Stratford-Upon-Avon Walking Tour

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This post provides a self-guided walking tour of Stratford-Upon-Avon with dozens of stops and interesting places to visit. 

It includes a map with directions to each location and details about every attraction covered on this outing.


Überblick

Stratford-Upon-Avon is a popular travel destination for a variety of reasons, and there are a lot of historic and interesting sites to see in the area.

This self-guided tour will cover some of the most notable landmarks and attractions in town.

One of the main reasons this town draws a lot of visitors each year is because it’s the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

As such, fans of his work will often come here to pay their respects and see some of the more significant locations which played a role in shaping his life.

This outing is based on our virtual tour of Stratford-Upon-Avon, and we recommend watching the video to learn even more about this town and its history. Use the following map to find your way from one stop to the next.

Map of our self guided tour of Stratford-Upon-Avon.

If you’re looking for advice on how to get here, check our post covering day trips to Stratford-Upon-Avon from London.


Self-Guided Tour of Stratford-Upon-Avon

This tour will cover 13 of the most notable locations in the historic town of Stratford-Upon-Avon, including stops at landmarks such as William Shakespeare’s place of birth, the place where he went to school, and many other important sites.

Our tour begins at the Tramway Bridge, where you will walk northwest and into the town. 


Tramway Bridge

This is one of two bridges crossing the river Avon. Built in 1826, this is actually the newer of the two structures. The older bridge across from this one was originally constructed in 1492, but it now carries modern vehicle traffic across the river.

As the name implies, the bridge you are now on was designed for the Stratford Tramway. This tramway was originally used to carry goods across the river, but the bridge is now used by pedestrians, which makes it perfect for the beginning of this self-guided walking tour.

While you’re here, enjoy some of the best views of the river Avon. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a few swans or ducks on the water!


Gower Memorial

Although it is named the Gower Memorial because of the man who paid for it, this statue actually depicts the famed writer William Shakespeare. This is the most prominent memorial in all of Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Constructed in the 19th century, the structure depicts William Shakespeare sitting on top of a plinth. Surrounding the memorial are other statues which feature characters and representations from some of Shakespeare’s more notable work.


Royal Shakespeare Theatre

This is the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and it’s actually one of three theatres that have been on this site at one point or another. Most of what stands today was largely built in the 1920’s after the previous theatre suffered significant fire damage.

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

All of the glass architecture and the roof are much newer, having been built on top of the old structure to modernize the building. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre is still one of the most important in all of England, and many notable actors have performed for the company.

Even now, you can purchase tickets and see a theatrical production at this historic theater!


Dirty Duck

Located just down the street from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, this pub has been a favorite stop for actors who want to stop in and get a drink after their performance. Although it is colloquially known as the Dirty Duck, the actual name of this establishment is the Black Swan. 

The Dirty Duck, otherwise known as The Black Swan.

As you walk down the street, you’ll see the sign reads “The Dirty Duck,” but take a look at the sign after you pass by and you’ll see the original name of the pub on the other side. The nickname was actually inspired by American soldiers who were in the area during WWII.

If you choose to step inside, you’ll find photographs of notable actors who have been here in the past decorating the walls. 


The Dell Open Air Theatre

This beautiful open park area is actually owned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and they will sometimes host special productions at the open air theatre here during the warmer months.

Guests are welcome to picnic and bring outdoor chairs or blankets with them to sit and watch the theatrical performances that take place here every now and then.

Even if you aren’t visiting during the right time for an outdoor production, this is still a nice park to walk through almost any time of year.


The Holy Trinity Church

Just south of the Dell Forest Garden and the open air theatre you’ll find this historic church. This building has stood here for almost 1,000 years, and it’s one of the most important sites in the entire town.

The Holy Trinity Church, burial site of William Shakespeare.

Most modern visitors come here to see the gravesite of William Shakespeare, which is located near the altar inside the church.

Holy Trinity Church is also where Shakespeare was baptized as a young child, making this a significant landmark in his life.

In addition to William Shakespeare, his family is also buried here. He was fairly wealthy in his time, so he used his wealth and influence to receive burials in the church.


Hall’s Croft

This is the house built by John Hall, who was married to Susanna, William Shakespeare’s daughter. Built in 1613, this is one of the oldest standing houses in the town of Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Hall's Croft, the home of John Hall, husband of Susanna Shakespeare.

This is a good example of the kind of house a wealthy person would have owned in the 17th century. Since it has been turned into a museum, you can get a good sense for what it would have looked like back then.


The Windmill

This pub has been in Stratford-Upon-Avon for at least 500 years.

If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that some beams of oak originally used in construction have warped and that other steps have been taken over the years to keep this structure standing.

The Windmill Pub, that was just down the street from William Shakespeare's former residence.

During the last few years of William Shakespeare’s life, this was his local pub. Nobody knows if he ever drank here or even visited, but it was just down the road from his residence, so it would have been easily accessible at the time.

As you keep walking past the Windmill, you’ll see a collection of British cottages dating back to 1470 on the right. These are another great example of period accurate architecture in the area.


Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guild Hall

Located at the end of the row of centuries old English cottages, you’ll find the Stratford-Upon-Avon Guild Hall.

This was where the town council once met, and the downstairs area was also a public meeting place where entertainers would have performed.

The Guild Hall of Stratford-Upon-Avon, and the former site of Shakespeare's schoolroom.

Since the guild used to pay for entertainers to perform here, it may have been the first place that William Shakespeare was introduced to theatre. William’s father was on the town council, so it’s very likely he at least saw some theatrical performances here, even if this wasn’t the place where he first discovered the theatrical arts.

The upper floor housed the Stratford-Upon-Avon grammar school, so this is also where William Shakespeare learned how to write. Needless to say, the history and importance of this location is beyond question.

NOTE: Admission to this attraction is included with the Shakespeare’s England Explorer Pass.


Shakespeare’s New Place

After becoming wealthy and famous, William Shakespeare bought a private house right across from the Guild Hall. He lived here during the last few years of his life with his wife Anne Hatthaway, who actually outlived him despite being older.

The entrance to the former location of William Shakespeare's residence "New Place."

Sadly, what you’ll no doubt notice about this corner opposite the Guild Hall is that a house no longer stands here. As we all know, Shakespeare’s reputation outlived him, and Stratford-Upon-Avon quickly became something of a tourist destination.

This was one of the landmarks that many people wanted to visit during the 18th century, and the owner who bought the property got so tired of all the visitors (and taxes) that they decided to tear it down. 

The only thing that remains here is Shakespeare’s garden. Thankfully, there are drawings of the house, so we at least know what it looked like!


Shakespeare Distillery

The name might make this distillery sound historically important, but the truth is that it was actually established in 2015. The Shakespeare distillery produces a wide range of handcrafted gins and rums made on site.

The Shakespeare Distillery, just down the road from William Shakespeare's New Place.

Although it isn’t historically tied to William Shakespeare in any way, this is probably the closest distillery to some of the most notable locations in the life of the famed writer, so it does make a little sense to name it after the beloved son of Stratford-Upon-Avon!

NOTE: A tour of this distillery is included with the Shakespeare’s England Explorer Pass.


William Shakespeare Statue

Located at the center of Henley Street, this is another relatively new statue of William Shakespeare. Sculpted by James Butler, this monument was unveiled just a year or two ago in 2020. 

The newest statue of William Shakespeare in Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Since travel has been limited for most people in the last few years, many people undoubtedly have yet to see the statue. They had actually been planning to erect it for many years, but tourism was always so busy that it was difficult to find the right time.

In an odd sort of way, the pandemic actually gave them the perfect excuse to finally erect this statue, as they could rest assured there wouldn’t be too many people in the area at that time. 

To the right of the statue, you’ll see the last stop on our tour, Shakespeare’s place of birth.


William Shakespeare’s Birthplace

This large house next to the giftshop and behind the statue is the location where William Shakespeare was born in 1564.

In addition to being on the town council, his father John also had a workshop where he made leather gloves on the bottom floor of this house.

Although his father was a prominent figure in Stratford-Upon-Avon, his many attempts to apply for a special coat of arms went largely ignored.

It wasn’t until his son William rose to fame that the Shakespeare family finally got their own coat of arms, which you’ll see sitting above the front door of this historic house.

The coat of arms features a spear with the head of a pen at the tip, which only makes sense given what made the family name so prestigious.


Shakespeare’s England Explorer Pass

Some of the attractions you’ll visit on our self-guided tour of Stratford-Upon-Avon require a ticket to enter.

Thankfully, admission to these locations are actually included with the Shakespeare’s England Explorer Pass.

If you’re interested in getting a closer look at the following attractions, you might want to consider getting this tourist pass to save money on admission.

  • Shakespeare Distillery Tour
  • Shakespeare’s Schoolroom
  • Stratford Butterfly Farm
  • Avon Boating Rental Service
  • The MAD Museum

In addition to these activities, you’ll also receive tickets to the following nearby locations:

  • Warwick Castle
  • Kenilworth Castle
  • Hill Close Gardens
  • Lord Leycester Hospital
  • British Motor Museum
  • Stoneleigh Abbey
  • Compton Verney

Pass Prices

Things to Consider

While this is a great pass for anyone visiting by car, it might not be as good for visitors coming by bus or taking a guided day trip.

The main issue with this pass is that a lot of the major attractions (like Warwick Castle and Kenilworth Castle) are not in Shakespeare’s hometown.

If you don’t have an easy way to get from Stratford-Upon-Avon to these locations, you might not be able to take full advantage of this pass.

As such, we recommend this service specifically for travelers who have chosen to drive here from either London or Birmingham.

While you could no doubt get your money’s worth (and even save a few pounds) using the Shakespeare’s England Explorer Pass only for the activities in Stratford-Upon-Avon, you’ll get a much better deal and save more money if you can visit all the other nearby attractions included as well.


About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: März 4th, 2022
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