Stratford-upon-Avon, a medieval market town in the West Midlands, is world-renowned for one thing: being the 16th Century birthplace of William Shakespeare, possibly the most famous writer in the English language. Tourists from all over the world flock to Stratford-upon-Avon for history, quaint side streets, wonderful markets, open parklands, and walks along the River Avon.

You could easily spend a few days exploring the town, taking it slow and discovering all its nooks and crannies. However, if you’re short on time and want to tick off all the Shakespearean hotspots and most picturesque areas, you’ve come to the right place! Here is a first-timers guide on where to visit in Stratford-upon-Avon in just one day.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace

So, let’s start at the very beginning. If you really want to walk in Shakespeare’s footsteps, and see exactly where he grew up, you must visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Shakespeare was (surprise, surprise) born in this house and grew up here with his parents and siblings. He also spent the first five years of his marriage living here with his wife Anne Hathaway. At Shakespeare’s Birthplace you will not only find the house and gardens, but there are also resident actors who can perform Shakespeare’s plays at your request, and costumed guides ready to bring history to life!

Find Shakespeare’s Birthplace on Henley Street
Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Shakespeare’s New Place

Shakespeare moved to what is now known as Shakespeare’s New Place in 1597 and lived there until he died in the house in 1616. By this point in his life he was an established playwright, so he probably wrote some of his later plays there, such as The Tempest. Unfortunately, the original house was demolished in 1759, and so New Place was later designed to commemorate the importance of the site and to detail the footprint of Shakespeare’s family home. New Place has some gorgeous gardens for you to relax in and wander around, and some stunning sculptures/artwork inspired by the man himself.

Find Shakespeare’s New Place on Chapel Street
Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hall’s Croft

Stratford-upon-Avon is pretty much home to anyone who was related to Shakespeare. Hall’s Croft was the home of Shakespeare’s daughter, Susanna, and her husband, the physician John Hall. I recommend you wander around their beautifully furnished home, breathe in the aromas of the medicinal herb garden, watch a show at the outdoor theatre, or treat yourself to a very British cup of tea in the café!

Find Hall’s Croft in Old Town
Opening hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

While all of Stratford-upon-Avon’s historic buildings are pretty, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage may just be the prettiest! This picturesque 500-year-old cottage is where Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife, was born and grew up. Take a photo through the iconic arbour, see the original furniture of the Hathaway house, follow the sculpture trail, and wander through nine acres of woodland, orchards and gardens.

Find Anne Hathaway’s Cottage on Cottage Lane
Opening hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Old Town

If you’re looking to take some quintessentially English photos, head to Stratford-upon-Avon’s Old Town. You will be greeted by gorgeous black and white Tudor buildings complete with climbing ivy. Some of the most picturesque streets in the town are Sheep Street, Henley Street, Church Street and the High Street.

Royal Shakespeare Company

Is it acceptable to visit Stratford-upon-Avon and not see a show at the Royal Shakespeare Company? No. No is the answer. The RSC is comprised of three theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon: the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Swan Theatre, which both share a building on Waterside, and The Other Place which is a short walk away, on Southern Lane.

Living not too far away from Stratford-upon-Avon myself, I have seen many shows at the RSC, including Hamlet and Macbeth, and the sheer talent of the theatre company never fails to blow me away. Tickets can surprisingly be quite reasonably priced, ranging from just £10 to £60, though I have never once spent more than £25 on tickets.

The RSC not only puts on some incredible shows, but it also boasts the beautiful Bancroft Gardens, a rooftop restaurant, several cafes, behind the scenes guided tours, and panoramic views over Stratford-upon-Avon from The Tower.

Find the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Swan Theatre on the Waterside
Open from 10 a.m.

The River Avon

It’s hard to visit anywhere in Stratford without stumbling across the River Avon. Experience Stratford from a different perspective by rowing, punting, canoeing, or even hiring a gondola or motor boat along the river. If you don’t fancy heading out on the water, go for a walk along the river or have a picnic on the waterside, and soak up the glorious atmosphere.

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