There is lots to do in Stratford upon Avon, I will start with the Shakespeare houses and then list the other attractions and their websites. Please check each attraction online in 2021 to check if they are fully open.
Stratford-upon-Avon is mainly known as the town associated with William Shakespeare, widely thought of as the world’s greatest playwright and poet. There are many things to see and do other than Shakespeare which I will list later in this page, but for now we will start with the great man and his properties.
There are 5 Shakespeare properties in and around the town of Stratford, all now owned and maintained by The Birthplace Trust. http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/
Tickets can be bought to enter the houses from any one of the 5. There is a 3 house ticket that covers the 3 houses in the town centre, or a 5 house ticket that also includes the 2 that are just outside the town. Please note that during 2021 it is not yet clear which houses will be open and when.
There is also an open top tourist bus that runs around the town and out to these houses. The buses have either a recorded guided tour in many languages or during the summer months a live tour guide. https://city-sightseeing.com/en/100/stratford-upon-avon/262/hop-on-hop-off-stratford-upon-avon
It is also possible to buy a ticket combining the bus tour, entry to the houses and a river boat ride all in one. This can be bought when boarding the bus. I often have some 50% off vouchers for the houses at Moss Cottage which may work out cheaper still.
The house where William Shakespeare was born in the year 1564, actually thought to originally be two houses that the Shakespeare family joined together. William’s father was a glove maker by trade (amongst other things) and would sell gloves from the downstairs of the house.
The walls are constructed of wood and ‘wattle and daub’ which was a mixture of mud, cow dung and animal hair (yes I know it sounds awful). Entrance to the birthplace is via the Shakespeare centre next door, where a short film and artefacts are shown before you enter the house itself.
Nash’s House & New Place:
Shakespeare’s granddaughter Elizabeth married Thomas Nash who owned this fine Tudor house which is now set out as a museum. Entry to Nash’s house is from New Place gardens.
New Place, next door to Nash’s house was the last home of William Shakespeare, the second largest house in Stratford when he bought it in 1597 for some £60. Nothing now remains of New Place but the footprint of the building can now be seen, along with some wonderful statues in the lovely gardens.
The home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband doctor John Hall. It is a fine Jacobean house with a completely different feel from the other houses in the town. John Hall would have been a wealthy man at this time, educated at Cambridge. He was probably the town’s only serving doctor. The fine gardens contain many of the herbs he used in his treatments, copies of which can be seen in his books inside the house.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage:
Just outside the town in the village of Shottery, is the house where Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway lived before she married John Shakespeare and where the young William would have courted his bride to be. The cottage is pretty, a fine example of a thatched cottage of the time.
Mary Arden’s Farm:
Is home of William’s mother and is a real working Tudor farm in the village of Wilmcote, 4 miles outside Stratford. This lovely place is very popular with families, due to its hens, pigs, houses and the farm workers in Elizabethan costumes doing their duties in the traditional ways. There are also falconry displays to show how birds of prey were used to catch food for the dinner table. *please note that Mary Arden’s Farm is only open from April 1st – October 30th*
Holy Trinity church:
Site of Shakespeare’s grave. https://www.stratford-upon-avon.org/visitors-welcome-page
The Guild Chapel:
With is 15th and 16th century wall paintings. http://www.guildchapel.org.uk/
Shakespeare’s schoolroom and Guild hall:
Visit the rooms where William Shakespeare went to school. https://www.shakespearesschoolroom.org/
An enchanting mix of dragons, time travelling, Shakespeare and much more. https://www.magicalleystratford.com/
Mad Museum (Mechanical Art & design):
A wonderful attraction of moving mechanical pieces for all ages. https://themadmuseum.co.uk/
The Butterfly farm:
Britain’s largest butterfly farm, a tropical paradise of these amazing creatures. https://www.butterflyfarm.co.uk/attraction/
Running pleasure cruises on the Avon and hiring rowing boats, motor boats and electric launches. https://www.avon-boating.co.uk/
Stratford bike hire:
Based in an old railway carriage on the Greenway, a 5 mile traffic free route. Hire all manner of different cycles. There is also a cafe in the carriage next door. https://www.avon-boating.co.uk/
Racing from March till November. Just a 10 minute walk behind Moss Cottage. http://stratfordracecourse.net/
Stratford is famous for its theatre!
The RSC Theatres:
The world famous Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre. There are also sometimes plays in the RSC’s third theatre, The Other Place. https://www.rsc.org.uk/
A 90 seat professional theatre on the banks of the Avon performing everything from Shakespeare to panto (Oh yes they are!). https://www.theattictheatre.co.uk/about-us
The BearPit theatre:
A wonderful local amateur theatre group performing a wide range of marvellous plays. https://www.thebearpit.org.uk/
Home to the amazing Orchestra of the Swan. https://www.stratfordplay.co.uk/