer service support in more than 40 languages.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using either Airhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are,, and Expedia. They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack.

Things to Do in Stratford Upon Avon: Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this guide to the top things to do in Stratford-Upon-Avon inspires you to plan a trip! I can’t recommend the beautiful town of Stratford Upon Avon enough, even if you’re not a big Shakespeare fan. From delicious food and fascinating history to beautiful architecture and parks, Stratford Upon Avon has something for everyone.