Stratford-upon-Avon is a small, picturesque town in Warwickshire, England. It is most famous as the birthplace of 16th century playwright William Shakespeare. Most of the attractions in the town are built around this most famous of writers. If you only go to one place go to the house in which he was born and the accompanying exhibition to learn some more about him and his work. It is right in the centre of the town. You can also visit Hall's Croft where his daughter and her doctor husband lived. There is a small exhibition on Tudor medical practices too. You can also visit New Place where he spent his last years. Just outside the town (accessible by car or tour) are Anne Hathaway's Cottage (the family home of his wife) and Mary Arden's Farm which was the childhood home of his mother. The latter is more for families with young children.
The pretty village church has his grave and can be visited (except during service times). You can get various passes to make visiting all homes easier.
If you are interested in seeing a play I would recommend checking out the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre in advance as they are likely to sell out.
As a popular tourist destination hotels are not cheap, and at weekends may require a minimum two night stay (booking late may get you a one night deal if you prefer), I stayed in a B&B just across the river from the main part of town - it was only a short walk though. There are various restaurants dotted about town so finding places to eat won't be a problem, but like any town there are rather a lot of chain establishments rather than independents. The shopping is not different here than on any other small high street.
I think the town is well worth a visit over a weekend
We recently went to Stratford upon Avon on holiday and spent 5 days in the area, it was a really lovely holiday and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.
We aren't big drinkers, pub visiters or clubbers - we're not nght owls so to speak. So if this is what you are after in a holiday I'm not really able to comment. We very much enjoy looking at historical properties, visiting tea rooms and such like - for us Stratford upon Avon met all expectations and we really made the most of our days there.
A market town in south Warwickshire. This town is located on the river Avon (hence the name). It is a popular tourist destination due to its heritage and that it is the birthplace of William Shakespeare.
It is located 22 miles from Birmingham, or 8 miles from Warwick.
In general the town is very clean, there was no litter and little chewing gum etc which was very pleasant. It felt well cared for. The people were all friendly, well spoken, polite and keen to help.
The town seemed well sign posted for generl driving around, not nly to tourist places but for villages and other places to go.
There are plenty of places to sit down - there s lots of seating next to the river which was very pleasant in the warm weather.
There are lots of tudor style buildings and cobbled streets.
Parking was fairly pricey - I checked around and they all seem to be the same prices. There was plenty of parking we never had to pootle around space hunting but we were not visitng at a busy time of year so this may vary. Prices for parking started at 80p for 1 hour and £4 for 4 hours or £6 for 6 hours. There is a park and ride which we used and it was definately worth the money £1.50 return per adult, buses were regular and actually the parking site only a 10 minute bus ride from the town so quite convenient actually.
There is a beautiful old stone bridge accross the river which gives some beautiful views and there is a little wildlife preservation area which is swarming with geese and swans which is very picturesque.
There were lots of shops in the centre. Your usual high street places boots, superdrug, costa, next, M&S, BHS etc and it also had many little shops, art galleries, boutiques and curiosities.
There were lots of resteraunts around the town. We were self catering so I cannot recommend or comment on prices but there were a good range and choice. Your usual chains e.g. Strada, Pizza express mixed in with pubs and other individual eateries. There were also lots of cafes, tea rooms and coffee shops to choose from. We had a coffee in costa which was quite nice, as you would expect from them. We also had the best cream tea ever in a tiny coffee shop called 'The Bard's Kitchen' just up the road from Nash's place (Shakespeare property) - it was in little antique shop quite out of the way but the scone was very large, the jam and cream fresh. The scone was hot and you got a very generous serving of tea all for £3.50 - what a bargain - it was mouthwatering!!
~~Things to do~~
We only actually spent two days out of our week around the town.
Obviously the first attraction is the Shakespeare related heritge. 3 out of 5 of the Shakespeare properties are located in the town
I have reviewed these properties seperately so won't duplicate here.
You can buy a pass to all 5 properties for about £15 if you take advantage of the online advance purchase 10% discount or you can just turn up and buy tickets at the door. I would recommend visitng these attractions, really interesting and worth the money. They an be done in one day.
We also hired a boat and rowed up the avon. There is a place on a lane called 'Swan's nest' it is quite obvious just accross the stone bridge and you can hire a row boat for £4 per person per hour. We had a two seater row boat for one hour and we managed to go quite far! It was a really enjoyable experience, not too busy and we got to see some beautiful scenery! Beware of crashing into the bridge (which we did) as I am not a brilliant boatsperson! :)
There is a butterfly farm which we did not have a chance to visit but by all accounts and recommendations is worth visiting and makes for a nice morning/afternoon out. This is in the town centre and does not have its own parking (except for disabled parking) so you would park in town and walk.
All in all it is a very lovely town with a lot of heritage and I would recommend a visit!
Surely one of the most popular tourist hot spots of the Midlands is Stratford Upon Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare. I myself have visited the area numerous times, the most recent being a few weeks ago when my sister and I decided to make the most of an unseasonably warm early April.
The first thing most people will want to see is the beautiful River Avon which runs right through the wonderfully sleepy town of Stratford, it's amazingly natural yet remains stunningly beautiful. All I can say is that whoever maintains this particular stretch of the river is a master of his art as it looks like it has never been touched by human hands, yet there is no sign of overgrowth or littering whatsoever.
You can walk for miles along the Avon, or do the sensible thing and hire one of the small boats instead to save your legs. There are various people offering their fleets of boats for a reasonable price, from memory the cheapest is around £13 for an hour but this can rise fairly steeply depending on the size of boat you require and also how far along the river you stop off to hire it. Personally I usually use the guy who is situated on the riverbank opposite the McDonalds end of the high street as although he is not the cheapest, his boats are reliable and very well maintained.
There are lots of historical sites in Stratford Upon Avon too, the most famous being The Swan Theatre which is the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company. This is obviously a working theatre so plays are staged here on a daily/nightly basis although you are usually welcome to go and have a look around, but this depends on what the theatre has planned on any specific day. There is also the opportunity to tour the house William Shakespeare was born in and also the home of his mistress, Anne Hathaway although these attractions can be awkward for disabled visitors as they are both obviously extremely old properties and built well before the times of stair lifts and ramps!
Should you decide you want to spend more than a day in Stratford Upon Avon there are various places to stay, ranging from basic B&B's to posh hotels with a price tag to match. If you are planning your visit during the peak tourist season then I do recommend booking in advance as this is an extremely popular area and beds get taken up very quickly, although I believe there are several campsites in the area if tents and cold showers are more your thing!
Eating is varied and surprisingly reasonably priced in Stratford, there is everything from McDonalds to classy restaurants and chippys to Indian take aways. There is even an excellent 'Baguette Barge' which is, you've guessed it, a barge moored up on the river bank which sells the most wonderful baguettes. Slightly pricier than nipping into the pub for your lunchtime baguette but certainly worth every penny, I had a bacon and brie one last time which was delicious and kept me feeling full up for hours it was so large and well filled.
Stratford Upon Avon is one of those places where there is a pub on every corner yet the area never seems to become rowdy and the atmosphere around town is playful and serene. I adore spending time in Stratford as it's one of the very few places nowadays where I feel safe and comfortable walking alone even at night, of course there are always going to be youths hanging around in the evening but who cares about that really as long as they're not causing trouble and behaving themselves.
I cannot recommend the beautiful Stratford Upon Avon highly enough; it's very easily accessible by car or public transport and there is something for everyone in this wonderfully historic little town.
Stratford is a great place to visit with lots to see and do. It has a wealth of charm and history.
Lots of B&Bs, hotels and Campsites to suit all budgets. We stayed at the Charlecote Pheasent Hotel just outside Stratford - at £130 for 1 night dinner, bed and breakfast it wasnt cheap but worth it once in a while.
Attractions in Stratford
The obvious - Shakesperes Houses, Ann Hathaways cottage etc - pay for all 5 houses at the same time and recieve a discount.
Open top bus - travels to all tourist attractions - day tickets available at around £7.
Shakesperes resting place - the church is a great place to walk to and visit - it sits right next to the river Avon and for £1.50 you can see shakesperes grave. It is only a short walk from the town centre.
The Shakespere theatre sits along side the river and is currently being renovated. You can see a range of Shakesperes plays here.
The town centre has some good shops and lovely tea rooms/pubs - well worth a visit
Attractions near Stratford
Warwick Castle is only 5 mins away by car. It is expensive to get in at £17.50 but you can use your Tesco vouchers.
A great, historical place to visit - something for all the family.
Stratford-Upon-Avon is known for a few things namely Shakespeare, punting and the motor bike festival. Stratford as can be imagined is always full of tourists keen to catch a bit of Shakespeare heritage on camera. Oddly though you dont seem to notice them unless you are outside Shakespeares birth place or similar areas of interest.
There are obviously great theatres in Straford and the RSCs main one is being rebuilt at the moment. The river Avon flows right past the stage door and it is a great place to go punting or to rent a rowing boat if you darent try a punt. There is also a really fun pulley ferry further up stream that ferries passengers (tourists) across the river for 50p a go. It is powered by a wheel and a chain that runs the length of the river bed.
There is a great butterfly green house thing by the river that houses a huge array of tropical butterflies and plants. The greenhouse they live in is huge and very humid as it needs to replicate their tropical climates.
Strafored is great for culture and a family day out but not so much for nightlife or shopping
Stratford upon Avon
The town of Stratford is a place close to my heart. A place l have visited for as long as l can remember and a place that l have always enjoyed visiting. There is something for everyone in Stratford, whatever your interests you can visit Stratford for a short stay or a longer stay and have an enjoyable visit with plenty to see and do.
Stratford is located in the heart of England, in Warwickshire. Its easily accessible from many different directions. Located not too far from Birmingham and the M40 and it is within easy reach of Warwick, Coventry, Birmingham and the Cotswolds. Stratford upon Avon, as the name suggests is located on the river Avon.
Stratford has local bus services and a train station available which is within easy reach of the town centre.
Whether you are staying in Stratford for a day or a few days, Stratford is an ideal place to explore, and there are also many places to visit nearby, such as
Places in the Cotswolds, such as Bourton on water and Broadway with the fabulous Broadway tower, which towers above the beautiful Cotswold scenery, and on a clear day you can see for miles.
As l mentioned Stratford is within easy reach of Birmingham and Coventry, and you may like to visit Coventry Cathedral.
What to see and do in Stratford
The town of Stratford has many things to see and do. There are a variety of shops to explore, such as HMV, Marks and spencers and other high street stores, however Stratford also has many tourist shops that supply unique gifts, post cards and things that you may not find available else where.
Stratford has the river Avon running through the town where there is a nice park area which is a great place to have a picnic, to watch the boats go through the locks. The park is pretty which is well maintained with beautiful flowers in the summer months, and a selection of historic monuments. You will notice if you do visit that people stand and watch the boats go through the locks for hours. You can also take boat trips along the river, these are a few pounds, and can be a relaxing trip, or why not hire your own boat?
There is a secure childrens area in the park too, with childrens slides and swings etc. (I confess l had hours of fun here when l was a child).
If you fancy a romantic meal along the river, there is restaurant dining on a boat on the river. I haven't tried this, it is quite pricey but l think it would be a really memorable experience.
Possibly one of the greatest things about Stratford is that it has somehow clung to its heritage, and you will notice many of the buildings have managed to keep the style they have always had and local residents are proud of their town.
Stratford is probably most famous as the birthplace of William Shakespeare the poet and play-writer. There are several historic buildings you may wish to visit whilst in Stratford, such as the wonderful place of William Shakespeare who was born in the house in 1564. Visit Halls croft the place where Shakespeare's daughter lived with her husband, or visit Anne Hathaway's cottage, or Mary Ardens house. These are wonderful attractions located around Stratford, definitely worth a visit. (For more information visit the link at the bottom of this review).
If you fancy a visit to the Royal Shakespeare theatre, this is located next to the park, right by the river, and performs frequent plays that Shakespeare wrote. The theatre is currently undergoing redevelopments.
There really is something for everyone in Stratford, whether you want a quiet walk by the river, dinner in one of the many bars or restaurants, somewhere to entertain the children, or to step into Stratford's history, you wont be disappointed.
Located within the park is the Butterfly farm, which is apparently europes largest butterfly farm, l haven't been for years, infact l think l went on a school trip when l was young. It is a great place to visit with children.
Cox's yard is a bar that lies beside the river. Here you can buy food and drinks, with outdoor and indoor dining. You can sit and have a drink next to the river, and there really is nothing better on a hot summers day. They also often have local musicians playing on the evenings, all for a fee, but if your looking to be entertained, always worth checking what is on.
If you are still not sure what Stratford has to offer you, then how about the evening ghost walks? I could probably talk about Stratford forever. Theres so much to do, and it's a place that holds a great deal of character and history. Its an ideal place for a break away. Be warned though summer can be very busy, especially bank holidays
There are plenty of places to stay, B&B, hotels, cottages etc, but again in summer months its best to book early to be sure of somewhere to stay.
Stratford is definitely worth a visit if you haven't been, there is something distinctly unique about stratford, something that draws me there time and time again!
For more information why not visit
We have been on day trips to Startford on Avon on about four seperate occasions and it is a really nice place to visit and is also pretty easy to get to as it is not far from the M40 motorway and is about an hours drive from Birmingham or thirty minutes from Coventry. I have seen a train stations as well close to the center of town but I've no idea what line it is on.
Stratford is famous for being the birth place of the famous playwrite William Shakespeare and one of the main attractions is to visit his birth place. In fact there are a number of Shakespeare residences to visit so it is worth seeing more than one. In addition to these there is the theatre which is the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company as well as lots of quaint shops to look around.
If you want to relax the River Avon flows through the town and you can take a cruise or hire a boat to explore on your own or just take a picnic and enjoy the gardens.
Teer are lots of places to eat to suit all pockets from the bottom end McDonalds to some nice pubs and great restaurants, we had a great meal at The Garrick the last time we went which had a nice atmosphere as it was a very old building with exposed beams throughout.
There is lots of parking in the town and while it is not cheap for the day you should always be able to find a space or you can use the park and ride.
The only downside to Stratford is that in the summer it does get very busy with coach loads of tourists combining with the day trippers and there can be long traffic queues on the way in to town.
Stratford is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK for both domestic and foreign visitors and is also opular with school parties, the downside to this popularity is that it does get very busy especially at the weekends in the summer so it is advisable to try and visit out of season or at least during the week if you go in the summer.
Located in the heart of Warwickshire it is also a great location for visiting Warwick Castle or the Cotswalds area and you are about an hours drive from Oxford. There is a train station however we went by car as it is not far from the M40 motorway. We styaed at the Hilton in the centre of town which has parking for residents however there are plenty of car parks in the town.
Most people visit due to the fact that it is the birthplace of William Shakespeare however even if you have no interest in his work it is still a great little market town to visit for a couple of days. The town is quite compact and there are a nmber of Shalespeare properties to visit either under your own steam or by using one of the many tourist buses that provide tours. The town tself is quite compact however some of the properties are slightly out of town and cannot be reached easily on foot although his actual birhplace is in the centre and a tour of it is quite interesting.
The town is on the River Avon and the theatre overlooks the river however at present it is under going renovations and is not open, there are however two smaller theatres which are still hosting performances. Walking along the river is really nice and you can visit the church where he is buried.
One of thethings I liked about Stratford is the large number of old style buildings plus there were plenty of places to eat and a large concentration of pubs, some were quite noisy but there were also a lot of traditional cosy pubs and our paricular favourite was The Windmill with its low beamed ceiling.
Stratford is a great place for a couple of nights stay and there is a wide choice of hotels and B&B's to suit everyones budget.
Growing up in one of the main tourist attractions in the UK does have its advantages and also its disadvantages however once our campsite in Alton Towers was discovered within the bowels of Nemesis we had to move out so we lived in Stratford Upon Avon.
I resided in Stratford for the first 18 years of my life and also a five year spell in my early thirties and it is a town I still visit as my parents and old school friends still live there. Like most residents the only time I ever visited any of the tourist attractions was when we had guests visiting but the great thing about Stratford is that it is surrounded by some of the finest countryside in the country in the form of the Cotswolds and is a great location to explore some other attractions near by.
xxA Brief Historyxx
Located pretty much slap bang in the middle of the country Stratford Upon Avon grew up originally as a crossing point for the River Avon (the clue is in the name) and traces of a Roman settlement have been found in the area however it rose to prominence as a tourist attraction as being the birth place of William Shakespeare in 1564, scourge of the teenage English student and famous writer of plays that have exerted an influence over popular culture for the last few centuries. The fact that Bill spent very few years in Stratford itself is neither here nor there, such is the revenue generated from the tourist trade and the number of people whose employments relies on it then any attempt to claim him otherwise is likely to get a visit from the local Women Institute and they are a scary bunch.
Road is probably the easiest way to get to the town as it is 20 miles from the M40 junction 14 however that in itself creates a problem as the town is not that big and the approach roads do get really clogged up especially in the summer months when day visitors head to the town to join the tourist coaches. Add to that local commuter traffic in a quite affluent town that likes its Chelsea tractors and tour bus operators and you have some pretty bad congestion problems. Personally I avoid the town on Bank Holidays and also at weekends in the summer and timing your visit is important to avoid the crowds; midweek in March is a pretty good time.
There is a lot of parking in the town and a couple of park and ride schemes but it does get very busy and car parks get full quickly in the summer.
There is a train station however from memory it takes over an hour to get to Birmingham and the train stops at every small station some of which have a Deliverance feel to them.
Nearest airport is Birmingham International which is about a 45 minute drive away.
The town has a lot more to offer than merely Shakespeare however this is the major reason for coach loads of foreign visitors descending on Stratford.
Shakespeare birthplace is the central attraction and is located on the only pedestrianised street in the town despite the council intention a few years ago to make the whole of the centre pedestrianised. It is quite a small property that has had a few other attractions tacked on to the side to make the visit a little longer otherwise you could walk around the whole house in a few minutes as the rooms are very small and retained in the same fashion as was the custom of the times. In each of the rooms there is lots of literature documenting Bills association with the town and charting his life. It is one of those places that you feel obliged to see while you are visiting but it will not fill you with any great wonder just mild annoyance at the pushy Americans trying to take pictures of everything whilst exclaiming Gee Wiz Martha thats so cute and the only sense of wonderment I experienced was whether they would get their fat arses up the tight stairs.
There are also other properties to visit such as Anne Hathaway Cottage (home of the future Mrs Shakespeare) which actually is my favourite, in summer it has some wonderful gardens and also it is about a mile out of town in a lovely area of the town called Shottery which is where I was born and is the area I have my first memories of. This is the property that is used for the picture on a lot of the tourist tat that is for sale in numerous gift shops within the town.
You can also visit Mary Arden (Mother Shakespeare) house in near by Wilmcote which is 3 miles out of town however there is a tourist bus that will transport you all around the different properties and there are a couple of other small properties as well.
In addition there are a number of spin off attractions to visit relate to the life of Bill however some of these are a bit tacky in my opinion and best avoided. The one attraction that is worth a visit though is the theatre. In Stratford you have three to choose from, the main theatre puts on the classic plays however personally my favourite is the Swan Theatre which is built in the round in the style of the Globe in London and is much more intimate with performers appearing from within the crowd and is also the stage which my daughter appeared on so it is a bit special for me. The Other Place is also a small venue although one I have not yet attended for a play. All three are located close to the river and the main theatre has a wonderful view at night across the Avon.
One of the main attractions is to simply walk around. The town as some delightful old buildings and is very small and can be comfortably seen half a day if you do no stop at any of the attractions. The old town is particularly nice with some old buildings and interesting architecture.
The River is a nice attraction, lovely gardens and a connection to the canal so lots of barges to look at with the option to hire a boat or take a cruise, you can even try a bit of punting if you have the bottle. It is a short and nice stroll along the river from the theatre to Holy Trinity Church which is a beautiful building and Bills final resting place. Along the walk a couple of important landmarks, the Dirty Duck pub is a nice place to stop for a summers drink, there is a brass rubbing place to sort out your etchings and just as you approach the church just to your left under a tree by the river bank is the place where a young Freediveheaven with the assistance of a bottle of cider and a girl of loose morals became a man. Happy Times.
There are plenty of bus tours available stopping off at all the attractions and in summer you can opt for a horse and trap tour.
Near to Stratford you have Warwick Castle which is now owned by the Taussauds group (see my own award winning review of it) and you are only an hours drive from Oxford or the quite beautiful Cotswolds area.
There is plenty to do for children, many of the things I have already mentioned are ideal and the Shire Horse Centre is worth a visit which is about two miles out of town. There is also an excellent children play area on the south side of the river and in summer this whole area is filled with street performers, families enjoying picnics and quite a few other attractions.
It you also visit during the birthday celebrations you will find additional events laid on and the town lined with flags from around the world. Then again you can just take advantage of the shopping and large concentration of pubs.
There is a fantastic choice available however being a resident I have never stayed in any of them, there is a youth hostel for those on a budget located in a village called Alveston about 2.5 miles out of town and on a bus route.
Within the town there are loads of guest houses, small, medium and large hotels and quite a few caravan parks in the area as well including the five star quality Newlands Caravan Park. To be honest I only mention this because it is my mates place and I get a beer but it is good.
Couple of hotels that I can mention, if you want to be bang in the centre then The Falcon or The White Swan fit the bill, the Alveston Manor is just the other side of the bridge so does not have drunken yobs like me singing outside at all hours, it also used to have the best looking waiter in Stratford working there many year ago until the unfortunate food poisoning incident of 85, or if you want a bit of real luxury try the Welcombe Hotel which has its own 18 hole golf course.
Literally hundreds of places to eat to suit all budgets although personally most of the places are a bit pricey to reflect a tourist trap style of place. There are all the usual chains as well as a few quaint tea shops and plenty of take aways and sandwich bars as well.
For a nice lunch in town the Windmill Pub is not bad. For great service try either of the Indian restaurants at the top of Greenhill Street. For a bit of class I like either Sorrento or Marlow which both do great food however for something a little different and quite romantic try the converted canal barge which is a nice restaurant that journeys up and down the Avon and is really nice especially when you can get out and stretch your legs half way through the meal.
Generally pretty good and the town has quite a few facilities for those with disabilities however some of the older attractions will have access problems due to their age.
Overall Stratford is definitely worth a visit, it is a clean well maintained town which does get very busy and does also suffer from a town council with no clear plan in place given the haphazard approach to allocating car parks and also the rather puzzling decision to allow licenses for two lap dancing clubs which will hardly uphold the image of the town as a quaint place to visit.
I still visit on a regular basis mainly to enjoy the fine array of public houses and assorted night life attractions as it has a couple of clubs and some of the pubs occasionally have live music.
It has plenty to do within the town and is also a great place from which to visit the surrounding area.
Thanks for reading and rating my review.
Watch out for these gotcha's from our last trip:
Birds - the birds along the riverside can be very messy, we had to clean the pram three times this trip. Lucky it didn't get on the baby.
Parking: can be tricky - choose wrong and the one-way system can make reparking a lengthy process. Watch out for the long term parking area over the bridge - you must buy a ticket from the right machine or pay a fine of £30. Warning signs are not obvious.
The washing-up liquid in the fountain is harmless - just don't let the kids cover you with bubbles.
Smokey cafes: It's worth the effort trying to find one that has an effective smoking policy if you have children and don't want them breathing in smoke. We gave up after the third attempt but have succeeded before.
Thanks to one of my friend’s regular customer we had the great privilege to discover William Shakespeare’s birthplace, steeped in culture and history. Whether you are a poetic lover or just want to enjoy beautiful sceneries or have a nice time away from home don’t hesitate to go and visit this rural countryside located on the river Avon in the county of Warwickshire. It is important to point that it is one of the most important tourist destinations in the UK. And I know why now… it’ll be one of my favourite places to go from now on. After enquiring on the different ways to get there, we finally went ahead and booked return train tickets. The city centre is within walking distance from the station and there already you are blast by the charm of the town. As we walked our way through the city, we had a nice but quick look around. Everything seemed so perfectly in place and waiting for us: Streets, shops, houses, gardens, river, pubs, …everything to commemorate the Old England. When I spotted few guesthouses, something suddenly came up in my mind. Has any one of us thought of reserving a room for the night? Obviously not. Well here are our first stops: Guest Houses and Tourism Office. None of the places we asked had any room left. But we hoped to get more help in the Tourism Office. I have to say the staffs were very helpful and kind. Quickly getting the idea we were slightly uncomfortable with our English they even called few hotels on our behalf but no success. They gave us many leaflets on the different things to do in town and also in the nearby surroundings: County of Oxfordshire,…Warwick Castle and all within an hour drive. The list of the available attractions was endless: from shopping to choice of accommodation, services tourist and disabled information, exclusive travel and tours, vintage cars, events. What a list. As we walked out of the office
one of the agents ran towards us and suggested one last place to try out. I wondered why she said as a last resort. But you will find out sooner than you think… Putting our hopes on we happily took the direction of the named hotel and what a place. The Hotel with en-suite bathrooms, master bedrooms, private functions, platinum privilege cards (don’t know what it is but thought it looks and sounds good to have in an opinion) was very attractive and very much out of our pocket. But we still forked out the £150 required for the most standard double bedroom, breakfast included. “Only double you said?” Well the receptionist had a crush on one of my friends and kindly added another mattress free of charge. The room was of an extreme cleanliness and very well presented. The best of all was the bathroom with marble top and tiles and gold taps crashing impressive pressurized water. It was a very enjoyable place but a bit too posh for me. So you understood through those lengthy lines I was trying to say it is best to look for places to stay, as Stratford can get extremely busy. Anyway all that to come to the main of this opinion, the town and the different things to do and see: *The historic half-timbered house where William Shakespeare was born was our first stop and probably the most frequent place to visit. You have the possibility to get onto an open tour or look at the exhibition gorging of historic manuscripts and books. *Nash’s House, which contains Jacobean furniture and dates from the 16th *Hall’s Croft (where you can buy refreshments and medicinal herbs) is Shakespeare favourite’s daughter and husband residential place. *Holy Trinity Church *Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (midfifteenth century) with an outstanding garden and impressive decorated rooms and very well preserved. *Mary Arden’s House (Shakespeare’s mother) with great exhibitions *The Shak
espeare centre library holding a collection of his life, works and we can’t forget some original editions of his plays, the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare and his wife are buried. They are the only places I quickly visited but below is a list of other sites you may enjoy. I also gathered more information through different websites to open your choices: -Stratford Brass rubbing Centre (free entry) http://www.stratford.co.uk/brass/ -The Teddy Bear museum http://www.theteddybearmuseum.com/ very unusual: you will find lots of unique and valuable Teddies. -The Butterfly Farm with rainforest environment, tropical plants and waterfalls. Meet the world's largest spider in Arachnoland, and visit Insect City with gift shops, play areas. -Gower Memorial: monument featuring statues of Shakespeare and other famous people. -Guild Chapel: built in 1269 by the Guild of the Holy Cross, a group of wealthy citizens. -Harvard Chapel: eye-catching house with beautiful carved timbers built by Thomas Rogers. In 1605 his daughter Katherine married Robert Harvard and it was their son John, born in 1607, which immigrated to America as a young man and founded Harvard University. -Ragdoll Shop: home of the Teletubbies, Rosie and Jim, Brum and Tots TV. A must-see for young children. -The Shire horse Centre and Farm Park: taste of the country life, with working Shire horses, wagon rides, farm animals including rare breeds, and falconry displays. There is also a Riverside Walk, picnic area, a large outdoor playground, "Hyper Slides" and an Adventure Play Barn for young children. Licensed restaurant, snack bar and gift shop. -The Stratford Tales: A bold new attraction, colourful, interactive interpretation of Stratford through the centuries, utilising models, audio-visual presentations, and a fascinating collection of artefacts. Other attractions include a working brewery using centuries old brewing processes, a pu
b, shops and art gallery. http://www.coxsyard.co.uk/ You can also get ample information in: <>TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRE (01789) 293127<> Open 23rd March to 31st October 9am-6pm from Monday to Saturday, and 11am-5pm on Sundays. 1st November 1996 to 22nd March 1997 open 9am-5pm Monday to Saturday, and closed on Sundays. <>GUIDE FRIDAY TOURISM CENTRE (01789) 294466<> Open daily from 9am. Provides general information and tourist advice, and offers a National Accommodation Booking Service. <>INFORMATION FOR THE DISABLED<> For help and advice on access, parking and shopping contact the Tourist Information Centre. Disabled Toilets operate under the RADAR national key scheme and can be found at Windsor Street Car Park, Bridge Foot Car Park, Recreation Ground Toilets, Tramway Bridge Toilets, and Rother Street Car Park Stratford has 2 Open top bus tours available: *The Guide Friday Stratford Tour (green and cream buses) is the easy way to visit Stratford's attractions. *City Sightseeing (red buses). Slightly cheaper than the Guide Friday tour but you don't get a live guide, just a pre-recorded commentary. Let’s finish by a book highly recommended by several sites and giving a comprehensive detailed guide: “Stratford-upon-Avon Town Centre Street Map and Guide” published by Mushroom Publishing to the price of about £1.
Stratford-Upon-Avon is a town which I absolutely hate. Everybody else seems to be bursting with enthusiasm and praise for the place, but why?!! Okay so Shakespeare was born there....and that's about it really. My reasons for my abhorrence are: 1) Stratford is bursting at the seams with pointless, tacky souvenir shops. Okay if you're a tourist but for the people who live there or visit regularly, it is damn annoying not to be able to walk down a street without finding gift shops all the way down it. They take up unnecessary space which could be used for more useful shops. 2) The place is so crowded! There are so many tourists that most of the time you find yourself walking in the road to try and keep moving. Often they are out on mass, cameras round their necks, trying to take pictures of absolutely anything they can! 3) You cannot drive through the main streets without stopping, even if all the traffic lights are green. For some reason, the people in Stratford seem to take great delight in stepping straight out into the road instead of waiting for the lights. The number of times I have had to stop because some complete idiot has just started walking without even looking. If you do happen to be driving through, I wouldn't advise going any faster than 15mph, as at least then if you hit some prat stepping out into the road you are less likely to kill them. 4) The tour buses! Now there are about three companies all competing with their tours which are "every 15 minutes!" and of course, they don't all come at the same time so there is usually one every 5. I'm sure you'd find that very useful if you were a tourist, but for everybody else, you can't get any peace and quiet as there is always a double decker bus growling past. 5) Because of all this commercialism, the prices in Stratford are also ridiculous. Normal everyday items are more expensive because with all the tourism, they know
they can make more money. These are my main reasons for hating Stratford. What fuelled me furthermore to write this opinion was my experience there today. I was trying to catch a bus home but unfortunately the "runaway mop" (a small fair) was blocking off half of the main street. I was standing at the bus stop at the other end of the road so I couldn't see this. I was waiting forty-five minutes with my friend when we decided to wander up the street as it looked like there was a lorry or something blocking the road (we had only just noticed) and discovered the runaway mop. When the mop (a huge fair which fills the main streets) and runaway mop (smaller version which usually visits about a fortnight later) visit, the buses use a main road behind the main streets. There was absolutely nothing at the bus stop to indicate this. Unfortunately, we did not notice the mop for quite a while but luckily we knew what to do when we did, what about tourists and occasional visitors who do not know that the buses use the main road when the mop comes? There was nothing to tell anybody waiting for a bus. I visit Stratford regularly which is obviously why all the tourism and tourist facilities annoy me! I'm sure I would be even more annoyed if I lived there, which is why I never would. I know the town has got some history which is very interesting to a lot of people, but the town makes such a big deal out of it and it has been commercialised far too much. There is nothing wrong with souvenir shops and guided tours, but there are so many in competition - it is unnecessary! I just thought I should write this opinion because everybody makes Stratford out to be such a nice town with all its history blah blah blah but if you don't like history and you're not a tourist, it's really not that exciting.
Having Lived, loved, worked and played in Stratford, i hope i can let know a few gems that the town has to offer to the visitor. Where to start, well i guess its hard to ignore the influence of the bard when visiting Stratford but you haven't got a lot of choice.....everywhere has some connection (if they look hard enuf!) with Willy Shakespeare...and boy do they let you know! Visiting the Shakespeare houses (His Birthplace, Anne Hathaways and Mary Ardens) is obviously a must...here comes your first hint....jump on a guide Friday bus. They will take you round all the houses and they offer the old jump on jump off facility allowing you to explore at leisure. Theres currently a bit of bad feeling over the amount of Tour Buses in the town at the moment because a new firm (City Sightseers) have also started running buses...often mostly empty to the annoyance of the residents! Anyway, I'd recommend the guide Friday ones, they come with a live guide (Sightseers give you headphones!) and ermmm they look nicer! Ok, you've seen the houses....now you're hungry and thirsty?! Pubs and restaurants are obviously big business in town....any of the establishments in the town centre will cater nicely for the visitor....but be warned they can also be fairly expensive! A new Wetherspoons has just opened, so if you're on a budget this is probably the place to go! The Vintner is a nice place to Eat, but again can be fairly expensive Two pubs that visitors rarely seem to notice is the Windmill and the Garrick, both off Sheep Street....both do good food and offer that olde worlde hospitality...and you might see me in there on the odd occasion ;) OK, we've had a bite to eat, had a couple of traditional ales....now what?? Stroll by the river, or take in a show at one of the 3 theatres in Stratford (head for the river, you can't miss them!) or if you are really lucky me and the band mig
ht be in town! All in all, everything in the town is visitor orientated...and it thrives on it.....See you down town!
Now I have to say that I didn't visit Stratford because of any connection it has with Mr William Shakespeare. I must have skived off school the day (OK days) we covered this chap in English. Not that I was going to miss out on his house mind - any old tourist attraction (read 'Worlds largest Hamster breading farm', 'Christmas World' etc.) and I will be there! Now I often see in a number of travel commentaries that it's not fair to judge a place in the rain. How come? It rains in an English summer 50% of the time! Actually I got Stratford for half a day of rain and half a day of sun so I think this should be a fairly fair review. I read a few of the DooYoo reviews before we set off on our trip to the south and a couple seemed to suggest not to spend much more than a day in Stratford. Now I wouldn't argue with this as such but what I would say is Stratford makes an ideal base for a long weekend to also include the likes of the Cotswolds and Warwick Castle (Quick Sell 1: See reviews coming soon!). Myself and the now camping trip hardened girlfriend (although she still complains of scraggy hair after 3 nights of camping - "any longer and it's a hotel") found ourselves at a campsite in the village of Tiddington (Quick Sell 2: See campsite review coming soon), a pleasant 20 minute walk from Stratford. So what to do in Stratford? Well first off I am a walking person but you pay a small premium to a bus company such as Guide Friday for a hop on and off ticket around the major sites. That said I would recommend a walk along the waterside and Southern Lane past the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre - make a note of show times if you are interested. Take a look at the street lighting around this area - they are donated from cities within the UK and also around the world. Next you will come across the quirky and lazy ferry crossing (OK I took it but for 25p you can't afford not to be lazy) and Holy Trin
ity Church, burial site of the bard himself. Eventually you will come across a bridge to cross the river allowing you to walk along the Avon back to the main two town bridges and into the town itself. It's now time to visit the birthplace of William Shakespeare. I have to say the house comes as a bit of a shock as it doesn't seem to fit in (architecturally that is) to the area in which it stands. If someone had told me Disney had come and built it I would have believed it. Entrance is £6 and its worth noting that if you intend to visit any of the other houses linked to Shakespeare it may be better to buy a combination ticket. Before you hit the house there is also an informative exhibition. I could tell you lots more about the house and history and how you will be asked to take photos by eager Japanese tourists but I will leave that to you on your visit. So as not to Shakespeare yourself out I would then recommend a visit back down to the Avon and a dash of rowing. Now I discovered there are four types down there - the really good (read Redgrave), pretty competent but the girlfriend still doesn't trust you (read me), the really bad and finally really bad but also dangerous. Add to this barges and river trips and you have a cocktail of fun and potential disaster - brilliant. If you survive the rowing then its time to visit the house of Anne Hathway maybe a 20 minute walk (the girlfriend complained more like 40 but also complained about tired legs and knicker elastic digging in at this point). By now you may wish you bought the bus ticket. I don't intend to change history now but here we go. Basically Anne was a bit of a go'er. She was 26. The Bard was 18. Anne got jiggy with Willy (literally). Anne and William got married as she found herself 3 months pregnant. Personally I think the baby belonged to the shepherd she did the accounts for but like I say I don't want to change history. What does matter is that I like thi
s house more than Shakespeare's and it doesn't feel like it has been plonked in the landscape. Entrance here is £4.50. And so by foot or bus head back into town. As a final stop I would visit Cox's yard on the side of the river, a new development. Here there is a microbrewery, which sells, amongst other things, its own brew. You can sit outside admiring the river, swans, geese, ducks and more geese. On a slight downside it has to be said that if you are staying in Stratford it does go a little dead on a night. Apart from having the home of a writing genius you could be in any smallish town in England. In fact the only people about seem to be loads of teens sporting spiky hair, Offspring T-shirts, posh middle England accents and skate board bought by Mummy and Daddy - truly rebels without a cause.
Stratford upon Avon is in the Heart of England, south west of Birmingham and easily reached from the M6 motorway. Now what is it that makes Stratford upon Avon so famous? Wasn’t that where that chap lived who wrote all those plays and poems? What was his name, now? I know - Will Shakespeare! Seriously though William Shakespeare is obviously the most famous tourist attraction here in Stratford. There is more to the town, but I’ll get the Shakespeare stuff over with first shall I? His birthplace is a 16th century half timbered house where he was born in 1564. It was originally split into two parts, a workshop and a living area, and was also part of a terrace. The building was restored in 1857 to its appearance as recorded in a drawing dating from 1769. Since 1847 when it came under the stewardship of the Birthplace Trust every effort has been made to preserve as many of the original features as possible. The living part of the house has Elizabethan and Jacobean furniture whilst the workshop is now a museum. Next to the Shakespeare’s birthplace is the Shakespeare Centre, which was built in 1964 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the famous poet. In the entrance vestibule there is a huge bronze statue of Shakespeare, signifying his dominance of the world of literature. This is the headquarters of the Birthplace Trust and also an educational centre where students can study using the 30,000 publications held in the library. A records office here holds all documents relating to Shakespeare and Stratford. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre was opened in 1932 as a memorial to the great man. It is set on the banks of the River Avon in attractive gardens. The theatre itself has outstanding facilities for actors and audiences alike and the adjoining picture gallery and museum contains pictures of Shakespeare himself and of Shakespearean actors. There is also a dressing up box in the foyer containing costumes from S
hakespeare’s plays, which you are welcome to try on. I was a coward and didn’t want to make a fool of myself so I wouldn’t have a go! What a wuss! Shakespeare and his wife Ann and various other members of their family are buried beneath the chancel steps of Holy Trinity Church. Most of the church dates from the 12th century, with the stone spire being built in 1763 to replace the wooden one. As I said earlier Shakespeare isn’t all that Stratford has to offer. There is a lovely shopping centre with a host of unusual shops, as well as all the usual department stores and designer outlets. If anyone out there knows me and knows Stratford you’ll be able to guess what my favourite shop is. That’s right the Teddy Bear Museum and Shop. There is a huge bear outside the door dressed as a guardsman to welcome you to a lovely place full of teddies of all ages and even some famous bears such as those belonging to Giles Brandreth’s and Margaret Thatcher, to name but two. There is also a shop full of all things to do with teddies. I really should have my credit card confiscated before I can go in! There is a fleet of open topped tour buses run by Guide Friday offering a guided tour of Stratford. You can buy a ticket that is valid all day and you can get on and off as many times as you like. We used it to get to Shakespeare’s birthplace and to the theatre in particular. The ticket usually also acts as a discount voucher for one or two of the other attractions in Stratford. The area down by the River Avon is very pretty and offers some lovely walks through parks and gardens. Or you could go for a ride on the river in one of the many leisure boats offering trips at reasonable prices. If you’re really energetic you could hire a boat and row yourself! I end up going round and round in circles as one arm is stronger than the other! I have been to Stratford a few times just for a d
ay trip but I really would like to spend a few days there and get to see all the sights, and maybe take that trip on the river.