William Shakespeare- the man needs no introduction. Widely regarded as the most prominent and influential writer in the English language, his works inspired countless generations over hundreds of years. It’s no wonder, then, that sites related to him have become almost pilgrimages for those familiar with his works.
Stratford-Upon-Avon (more commonly referred to as Stratford) is known most famously for being the birthplace- and final resting place- of the legendary writer.
Only two hours from London by train, the historic market town is filled with notable buildings and Shakespeare-themed shops and statues, making it a prime tourist destination. Stratford’s Historic Spine Walk is a half-mile long self-guided walking tour through the town, and leads visitors along a pathway of historic buildings.
Visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace, a half timbered house located on Henley Street, is a must-see for visitors. The front of the house is visible from the street, but tickets must be purchased for entry inside the building. These tickets also include entry to the Shakespeare Centre, which must be passed through on the way to the house and contains an extensive collection of Shakespeare-related books, manuscripts and documentation.
Depending on the season, I recommend selecting a Shakespeare’s Story Ticket, which allows access to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Shakespeare’s New Place for only a few pounds more than the entry to just Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Keep in mind that the last two sites are only open seasonally, so it’s important to check availability online before booking.
Holy Trinity Church is the final resting place of William Shakespeare. Folks, I tried not once! not twice! but three times to get inside to see his grave on my visit, but the church was closed for a different reason each time! On the bright side, the exterior of the church was still pretty, and a maintenance worker for the building tipped us off to some delightfully old graffiti littering the back wall of the church. It definitely wasn’t a wasted visit!
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre houses the Royal Shakespeare Company and is definitely worth checking out. Unfortunately, they were not performing any Shakespeare plays when I visited, but I still had a nice time browsing their gift shop!
Stop for a drink at The Dirty Duck. The historic public house is located near both the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Swan Theatre, making it a favorite watering hole of the performing actors. Despite being expanded over three buildings, the pub feels pretty small and homey, with roaring fires in the main room- a delight after exploring in the cold all day. Keep your eyes peeled while drinking- this pub has been visited by the likes of Dame Judi Dench and Richard Attenborough!
Step back in time with an afternoon tea at the award winning Fourteas! The Tea-Room is, of course, 40s themed, with propaganda posters, British flags and 40s music throughout the venue. The decor may not be everyone’s cup of tea (ha!), but I’d say that their cream tea was one of the best I had throughout my stay in England! The scones were excellent, and their custom blend of tea was a great compliment to the snack.
Although the major highlights of Stratford can be visited in a single day trip, the town has enough activities and shops to keep visitors engaged for repeat visits- there’s always something new to check out, or a place worth going back to!