Stratford-upon-Avon is one of my favourite market towns in England. It’s most famous as the birthplace of William Shakespeare. However, even if you’re not a history buff, it’s a charming town to visit. Brimming with black and white Tudor houses, medieval pubs, Shakespearean plays a-plenty, afternoon teas in cute cafes, and a thriving riverside, there are plenty of things to do in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
But what about the practicalities of getting there? Located just over 100 miles (160km) from central London, it’s very easy to visit Stratford-upon-Avon. In this guide I’ll share how to get from London to Stratford-upon-Avon by train, bus, car and guided tour, together with some travel and booking tips. At the end I have a summary with Quick Book recommendations.
By Train – with one change of train
Although there isn’t a regular train that goes directly from London to Stratford-upon-Avon – you have to make one train change – the trip is super easy with a journey time around two hours. There is one train a day that goes direct (details below).
Trains to Stratford-upon-Avon leave from London Marylebone train station. There are roughly three trains an hour taking three different routes.
- Change at Leamington Spa – leaves hourly and takes about 2hrs. Time between trains, around 5-10 minutes.
- Change at Dorridge – leaves hourly and takes approximately 2hrs 15 mins. Time between trains is about 5 minutes. This route stops in the early evening.
- Change at Solihull – takes around 2hrs 35 mins. Time between trains is about 30 minutes. This route stops around lunchtime.
The return journey to London from Stratford-Upon-Avon follows the same options – just check departure times.
There are over 20 trains per day in total, but I haven’t included journeys that require more than one change as they’re not cheaper or faster.
By Train – direct with no changes
Once a day, there is one direct train from London. It leaves London Marylebone at 6:17 a.m., arrives in Stratford-Upon-Avon at 8:45 a.m. and takes 2 hrs 26 mins. It is faster to take a one of the trains above. However, if you don’t want to risk a train change, this is a good option for you.
There is a return journey back to London from Stratford-Upon-Avon. It leaves at 09:35 p.m. and arrives in London Marylebone at 11:58 p.m. taking 2 hrs 23 mins. This is pretty much the last train of the day (unless you want to make 3 connections and travel for 4 hours, arriving back at 3 a.m.) so don’t miss it.
How much does the train cost?
Train fares can vary significantly in the UK. Cheap ‘Advance’ saver tickets are released early and sell quickly. On the day tickets are typically the most expensive. From London to Stratford-Upon-Avon, Advance tickets can cost as little as £6 one-way (£12 return) and as much as £55 one-way (£110 return) on the day. On average, a one-way fare costs around £35 (£70 return).
You can also buy an Open Return. This lets you travel on any return train (on the same route) within a month of buying your ticket. Prices start around £35 for an Advance Open Return if you’re travelling off-peak (outside commuter hours), or £55 if all the Advance tickets have sold out. If you want to return at any time of day including during peak hours, the price is around £128 for an Open Return.
Best way to book train tickets
I always use Trainline to plan routes and buy tickets. You pay a small fee on some tickets (around £1-£2) but it has many advantages: you can book in advance online, avoid queuing for tickets on the day, they mix and match ticket types to get you the best price, and they will even process an automatic refund if your train is heavily delayed.
In the case of tickets to Stratford-Upon-Avon, you may travel on two different train companies depending on your route – Chiltern Railways and West Midlands. Using Trainline means you don’t have to book through two different train companies.
Where is Stratford-Upon-Avon Train Station?
Great news: Stratford-Upon-Avon train station is in the town centre, a 10 minute walk to Shakespeare’s birthplace. It’s also walkable to most central hotels. Check out my map to see the station location relative to the the main sights.
Tips for taking the train
- If you want to save money, book ahead, choose the cheapest route and take those specific train times.
- If you prefer flexibility, you can typically turn up at Marylebone and just hop on the next train.
- If you’re a bit slow or have lots of luggage, try to get the Solihull train in the morning. It gives you a longer connection time.
- You can usually save money even by booking just 24 hours ahead.
- Please check the train times I’ve listed. Schedules change seasonally, at weekends, holidays and for rail works.
Unless you really love catching a bus, I wouldn’t recommend taking the bus from London to Stratford-Upon-Avon. Yes, the bus is direct. However, it’s not necessarily cheaper, it takes longer and the schedule isn’t very good.
There are only 1 to 2 buses a day from London to Stratford-Upon-Avon. The service is run by National Express and leaves from London Victoria Coach Station. However, they only leave in the evening.
- The first bus leaves at 6:30 p.m., arrives at 9:40 p.m. and takes 3hrs 40 mins
- The last bus leaves at 8:30 p.m., arrives at 23:45 p.m. and takes 3hrs 15 mins
- Return buses to London depart at either 5:00 a.m or 8:00 a.m. and take 3hrs 50 mins
- There is one mid-afternoon bus but it includes one change and takes 6hrs 10 mins.
Travel by car is the fastest way to get to Stratford-Upon-Avon from London. The journey takes around 2hrs 10 mins, assuming normal traffic and departure from central London. The length of the trip is around 100 miles. Google Maps is the best choice for GPS directions. Here’s the route from Central London. Petrol (fuel) will cost around £30 – £40 one-way.
Hiring a car in London
I’m assuming you’re researching this trip because you don’t already have a car. If you’re thinking about hiring one, there are several great options in the city.
- Traditional Rental companies – there are many of the usual car rental brands in London like Avis, Sixt and Hertz. I use RentalCars.com to compare deals. Typical prices are around £25 per day.
- Drive on Demand Cars – companies like Zip Car let you book cars for hours and days. Do it via an app, take a short trip and return the car. Great for ease of use.
London congestion charge
Don’t forget, there is also the £15 per day London Congestion Charge if you drive within the city. If you drive an EV (electric vehicle) like I do, you’re exempt from the Congestion charge. More sustainable and cheaper, yay!
Parking in Stratford-Upon-Avon
There is some great, affordable parking in Stratford-Upon-Avon. My two recommendations, really close to the town are:
- Bridegway multi-storey car park – a large, popular covered multi-storey car park a short walk to the centre. Great if you visit on a rainy day.
- Arden Street Car Park – a street-level car park that’s uncovered, also a short walk to the centre and has EV charging.
Typical car park charges within Stratford-Upon-Avon are £12 for 24 hours or £20 for 72 hours. In most car parks you can pay by downloading an app or by credit card at the pay point. Paying by cash is becoming rare.
EV charging in Stratford-Upon-Avon
There are several fast (but not rapid) chargers in the centre of Stratford-Upon-Avon. I used an EV charge point at Arden Street Car park, which worked very well. The network is BP Pulse, pay via an app. The car park is very close to the centre. If you’re new to driving an EV or have hired one, I recommend downloading the free Zap-Map app to find chargers throughout Britain. Don’t forget, you usually need to pay for parking and charging separately (boo!).
Do you need a car to get around Stratford-Upon-Avon?
No, you don’t need a car to get around Stratford-Upon-Avon. Most of the sights are within walking distance of the town. Even those attractions that are a little further out, like Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, are only 30-minutes away by foot. Mary Arden’s Farm is located outside the town and is too far to walk. However, book a City Sightseeing Bus ticket (around £15) and both the cottage and farm are included stops on the bus route.
If you do prefer to have a car once you get to Stratford-Upon-Avon, you can rent one via RentalCars.com, around £35 per day.
By Guided tour to Stratford-Upon-Avon
Although this will be the most expensive option, a guided tour from London to Stratford-Upon-Avon can offer the most value for money because most tours include a stop in Oxford and a drive through the pretty Cotswold villages. If you’re in London on a short trip and only have one day to explore outside the city, taking a guided tour is an excellent choice. These are two of the most popular tours:
- Anderson Tours: Oxford, Stratford, and Cotswolds Day Trip – 11hrs including a walking tour of Oxford, a stop at Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and photo stops within the Cotswolds. (From £99 per person).
- The English Bus: Oxford, Stratford, and Cotswolds Day Trip – 11.5hrs including a walking tours of Stratford-Upon-Avon and Oxford as well a scenic drive through the Cotswolds. (From £109 per person).
Is Stratford-Upon-Avon a good day trip from London?
Around 2 hrs away by train or car, Stratford-Upon-Avon is a great day trip from London. Of course, if you have more time, I’d recommend staying at least one night to watch a play or simply enjoy the town without rushing. However, if you only have one day you can definitely do it. Taking a guided tour will let you add a stop in Oxford. Just don’t take the National Express bus for a day trip – you’ll spend half your day inside a coach!
Quick book links
- Train: The fastest train leaves from London Marylebone and takes around 2hrs with a train change in Leamington Spa. Tickets costs between £12 and £25 return. Alternative and direct train trains above. Book with Trainline.
- Bus: Buses travel direct but depart at night only (with an early morning return) – not the best schedule. Journey time is 3hrs 15 mins – 3hrs 40 mins. Tickets cost around £30 return. Book with National Express or Trainline.
- Car: Quickest direct route, around 2hrs drive from London. Car rental costs around £25 per day plus £15 London congestion charge and around £40 fuel one-way. Book with RentalCars.com
- Guided Tour: Best day-trip option for combining Oxford and the Cotswolds. Around £100 per person. Book with Get Your Guide.
So, that’s my guide to how to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon from London by train, bus, car and guided tour. Got any questions or suggestions, let me know in the comments below.