Stratford-upon-Avon, a popular tourist destination, is a market town in the county of Warwickshire; famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare and the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Stratford-upon-Avon train station is about a 10-minute walk from the town centre. Buses to the town centre are available from just outside of the station and a taxi rank can be found immediately outside of the station entrance.
Regular trains from London Marylebone: Journey time is two hours (this can take longer at the weekend) with super off-peak return tickets starting from £30.00.
There are two trains an hour from Birmingham Moor street: Journey time is between 40 and 52 minutes with off-peak return tickets starting at £8.10 return on a week day and £14.30 at the weekends.
There are several fee-paying long and short stay car parks throughout the town, which can be very busy particularly at the weekends and summer months.
A Stratford park and ride service is available from Bishopton Lane. Parking charges are £1.00 daily from 09:00 until 23:59 and must be purchased with a bus ticket which cost £2.00 return per adult. Buses run every 5 minutes and the journey into the centre of Stratford takes 10-12 minutes. The last bus returns to the car park at 19:00 during the peak months. We have used this service and found it to be easy and stress-free. Once in the centre of Stratford we found it easy to walk to various places of interest.
What to see
Holy Trinity Church
An avenue of 12 lime trees said to represent the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles, line the approach to Holy Trinity the burial place of William Shakespeare and his wife Anne Hathaway.
This is a calm beautiful spot and well worth a visit. Entry to the church is free however a “donation” of £3.00 is charged to visit Shakespeare’s grave.
This is a 16th century half-timbered house where it is believed William Shakespeare was born and grew up. We enjoyed the “Shakespeare Aloud!” experience where live actors in costume mingle with the crowds and act out scenes from Shakespeare plays at the request of the audience. I was thrilled when they performed my request for the famous balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. Entry is £15.75 per adult ticket for an hours visit.
The full story ticket is £20.25 per adult if purchased online and includes 12 months unlimited visits to all 5 properties associated with William Shakespeare:
- Shakespeare’s Birthplace
- Mary Arden’s farm (Shakespeare’s mother’s house),
- Anne Hathaway’s cottage (where Shakespeare courted his bride)
- Shakespeare’s new place (a commemorative garden and small museum mark the site of Shakespeare’s home)
- Hall’s Croft (the home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband Dr John Hall.)
Situated in front of the RSC and extending along the banks of the River Avon, this is a very popular area particularly during the summer months. This extensive grassy area is a popular picnic spot complete with street entertainers.
Departing from Bancroft gardens next to RSC, Avon Boating company offer a 40-minute cruise along the River Avon in an Edwardian passenger launch. Tickets are £6.00 per adult and depart roughly every 20 minutes every day from March to October.
Situated on the recreation ground next to the River opposite the RSC, this 40 metre Ferris wheel, with 6-seater pods, offers great aerial views of Stratford. Operating from April until the Autumn at a cost £5.00 per adult.
Places to stay
There are numerous hotels and bed and breakfast accommodation in the heart of Stratford-upon-Avon to suit all budgets, including two Premier Inn’s.
Premier Inn – Great for budgets
We have stayed at both Premier Inn locations on visits to Stratford. Premier Inn Stratford Waterways hotel(with charged parking on site) and Premier Inn Stratford-upon-Avon Central (no parking available on site).
Each hotel offers good clean basic accommodation, with comfortable beds, free WiFi, effective showers and tea and coffee making facilities. Breakfast is available at both hotels for an additional cost of £9.50 per adult for a full English breakfast. Rooms start from £65 per night during the week and up to £90.00 per night at the weekend, depending on which Premier Inn you choose.
Prices do fluctuate depending on the season so it’s always best to check the website.
Arden House – Highly recommended
Arden House is a little gem of a place, situated about a ten minutes walk away from the centre of Stratford. With just ten en suite rooms, free parking on site for seven cars, free WiFi, complimentary tea, coffee, snacks which are available 24 hours a day, this boutique style hotel offers a luxurious haven after a day’s sightseeing.
A house host is on duty during the day offering friendly advice and assistance creating a homely atmosphere. Breakfast is included in the room price, with a wide selection of items available freshly cooked to order and was superb. Prices start from £89 per night during the week and up to £131 per night at the weekend during high season.
Places to Eat
There are various eating places offering all types of cuisines in the centre of Stratford.
Restaurants and Pubs serving meals do get busy particularly during high season and at the weekend, so we would recommend booking a table for pre or post theatre. We ate at the Bistro Pierre situated over the river. We chose the summer evening prix fixe menu offering two courses for £15.95 which was excellent value and the food was delicious.
Royal Shakespeare Company
For us, no trip to Straford-upon-Avon would be complete without a visit to the RSC. The RSC attracts many visitors, even if you are not a fan of Shakespeare it is worth a visit. You can grab a drink in the Swan café bar and see the video wall of Shakespeare play titles which is impressive.
The RSC is home to the Royal Shakespeare and Swan theatres, both share a foyer, shop, box office, bars and restaurants. The Roof Top Restaurant offers a pre-theatre menu Monday to Saturday 11.30-3.30 & 4.30-6.15 with 2 courses for £22.00 or 3 courses for £26.
Royal Shakespeare Theatre
A grade two listed building which retains many of the art deco features re-opened in 2010 after a three-year restoration project. The main auditorium seats 1,018 around an open stage.
Opened in 1986, this intimate theatre seats 426 around a “deep thrust” three-sided stage and regularly stages works by new writers alongside Shakespeare’s contemporaries.
We find that it pays to be organised and plan our trips well in advance to ensure we get our preferred seats.
For first time visitors the RSC offers “First Time Friday” tickets for £10.00 for any show (maximum of 2 tickets per purchase) throughout this year. These can be booked in advance over the phone or in person. General ticket prices start from £16.00 depending on the day you want to visit and where you would like to sit. We have paid between £42 and £55 for a stalls ticket on a Saturday evening.