This edition of the Travel Like A Local series is brought to you by Liz, author of the blog Call Me Liz, and is all about Stratford Upon Avon in England. Despite living in London for 6 years I haven’t visited much else in the UK, which is why I’m particularly excited to share Liz’s advice with you. From the best places to eat, where to stay, off the beaten path places to visit and much more, this local’s travel guide covers everything you need to know to plan your trip to Stratford Upon Avon.
Hi Liz! Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi I’m Elizabeth but you can call me Liz (hence the blog name), I write my fashion, travel and lifestyle blog part time whilst also working full time in digital marketing. When I’m not working I try to tick off my bucket list one destination at a time however I am lucky enough to live in Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford upon Avon which attracts a huge amount of tourists every year as well as being a fun and beautiful place to live.
How long have you lived in Stratford Upon Avon for?
I moved to Stratford Upon Avon in 2014 for a career change and I ended up living here a lot longer than I expected because I fell in love… and as they say the rest is history. We now live in a lovely apartment close to the town centre which really comes alive in the summer months.
What are your favourite places to eat?
We are spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants in Stratford Upon Avon, we have your usual chain restaurants like Nandos and Miller and Carter but also local independents like The Bear which sits near the River Avon and serves affordable tasty pub food. Another favourite of ours is the famous theatre The RSC which has a beautiful rooftop restaurant serving British food, perfect for romantic dates.
Stratford Upon Avon is also a great place for coffee, we are very lucky to have local coffee roaster’s (and friends) called Monsoon Estates nearby and as well as visiting their roastery or meeting them at the market, their award winning coffee is stocked in plenty of cafes.
Do you have a favourite relaxing spot?
In the summer months there is nothing better than sitting by the river on the Bancroft watching the world go by with a picnic and good company. In the winter I have a favourite coffee shop called Box Brownie it’s small but very chilled out and the staff are so friendly and of course the coffee is excellent.
Is there a typical activity locals do in their free time?
The UK is unfortunately very rainy most of the time even in the summer so shopping is a popular pastime, we have an outdoor shopping centre called The Maybird which has all the popular brands. But when we do get a hint of sunshine I would say that locals spend time by the river Avon, pop for a drink in their favourite beer garden or take a walk or cycle along the canal path.
What is your favourite activity or thing to do in Stratford Upon Avon?
On the weekend me and my boyfriend love to go for coffee and brunch then just wander around the town, even though I have lived here for years nothing beats the beautiful view across the river.
Do you have a favourite photo spot?
Stratford Upon Avon is known for being very pretty so there are so many beautiful places for taking photos with my favourite being down at the river but along the streets you will find historical and tudor buildings from Shakespeare’s time. I particularly like going to Shottery, a small village in Stratford that has the most beautiful cottages which really come alive in the spring with wisteria and blossom.
When is the best time to Stratford Upon Avon?
Definitely in Spring/Summer, even though its super busy with tourists that’s when we hold lots of Shakespeare events, food and river festivals that really bring the town to life.
What’s one “touristy” thing in Stratford Upon Avon everyone should actually do?
Visit one of Shakespeare’s Houses and Gardens, even if you’re not particularly a massive fan of his work there is something for everyone. Whether you want to see where he was born or see where he lived with his wife Anne Hathaway at her cottage. In the summer New Place – an Elizabethan garden, is particularly lovely and also the site of Shakespeare’s last home.
What’s one “off the beaten track” place people don’t normally know about but should know about?
As I said before Shottery is a lovely place to explore and has a local pub to relax outside but the village of Wilmcote can be found three miles along the canal towpath by foot or bike, with stunning countryside views you’ll forget your in a busy tourist town.
Any tips or tricks on how to navigate Stratford Upon Avon?
If you’re travelling from London there are direct trains to Stratford-upon-Avon from London Marylebone and there are also two trains an hour from the UK’s second city Birmingham. But if you’re driving there are plenty of parking options and also a park and ride option so you can avoid the traffic.
Any tips on how to visit Stratford Upon Avon like a local so that travellers reading this can blend in?
If you really want to blend in avoid the tourist trap cafes and chain restaurants go where the locals eat and drink where you’ll receive a much more friendly atmosphere and more authentic experience.
Any specific places to stay you can recommend?
Stratford Upon Avon has plenty of hotels and B&Bs all close the to the main centre. If you’re willing to splash out and have a car Billesley Manor Hotel stunning 16th century manor house surrounded by acres of land. Or if you want to be closer the Arden Hotel is right opposite the RSC and has a contemporary look. We also have plenty of cheaper options such as Travelodge and Premier Inn.
What do you love most about Stratford Upon Avon?
Coming from a much smaller town growing up I love that Stratford Upon Avon has lots of shops, cafes and countryside pubs and being so close to other lovely places such as the Cotswolds. I’m always surprised at how I always discover something new even after living here for over four years. I also love that I am away from the hustle and bustle of cities like London, here we can soak up nature and relax in the traditional surroundings.
Have you been to Stratford Upon Avon before? How did you find it? Let us know in the comments below! I hope you will find this local’s travel guide useful in planning your trip to this beautiful English town.