Stratford-upon-Avon is a charming medieval market town in England's West Midlands, the 16th-century birthplace of iconic playwright William Shakespeare, and one of Britain's most tourist-centric destinations. It is 100 miles (160 kilometers) by road from bustling London, but because it's so small and remote, traveling to it can be a challenge. The easiest and fastest way to get there is by car, but you can also take a train or a bus.
|Bus||2 hours, 30 minutes||from $9||Consistently cheap prices|
|Train||2 hours||from $7||Quick and comfortable public transportation|
|Car||1 hour, 45 minutes||100 miles (160 kilometers)||Exploring the local area|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From London to Stratford-upon-Avon?
The cheapest way to travel between London and Stratford-upon-Avon is by bus. National Express runs several coach trips a day from London Victoria Coach Station to Stratford-upon-Avon Riverside Bus Station. The most direct route takes two and a half hours and the longest can take up to four hours. Single-trip tickets start around $9, but you can use the National Express' Fare Finder feature to find the best deals. Booking in advance is always recommended.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From London to Stratford-upon-Avon?
Stratford-upon-Avon is roughly 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of London by road. The drive can take as little as an hour, 45 minutes or as long as three hours, depending on what time you leave the city (avoid rush hour times at all cost) and which route you take. The fastest, most direct way is via the M40.
Parking in Stratford-upon-Avon can be costly and the traffic wardens are aggressive about giving out tickets, especially during the summer. If you do decide to drive, try to stay at a hotel that offers parking.
How Long Is the Train Ride?
Chiltern Railways run a limited number of direct trains per day in each direction between Stratford-upon-Avon Station and London Marylebone Station. The trip takes between two hours and two and a half hours. Advance round-trip fares vary wildly, ranging from $7 (according to Trianline) to $100-plus. Tickets for the least popular (very early and mid-evening) tend to be the cheapest. Search National Rail's Cheapest Fare Finder for the best deals.
The train is an especially great option if you plan to travel back to London after a show at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, seeing as they tend to run later (stopping just before midnight) than the bus. The train station is a 15-minute walk from the theatre.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Stratford-upon-Avon?
If it's a lively atmosphere you're looking for, travel to Stratford-upon-Avon during the Literary Festival (centered around Shakespeare's birth and death day) in April. The welcome spring weather and festival activities attract many UK locals and tourists alike.
However, the crowds also mean booked-up—i.e. expensive—trains, buses, and hotels. You'll find a better deal and fewer people in Stratford-upon-Avon toward the end of summer and fall.
What’s the Most Scenic Route to Stratford-upon-Avon?
While the most direct route to Stratford-upon-Avon follows the motorway almost all the way, you can take a slight detour through the rural Cotswolds, a region spread across six counties that puts England's old-world charm on full display. Here is where you'll find cozy coffee and cake shops, heritage cottages, hillside walks, and cobblestone streets. Some of the most popular villages are Bourton-on-the-Water, Burford, Stow-on-the-Wold, Castle Combe, and Stanton. Be aware, though, that the roads that connect these villages and Stratford-upon-Avon are often extremely narrow and windy.
What Is There to Do in Stratford-upon-Avon?
Stratford-upon-Avon is best known for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare. It is now home to the Royal Shakespeare Company, which performs at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and adjacent Swan Theatre, both located on the River Avon. Other famous landmarks in Stratford-upon-Avon include Shakespeare's birthplace and Anne Hathaway's cottage, a 500-year-old half-timbered building where the late playwright's wife was born. There's a craft and farmers market that occupies the village every first and third Saturday of the month.