A Day With The Bard – Stratford Upon Avon For Shakespeare Fans

Day out in Stratford Upon Avon. Shakespeare things to do in Stratford.

A Day Out In Stratford Upon Avon – Shakespeare Sights

Are you visiting Stratford Upon Avon because you love all things Will and want to lap up the Shakespeare experience? Travel back in time with us and enjoy your ride on the Stratford Shakespeare Express…

The Stratford Shakespeare Would Have Known…

As Will was born in Stratford Upon Avon in 1564 you may well expect there wouldn’t be much left to see from those bygone times. Incredibly though, you’d be wrong! The Stratford Shakespeare would have been familiar with is still very tangible. Stratford Upon Avon is probably one of the most Tudor-ish towns we have in the UK and much of what William Shakespeare would have known is still intact. From the church he was christened in, onto the school room he learned his craft and down to the place he spent his final years – a day out in Stratford Upon Avon for Shakespeare fans is a real treat.

We’ve put together a list of all of the places you would want to see and visit in ‘Shakespeare Upon Avon’ that will transport you back in time. Let us spend a day in Stratford with The Bard…

What To See In Stratford Upon Avon For Shakespeare Lovers

Walk through the pages of history and make your day trip to Stratford Upon Avon all about Will…

1. Book Yourself Into Will’s Mate’s Hotel

So if you’re going to embark on a day out in Stratford Upon Avon then why not make it an overnight stay!? You will want to book tickets for the Shakespeare Theatre anyway, so it makes total sense, right? And with Warwick Castle and the picturesque Royal town of Leamington Spa on your doorstep, you could easily make this a short break in the county of Warwickshire.

Once owned by Shakespeare’s childhood friends’ father-in-law, Robert Perrott, The White Swan is one of Stratford’s most historic hotels and grants an opportunity to absorb a bit of Tudor-luxory. The boutique hotel is a cozy scene of wood panelling, medieval wall paintings and log fires. And the bedrooms are no less impressive, loaded with wood carvings, Shakespeare-inspired artwork and Egyptian cotton sheets. It’s a Grade II listed building and has been welcoming guests since 1560. As Shakespeare fans we think you’re going to love the place!

For the best deals at The Swan Hotel in Stratford, click here.

2. From Birth To Death – Visit Shakespeares Grave & Baptism Church

Holy Trinity Church sits at the far end of town and was the start and end of Shakespeare’s life. Not only was this the church that witnessed his baptism and funeral, it’s also the place where he is buried alongside his wife, daughter and son-in-law. They lay in a special tomb beneath the altar which was not the usual custom unless you were a person with considerable funds. Whilst the rest of Stratford’s expired lay humbly in the grounds, Shakespeare paid the handsome sum of £440 to be laid in peace with his family. The inscription on the grave makes you wonder if he feared being disturbed in death.

There is a bust of Shakespeare above the tomb which was commissioned by his son-in-law shortly after Shakespeare’s death. Ann, his wife, was still alive at this time so you can definitely presume it’s a very good likeness to dear (not so) old Will.

You have to pay to visit the church and make sure you check there isn’t a service happening as these occasions aren’t open to the public.

It’s a lovely walk back towards town alongside the River Avon.

3. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

A legacy and a half, this place! There has been a theatre on this spot since 1879 and part of that building survived a great fire in 1926. Elisabeth Whitworth Scott later designed the theatre you see today, incorporating the beautiful 1879 remains, and Shakespeare’s works have been performed here ever since.

The Royal Shakespeare Society was formed in 1961 and if you do have the opportunity to see a performance by this wonderful association you will definitely not be disappointed. The theatres alone transport you back 500 years but the performances themselves will blow you away, I promise.

4. Young Will at Bancroft Gardens

Adjacent to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and right on the River Avon, are the Bancroft Gardens. They’re always a hive of activity but especially for those searching for William Shakespeare in Stratford Upon Avon. It’s time for a selfie with The Bard…

Young Will was gifted to the town by American actor and director, Lawrence Holofcener, in 2016 to mark 400 years since Shakespeare’s death. It’s a fantastic photo opportunity with the Stratford Shakespeare Theatre in the background, so ‘To selfie or not to selfie, that is the question…’

We think it would be criminal to miss the chance!

5. The Shakespeare Memorial

Across the marina from the Bancroft Gardens is another photo opportunity of Shakespeare at the Gower Memorial, although I’m not suggesting a selfie this time – let’s not climb on the furniture!

Originally placed on the other side of the theatre, Shakespeare once faced his tomb at Holy Trinity Church, these days it’s a much brighter outlook for him with narrow boats and ducks to gaze upon.

Shakespeare sits up top and the rest of the sculptures are representative of Macbeth, Hamlet, Falstaff and Henry IV. It’s a must-see on your Shakespeare tour.

6. Walk In Shakespeare’s Footsteps On Sheep Street

Sheep Street in Stratford Upon Avon Shakespeare.

Sheep Street is one of the best-preserved streets in Stratford Upon Avon and one that definitely stood in the days of Shakespeare. In fact, Shrieves House on Sheep Street is thought to be the oldest ‘home’ in Stratford and was owned by a notable character. Mr William Rogers, the proprietor, it has been said, is the real-life inspiration behind Shakespeare’s comedic character, Falstaff, who appears in 3 of his plays.

Shrieves House is now the Tudor World Museum, a great addition to any day trip to Stratford Upon Avon if you have the time. You can travel back in time and take a tour with the Bard himself as he guides you around his hometown and tells you about some of his inspirations.

7. See The Guild Chapel

Whilst it’s impressive in its own right that a church from the 13th century still stands sturdily and would definitely be worth a peek inside regardless, there’s also a connection with Shakespeare here too. William’s father John was a prominent member of the community in Stratford and shouldered many responsible roles including bailiff, magistrate and alderman. And, one job he was given was to whitewash the walls of the Guild Chapel on Church Street. But why?

During the English Reformation Edward VI passed legislation about certain imagery in churches, banning some of the macabre medieval paintings. In Tudor England, life was fleeting and purgatory and judgement were more prominent thoughts so these were often the scenes depicted on church walls. The Guild Chapel was no exception and it was John Shakespeare himself, as a Chamberlain for the Stratford Corporation, who ended up whitewashing the scenes from view.

The Guild Chapel in Stratford. William Shakespeares Father preyed here

Thankfully the whitewash wasn’t the complete destruction the King would have liked and with a little bit of care and attention, the powerful scenes have been uncovered and renewed for our enjoyment. Dance of Death, Doom, and Erthe Upon Erthe are particularly detailed and you can’t help but wonder about how so many of Shakespeare’s subjects and characters are just a reflection of his core afterlife beliefs and convictions.

8. Where Shakespeare Went To School

Attached to The Guild Church are the Guildhall and Kings Grammar School of Stratford. The building is an impressively long Tudor structure and had already been standing for 200 years before William reached school age!

Shakespeares schoolroom and Guildhall on Church Street, Stratford Upon Avon

The Schoolroom and Guildhall are open every day from 11am to 5pm and tickets are £12.50. You can expect to learn about the rigorous school day of a Stratford boy in Shakespeare’s time and even sit in the classroom he would have written his first poems in. They were educated in Latin and expected to speak it all day at school, along with studying the works of famous Latin poets Horace and Virgil.

Learn to write with a quill and ink, dress up in Tudor costume and marvel at the 600-year old medieval wall paintings.

9. Visit Shakespeare’s New Place

This is by far my favourite Stratford Shakespeare tourist attraction!

After a short while in London, William Shakespeare’s plays really started to gain traction and earn The Bard a pretty penny. He was, therefore, able to secure one of the most impressive estates in Stratford and move his young family out of his parent’s home and into his new place on Chapel Street.

Sadly Shakespeare’s home was destroyed in the 17th century but his neighbour’s home, Nash House, still stands and records show that it was almost identical to Wills. Nash House has since been turned into a museum with a ton of Shakespeare artifacts and collections including his will, his signet ring, and a whole host of crazy stories about why the property was pulled down.

But my favourite part are the gardens beyond. If you are a fan of Maggie O’Farrell’s novel Hamnet, a story about Shakespeare’s family in the absence of Will himself, you will definitely appreciate the space where Ann Hathaway would have spent her longest days. It’s an inspiring collection of sculptures and art in a landscaped footprint of Shakespeare’s family home, intertwined with words from his plays and poems. It’s really beautiful and well worth the entrance fee.

You can buy a combined ticket (called The Full Story) for New Place, Shakespeares Birthplace and Ann Hathaways Cottage for only £25 and the ticket last all year for repeat visits.

10. Hall’s Croft in Old Town

Around the corner from the Guildhall and not far from Holy Trinity Church is Hall’s Croft. John Hall was the physician who married William Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, and they lived in this home for a short while.

Hall's Croft where William Shakespeares daughter lived with her physician husband. What to see in Stratford upon avon

It was a new-build to them and is another remarkable Jacobean building of Stratford that has stood the toils of time. When the museum is open you can see how Jacobean middle-class families lived and there’s also a collection of medical paraphernalia that John Hall would have been familiar with.

It’s also the perfect place for a cup of tea and a piece of cake too – the setting being in an English country garden with a herb and vegetable plot.

Hall’s Croft is temporarily closed so make sure you check their website for details.

11. Visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace And Childhood Home

No day out in Stratford Upon Avon is complete without a trip to Shakespeare’s birthplace!

Henley Street is a beautiful Tudor road with a quaint collection of tea rooms and gift shops so most people visiting Stratford Upon Avon end up here. But if you’re interested in Shakespeare you’re probably going to want to apportion a reasonable slice of your day here as you’ll be interested in visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace.

Shakespeares birthplace. Visiting Stratford Upon Avon

Now known as The Shakespeare Centre, William’s childhood home would have originally been built as 3 houses. As his father’s glove-making business grew, so did their pad and eventually they were knocked through to one grand residence – the largest on Henley Street. The museum is laid out in the manner in which it would have been used; where they ate, worked and entertained. But to visit the bedroom where William would have been born and to experience the home where he grew up and lived his early married life is a special treat.

Even if you visit Stratford Upon Avon with a time restriction and can’t squeeze in a wander around the museum, you must still visit the Shakespeare Gift Shop adjoining. There’s nothing Bard-relevant that you cannot find in this shop!

Also, don’t miss the two statues in Henley Street – The Jester from the play As You Like It and William Shakespeare in all his finery.

12. Have A Drink With Shakespeare

Finish your day trip to Stratford Upon Avon with a pint of English ale in one of the town’s inns. There are several that lay the claim to fame of being Will’s local but two that we can probably be sure of are The White Swan and The Garrick Inn.

The Garrick Inn has a backstory of its own, long preceding the days of Will, and is a great old place for a drink. When William lived in Stratford this building was still a private home and not an inn, but the ale was reputably so good even then that it’s more than likely he would’ve checked in for a pint at some point or other. It was owned by a wealthy merchant, much like Will’s father, and no doubt the dependability of a good pint made The Garrick a regular.

The White Swan, now a beautiful hotel, would be a great choice for an evening meal. The oak-panelled rooms are so warm and inviting and immediately transport you back in time. One of Shakespeare’s good childhood friends married into the family who owned this place, so we think it’s safe to presume it was a regular drinking spot for him.

13. Visit Ann Hathaway’s Childhood Farm Cottage

If you arrived in Stratford Upon Avon by car then you might want to visit Ann Hathaway’s cottage either at the beginning or the end of your Shakespeare tour. Stratford Upon Avon isn’t a huge town but it’s still a half-hour walk to the outskirts where she lived. Alternatively, you can catch the number 28 bus from the centre.

Ann Hathaway cottage stratford Upon Avon

Her cottage is part of the group of museums where you can purchase the inclusive Full Story ticket.

Known as ‘Hewlands’ when Ann lived there as a child, the farm was primarily used to raise sheep. The Hathaway’s continued to live in the cottage all the way down to 1892 when the property was purchased by the Shakespeare Trust but the lineage continuation has meant that there are a whole host of interesting stories collected by the family over the centuries.

There you have it – our Shakespeare suggestions for a day trip to Stratford Upon Avon.


Getting to Stratford Upon Avon from London without a car involves a train to Coventry then a forward journey either by bus or train on to Stratford town centre. If you are visiting by car for the day we would recommend parking at the Bridgeway Multi-Storey Car Park for the best day rates.

pin for later…

Are you the biggest Shakespeare fan and want to make a day trip to Stratford Upon Avon? We've got all the best sights and top tips for a day with The Bard. #Shakespeare

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *