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Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 17 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Annabelle Thorpe

Ardent fans of the world’s most famous playwright – or anyone even mildly interested in history – should head to picturesque Stratford-upon-Avon to explore the life and works of the great William Shakespeare.

The town is dotted with historic houses linked to the Shakespeare family, from his mother’s farm, to the homes where he lived and died. All are now cared for by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

There are five Shakespeare-related ‘houses’ to visit: Anne Hathaway’s Cottage & Gardens, Hall’s Croft, Mary Arden’s Farm, Nash’s House & New Place, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, and also Shakespeare’s grave. Together, the properties give a unique insight into Shakespeare’s life, and the times he lived in.

To complete the Shakespeare experience, book in to see a play at the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

If you’ve peaked on the Bard, Stratford does have non-Shakespearian attractions; the Butterfly Farm is the largest in the UK, with hundreds of free-flying butterflies, while the MAD (mechanical art and design) museum is the only permanent collection of kinetic art – from marble runs to 3D faces and mechanical birds – in the country.

The bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination

Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

Anne Hathaway's (William Shakespeare's wife) famous thatched cottage surrounded by a green garden at Shottery, just outside Stratford upon Avon, England.
Experience

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage & Gardens

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, United Kingdom (UK)

The childhood home of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife, the house dates back 500 years and still has some of the Hathaways’ original furniture. Outside, the beautiful cottage gardens stretch for several acres.

Best for ages: 13+ | £8

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Various species of Butterflies, taken on a trip to Stratford Upon Avon Butterfly Farm. A black, orange and yellow coloured butterfly sitting on a green leaf.
Experience

Butterfly Farm

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, United Kingdom (UK)

The UK’s largest butterfly collection, hundreds of brightly-coloured butterflies live freely in an exotic environment of lush foliage and tropical blossom, housed in large greenhouses.

Best for ages: 4+ | £7 | 1-2 hours

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view of the canel type boat on the river
Experience

Countess of Evesham

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, United Kingdom (UK)

Glide along the river Avon as the sunsets, on a dinner cruise that takes in the lush countryside surrounding Stratford.

Best for ages: 18+ | £36 | 2-3 hours

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View showing the outside of Hall's Croft in Stratford upon Avon where daughter of William Shakespeare lived. Where plants are seen stemmed and structured on the outside of the house
Experience

Hall’s Croft

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, United Kingdom (UK)

The elegant Jacobean home of Shakespeare’s’ daughter, Susanna Hall and her husband. The house has an impressive collection of 17th- and 18th-century art, with a delightful garden.

Best for ages: 18+ | £13

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

City Sightseeing Stratford-upon-Avon Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

City Sightseeing Stratford-upon-Avon Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

Stratford-upon-Avon

Explore Stratford-Upon-Avon with a 24-hour or 48-hour bus ticket aboard an open-top double-decker City Sightseeing bus! See Stratford’s most...

£15 | Rating 4.07 / 5 [152 ratings]

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

Hotel Indigo Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, United Kingdom (UK)

Literary history and contemporary style come together beautifully at this chic boutique hotel.

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The Townhouse

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, United Kingdom (UK)

Age and style combine in this chic townhouse hotel, right in the heart of town. 

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Hotel du Vin Stratford

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, United Kingdom (UK)

A slick boutique hotel with a buzzy bistro, and a charming courtyard terrace away from the crowds. 

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White Swan Hotel

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire , United Kingdom (UK)

Stratford’s oldest hostelry, dating back to the 16th century, with contemporary rooms and a cosy restaurant.

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When to go

In the summer months, the town can get over-run with visitors and tour groups – if you want to visit then, try and come first thing in the morning, or late afternoon. Spring and autumn are more pleasurable time to visit, when the weather is still warm and the streets and historic sites are markedly quieter.

Getting there and away

Stratford is around 2.5 hours’ drive from London. Trains from London Marylebone take about 2 hours, and it’s a short walk from the station into the centre of town.

The nearest airports are Birmingham (18 miles) and Luton (60 miles) while Heathrow is around 60-90 minutes’ drive (72 miles).

Getting around

Stratford is small enough to be easily walkable, and with the train station a short stroll from the centre and plenty of taxis available, it’s an ideal car-free break. If driving, and just coming for the day, there’s an efficient Park & Ride service.