From epic hiking routes to local food and luxurious hotel stays, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Shropshire.
It seems this summer has turned out to be one big summer of adventures! After visits to Kent, the Cotswolds and Durham, it was time to venture to a county I’d never visited before: Shropshire. It was set to be a varied trip of adventure activities, great food and a few special places to stay.
Now I’m back home I’m excited to tell you all about it! Highlights included a rafting trip under the county’s most famous bridge, a meander around one of the prettiest towns in England, an epic hike through the Shropshire Hills, a tasting menu experience worthy of a Michelin star and a luxury hotel with a unique theme.
If you’re looking for ideas for UK staycations, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Shropshire. It’s a great destination for couples, with beautiful hotels, top restaurants, spas and romantic scenery. Families will love activities such as canoeing, rafting, glamping and even stepping back in time at a Victorian town. No matter what you’re interested in, there’s something for you!
Excited? I thought you would be! It’s time to give you the lowdown on this often-overlooked county with my guide to the best things to do in Shropshire.
Where is Shropshire?
This was my first trip to Shropshire. To be honest, before visiting I wasn’t entirely sure where it was on a map! The county is located in central England, between the Welsh Border and Birmingham. There were a few times when we were very close to Wales and a lot of the motorway signs we followed were for North or South Wales.
The principal towns are Shrewsbury and Telford, which both have train stations too. If you’re travelling by car, you’ll become familiar with the M54, A5 and the A49 which criss-cross through the county.
14 Top Things To Do In Shropshire
Explore the historic town of Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury is a treasure trove of wiggly streets filled with old-world charm, adorned with colourful streams of bunting. Beamed Tudor buildings sit next to ancient marketplaces and picturesque churches. It’s the kind of town where it’s fun to wander around with no fixed plan. As you meander through the streets I’d recommend stopping by Shrewsbury Castle and looking around the gardens.
While you’ll find a lot of the chains in Shrewsbury town centre, be sure to wander up Wyle Cop, a street famed for having the longest row of uninterrupted independent shops. There’s an eclectic mix on offer, including jewellers, homeware stores and cafes. From Tanners Wines and White Lotus Living, to Vinterior and Christmas Perks (yep, you can do your Christmas shopping all year around!) you’ll struggle to pass by without spending any money. This is also where you’ll find the Lion + Pheasant hotel, one of the best accommodation options in Shrewsbury.
Go canoeing in Shrewsbury
One of the things I love most about Shrewsbury is that you’re never far from the River Severn. The town is enveloped by it, so much so it’s almost an island! Once you’ve explored the town on foot I’d recommend seeing the sights from the water too. Hire a Canoe operate in Shrewsbury and Bewdley, allowing guests to paddle along the River Severn at their own pace.
We hired canoes in Shrewsbury and spent around 2 hours paddling downstream. The sun was shining and it was a relaxing way to take in the views of The Quarry, Port Hill Suspension Bridge and Shrewsbury School. If you’re worrying about never having canoed before, don’t! It’s really easy to paddle along and the water flows slowly so even if you’re paddling upstream, you’ll move at a faster pace than you might expect.
You can rent canoes from as little as £30 for 2 hours and it’s the kind of activity all the family can enjoy on a warm day. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Shropshire, this is a great way to kick off your trip.
Enjoy a great meal in Shrewsbury
One of the perks of the river surrounding the town of Shrewsbury is that you can enjoy a drink or a meal with a spectacular view. The Boathouse is located just across Port Hill Bridge and has a large terrace overlooking the water. Whether you fancy a drink in the sunshine or a delicious meal, it’s a great spot with a varied menu.
After working up an appetite canoeing, we stopped at The Boathouse for a refuel before exploring a different part of Shrewsbury in the afternoon.
Another top option for a meal in Shrewsbury is The Loopy Shrew. This restaurant and bar serves modern British food using locally-sourced produce. The menu is on the gourmet end of the scale, while still offering hearty portions at a fair price. The service was very friendly too. This steak was cooked to perfection and the peppercorn sauce was a big winner!
Step back in time at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings
We were lucky enough to be invited for a little preview of the impressive work Historic England are doing at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings. Built in 1797, the flaxmill played an important role in the Industrial Revolution. It was also the first iron-framed building to be constructed in the world and is often touted as the grandfather to the skyscraper.
Opening spring 2022 will be a visitor attraction, café and office space. There will also be opportunities to climb the Jubilee Tower. It’s lovely to see such an important creation being lovingly restored and protected for generations to come.
Go glamping near Shrewsbury
From yurts and shepherd’s huts, to bell tents and railway carriages, we’ve enjoyed lots of quirky and fun glamping experiences on our travels. Love2Stay is a glamping and caravan site located just outside of Shrewsbury. It’s got great amenities on site, including a gym, lake, thermal bath, natural swimming pool, assault course and more! You can even bring your dog. It’s ideal for families, especially when you see the accommodation on offer.
We checked into one of the awesome safari lodges at Love2Stay. These family glamping lodges sleep up to 6 people and include three bedrooms, a kitchen, lounge and dining area, as well as a full bathroom. There’s even a hot tub and a fire pit outside. Basically, it’s fully-equipped self-catering accommodation but with a touch of quirkiness! I’d say this is ideal for anyone with young kids as there’s so much to do on-site.
Love2Stay is in a great location for anyone planning a visit to Attingham Park or Wroxeter Roman City. They’re both under ten minutes’ drive from the site. At Wroxeter you’ll be able to explore 2,000 years of history. Viriconium (Wroxeter) was once the fourth largest city in Roman Britain, and thought to be a similar size to Pompeii!
Treat yourself to a five-star getaway
If you’re in need of some R&R, I’d recommend a booking a stay at Hawkstone Hall & Gardens. This is one of the most luxurious country manor hotels I’ve stayed at In England.
Just driving down the long, straight drive with the view of the huge 18th century mansion at one end took my breath away! I knew we were in for a real treat. After a glass of bubbly on arrival, we checked into the Christie Suite.
All of the suites at Hawkstone Hall are named after authors, including A.A. Milne, Jane Austen and of course Agatha Christie. While the building dates back to the 18th century, the owners have chosen to give it a 1920s theme. I spotted lots of Art Deco details around the hotel, and our stay had a soundtrack of Gatsby-esque tunes.
With stunning views over the back garden, a free-standing bath in the bedroom, and a bathroom as large as my lounge at home, our suite was both lavish and chic.
Hawkstone Hall is the perfect place to switch off from the chaos of everyday life. In fact, they encourage it with an option to have a lockable box for your phones during your stay! During your stay you can meander through the 88 acres of pristine gardens, explore the spectacular rooms in the hotel (including The Winter Garden, Chapel and the Snug) and eat and drink to your heart’s content.
We feasted on an incredible 3-course dinner in The Saloon Restaurant. After an indulgent starter of confit salmon with truffle, I enjoyed a sumptuous saddle of lamb with a wood sorrel crumb, pomme puree, asparagus and wild garlic. Seasonal and cooked to perfection – it added to the upmarket experience of being at Hawkstone Hall. Plus, with its gold gilded ceiling, huge portraits and stunning views out onto the gardens, The Saloon is one of the grandest dining rooms I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating in!
If you’re planning a stay, I’d recommend hiring an audio tour while you’re there. It takes around 40 minutes and allows you to wander the hotel at leisure, learning interesting facts about the history, the architecture and little details about each of the key rooms.
Get to grips with Ludlow’s food scene
Ludlow is the foodie heart of Shropshire. Back in 2000, there were 3 Michelin starred restaurants in this small market town. While it may not have any of the top gourmet accolades today, the excellent reputation remains.
A trip to Ludlow Farm Shop gave us a great introduction to why this part of England is so special when it comes to food. A lot of it is down to Ludlow’s location. With top quality meat, cheese and fresh vegetables from the county itself, as well as Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Wales, there’s a lot of wonderful produce in this part of Britain.
At Ludlow Farm Shop, 80% of the produce comes from their land or from the four neighbouring counties. It’s impressive when you hear just how much is produced on site including cheese, yoghurt, honey, butter, sausages, bacon and more.
You can see a lot of the processes happening in rooms adjoining the shop too, with coffee being roasted in one, bread being shaped and baked in another and big churners creating some of the shop’s 12 cheeses in another. I was pretty in awe of the gin aisle which contained a whopping 38 varieties of gin, including the local Ludlow Gin!
If you’re peckish, I’d recommend stopping for brunch or coffee and a cake at Ludlow Kitchen. You’ll get to sample some of the delicious ingredients for yourself, then pick up a few items from the shop to take home.
Explore Ludlow Castle
One of the best things to do in Shropshire is visit Ludlow’s magnificent Norman Castle. It’s thought to be one of the first stone castles built in England, dating back to 1076.
While it’s largely in ruins, it’s still an impressive castle to explore, and it still has lots of clearly defined areas. There’s a tower to climb too. From the top, you’ll enjoy one of the best views of Ludlow, as well as seeing the River Teme and picturesque surrounding countryside.
Meander Ludlow’s pretty town centre
Exploring Ludlow was a highlight of my time in Shropshire. I took endless photos of the famous Tudor beamed facades such as The Feathers Hotel, weaved in and out of skinny side streets, spotted pubs over 600 years old (Rose and Crown) and window-shopped to my heart’s content. It reminded me of visits to charming towns in the Cotswolds, where you often find a mix of upmarket boutiques, delis, and historic architecture.
It’s worth noting that there’s a market in Ludlow every single day except on Tuesdays. The markets vary from food and crafts to clothing and odds and ends. There’s a popular farmers market on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month – something I’m sad we missed… but it’s definitely a reason to pop back!
Enjoy a slice of luxury near Ludlow
There are several smart boutique hotels in and around Ludlow, but the finest is Fishmore Hall. Inside this chic white Georgian house are 15 luxurious bedrooms, a 3 AA rosette restaurant and a spa.
We had the pleasure of a spa treatment and use of the facilities, before enjoying a cocktail in the gardens followed by an exceptional tasting menu experience at the hotel’s restaurant. If you’re looking for a relaxing break to get away from it all, this is a peaceful spot. Also, the hotel is small enough that you’ll see the same staff regularly and build up a nice rapport during your stay. Also, it’s in a picturesque location just outside of Ludlow, with rolling hills leading from the back lawn (and visible from the spa too!)
Dinner at Fishmore Hall is a spectacular event of taste and theatre. Each of the seven-courses was intricately balanced with incredible combinations of flavour and texture, presented in a sophisticated manner. These pretty canapes served in cones at the start of the meal led the way for a few hours of incredible dining. It was a real delight and somewhere I’d return to in a heartbeat!
Go on an exhilarating road trip
Between Ludlow and Shrewsbury is the small town of Church Stretton, which has the nickname Little Switzerland. When you see the dramatic landscapes of the Shropshire Hills and the steep valleys, you’ll understand why! It’s also where you’ll find the start of one of England’s most exhilarating roads! The Burway (Burway Road) is a narrow road (single track in many places) with a very steep incline of up to to 20%, lots of sheep and a pretty sheer drop on one side. As you can imagine, we decided it was best if Macca drive!
The drive takes you up to a part of the Long Mynd, the county’s long plateau, from which you’ll see absolutely breath-taking views. It’s one of the best places to go hiking in Shropshire. Even if you’re short on time, you can drive to the car park at the top and hike to the high spots nearby (as we did!) It’s common grazing land, and when we returned to our car, we discovered the sheep had taken quite a liking to the wheels!
The Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covers almost a quarter of Shropshire, so you’ll never be far from some epic views like these.
Hike to the Stiperstones
The Stiperstones is another phenomenal area for hiking in the Shropshire Hills. With an afternoon free we decided to head off on the 5.5 mile circular route which starts from The Bog Centre and takes you on a route around the mysterious collections of rocks.
A few people we’d spoken to had said that walking around this area was a bit like stepping foot on another planet. After passing through some truly beautiful countryside (think lush green meadows filled with buttercups and endless views to hills beyond) we made it to the Stiperstones. I’d describe them as big collections of grey rocks, all stacked on top of each other, looking very eerie.
One of the most famous spots is known as the Devil’s Chair. Legend has it the rocks were dropped there by the Devil himself. There are also some intriguing tales of witches and ghosts who visited this area. If you fancy following in our footsteps, I’d recommend reading this comprehensive guide to the Stiperstones walk. If you love exploring the great outdoors, I’d say this is one of the best things to do in Shropshire.
Marvel at the Iron Bridge
In 1779, the world’s first cast iron bridge was constructed. It was a key moment in the Industrial Revolution and has become an icon of British ironwork. This town in Shropshire takes its name from the bridge, and I can tell you now, it’s a gorgeous little place!
As you wander the main shopping street in Ironbridge you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Traditional shops including gift shops, sweet shops and ice cream sellers are housed in pretty 19th century buildings with candy-striped awnings. Peer down at your feet and you might spot that even the pavements are lined with iron.
If you want to enhance your experience, add in a stop at Blists Hill Victorian Town. This museum brings the Victorian era to life. There’s a realistic Victorian town, complete with shops, food outlets, live demonstrations and even an old-fashioned funfair. It’s a great place to get kids to engage with history, and fill in a few gaps in your knowledge too!
There are several other museums which make up the Ironbridge Gorge Museums, so if you’re visiting the town I’d recommend looking at the website to see what interests you.
Explore Ironbridge from the water
How about this for a quirky way to see the famous Iron Bridge? Shropshire Raft Tours offer a mix of options depending on how active you want to be. Book onto a scenic float tour and take a seat on a 25-foot raft. You’ll enjoy a leisurely journey down the River Severn, listening to fascinating stories from experienced tour guides as you go.
If you’re keen to get paddling, hire a mini raft and head off on your own adventure. This is what we did and I think it’s the perfect option for couples or families. There’s a recommended 7.5-mile route which takes between 2-3 hours. It was never scary or fast, although there are some baby rapids towards the end! If the sun is shining, there’s no better way to see this part of Shropshire!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to the best things to do in Shropshire. I’d like to say a big thanks to the team at Visit Shropshire for inviting us to experience this beautiful part of England. Check out the website for more great places to visit in Shropshire including the Severn Valley Railway, Weston Park, Bridgnorth Castle and Wroxeter Roman City.
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