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William Shakespeare is one of the representatives of English literature and culture who needs no further introduction, and Stratford-upon-Avon is the city in which to follow in his footsteps like few other places in England. In this post I am going to explain step by step the reason to visit this city that is relatively close to London and can be an excellent excursion.
Images (*) Matías Callone
Why visit Stratford-upon-avon?
Stratford-upon-Avon receives no less than three million visitors each year. So just to follow the “flock” would have to put this city on our traveling radar. But as I like to be a traveller with arguments, I will tell you the real reason why you have to get to this city: if William Shakespeare is the playwright that we could not dissociate from English culture in any way, this city cannot in any other way be dissociated from the figure of its most famous inhabitant: here William Shakespeare was born, and here dies. There are many buildings here that have their place in history because they belonged to W. Shakespeare and to direct relatives of W. Shakespeare (besides they were very well preserved). Here there are also theatres dedicated to his work, foundations, the house where the playwright is born and dies. You can make a route about the writer, his properties, his life, without leaving the city. That said, a flock of tourists in which I include myself following the fossilized footsteps for eternity of this writer. Not to mention that it is an ideal city to start a route (or finish it) through the most beautiful English countryside area: Cotswolds.
Photo: W. Shakespeare’s birthplace:
How to get to Stratford-upon-Avon.
On my journey through the English countryside of the Cotswolds I made my visit to this city. Therefore, if you leave London in the direction of exploring this countryside region, Stratford-upon-Avon will be an unavoidable point on our route. It is located south of Birmingham (i.e. quite close to what is the second largest city in the UK), and is a small town of just over 23,000 inhabitants. It is a small-scale destination, peaceful, easy to visit and travel.
How to get there by plane. Both Birmingham and London have the nearest major airports and possible connections for flights from Spain.
How to get there by train. The easiest connections are from both Birmingham and London. Both cities are connected by train. And from London, departing from London Marylebone Station, there are about seven connections a day. In fact it is not at all crazy to arrive and come back in the day if we coordinate the schedules well. Find out the details, because many times the train arrives at nearby Leamington Spa, and from there you have to continue by bus.
How to get there by car. Driving through the Cotswolds area to Stratford-upon-Avon is an excellent option. Tip to rent a car: on the blog we manage more than 1,500 car rental bookings from our readers with Rentalcars from this search engine. I always like to clarify that if you rent from this link will not have any extra surcharge, you will get a convenient price comparison to choose the most appropriate to your budget, and by doing so, you help with the operation of the blog. My recommendation is that you try to rent your car in the airports because there are the best prices. In this case from London, or maybe rent a car from Birmingham. How to follow the route through Cotswolds. I recommend you to see the detail of my route in this post uniting one by one the most beautiful villages of Cotswolds. This tour actually starts in the city of Shakespeare.
How to get there by bus. Buses to Stratford-upon-Avon from London depart from Victoria Coach Station (National Express Company)
How to get there on a day trip from London. If we don’t want to complicate ourselves and enjoy the comfort of doing an organized tour from London, and with guides in Spanish, here you can book it and see the details for a one day tour that includes a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon and the city of Oxford (all together on the same day).
Overnight in Stratford-upon-Avon.
This city is not only a good place to stay, but also a base for exploring the northern part of the Cotswolds area. I recommend you to look at prices and options because it can be one of the places with more variety of accommodation in the area, although it will always be good to anticipate and especially avoid the dates of festivals and activities in the city, where it can be saturated with tourists.
Compare prices on over 150 accommodation in Stratford-upon-Avon here.
Attractions: What to see in Stratford-upon-Avon
The birthplace of William Shakespeare (and all that Shakespeare means to the city). The house where William Shakespeare is believed to have been born is a museum (it is the main attraction of the city and here you can book the ticket at the local price).
There are also more attractions in the world of theatre: on the banks of the river is the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, where the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is based. It is actually two small theatres (The Swan and the Black Box Theatre) that add to the attractions related to the world of the playwright in the city. There are also more historical sites related to the writer. For example, the church where he was baptized (Holy Trinity Church). And in addition to houses that belonged to this universally famous surname, there are other buildings of interest, such as her daughter’s house (Hall´s Croft), the house of her late years, or properties that belonged to her family such as Anne Hathaway´s Cottage, Mary Arden´s House (her mother’s house) and other farms and buildings throughout the environment. In fact, you can put together an authentic “Shakespeare route” through all those buildings of historical interest.
There are also numerous institutions in Stratford-upon-Avon that study or spread the life of the playwright, such as the Shakespeare Institute.
The tourist bus that follows the Shakespeare route. If we don’t want to get dizzy with maps and directions we can make the tourist bus that connects the essential points of W. S.’s life in the city. This bus connects points such as Shakespeare’s Birthplace and the Shakespeare Centre, Shakespeare’s New Place, River Avon and Royal Shakespeare Theatre, or other properties related to the playwright (Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Mary Arden’s Farm (visited only in the summer season). This bus has a cost of 15 euros and here you can hire it and reserve your ticket.
The Avon River. This river, crosses a beautiful park that is a step away from the small center of the city. The entire downtown area and the river environment is a beautiful, though brief, walk. There, in that environment are the Bancroft Gardens and the memorial with the statue of W. Shakespeare.
Jerwood Sculpture Park (Ragley Hall). Ragley Hall is only 13 kilometres from the city, and is one of the most remarkable palaces in England. There is also the Jerwood Sculpture Park, a collection ranging from the 19th to the 20th century.
When it’s the best time to visit.
There is no doubt that the season that goes from mid spring to mid summer is the best to visit both this city and England in general. I made my visit in early fall, and although somewhat cool, it was quite peaceful. In the summer when I made my visit to London, it is rarely too hot, so it can be very pleasant days, and somewhat cool nights, which is said to be the perfect time to travel.
When to devote time to Stratford-upon-Avon.
A full day is enough to organize us to know the main houses and attractions of the writer. Also although small, its center is animated (perhaps more by tourists than by locals, who sometimes resist a little so much invasion). Walking through the center, and reaching the park and the banks of the Avon River is soon done, and the weather probably won’t help us much to stay outdoors much longer if we’re not on summer days. What needs to be organized a little more will be visits to the “Shakespeare” museums. To do this, I recommend consulting the official timetables on the official websites.
Finally, I insist because Cotswolds is one of the most beautiful regions of England, so I share to close the guide I made about this region after my trip 🙂
(*) All images belong to Matías Callone and are under Creative Commons license.
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