As the birthplace of world famous playwright William Shakespeare and home to the winding River Avon, amongst other beautiful sites, Stratford-upon-Avon is a cultural haven. Whether you wish to visit for an hour, a day, or even a week, you’ll have plenty to explore in this delightful riverside town.
We’ve made a list of the top cultural attractions in Stratford-upon-Avon, so you can get the most out of your visit.
Be entertained at the theatre
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre originally opened in 1879 and with its two sister theatres – The Swan and The Other Place – is the lifeblood of the town. One of the world’s best-known theatre ensembles, the three theatres show performances throughout the year, focusing on works by Shakespeare, other renaissance dramatists and contemporary writers.
Get the best views around
One of the best things to do in Stratford is to take a Tower Tour at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Ascend the 118ft red brick tower for views across the entire town - including the River Avon, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Estate and its stunning surroundings. Whilst you’re there, treat yourself to lunch or dinner at the Rooftop Restaurant, offering glorious views as well as delicious global flavours and great cocktails.
Learn about Shakespeare’s life
As the place of birth and death of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon Avon is home to many buildings that help tell the poet’s life story. Explore the legacy that he's left behind and immerse yourself in Shakespearean culture by visiting Shakespeare’s family homes. Take the time to explore his childhood world at Shakespeare’s birthplace, visit his mother Mary Arden’s Farm and even meet the next generation: his daughter Susanna, her husband John and their elegant abode, Hall’s Croft. There are five sites to explore in total and you can purchase a Full Story ticket from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, covering all sites.
Get out on the water
Enjoy a sunny afternoon on the water when you hire a boat on the River Avon. Avon Boating, established in 1898, offers rowing boats, self-drive motor boats, punts and canoes from late March to late October. You can explore more than three miles of the river, take in the sites and enjoy a picnic under the willows; it’s the perfect way to spend an afternoon. And, if you don’t want to drive your own boat, why not relax on one of the many rides that offer a very quintessentially English cream tea?
Find peace at the Church
Located on the peaceful banks of the River Avon, the Holy Trinity Church is considered one of England’s most-visited Parish Churches. This is unsurprising, as it is the site where William Shakespeare was baptised in 1564 and buried in 1616. Admire the delicate architecture and picturesque surroundings of ‘Shakespeare’s Church’, before visiting his grave. You can also visit the graves of his wife Anne Hathaway, his daughter Susanna and her husband Dr John Hall.
Go back to school
Learn about where William Shakespeare was educated and inspired to become the world’s greatest playwright. More than just a museum, Shakespeare’s Schoolroom & Guildhall provides a truly immersive experience, where you’ll feel like you’re studying next to Shakespeare himself. Take part in a Tudor lesson with Master Thomas Jenkins and brush up on your Latin. Admire medieval wall paintings, dress up Tudor-style, play Tudor games and perfect your handwriting with a quill and ink.
Flutter around a farm
Discover hundreds of the world’s most spectacular and beautiful butterflies at Europe’s largest butterfly farm. See them feed and fly in a wonderful tropical environment and learn about their lifecycle. Visit the Discovery Zone to find out about the plants growing at the Butterfly Farm and see if you can spot some of the world’s largest and most camouflaged caterpillars, alongside cocoons and giant silk moths. Don’t go home without checking out the Minibeast Metropolis, which houses one of the largest insect collections in the UK!
A great way to see the cultural sights of Stratford-upon-Avon is to use the hop-on hop-off city sightseeing bus. The bus tours the city with 11 stops around the city, including all of the main sights and attractions. Sit up top on the double decker bus and get 360-degree panoramic views of Stratford. The buses have audio commentary, so you can learn lots of fascinating facts as you are driven around the city. The bus runs from 09:30 until 16:00 (winter) and 17:00 (summer). You can choose between a 24-hour or 48-hour ticket, so you’ll have plenty of time to see all of Stratford-upon-Avon’s attractions.
Whatever cultural site tickles your fancy, taking the train to Stratford-upon-Avon is easy with CrossCountry. Make sure you take advantage of great savings with our Advance train tickets.