Pinpointing Shakespeare’s locations 

Places to visit where Shakespeare’s plays were based   

William Shakespeare needs little introduction. Often regarded as one of the greatest writers in the English language, his plays continue to inspire playwrights and screenwriters to this day. 

Even those who aren’t keen theatre-goers are likely to have seen a rendition of his plays. You might be surprised to find out that '10 Things I Hate About You', 'She's the Man', and 'The Lion King' are just a few of the well-known Hollywood films based upon the traditional works of Shakespeare. 


"Men at some time are masters of their fates" 

Born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, Shakespeare took much of his own inspiration from the towns and cities of Britain and Europe, using them as the setting for his dramas and as the locations for their live theatre performances. Some locations are much further afield, such as the Egyptian port city of Alexandria in 'Antony and Cleopatra, and the imposing Kronborg Castle in 'Hamlet'. 


His life and works are celebrated during National Shakespeare Day which falls on April 23rd each year. In honour of the annual event, we’ve picked out some of the most scenic destinations for Shakespeare fans to visit if you’re planning a getaway.


“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.”



Location: Moray, Scotland 


Featured in: Macbeth


Inverness Castle is the fortress in which King Duncan meets his demise before Macbeth usurps the crown and becomes a tyrannical leader. Things begin to turn a little sour from that point on, but you’ll have to watch the play to see what happens after! 


The city itself is a great location for a weekend break, filled with plenty of historic landmarks. Shakespeare makes Inverness Castle 'Macbeth’s' home; the place where he murders King Duncan. While not the castle that stands today, it’s still well worth a visit, along with the magnificent cathedral. 


You’ll find plenty of independent shops, and restaurants to keep you busy in between sightseeing. During your stay, be sure to make a trip to the banks of Loch Ness; one of Scotland’s most iconic lochs, or get back on the Shakespeare trail with a visit to nearby Cawdor Castle, 'Macbeth’s' atmospheric seat as the Thane of Cawdor.


If you do one thing: Scotch whisky fans will want to book a tour of The Tomatin Distillery, which offers a range of award-winning whiskies - you can even have a go at filling your own bottle from one of the casks.


Best place to eat: For classic Scottish dishes with a European flair, be sure to stop by Fig & Thistle. This much-loved bistro serves up a lovely selection of comforting, home-cooked meals including handmade beef burgers, creamy gorgonzola risotto and grilled chicken breast with linguine.


Best place to drink: The Castle Tavern is a traditional real ale pub in the heart of Inverness, boasting an extensive drinks menu and an excellent beer garden to watch the world go by.




Why, then the world’s mine oyster, which I with sword will open.



Location: Berkshire


Featured in: The Merry Wives of Windsor


Set in the pretty market town of Windsor, 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' was one of Shakespeare’s more comedic plays. In a nutshell, the plot focuses on two wives who join forces to take revenge on Sir John Falstaff - a desperate man who tries to seduce them both in an attempt to obtain their husband’s wealth.


As the home of Windsor Castle, the town is incredibly popular with tourists. Visitors are able to explore parts of the royal residence including the elegant state apartments and St George's Chapel, which sits within the castle’s expansive grounds. 


Shakespeare’s play refers back to many parts of the modern city, from Windsor Great Park to Datchet Meads, where Falstaff is unceremoniously dumped into the river. A visit to the Harte and Garter Hotel (previously the Garter Inn, which is referenced throughout the play) continues your Elizabethan journey. Their beautiful stained glass windows depict certain characters from the play.


If you do one thing: A visit to the castle is a must, but we’d also recommend an afternoon in the beautiful surroundings of the Frogmore House & Gardens. Technically it is part of the Windsor Castle grounds but it’s an impressive attraction in itself.


Best place to eat: Antalya Restaurant serves up a delicious blend of Mediterranean and Turkish cuisine in a relaxed and welcoming environment. On the menu, you’ll find juicy grilled lamb and chicken dishes, as well as plenty of vegetarian favourites such as falafel and tabbouleh.


Best place to drink: The Duchess of Cambridge is a cosy pub with all the quintessential features of a traditional British inn; open fires, real ales on tap, and a big menu of tasty lunch and dinner dishes to boot.




Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once moreHenry V



Location: Greater London


Featured in: King John, Richard II, Richard III, Henry VI Part 1 & 2, Henry IV Part 1 & 2, Henry V, Henry VIII


The city of London was the setting for many of Shakespeare’s plays, especially the ‘Henriad’ series that focused on The War of the Roses which took place during the mid-to-late fifteenth century. While the city streets have changed significantly since these plays were written, you can find hints of its rich history everywhere - from Southwark Cathedral, where Shakespeare’s own brother is buried, to White Tower - the ancient central keep in the Tower of London complex.


If you’re looking to make an Elizabethan pilgrimage to London, it’s worth spending time by the Thames, from London Bridge to the Tower of London. Visit the Elizabethan pub, the George Inn, near Borough; this 16th Century establishment has a courtyard surrounded on three sides, and was the perfect place for actors to play, before theatres began springing up. Another drinking hole, The Boar’s Head Inn, is mentioned in the 'Henry IV' plays as a meeting point for some of the characters. 


Sadly, the wooden beams favoured by Tudor and Elizabethan architects have been sadly ravaged by the Great Fire and two World Wars. However, the few buildings that remain from this era are well worth a visit. Staple Inn, on Chancery Lane, must be the most impressive; it’s the largest timber-framed building in London. 


Saint Bartholomew’s Gatehouse is another timber beauty; this narrow medieval archway was actually covered up in the Georgian era, but, miraculously, was revealed in all its glory when a 1917 Zeppelin bomb blew apart the Georgian facade, leaving the original Tudor frame underneath completely undamaged.


If you do one thing: Make sure you book tickets for a performance at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Throughout the year, the venue gives playwrights and performers the chance to put their own spin on classic Shakespeare plays - from the 'Twelfth Night to Julius Caesar'.


Best place to eat: Sat beside the banks of the River Thames, the Swan at the Globe is a great place to grab a bite to eat before watching a performance at the theatre. The tasty dishes here include roast Cornish cod, spring ragout and herb-crusted Welsh lamb - among many other tasty dishes.


Best place to drink: The Shakespeare pub in Victoria seems like the most obvious option - named after the playwright's father who was once a property developer in the area.



Milford Haven

Boldness be my friend: Arm me audacity from head to foot!



Location: Pembrokeshire


Featured in: Cymbeline


Milford Haven is one of the locations in 'Cymbeline' - one of Shakespeare’s later plays. The story focuses on a king’s daughter, Imogen, who decides to secretly marry a commoner rather than the man her parents have chosen for her. Her husband is then exiled, and later plans to meet her at Milford Haven - but like any Shakespearean tragedy, it doesn’t go exactly as planned.


While there are no Elizabethan ruins to discover here, the town itself is a lovely location for a summer holiday, close to the coast and with a pretty port to stroll along when the sun is shining. Along its streets, you’ll find lots of interesting shops selling local produce, including Trwffl and Akamuti.


If you do one thing: Whether you would prefer to watch a traditional play or settle down for a good film armed with plenty of popcorn by your side, the Torch Theatre offers the best of both worlds. 


Best place to eat: With a gorgeous setting next to the Milford Haven Waterway, Foam is the perfect spot to grab a tasty lunch. For a particularly special meal, Kaylee from Foam reveals that their four glass domes “seat up to eight people each and are the perfect place to dine with a panoramic view of the waterway.”. 


Best place to drink: Madison’s Bar & Restaurant has a classy Jazz Age theme throughout, making it a great place to get dressed up and enjoy some creative gins and cocktails together.




But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve, For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.” Othello 



Location: Italy


Featured in: Othello, The Merchant of Venice


Often considered one of the most romantic cities in the world, it’s no surprise that Venice had such an influence on Shakespeare’s imagination. Its pretty streets are lined with intricate buildings and landmarks, many of which have been painstakingly crafted from pure marble. This gorgeous city has been featured in both 'Othello' and 'The Merchant of Venice'.


Begin your visit at the Palazzo Contarini Fasan, a beautiful Gothic building that is understood to be the home of 'Othello’s' Desdemona. The gorgeous Doge’s Palace was a focal point of the final court scenes in 'A Merchant of Venice', and of course Shylock’s home would have been found in Venice’s Jewish Ghetto. 


In your Shakespearean odyssey, don’t forget to wander the city’s narrow streets, home to cosy cafes and fabulous restaurants where you can enjoy the traditional flavours of Italy - pizza, pasta, and refreshing sorbet. 


If you do one thing: A visit to Venice isn’t complete without passing by the awe-inspiring exterior of Saint Mark's Basilica - a palatial cathedral that holds the relics of the patron saint of the city.


Best place to eat: If you are looking for somewhere extra special, the elegant Ristorante Wistèria is just the ticket. This Venetian restaurant features an inventive tasting menu with unique dishes, each paired with the perfect glass of wine.


Best place to drink: Enjoy panoramic views across the city from the Skyline Rooftop Bar. This stylish hotspot offers an extensive cocktail menu, developed by its expert mixologists.




To be or not to be—that is the question. 



Location: Denmark


Featured in: Hamlet


A pretty port city in eastern Denmark, Helsingør is perhaps best known by theatre fans as the setting for 'Hamlet'. The city is home to Kronborg Castle, which was referred to as ‘Elsinore’ in the famous play. Visitors are now able to explore the grounds and enjoy live performances of Shakespeare’s plays, which take place every summer.


Indeed, the entire plan of the inner city dates back to the 1400s, and there are several Shakespearean-era homes to see - notably the magnificent Iver Pederson’s house, at Stengade 20. This half-timbered building is one of the only remaining from its era on the Stengade Road, one of the oldest in the city.  


There’s more to see in the rest of Helsingør, too. Take a walk through its narrow streets and you’ll discover lots of historic buildings and interesting museums, including the Danish Museum of Science and Technology and 'Skibsklarerergaarden'.


If you do one thing: If you’re visiting Helsingør as a family, be sure to spend an afternoon in the Øresund Aquarium. As well as the wonderful sea life, the aquarium is the only of its kinds that offers a “tuna safari on the beautiful and protected Øresund. In addition to tuna safaris, we also do a porpoise, seal and seabird safari.” Øresund Aquarium


Best place to eat: One of the most highly-regarded restaurants in the city is Rådmand Davids Hus, set within a traditional 17th-century building and offering an extensive menu of traditional Danish dishes.


Best place to drink: Holger is a cosy underground bar in the centre of the city - perfect for evening drinks after a day of sightseeing.




The course of true love never did run smooth. 



Location: Greece


Featured in: A Midsummer Night's Dream


'A Midsummer Night's Dream' is one of Shakespeare’s more lighthearted plays, set in the ancient city of Athens and focusing on the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta - and the lives of those involved in the upcoming ceremony. 


As one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, this incredible city offers plenty of opportunities for sightseeing. The Temple of Olympian Zeus, The Acropolis of Athens and The Parthenon are just a few of the awe-inspiring temples in the region.


During Shakespeare’s time, the city would have been part of the Ottoman Empire. Not many buildings exist from this time, and unusually you’re more likely to find remnants from 1600 BC than 1600 AD, but you may like to visit the Aerides Bath; the only surviving Ottoman-era public bath in the city. The beautiful building is now used as an art and exhibition space. 


If you do one thing: Make a visit to the Panathenaic Stadium. Built in 566 BC, this impressive stadium is built entirely from marble.


Best place to eat:  For an extra special day out, it’s worth getting a seat at Dinner in the Sky - there’s no other view quite like it.


Best place to drink: Enjoy an assortment of Greek delicacies and an excellent selection of fine wines at the Cinque Wine & Deli Bar.




For there was never yet philosopher, That could endure the toothache patiently. 



Location: Italy


Featured in: Much Ado About Nothing


Messina is a bustling harbour city in North-East Sicily, renowned for its stunning marble fountains and statues depicting Neptune and many other mythological figures. It’s also the inspiration and setting for one of Shakespeare’s popular comedies - 'Much Ado About Nothing'. 


There are several spectacular sights here to give you a flavour of Shakespeare’s Messina, which would have been under Spanish governance at the time of the play. Visit the beautiful fountains of Neptune and Orion or the San Ranieri Lighthouse. The Porta Grazia fortress protected the harbour in the 16th-century and acted as one of the gateways to the island.


Aside from its Shakespearean links, there’s plenty more to discover and enjoy here - from basking on the beach to snapping plenty of pictures at the Bell Tower and Astronomical Clock. For keen foodies, it’s a fabulous place to try some regional cuisine. Lemons, olives and mandarins are all grown in the area and feature in many of the dishes in local restaurants. 


If you do one thing: Take a day trip to Mt. Etna and discover the breathtaking sights from the crater of this mighty volcano, with the help of a tour guide.


Best place to eat: For fresh and authentic Sicilian cuisine, head to Casa & Putia Ristorante, just a short walk away from the seafront.


Best place to drink: Le Roi Emotional Drinks is a popular spot for inventive cocktails in a lively setting.




O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? 



Location: Italy


Featured in: Romeo and Juliet


Yet another Italian city that inspired one of Shakespeare’s most renowned plays, Verona set the scene for 'Romeo and Juliet'. Interestingly, the reason why this location was chosen is that the play was actually based on an earlier novel by Italian writer, Luigi da Porta.


From the spectacular Roman Verona Arena (built in 30 AD) to the impressive Romanesque Basilica di San Zeno Maggiore (built between 967 and 1398 AD) the city holds many magnificent buildings and monuments. It’s easy to see why it had such an influence on both writers. 


In fact, the Basilica had a starring role as Romeo and Juliet’s ill-fated marriage location. The Casa di Giulietta (Juliet’s house), is another key location in the city. Leave a letter here for ‘Juliet’s' secretaries, who have been helping unite lovers since the 1930s.


If you do one thing: Make sure to visit Juliet’s House. Although no one knows if Juliet ever existed, this Gothic-style house that was built in the 14th century is thought to be the inspiration behind the iconic scenes in Romeo and Juliet.


“The building was restored in the 1930s and in the courtyard, accessible free of charge, besides the picturesque balcony, there is a bronze statue of Juliet that everybody can touch for good luck. You can also leave a letter to Juliet in a special post box inside the courtyard. Apparently, she will reply. Replies are written by the members of Juliet’s Club, an association that for almost a hundred years has been replying to all the messages addressed to Juliet.” Juliet’s House


Best place to eat: For classic Italian food in a stylish setting, it’s definitely worth making a reservation at L'Evangelista Ristorante & Enoteca.


Best place to drink: If you’re a fan of Martini cocktails, you’ll want to make a pitstop at Special Mr Martini, a buzzing bar and restaurant set within a converted gas station.






Location: Yorkshire


Featured in: Shakespeare's Rose Theatre


The historic city of York is home to both the York Shakespeare Project and Shakespeare's Rose Theatre; both of which aim to reimagine and recreate famous plays for a modern audience. The latter boasts an authentic Elizabethan playhouse setting, as well as a Shakespearean village to wander around and imagine what life was like in the late 16th century. 


Whether you’re a fan of theatre, history or good food - York has something for everyone, and the quirky street of Shambles ticks all three boxes. Nestled in the city centre, this medieval street is lined with unique shops and cafes - perfect for picking up some unique gifts to take back home.


If you do one thing: Make sure to visit the ancient York Minster, one of the largest cathedrals of its kind and with a history that dates all way back to 637 AD.


Best place to eat: Indulge in a tasty afternoon tea at the elegant Countess of York, a cafe set within an impeccably restored rail carriage.


Best place to drink: For fine wine and speciality gins, look no further than the Pairings Wine Bar, conveniently set in the heart of the city centre.






Location: West Midlands


Featured in: Being the hometown of Shakespeare himself


Discover where Shakespear’s own story began with a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon. Within this historic market town, you’ll find many interesting landmarks with links to the playwright including the very lovely Anne Hathaway's Cottage.


It’s here that you’ll also find The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, built close to the site which once held the town’s first official theatre - this was a simple wooden structure made in 1769 by a local actor to mark Shakespeare’s birthday. In comparison, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre now holds over 1,000 guests and is quite a spectacular setting in itself.


If you do one thing: Take a journey back in time with a visit to Shakespeare’s Birthplace - the carefully preserved home in which the playwright spent his childhood years.


Best place to eat: Enjoy modern food in a cosy, rustic setting at The Woodsman Restaurant - set within a traditional 16th-century inn.


Best place to drink: Whether you’re after cocktails or a local ale fresh from the cask, The One Elm is an excellent place to grab a drink.



More landmarks to discover  




From the dense forests of Warwickshire to the chalky cliffs of Dover, there are many other incredible locations tied to Shakespeare’s plays. If you’re in need of some more ideas, here are two more landmarks that are well worth a visit:






Location: England (or France!)


Featured in: Inspiring Shakespeare’s woodland scenes


It’s thought that Shakespeare took the inspiration for woodland scenes from his local area, which at the time would have been the Forest of Arden. Once densely forested, deforestation over the years has changed its landscape. However, there are still a few ancient woodlands left to explore in Arden; some of the nearby towns and villages include Tanworth-in-Arden and Hampton-in-Arden.


However, some believe that the name ‘Arden’ is an anglicisation of the ‘Ardennes’ region of France, which is also heavily forested. Another theory is that the name derives from the biblical garden of ‘Eden’ and the classic region of ‘Arcadia’. No one knows for sure where Shakespeare’s influence was from; maybe it was a combination of all three!



Shakespeare Cliff   



Location: Dover


Featured in: Being an inspiration for Shakespeare's plays


Shakespeare Cliff in Dover is yet another landmark that is said to have inspired Shakespeare while writing 'King Lear' - it seems incredibly plausible, as he regularly visited the area. At the foot of the cliff is a peaceful beach, great for enjoying the views or taking the dog for a scenic walk.


From the dramatic landscapes of Inverness to the romantic streets of Venice and Verona, it’s no surprise why Shakespear took so much inspiration from these scenic destinations. 

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