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With three million visitors annually, Stratford upon Avon is one of the UK’s top tourism hotspots. William Shakespeare’s birthplace boasts countless visitor draws which include Anne Hathaway's Cottage and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The town is best explored on foot and it is easier to travel to Stratford upon Avon Train Station by rail and then rent a car for excursions in the surrounding areas of the West Midlands.
Who to Book With
Hertz maintains a service office right outside the station on Station Road. Enterprise and Avis are the other global suppliers with depots in town. Evesham Self Drive is one of the local firms that serve the rail station. Online searches offer rates from all the companies operating in Stratford upon Avon.
Best Time to Go
Stratford upon Avon endures a typical English climate with frequent rain and few scorching hot days. The months between late May and early October are usually the best time to visit. During the school holiday period from mid-July to the end of August hotel rooms are hard to find and car rental rates are higher.
Need to Know Essentials
At the time you collect your vehicle the hire company representative will ask to see these items:
- Your UK driver’s licence (the counterpart too if it is one of the new photocard ones)
- A passport, household utility bill or other document confirming your ID
- The same credit card used to make the vehicle booking
- A printout of the booking showing the reservation reference
Stratford upon Avon’s historic streets were never designed for cars and are not easily navigated in one. Once outside of town it is a different story. Roads such as the A46, A422 and A3400 are convenient routes to nearby destinations. Junctions on the M40 and M5 motorways are 15 minutes’ drive. There are 11 official council car parks in town. The rail station car park has space for 320 cars with rates of £4.00 per day. Fees for the short-stay car park on Arden Street are £1.00 per hour.
Our Guide to driving in the UK provides more detailed information.
Stratford upon Avon has a comprehensive bus network that covers all the city’s outlying suburbs. Taxi ranks are situated at strategic locations in town and fares are on a par with other towns in the UK. Walking around the town centre is the optimum means of seeing and enjoying the sights at your leisure. Walkit.com allows visitors to pre-plan their itinerary. Self-drive hire is best for travelling around regions outside town.
Stratford upon Avon has train services from Birmingham Moor Street, London Marylebone, Leamington Spa and Warwick. National Rail’s website has current timetables for services. On summer Sundays, Vintage Trains runs the heritage steam locomotive Shakespeare Express service between Birmingham and Stratford upon Avon.
Bus stops on Wood Street and Bridge Street in the town centre have services to most of the suburban districts of the town. Stagecoach operates these routes. City Sightseeing tours with open-top buses take in all the main sights and depart at frequent intervals from Avon Boating every day of the year except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Hackney Carriage taxis can be found at taxi ranks or flagged down. The driver turns on the meter as soon as passengers board. The fare for the first mile is £3.40 with additional increments for longer distances and waiting time. Mini-cabs have to be ordered from service offices and are generally cheaper to travel in. Recommended mini-cab firms include 24 X 7 Taxi and Argent Taxis (+44 1789 777319).
Stratford upon Avon is located between Oxford and Birmingham and is a central spot for daytrips with car hire to numerous attractions in the area. Blenheim Palace near Oxford and Coughton Court are among elegant stately homes within around one hour’s drive. Twycross Zoo is a delight for youngsters and the Carding Mill Valley’s natural sights and activities attract young and old alike.
Carding Mill Valley – The rolling hills of this National Trust administered site provide visitors with a wealth of activities and attractions. Hiking, bird watching, an abundant collection of wildlife and fishing await those who make the trip. An onsite café is a relaxing spot to enjoy a drink and snack after a day of enjoying the attractions.
Blenheim Palace – This UNESCO listed palace is rated as one of the UK’s finest stately homes. Sumptuous staterooms are packed with treasures and artworks. Sir Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim and a permanent exhibition is dedicated to the life of the great statesman. The palace is set in 2,000 acres which feature picturesque gardens, parkland, a lake and a waterfall.
Twycross Zoo – This zoo houses more than 1,000 creatures and is just 50 miles north via the M40 and M42 motorways. Camels, Asian elephants, boa constrictors, Javan langurs and exotic avian species are among Twycross’s inmates. The new penguin lagoon is home to a colony of Humboldts. The Walking with Lemurs trail is a perennial favourite with families.