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The Best Places to Visit in Shropshire

Shropshire is England’s largest inland county, has lots of rural terrain and much of the south is part of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s easy to see why it’s a great destination to enjoy a luxury cottage break in the countryside, especially if you like walking and cycling. Thriving market towns including Shrewsbury and Oswestry cater for shoppers looking for items that are that little bit different rather than run of the mill, whilst never being far from the fantastic countryside. Meanwhile, there are castles and pretty villages to discover, alongside historic canalside trails and fascinating industrial heritage.

Explore the best places to visit in Shropshire.

A river with a bridge in front of a church in Shrewsbury


Shrewsbury is one of the best places to visit in Shropshire if you are looking for plenty to see and do. The town has a beautiful riverside location and stunning countryside is in easy reach, making it an excellent base for exploring all that Shropshire has to offer. With beautifully preserved medieval buildings, a claim to fame as Charles Darwin’s place of birth and a thriving foodie scene, here you’ll find culture, heritage and cuisine all wrapped up in a large town with a charming and traditional feel.

As you walk through the streets, admire the timber-framed houses and shop at the host of independent shops found along Wyle Cop or at the many large stores. The vibrant indoor market has earned itself a reputation for handmade goods, as well as a diverse range of food stalls, while the town also boasts quaint inns and stylish bars for refreshments to suit all.

History-lovers should not miss Shrewsbury Castle that now houses a military museum, Shrewsbury Abbey founded in 1083, or Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery. If you’re looking for natural beauty take a walk beside the River Severn at Quarry Park, while in the summertime there’s Shrewsbury Flower Show and a popular folk music festival to enjoy.

Grand facade of Attingham Park stately home


Named after famous civil engineer Thomas Telford, who played an instrumental part in the design of canal networks in Shropshire that helped to boost the economy during the Industrial Revolution, innovation is in the town’s blood. Even today it is probably Shropshire’s most modern town and is dubbed the ‘New Town’.

It’s quite a contrast to the surrounding countryside and offers plenty of opportunities for leisure activities, especially if you have children in tow. Head for Telford Town Park where there are five play areas, a boating lake, mini-golf, nature trails, fishing ponds, a cycle centre and the themed ‘Wonderland’ attraction, as well as formal and sensory gardens.

If you’re looking for more family fun, Telford also has an ice rink, a cinema and a bowling alley in easy reach. For days out just beyond the town, try Blists Hill Victorian Town which is an open-air museum with a Victorian street complete with shops, a church and a wrought-iron workshop, as well as actors dressed in period costume who bring the place to life with tales about the era.

Other days out include the National Trust’s Attingham Park to visit the historic mansion built in 1785 and take woodland strolls through the grounds, English Heritage’s Buildwas Abbey, and a hike uphill to the Wrekin from where there are spectacular views across the Shropshire Plain.

Facade of Stokesay Castle in Shropshire


The historic town of Ludlow is one of the best places to visit in Shropshire for stunning period architecture from the Norman, medieval and Tudor periods. The most notable example has to be Ludlow Castle that is spectacularly positioned on a cliff that overlooks the River Teme below. Walking around the town and through its atmospheric lanes is a delight and on your travels, you will come across antique shops, book shops and galleries. Do also take a close-up look at the impressive St Laurence’s Church which is almost of cathedral proportions.

Ludlow has also made a name for its foodie scene and there are many restaurants to try, but the popular Ludlow Food and Drink Festival held each autumn offers demonstrations and presentations from chefs, local suppliers and food critics. To stock up on local produce to savour back at your cottage, try Ludlow Farm Shop in nearby Bromfield that is set on a countryside estate.

Whilst in Ludlow, make a visit to the 13th-century fortified manor house of Stokesay Castle, or if you’re feeling more active Ludlow is a great place for walks. Begin with part of the long-distance Mortimer Trail that starts from the town.

Food Stall At A Market


Oswestry is a historic market town with a traditional vibe. One of the loveliest things about the town is the high proportion of independently run cafes, restaurants, art galleries and shops that sell things like books and kitchenware, which has helped to create a friendly and welcoming place to visit.

There are weekly markets too. In fact, there has been a market in the town since the 12th century, plus a speciality artisan market is held on the last Friday of each month where you can pick up goodies including fresh pies, meat and cheeses. There’s also a popular food festival held every summer.

Points of interest include Cae Glas Park in the town centre, the Iron Age hillfort at the edge of the town, the Cambrian Railways Museum and Whittington Castle. Meanwhile, days out include the British Ironwork Centre and being just 5 miles from the Welsh border there are many more fascinating places to see.

These include Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Llangollen, Chirk Castle and the National Trust’s Grade I-listed property at Erdigg in Wrexham. However, there is perhaps no better way to discover how Shropshire meets the Welsh hills than to walk on Offa’s Dyke long-distance footpath that passes through Oswestry.

Severn Valley Railway


Split into high town and low town, Bridgnorth has spectacular views over the Severn Valley from its sandstone clifftop, whilst down in low town runs the River Severn. There are plenty of shops and pubs, as well as quaint back streets with pretty rows of cottages, plus the remains of a Friary, a ruined castle and residential caves to discover. If you don’t fancy taking the steps up to high town, step aboard the Cliff Railway instead for a ride that’s both scenic and fun.

Bridgnorth is also the first stop on the Severn Valley Railway heritage line where steam locomotives traverse sixteen miles of pretty Shropshire and Worcestershire countryside all the way to Kidderminster. Most of the route follows the River Severn and is very scenic.

You can even book a Footplate Experience to try your hand at driving the train, including stoking the fire and sounding the horn. After your train ride, head to The Engine House visitor centre, let the kids roam free in the outdoor play area or enjoy a drink at The Railwayman’s Arms positioned right on the platform.

The town of Ironbridge with church on the hill


Ironbridge is a village that evolved with the opening of the first iron bridge of its kind anywhere in the world in 1781. The bridge is set in a breathtaking wooded gorge, spans the River Severn and played a significant part in the birth of the Industrial Revolution era.

That’s why in 1986 the Ironbridge Gorge was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. This icon of British industry is a ‘must see’ in Shropshire and there are ten museums housed in restored factories and warehouses that are full of interesting exhibits, which make this an excellent day out.

Begin with a walk over the iron bridge itself, which was designed by Thomas Pritchard and cast and built by Abraham Darby III, to marvel at its construction and the views over the valley. Then, visit the Tollhouse to find out the cost to cross the bridge back in the 18th century.

Other museums include the Coalport China Museum housed in original workshops that made chinaware including teacups for wealthy families, while Enguinity offers you the chance to try some interactive science and engineering experiments.

Hawkstone Park

Market Drayton

Market Drayton is a market town and it is said that as the market was such a good one that’s how the town got its name. In fact, the Wednesday street market began some 750 years ago and started as a place for the Abbot of Combermere to sell produce grown on the abbey’s land.

However, the town’s history is believed to predate the Domesday Book. Today, you will see modern buildings blending in with 17th-century timber houses. Do make sure to buy some freshly made gingerbread for which the town is famous and has been producing for over 200 years.

If you like a pint, join a guided tour of Joules Brewery to sample beer made with local spring water, perhaps after working up a thirst on a walk along the towpath of the Shropshire Union Canal. Or, take a gentle bike ride on the John O’Groats to Land’s End cycle route that runs through Market Drayton.

Whilst in the area, head to Hawkstone Park and Follies to enjoy the outdoors by exploring 100 acres of parkland complete with an enchanting network of hills, caves, bridges, follies and towers.

Sunrise over the hills at The Long Mynd beauty spot

Church Stretton

Church Stretton lies at the heart of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is one of the best places to visit in Shropshire for hillwalkers, cyclists and horse-riders who can take their pick of country lanes, bridleways, forested tracks and designated trails.

From almost any of the surrounding hilltops, there is an amazing view, whilst the wildlife in the area includes upland birds such as red grouse and merlin. Enjoy walks along the Long Mynd which is awash with purple heather in the late summer, or the rocky Stiperstones which was once the site of a huge lead mine, for starters.

If you’re after a real thrill, the area is also where you can experience hang-gliding and paragliding. Meanwhile, back in the town of Church Stretton, you will find delightful shops, an antique emporium, tea rooms and cosy pubs. There’s also a regular farmers market and farm shops where you can buy fresh local produce for which the area is renowned.

For days out with the car visit the Norman castle ruins of Clun Castle, Acton Scott Historic Working Farm and the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre in Craven Arms.

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