Travel

Shrewsbury – a guide for visiting this town in 2023

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Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire, and although we've raved previously about Shropshire towns and villages like Ironbridge, a trip to the county would be incomplete without a visit to Shrewsbury.

Despite being a town, there is so much to see and do in Shrewbsury that you'll feel like you're visiting a city. With more than 2,000 listed historic buildings and beautiful outdoor areas, there is something to see and do for everyone. We wanted to highlight the best things to see and do in Shrewsbury for 2023, let's get into the guide:

Where is Shrewsbury?

As we mentioned in the introduction, Shrewsbury is in the county of Shropshire. It's about 150 miles northwest of London and 9 miles east of the Welsh border (it's actually almost exactly halfway between the city of Birmingham and the Welsh Border).

What is there to see and do in Shrewsbury?

There is a lot more to see and do in Shrewsbury than first meets the eye, here are some of the highlights:

Shrewsbury Castle

In the heart of the town you'll find Shrewsbury Castle, a very impressive building with a distinctive reddish look. It's a striking red sandstone castle and it stands on a hill near the River Severn in quite an imposing position. The original castle dates from the 11th century, but it was modernised in the 18th century. It's free to visit and explore most of this castle, aside from the Soldiers of Shropshire Museum inside the castle (which is well worth the £5 price of admission). Find the location of the castle on Google Maps here - google.co.uk
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Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery

Another focal point of the town centre is the Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery. Far from being a stuffy, boring museum, there is plenty to see and do here for young and old alike. Exhibitions include artefacts and objects dating from the Roman, Medieval, Tudor and Stuart eras. 2 of the main highlights are the Roman Gallery and the Mediaeval Shrewsbury section devoted to the history of the local area.  Learn more here - shropshiremuseums.org.uk
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Shrewsbury Prison

Heading to a prison might not seem like it should be a must-do activity, but Shrewsbury Prison is a bit special. The prison has a fascinating and gorey history attached to it, all of which is entertainingly outlined via a variety of tours. The Guided Tours during the day are informative and interesting, but it's the Ghost Tours in the evenings which are the real highlight. They've got all the information of the guided tours with the fun of dressed-up actors and a bit of a scare. Learn more here - shrewsburyprison.com
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The Quarry (& the Dingle)

The main park in Shrewsbury is known as the Quarry. This beautiful park was created in the early 18th century and has been a place for young and old to enjoy ever since. With 29 acres of park to explore there is plenty to see and do here, including swimming baths, rose beds, and even a great children's play area. Probably the most popular part of the park is known as 'The Dingle', which is a lovely flower garden with ponds full of fish that you can feed. It's great for a stroll and a must-visit during your time in Shrewsbury, learn more here - shrewsburytowncouncil.gov.uk
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Take a river cruise with Sabrina

The River Severn dramatically loops through Shrewsbury and is a focal part of the town, so taking a river cruise along the Severn is a great way to see Shrewsbury. Sabrina is the main boat running along the Severn - with 3 decks and a capacity for 60 passengers, riding on the boat is a comfortable way to travel along the river. Trips run daily on the hour between 11am and 4pm, but if you're looking for something different then you can join one of the themed cruises (they recently ran a 'Mamma Mia' inspired cruise) or you could hire it privately and do your own thing. If you don't mind the water then a trip on Sabrina is a must-do activity during your time in Shrewsbury, learn more here - sabrinaboat.co.uk
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Shrewsbury Abbey

Even if you're not religious, this stunning abbey is worth visiting so you can admire the architecture and history attached to the building. Founded in the 11th century, the abbey is a Grade I listed building and is considered to be one of the most important and influential abbeys in England.

It's only a 5 minute walk from the city centre and it's totally free to visit, learn more here - shrewsburyabbey.com

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Follow the Darwin Trail

Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury and spent much of his childhood in the town, so he has a deep connection to Shrewsbury. There are many buildings and locations throughout the town which are connected to Darwin, and the best way to seem them all is to follow the Darwin Trail. This route was created by the Shrewsbury BID team and takes you past all of the locations in the town which are connected to Darwin. The route starts at the Darwin statue outside of Shrewsbury Library, and then takes you past Chad's Church (where Darwin was baptised), Darwin's Gate, and Quantum Leap. The whole route shouldn't take much more than an hour to complete, but you might want to allow for 2 hours so you can see everything properly. Learn more and access the PDF version of the route here - shrewsburybid.sharepoint.com

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Rowley's House

There are many special buildings in Shrewsbury, but Rowley's House is definitely one of the most impressive - built in the 16th century, this house was once the home of Roger Rowley, a successful wool merchant from Shrewsbury. The house is notable because it is believed to be the earliest brick building in Shrewsbury. It's extremely interesting to look at from the outside, but you can actually get into the house too, where you'll find a small museum about the building and with some information about the local area too. We highly recommend you stop off at Rowley's House during your time in Shrewsbury, you'll find it on Barker St.

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Saint Chad's Church

Many people argue that, despite not having the grandeur of the abbey or the cathedral, Saint Chad's Church is actually more interesting to visit. The first thing you'll notice is the slightly odd shape of the building - this is an unusual example of a round church, and apparently, the strange design was a result of a misunderstanding between the architect and the Parish council of the time. Another fun part of the church is the Ebenezer Scrooge grave, which was used in the 1984 film version of A Christmas Carol. Similar to the other religious buildings, it's free to explore and the staff here are really friendly and informative. Learn more here - stchadschurchshrewsbury.com

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Market Hall

It is well worth exploring the Market Hall in Shrewsbury - you'll find a great selection of stalls selling all sorts of products, as well as some lovely cafes and other places to grab a bite to eat. You can also find antiques and books in here - it really is a bit of a Tardis. We'd highly recommend a visit during your time in Shrewsbury, learn more here - shrewsburymarkethall.co.uk
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Shrewsbury Folk Festival

If you're visiting Shrewsbury during the summer months then we'd highly recommend visiting the amazing Shrewsbury Folk Festival. This amazing festival typically takes place over the August bank holiday weekend, and it attracts visitors from across the world. Expect to find plenty of amazing music, lots of dancing, and great food too. This festival is great for families and there is even a Children's Festival too. Tickets are very reasonably priced, learn more here - shrewsburyfolkfestival.co.uk
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Attingham Park

Managed by the National Trust, this 18th century estate is a fantastic place to visit for all ages. As you enter the estate via the imposing entrance, you're immediately met with a sense of grandeur and wealth as you see the mansion, a building in which you can actually explore the ground and basement floor. But the real highlight for us of a visit to Attingham Park is the 200 acres of land you can explore - the Walled Garden, Pleasure Grounds and Deer Park are all immaculately well-kept and amazing to wander around. Attingham has been a Site of Special Scientific Interest for more than 20 years, and is well known for being home to a fascinating collection of wildlife, including rare insects and birds. Overall, it's a great day out to Attingham and we highly recommend a visit, learn more here - nationaltrust.org.uk
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Battlefield Falconry Centre

If the idea of getting up close and personal with impressive birds of prey sounds like your cup of tea, the Battlefield Falconry Centre is a great place to head to. There are a number of activities you can get involved in here, but the most popular is always the 'Walks with Hawks' activity, where you can go on a woodland with a Harris Hawk which flies to your glove throughout the walk! It's really quite amazing. Learn more here - battlefieldfalconrycentre.co.uk
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What should you be aware of before visiting Shrewsbury?

As you can see from the above, there is quite a bit to see and do in Shrewsbury so you'll want to allow plenty of time for everything. But we'd also say that Shropshire as a county has plenty to explore also, so allow some time for exploration of locations like the Ironbridge Gorge too.

Where to stay in Shrewsbury?

You've got a number of options when it comes to hotels and other types of accommodation in Shrewsbury, with a good mix of independent and chain hotels available. The biggest independent hotels include places such as Abbots Mead Hotel, the Lion + Pheasant Hotel, and The Loopy Shrew. If you want a chain hotel then you've got options like Premier Inn, Wetherspoons, and Holiday Inn. For a more extensive list of hotels and other types of accommodation in Shrewsbury, here are some useful websites:

 

Hopefully, this guide has inspired you to visit this brilliant Shropshire town. As we mentioned a few times, we have a guide about Ironbridge which is also a fantastic place to visit nearby, and we also have a guide about Much Wenlock.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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