See the storybook village of Stratford-upon-Avon

Shakespeare's birth place | Photo by Pavel Dudek
Shakespeare's birth place | Photo by Pavel Dudek

See the storybook village of Stratford-upon-Avon

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.” These words written by William Shakespeare could be written about almost any place. While it was uttered by Rosalind in the timeless “As You Like It,” about the Forest of Arden, the same can be said about Shakespeare’s birthplace — the enchanting sleepy hollow of Stratford-upon-Avon. With a population of just over 25,000, more than six million visitors make the trek to the charming market town each year.

Nestled in the English countryside on the northern edge of the famed Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon was once known for its tanning and wool industry (as evidenced by the sheer amount of sheep in the surrounding farmland). However, in 1564, a resident was born who would make an indelible mark not only on the village but the world as a whole. William Shakespeare spent most of his formative years, as well as a few preceding his death, in this beautiful town.

Today, Stratford-upon-Avon is a bustling town catering to Shakespeare enthusiasts year-round. Home to many state-of-the-art and historical theaters, the Royal Shakespeare Company often performs the Bard’s plays throughout the year. Each April, the village rolls out the red carpet for the Shakespeare Festival. Held during the weekend closest to April 26 (his birthday), visitors can see amazing performances and celebrate the beloved playwright. You can also take a walk through his childhood home and the cottage of his wife, Anne Hathaway.

River Avon | Photo by Pavel Dudek

Even if you’re not a fan of Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon holds plenty of magical charm. Take a stroll along Henley Street and you’ll discover magnificent Tudor architecture, including plenty of half-timbered buildings housing quaint cafes and shops. Sail along the River Avon on one of the converted river barges and be sure to take a glimpse of the Clopton Bridge. Built in 1480, the 14-arched stone bridge is still in use. For nature lovers, a visit to the Butterfly Farm is well worth your time. Or, for something completely different, stop off at the Mechanical Art and Design Museum — or MAD Museum. Filled with kinetic sculpture and interactive displays, it’s a great place for kids of all ages.

Whether you’re a Shakespeare fanatic or just looking for a change of pace, Stratford-upon-Avon is a place to willingly waste your time in.

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