For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to spend a Shakespeare-filled weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. And back in the summer, Scott and I FINALLY made it up there!
From strolling along the pretty canals that over 150 swans call home to marvelling at half-timbered Tudor houses and following in the footsteps of Shakespeare, there are a whole bunch of incredible things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon within just one charming weekend.
We hope you find this itinerary helpful and full of inspiration on where to go, what to see, what to eat and where to stay in Stratford-upon-Avon!
A Charming Weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon Itinerary
A morning stroll along the canal
Stratford-upon-Avon’s canal runs for nearly 26 miles (from Stratford to Birmingham) and is one of the town’s prettiest and most famous features.
An early morning stroll along the canal before it gets busy with tourists is such a relaxing way to start your weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon.
If you don’t fancy walking a marathon, you could spend about an hour walking in a circular route from Bancroft Gardens by crossing the canal at Lucy’s Mill Bridge and then walk up through The Recreation Ground on the other side.
Top tip: We found sitting near Lucy’s Mill Weir to be the most peaceful place along the canal as fewer tourists make it this far out of the town’s main area.
Wander around the Stratford Butterfly Farm
After your morning stroll, head to the Stratford Butterfly Farm for roughly an hour or two. It can be found along Swan’s Nest Lane, close to the canal and Recreation Ground.
Here, you can wander around a large tropical greenhouse, which has thousands of butterflies fluttering around, lots of different plants and even bridges and a gushing waterfall.
There are over 250 different types of butterflies to see here.
A couple of our favourites included a large butterfly that had blue wings on the inside while the outside of its wings looked like owl eyes and bright orange butterflies that you couldn’t take your eyes off!
A quick heads up! Some of the butterflies might land on you!
A couple landed on Scott’s white top, while one butterfly decided to hitch a ride on my back for most of my way around the greenhouse!
Alongside the thousands of butterflies, there are also a couple of areas to one side of the greenhouse that has other creatures inside including a whole army of leaf-cutting ants going about their daily work!
Chill out in The Recreation Ground or Bancroft Gardens
Fancy some lunch? Why not grab a picnic or takeaway sandwich and head to The Recreation Ground or Bancroft Gardens… or both?!
These areas are both close to the canal so are perfect for people (and boat and swan) watching while tucking into an al fresco lunch.
Did you know? There are over 150 swans in Stratford!
There are also a couple of canal boats moored up next to Bancroft Gardens that sell ice creams! Basically this is Stratford’s unique take on ice cream vans!
Catch a show at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre
It wouldn’t be a charming weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon without a little (or a lot!) of Shakespeare involved.
So make the most of this with an evening show at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre to celebrate your first night in this pretty little town!
Morning wander around the Old Town
Start your day with a morning wander around the Old Town, which is home to many houses related to Shakespeare (more on those shortly) and lots of historic Tudor buildings.
There’s even an oh-so-merry year-round Christmas shop inside one of them!
You’ll only need an hour or two to wander at a relaxed pace all around the town. But keep your eyes on the lamp posts as you do.
Does this sound like a weird thing to do? Probably.
But the reason why you should keep an eye out is because there are tons of lamp posts dotted all around Stratford that have been donated by various towns and cities from the UK and from around the world. Sweet, huh?
We especially liked Israel’s lamp post as it was probably the most unique and heavily adorned one!
Visit the Shakespeare Houses
Your weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon simply has to include trips to Shakespeare’s Houses. They’re the town’s biggest draw after all!
Within the Old Town, you’ll find three houses related to Shakespeare: his birthplace, the first home he bought (New Place) and his daughter’s house that she lived in with her husband (Hall’s Croft).
And they’re all within a few minutes walk of each other, so it’s easy to see them all in one day. You could even join a walking tour if you want to learn some history along the way too.
If you’re a big Shakespeare fan, you may also want to check out his mother’s (Mary Arden’s) working Tudor farm or his wife’s (Anne Hathaway’s) childhood home. Both are outside of the town and take around 15 minutes to get to by car.
An evening stroll along the canals
What could be more romantic than rounding off your weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon with a relaxing evening stroll along the canals?
With the lights reflected in the water, happy couples hand-in-hand all around you and swans gliding along the river, you’d be hard pushed to find a more romantic setting!
RELATED: Stratford-upon-Avon is also just a short drive away from the Cotswolds where lots of beautiful towns and villages like these ones are waiting for you!
More Things To Do in Stratford-Upon-Avon
If you want to spend longer here or you’re not so keen on our itinerary above, then here are some other top things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Hire a boat or join a canal cruise
You’ve strolled along the canal, you’ve picnicked by the side of it, so why not enjoy it one last time by hiring your very own boat or joining a canal cruise?
Or better yet… why not enjoy dinner while cruising the canal? More on this in a minute.
Pay your respects at the Holy Trinity Church
If you haven’t quite had your fill of Shakespeare yet, then head to the Holy Trinity Church, which is where Shakespeare was baptised, married and buried.
His grave is still inside the church today – you can’t miss it thanks to the huge plaque on top of it! His wife’s grave is also next to his.
Shop in various magic shops
If you also want to add some Harry Potter into the mix then there are also a couple of magic shops in the Old Town that warrant a bit of a browse.
House of Spells (sometimes also called Alohomora) sells mostly Harry Potter stuff, while Magic Alley & The Creaky Cauldron sells all kinds of magical memorabilia, books, utensils and gifts. This shop also has a museum inside it and a cafe selling both Pumpkin Juice and Butterbeer!
RELATED: Make it a complete Harry Potter weekend and visit Gloucester Cathedral where the first two Harry Potter movies were filmed (it’s roughly an hour away from Stratford!)
Visit the Tudor World Museum
Learn more about what it was like to live during Shakespeare’s heyday inside this interactive and educational museum.
Visit the MAD Museum
Do you like looking at art? What about quirky stuff? You can see a combination of the two inside Stratford’s MAD (Mechanical Art & Design) Museum. This place is always a winner with children!
Where To Eat During Your Weekend in Stratford-Upon-Avon
There are so many coffee shops and cafes throughout the Old Town that you’ll find it really easy to find somewhere great for breakfast, lunch and tea and cake.
We liked Hathaway Tea Rooms the most when we visited. Partly for the name and the fact that it’s inside a Tudor building, but the food was also great and it’s known as the oldest tearoom in all of Stratford (it was established in 1931), so they’re clearly doing something right!
And for dinner, what could be better than tucking into four delicious courses as you cruise along the River Avon in a canal boat? Dinner aboard the Countess of Evesham boat is cheaper than you think!
Where To Stay in Stratford-Upon-Avon
Mercure Stratford-Upon-Avon Shakespeare Hotel
Found just a few doors down from Shakespeare’s New Place, this charming hotel is housed within a Tudor building, so period features like huge fireplaces and wooden beams await! The bedrooms are of a good size and are more modern compared with the downstairs, while there’s also a restaurant and bar onsite.
Hotel Indigo Stratford-Upon-Avon
Hotel Indigo is a superb 4-star hotel just across the road from Shakespeare’s New Place. Thanks to plush velvet furnishings, modern colour schemes and sparkling ensuites, it looks incredible inside! Downstairs, you’ll find all the period features you’d expect from yet another Tudor building.
B&Bs and Guesthouses
There are also a group of B&Bs and Guesthouses along Rother Street, which are all set within traditional Victorian houses and have good reviews. They’re also just a short stroll from the Old Town so you shouldn’t have to use your car to get around. Here are a few highly rated ones to check out:
Or… to have an entire place to yourselves during your weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon, don’t forget to check out Airbnb!
Or how about a luxury riverside lodge?
And then there’s this cute waterfront apartment where you’ll get a prime view of the canal while eating breakfast!
We hope you enjoy your time in beautiful Stratford-upon-Avon! Any questions? Just drop us a line in the comments below and we’ll reply asap!
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