William Shakespeare left an incredible legacy on the world of literature. His work has inspired generation after generation of academics, readers, and aspiring writers. If you’re a fan of the playwright, then you’ll want to include some of the most Shakespeare-central destinations on your next itinerary.
Among the locations that were significant to Shakespeare are places that he lived in and visited, as well as locations that served as the setting for some of his most famous works. Many of the towns and cities that are known as Shakespeare attractions now offer tours and festivals highlighting his work.
Check out these 10 destinations that all Shakespeare fans need to visit.
10 Stratford-Upon-Avon, England
If you can only go to one Shakespeare location in your lifetime, make it this one. The world’s most famous writer was born and grew up on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon, and also spent the first five years of his marriage to Anne Hathaway there. According to Mental Floss, you will find actors here today, performing the playwright’s work live.
Between 1571 and 1578, Shakespeare attended the King Edward VI School, which is still in operation. You can take part in a tour that takes you to the very classroom where Shakespeare studied.
9 London, England
There are several reasons to visit London if you’re a Shakespeare fan. Perhaps the biggest is to see the Globe Theatre. The real theatre, where Shakespeare’s plays were performed during his lifetime, actually closed in 1642, and shortly after, pulled down by Puritans. But you can still visit the recreation of the Globe that resides only 750 feet from the original location.
You can watch Shakespeare plays and other productions here, and there are also educational Shakespeare events held here for true fans. If you’re interested in Shakespeare, this one is a must!
8 Helsingør, Denmark
It’s debated as to whether Shakespeare ever visited Helsingør, a town lying an hour north of Copenhagen, Denmark. But we do know that the location is still significant. Kronborg Castle, which is situated in the town, served as the setting for one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays of all: Hamlet. This was the castle that was home to Hamlet, Claudius, and the rest of the ill-fated cast.
Every summer, you can actually participate in a Shakespeare festival that takes place around the castle. They also conduct daily tours focusing on the Shakespearian points of interest.
7 Dover, England
If you’re a fan of King Lear, then you’ll want to visit Dover so you can see Shakespeare Cliff in the flesh. The cliff is said to have served as an inspiration for the play, particularly inspiring the scene where the Earl of Gloucester is fooled into thinking he survived jumping from the cliff.
When you read Shakespeare’s description of the cliff in King Lear, you’ll find that it very accurately describes the real version. This one also happens to attract fewer crowds than some of the other Shakespeare attractions and is a peaceful location that’s perfect for taking a relaxing walk.
6 French Ardennes, France
Most academics agree that Shakespeare’s romantic comedy As You Like It is set in a forest in the French Ardennes since it is referred to as the Forest of Arden. Ardennes is a region that touched France, Belgium, Germany, and Luxembourg, and, even if you’re not a mega Shakespeare fan, is a particularly beautiful region to visit.
The real forest where As You Like It was set actually went on to become famous for another reason. During World War II, the wood served as the site of the Battle of the Bulge, according to Atlas Obscura.
5 Alexandria, Egypt
Egypt is not the first place that you think of when it comes to visiting Shakespeare attractions. But many of the scenes of Antony and Cleopatra are set in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. Though the city is a significant location as far as history goes, not many reminders of the real Cleopatra remain there.
The Queen of Egypt, who ruled from 51 to 30 BC, left behind a legacy in Alexandria, but not much else. Earthquakes made light work of her royal palace, which you can’t visit because it’s at the bottom of the harbor, and similarly, the famous Pharos lighthouse is said to also be submerged.
4 Sicily, Italy
The Italian island of Sicily actually serves as the setting for Shakespeare’s famous play Much Ado About Nothing. The play was actually set in Messina, a town in the northeast of the region. But that might not be the only reason for Shakespeare lovers to visit this part of Italy.
A professor named Martino Iuvara alleged in 2002 that Shakespeare was actually from Messina, and not Stratford-upon-Avon. The theory goes that he emigrated from Italy to England where he married Anne Hathaway, who was a great translator. And yes, Iuvara hailed from Sicily himself.
3 Athens, Greece
Shakespeare’s fantastical play A Midsummer Night’s Dream is set in a “wood outside Athens” which leads most scholars to believe that said wood is actually part of Mount Párnitha National Park. According to Lonely Planet, the park is full of forest, caves, gorges, and trails that very well could have inspired the play. It is located just to the northwest of the Greek capital city.
If you visit the park, it’s not hard to imagine the characters of Titania and Oberon frolicking throughout the pine trees in the woods.
2 Inverness, Scotland
There are a variety of locations in Scotland that are relevant to Shakespeare lovers, but one town you should definitely visit is nestled deep in the highlands. Inverness, the site of the famous Loch Ness, also hosts Inverness Castle, where the famous and tragic character of Macbeth lived.
Other locations to visit on the Macbeth Trail, as it’s called, include Macbeth’s Stone in Aberdeenshire. This is said to mark the spot where the real historical figure of Macbeth was mortally wounded in 1057 during the battle of Lumphanan.
1 Verona, Italy
Perhaps the most famous Shakespeare attraction of all resides in the Italian city of Verona. Anyone who’s read Shakespeare knows that the romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet was set in Verona, and according to legend, you can actually visit the real balcony of Juliet.
When visiting the balcony, you’ll find a bronze statue of Juliet (touching her is good luck for those looking for love), and hundreds of love letters that have been left behind by starry-eyed visitors from around the world. It’s worth a visit for any Shakespeare fan, and anyone who’s in love.