Any Shakespeare buff certainly has a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon on the top of his list of must-sees in his lifetime–and with good reason! Even for someone like me who after several years had fallen out of touch with Shakespeare (haven’t actually read one of his plays cover to cover since high school), a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon will make you fall in love all over again!
“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” —Twelfth Night
Stratford-upon-Avon is a quaint and lovely town and is the birthplace of Sir William Shakespeare! This year actually marks the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth! So, as you can imagine, there will be lots to do this year to commemorate perhaps the most famous writer in history’s birthday. You can take in a show of course by the Royal Shakespeare company in addition to a slew of other productions, events and exhibits. Check the official Shakespeare website for more information on the extravaganza.
I was in Stratford-upon-Avon for just a day and I must say–I loved every minute of it. Here are my suggestions for what you can do if you’re in town for a short time.
First things first, you simply must visit Shakespeare’s birthplace when you’re in Stratford-upon-Avon. I mean how could you not? It’s the home he grew up on for goodness sake! The guides are extremely knowledgeable and have such interesting stories about Shakespeare’s life and family. I mean, I stood on Shakespeare’s old floor! As a writer, I can’t tell you quite how inspiring it was to stand on the exact same ground he stood upon.
And here are a few shots of his backyard and the house.
In addition to Shakespeare’s home, there is a fabulous exhibit in the building just adjacent called ‘Famous Beyond Words.’ The exhibit explores the extraordinary story of William Shakespeare and invites visitors to discover how and why the boy from Stratford-upon-Avon became a household name all over the world. It’s short and sweet but there are some worthy items worth checking out–like an original complete manuscript of all of Shakespeare’s works and what I thought was particularly the coolest–his original ring he used to seal letters with! Ahh–mazing!
Definitely check out the gift shop at Shakespeare’s Birthplace. They had wonderful gifts! Magnets with Shakespearean insults (or love quotes), Shakespearean Rubber duckies, Shakespearean Star Wars novels, and even some Shakespeare-shaped cookies! We had a blast checking out all kinds of fun merchandise.
Next we wandered the main streets (very small town) and headed over to lunch at Othello Brasserie. It’s quite a lovely spot. It’s part of the Shakespeare Hotel, a 16th century building in the heart of Straford-upon-Avon. It was originally an inn that is said to have been a meeting place for writers since the 18th century. My blog sister, The Travel Bite and I shared Tea for two. More like tea for two families! This was enormous and even after offering our remaining goodies to our group, the three-tiered platter could not be finished! It was delicious to say the least. In fact, I wish I had a few of those scones right now.
Look who made a guest appearance–it’s THOR!!! (Bottom Left) He likes tea too.
After lunch we headed over to the Royal Shakespeare Company–one of the world’s most well-known theater ensembles–intent on keeping William Shakespeare’s legacy alive. I highly recommend signing up for the Front Stage Tour at the RSC. You’ll learn about the theaters, which are designed to bring audiences and actors closer together–the ultimate way to experience live theater. Also a fabulous gift shop here! It inspired this instagram video of my favorite Fangirls! How adorable are these umbrellas? I also picked up a scarf covered in crowns! Yay me! Sensing a theme here? Yes, I love to shop!
There was also a rad dress up station–as you can imagine, 6 silly bloggers had a good time here!
After our tour we headed over to our hotel, The Arden Hotel for the evening, which is conveniently located right across the street from the Royal Shakespeare Company. I highly recommend this adorably quaint boutique hotel. If you’re a luxe snob like me, rest assured that you will be plenty pleased with the accommodations here. More to follow in a later (more in-depth) hotel review with photos.
Then, I took a lovely walk over to the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare is actually buried. It’s one of the coolest graveyards I’ve ever seen. I know that may sound a bit creepy but it’s true. Check out the hours of the church because you can actually visit Shakespeare’s tomb. Unfortunately we arrived a bit late but we still got to see the church itself. (Pictured below)
Before we headed out to dinner we went to a beer that has been around since William Shakespeare himself! The Garrick Inn is the oldest pub in town. And guess what they brew themselves? Shakesbeer! I mean, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect pre-dinner cocktail to imbibe!
Here I am with my Shakesbeer. Right over my right shoulder is where Shakespeare used to sit! Perhaps this is where he came up with his quote: “I would give all my fame for a pot of ale and safety.”
After our beers we headed over to the Royal Shakespeare Company Rooftop Restaurant. Naturally there is a huge dinner-theater crowd here but after that clears out it is romantic and quite tranquil. We ate plenty of chips here and I must say that the gnocchi with cauliflower was divine. Seriously, it was delectable! If you come late though the only downside is that you’ll miss its gorgeous views of the river.
The Gnocchi was incredible! It came with Roasted Cauliflower. I will dream of this meal.
And of course our cocktails!
After dinner we headed off to bed! “To Sleep, Perchance to Dream” (of coming back to Stratford-Upon-Avon). It was the perfect day in Stratford-upon-Avon and I highly recommend a visit here. (It’s only about a 2 hour drive from London).
“Parting is such sweet sorrow…” (Sorry, I couldn’t resist)
But don’t worry, I saved my best Shakespeare quote for last:
“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” So with that said, I must again reiterate that I was hosted by Visit Britain as I have painstakingly mentioned in each post from my trip to Great Britain. As always, you can’t buy the love here, people! I turn down many trips these days and only go on the ones I truly believe my readers will enjoy hearing about (oh and the ones I think sound cool manage to make their way in as well 🙂