A medieval gem that can't be beat
Home to medieval streets with unique names (Fish Street, Grope Lane, Bear Steps), this picturesque town with its abundance of Tudor buildings (more than 650 listed buildings to be exact) has charm in spades. More than 11,000 years old, history lovers will adore the traditional buildings and the stories behind them. Whether you pronounce it ‘Shrowsbury’ like the Romans once did or ‘Shrewsbury’ as it’s more commonly called today, either is correct.
What to see and do in Shrewsbury
Sink your teeth into sensational food and drink at the Shrewsbury Food Festival
Being real foodies, one of the main draws for our visit to Shrewsbury (24-25 June 2016) was the annual Shrewsbury Food Festival, a food lovers delight with more than 200 exhibitors showcasing the best in food and drink. Last year the festival drew 20,000 visitors and this year it was rumoured to attract double that.
Renowned as a foodie destination, people flock to the area each year to taste Shropshire’s finest food and drink offerings.Whether you’re a fan of delectable desserts, cider, sausages, artisan cheese and much more, you’ll find it here. To keep people entertained, there was also live entertainment, activity tents for children, and stalls selling a variety of crafts.
Throughout the day, there were also live demonstrations from well-known chefs, performances from live bands and even a beauty station where you could be transformed into a vintage vixen, which was hosted by the lovely ladies from The Blusherettes Vintage Pop-Up Parlour!
You know you’re getting a bit carried away at a food festival when you end up with frosting on your sunnies! How it happened I don’t know, but I’m guessing it occurred at some point during the haze of cakes and sugary desserts that were greedily devoured as we visited stall after stall in search of culinary pleasures.
Glide down the River Severn
No trip to Shrewsbury is complete without a trip down the River Severn. Once the boundary between England and Wales, this peaceful river is located in the heart of the city. Catch a ride on the Sabrina Boat (named after the nymph that’s said to guard the river) and take in the willow-tree lined banks and the historical buildings and cute houses that hug its banks.
The boat departs every hour from Victoria Quay near the Welsh Bridge and sails to the English Bridge and back. During the tour, the owner Dilwyn Jones talks you through the town’s historical highlights, making for an educational, yet relaxed experience.
Get your dose of culture at the Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery
Having reopened in 2015 following a £10.5 milion restoration project, the Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery is a great option to while away the hours – especially during inclement weather (open Sun 11am-3pm). Unfortunately, during the time of our visit, the gallery was closed, but ensure you pop by when they have an exhibition on as it's an impressive space.
Treat yourself to a bit of retail therapy
We loved the abundance of quirky shops and independent boutiques found down the winding streets and passages. From vintage clothes to antiques to high-end homewares and furnishings, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Our favourite shops were Brok for men's footwear and casual clothing; The Blue Lemon for handmade soaps, Shrewsbury Antiques for vintage treasures, and Esperar Boutique, a unique retail offering, which consisted of a hair salon that also sold a selection of women’s clothing.
Visit a historical castle
The town’s oldest landmark, the castle was built by Roger de Montgomery, William the Conqueror's right hand man, then rebuilt by Edward I, two hundred years later. The Shrewsbury Castle is a popular local attraction, which features houses the spectacular collections of the Shropshire Regimental Museum Trust including pictures, uniforms, medals, weapons and other equipment from the 18th Century to the present day.
Where to Eat and Drink during your visit to Shrewsbury
Where to eat
The Armoury, Victoria Quay
The Armoury is a truly impressive space, illuminated by windows looking out over the river, with a good bar and bookcase-lined walls. While trying the beers, take in the scenery and enjoy a casual meal.
Bear Steps Coffee House, St Alkmonds Square
Have a cuppa at this gorgeous little café situated in a Tudor house. Cafes don’t get any cuter than this!
Henry Tudor House, Barracks Passage
This restaurant, bar and live music venue boasts a cool decor and a buzzing atmosphere. Definitely a great place to check out during your visit to Shrewsbury!
Where to wet your whistle
Blind Tiger, 17A Hills Lane
Set in a characterful heavily timbered 17th century building, this bar is perfect with its low lighting, cosy corners and comfy seating. Play a game of scrabble while sipping on a Jumbled Fruit Julep.
The Libertine Cocktail Bar & Tea Room, 16-17 Butcher Row
The talented team at the Libertine on Butcher Row make a mean Mojito, Cosmo and Daiquiri, to name just a few.
St Nicholas’s Café, Bar & Spa, 24 Castle Street
Tucked away in an Old Welsh Chapel, St Nick’s is well worth a visit for some great cocktails and live music.
Where to Stay in Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury’s newest boutique hotel, Darwin's Townhouse is a 20-room B&B in a Grade 2 listed building, which oozes quirkiness and beats staying in cookie-cutter accommodation.
Interesting design features and nods to Charles Darwin, whom the hotel has been fashioned after, dominate throughout. From a skeleton in the hallway to a dinosaur sculpture in the bedroom, to map-patterned wallpaper, to simian lamps and salt and pepper shakes, there’s nothing boring about the décor.
The property consists of two intimate lounges (one with an honesty bar), a dining room in the conservatory and a private garden. Upon arrival, we were tempted to make a G&T at the stylish honesty bar, but after a long train journey, our room was beckoning and it didn't disappoint, as it was stunning AND we had a bottle of bubbly waiting for us upon arrival!
During our stay, we stayed in room 5, a hexagonal shaped superior room with high ceilings, which was bursting with character and original features including a marble fireplace and a gorgeous ceiling with original cornicing.
The central location makes it a perfect bolthole for those who are only in Shrewsbury for a short stay as all of the shops, restaurants and bars are only a stone’s throw away.For those that aren't familiar with the local area, the exceptionally friendly owner, Ann, is on hand to share her recommendations.
We loved having a tasty breakfast in the conservatory each morning, followed by a short walk to the high street to walk off the ample breakfast!
With so many things to do, there's something for everyone in Shrewsbury. We'll definitely be back! Perhaps the Chocolate Festival, as it sounds like our type of event!
When to Visit Shrewsbury - Key dates
For further information on Shrewsbury visit www.originalshrewsbury.co.uk.
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