Shakespeare's town Stratford on Avon
Stratford on Avon, the historic birthplace of William Shakespeare and home to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre is nested within the heart of the English countryside on the river banks of the River Avon, and is now the most visited literary shrine in the world, and England’s premier tourist attraction outside of London.
It is also a prosperous market town with a wide variety of shopping, fine restaurants, Inns, beautiful historical monuments and theatres. It is close to many popular tourists destinations, including, only 16 km away, Warwick and its world famous Warwick Castle, 50 km away is the UK’s second largest city Birmingham (don't miss the opportunity to visit Bullring - Europe's largest shopping centre with over 160 shops under one roof), and London is only 160 km away. Just a two hour long train journey can take you directly to the centre of London. Stratford is also easily accessible from any main airport in the country. Map
Stratford's claim to fame is that William Shakespeare was born here in 1564, and his name is now everywhere - street names, souvenirs, statues, pub signs, theatres, and even the 'Shakespeare Houses'. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust administers these, undertaking continuing research and restoration and equipping the buildings with period furniture and fittings, exhibitions, and a variety of 'living history' displays. Shakespeare birthplace - and the five other 'Shakespeare houses' dotted in and around town - have just won gold in the Heart of England tourism awards.
Set in lovely gardens, Ann Hathaway's Cottage, childhood home of the Bard's wife, is a thatched farmhouse in Shottery, just outside town, while in Wilmcote, just five kilometres away, the family home of his mother Mary Arden is once again a working '16th century' farm, complete with dairy and rare breed animals.
Shakespeare died in 1616 and is buried in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church; his family added the well-known effigy seven years afterwards. In his lifetime, Stratford had no theatre; now, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Swan Theatre (a replica Elizabethan theatre) stand on the riverside. As well as performances, the theatres offer a collection of costumes and memorabilia as well as backstage tours.
When you feel like a break from all the literature culture you can go for a stroll in one of the beautiful gardens or enjoy riverside walks of which there are plenty throughout the town. If you are feeling adventurous you can also hire a boat and sail on the River Avon.
You can visit Stratford on Avon at any time of the year with plenty to see. The town itself only has a population of around 24 000, but it can attract as many as 3 million tourists a year!
Using the Stratford district as a base, you can not only enjoy the delights of Shakespeare's hometown, but also the nearby surrounding shire counties of Oxfordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. Enjoy Blenheim Palace and the Cotswolds to the south, Worcester and the Malverns to the west, Warwick Castle and Henley in Arden to the north, and all within an hour's journey of Stratford itself.
More about Stratford on Avon ( sound, new window)
Visiting Stratford on Avon - tours and excursions
The official website for Stratford on Avon (new window)
Visitors feedback on Tripadvisor (new window)
Stratford's weekly newspaper The Herald (new window)
Watch a video (in HD and with sound)