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  • Cityscape Historic half-timbers, riverbank bars
  • City life All the world’s a stage

This attractive and historic riverside market town is once again claiming centre stage, tempting tourists back to its compact, cobbled streets from the neighbouring Cotswolds.

The new RSC theatre development has put the Warwickshire base of the bard back on the cultural map, with a supporting cast of new hotels, brasseries and boutiques popping up along the bonny banks of the river Avon. Once you've toured the Tudor buildings, taken in a play and made a pilgrimage to the popular playwright's haunts from cradle to grave, there's boating, biking and bookshop-browsing to keep you merrily occupied.

Do go/Don’t go

Things are quieter in the winter months, when the riverside boat operators shut up shop, but come summer, the streets are alive with strollers and sightseers.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes The nearest international airport is Birmingham (www.birminghamairport.co.uk), a 40-minute drive from Stratford-upon-Avon, with flights to New York and Paris, among others. Domestic carriers fly in daily from across the UK, including from Edinburgh, Cork and Belfast.
  • Trains Chiltern Railways trains run from London Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon every two hours; there are also services from Paddington. Stratford station is a 12-minute walk from the hotel (or, if your luggage is heavy, there's a taxi rank at the station). In summer, you can also arrive by steam: the Shakespeare Express takes a scenic 60 minutes to chuff its way into Stratford from Birmingham via Henley-in-Arden (www.vintagetrains.co.uk). Stratford has good links across the UK, with regular direct trains to Oxford, Warwick and Birmingham.
  • Automobiles You won’t need a car if you’re staying in Stratford, as you can walk across town in 30 minutes, but if you’re driving here, the M40 and A46 get you there from London in under two hours. To the north, Birmingham and Coventry are close; to the south, Cheltenham and the Cotswolds are also an easy drive.
  • Taxis The town centre is compact enough to explore entirely on foot, but if you’re exploring further afield or want your luggage ferried to the station, try Ideal Taxis on +44 (0)1789 290444. There are cab ranks at Rother Street, Union Street, and outside the t