The 12 best things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon
Stunning, steeped in culture and history and with great community spirit. From gin cruises to ghost tours, here's everything you need to do in town.
1/ Be a culture vulture
The first thing most people think of when they come to Stratford is (rightly) Shakespeare. For a trip steeped in history spend a day exploring his birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and New Place – his home for 19 years. A ticket to all three costs £26 and is available from charity Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
2/ Catch a show at the RSC
You’ve read the books, you’ve seen his homes, now watch his works in action. Muddy faves The RSC always put on a belter of a show so make sure you book to see one while you’re in town. The theatre also has an awesome restaurant which does really fairly priced pre-show meals so make a reservation at the Rooftop Restaurant (our review here). It has amazing views over the town on a clear day and if it’s warm try and bag a table outside on the terrace.
3/ Stay at this luxe hotel
Just a stone’s throw from the RSC is The Arden Hotel (they usually have stay and theatre packages so check the website). It’s a stunning hotel with a lovely 2 AA rosette restaurant onsite and serves afternoon teas to die for. Rooms are super plush and comfy, with squishy beds perfect to fall into after a long day exploring the cobbled streets. Check out what we thought here.
4/ Grab breakfast at this awesome bakery
Muddy Award finalists MOR Bakery have a legion of local fans, and rightly so. Their huge pastries are the perfect naughty morning pick me up and you need to try one of their Cruffins yet (yes that’s a croissant and a muffin rolled into one ball of fluffy doughy goodness). You can eat breakfast in or if it’s not raining take out with a coffee and enjoy alfresco along the banks of the Avon.
5/ Float down the river while sipping a cold G&T
What’s better than nursing a cold gin and tonic? Sipping on a cold glass while on a relaxing boat ride down Stratford’s pretty River Avon, that’s what. Shakespeare Distillery offers hour-long cruises which take in Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Holy Trinity Church and Shakespeare’s burial place, while you sip on their craft gins and end the tour with a G&T to toast the crew. Hot-foot it to their distillery afterwards – if you buy a large bottle and take it back empty they’ll refill it for a discounted rate. Hic.
6/ Snuggle a rescue sheep
Just on the outskirts of the town is Farm Animal Rescue Sanctuary which takes in rescue farm animals. They do tours where you can meet the fluffy residents who are more than happy to come for a cuddle and selfie in exchange for a rich tea biscuit. Make sure you wear your wellies, it gets a bit muddy, but it’s a really lovely trip and the volunteers are full of knowledge.
7/ Fill your face with cookies
Finished drooling yet? The Cookie Cottage is fairly new to Stratford but is quickly getting a reputation for serving up the best cookies in town – huge, gooey, decadent and ridiculously moreish. Grab a box and stuff your face with them after dinner, and then make sure you get a second to take home with you.
8/ Go on a shopping spree
Go a pootle down the Evesham Road and you’ll find Bonds Lifestyle – a one stop shop for everything cool, quirky and boho. There’s furniture, homeware, goodies for your garden and clothes – oh and you can even take your dog in. There’s a super Instagrammable cafe instore too so grab a cake (and take a snap) before you leave.
9/ See the spirits
From 7.30pm every Saturday there’s a ghost walk through the town’s ‘haunted’ streets. Tour guides will tell you all about the witch who lived in a slum, a 17th century haunted tearoom, the theatre ghost and a jilted bride., gulp. Booking is essential.
10/ Raise a glass
If you’re looking for somewhere to unwind with a drink head to The Woodsman just opposite New Place. They’ve got a fully stocked whiskey bar, serve cocktails with foraged ingredients, a hefty wine list and if beer’s your thing you’ll be covered too. There’s loads of nooks and crannies to settle down and get cosy if one glass isn’t enough – is it ever?
11/ Go for a stroll
Pop along to pretty Compton Verney where there’s an art gallery for a bit of culture and acres of gorgeous Capability Brown landscape to walk around. You can easily make a day of it and there’s a restaurant on site to grab lunch or a coffee hut if you want something on the go.
12/ Sleep under the stars
If you want to feel away from it all head to Wootton Park Pods where there’s treehouses and glamping pods. There’s also a wellness retreat if you really want to zen out. And breathe…..