Discover 10 of the best things to do when you visit Shrewsbury, the beautiful county town of Shropshire.
The beautiful town of Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire. It’s a fantastic destination for a day out, a weekend away or even as part of a longer break in Shropshire.
You’ll find a huge choice of things to do when you visit Shrewsbury including fascinating museums, historic buildings and great opportunities for shopping. In fact you’ll be spoiled for choice, so I’ve picked out a few favourites to help you plan your visit.
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Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery
Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery is housed in the Old Music Hall, overlooking the bustling Square in the centre of town. Entrance is free but donations are always welcome.
Inside, you’ll find a selection from the museum’s collection of more than 300,000 items. The galleries are filled with everything from Roman, Tudor and Stuart artefacts, to fossilised raindrops and the famous Shropshire Mammoth.
The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions and occasional workshops, and offers guided tours of the town. And don’t forget to call in for refreshments at the STOP. cafe bar after your visit.
The red stone fortress of Shrewsbury Castle looks down over the town from its high position, close to the town’s railway station. Work began on the castle shortly after the Norman conquest of 1066, and it became a major Welsh border fortress in the Middle Ages.
Shrewsbury Castle became a private residence in the late 1500s, and now houses the Soldiers of Shropshire Museum as well as being a visitor attraction in its own right. There’s a small charge for visiting the castle but entrance to the beautiful gardens is free of charge. You can also check out Laura’s Folly, which was built by Thomas Telford.
Opening hours vary so do check the website before you plan to visit.
Soldiers of Shropshire Museum
Within Shrewsbury Castle, you’ll find the Soldiers of Shropshire Museum, which celebrates the soldiers of various Shropshire-based regiments. It covers the history of the regiments from the 18th century onwards and also pays tribute to the modern Army.
The museum’s collection contains uniforms, medals and other artefacts as well as information about the history of the Castle itself. They also host a programme of talks throughout the year.
You don’t need to pre-book your visit, but the museum is closed on Thursdays and Sundays.
Shrewbury Indoor Market was opened in 1965, within a gloriously mid-century Market Hall with a red brick clock tower. The market has won several awards including ‘Britain’s Favourite Market’ in the Great British Market Awards 2018.
Its two floors are filled with a range of innovative and independent market traders. You’ll find traditional market stalls selling fresh farm produce, award winning artisan producers, antique and vintage goods, and a whole host of crafts and gifts. There are also fantastic places to eat and drink including a market cafe, street food and an artisan gin bar.
And if you’re lucky, your visit to Shrewsbury will coincide with one of the market’s regular weekend events, where the food venues and select market stalls stay open late into the evening.
Explore Historic Shrewsbury
Shrewsbury is a historic town that lies within a horseshoe-shaped loop in the River Severn. The medieval town centre is packed full of winding roads, cobbled lanes and over 600 listed buildings.
When you visit Shrewsbury, you’ll find roads with memorable names such as Fish Street, Dogpole and Mardol. Shrewsbury is also known for its maze of ‘shuts’, which is the local name for the little alleys and passageways that snake around the town.
And as you explore, look up to see the fascinating decorations on some of the town’s many historic buildings.
The Quarry is Shrewsbury’s beautiful park on the banks of the River Severn. It has been an important recreation site for the town’s residents and visitors since the 16th century, providing a place to relax, picnic, walk or fish.
Within the park, there’s a bandstand, the town’s war memorial and a statue of Sabrina (Hafren in Welsh), the goddess of the Severn who drowned in the river named after her. And the Dingle is a landscaped garden within the Quarry which is filled with beautiful flora, shrubbery and water features.
Every August, the Quarry hosts the very popular Shrewsbury Flower Show. This has been running for over 125 years, making it the UK’s oldest flower show of its kind. Visitors can enjoy floral displays, live music, demonstrations by celebrity chefs and shopping at craft and food stalls. The park also hosts a number of other events throughout the year, including the Shrewsbury Food Festival.
See Shrewsbury from the River Severn
The River Severn flows around Shrewsbury and provides an opportunity to see the town from a different perspective.
Shrewsbury Canoe Hire offers one hour or half day canoe hire from its Frankwell base in the heart of the town. You don’t need to book in advance, just turn up and hire a canoe to explore Shrewsbury’s many bridges, people watch from the water, or paddle upstream to enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside around Shrewsbury.
Or paddling a canoe sounds a bit too energetic, why not take a boat tour of Shrewsbury on Sabrina? Sabrina runs hourly tours of the River Severn between 1st March and 31st October, departing from the Welsh bridge and travelling down to the English Bridge before heading back upstream again. There are also weekly dinner cruises, themed cruises and evening sunset cruises
Enjoy a day out with a difference with a jailhouse tour at Shrewsbury’s Dana Prison. The prison is located in the centre of Shrewsbury, close to the railway station. It was designed by Thomas Telford and was completed in 1793, remaining in use until it was decommissioned in 2013.
Dana Prison is now open to the public, offering guided and self-guided tours of the Victorian prison wings and the Georgian cells below. The tours are an opportunity to learn about the lives and deaths of the prison inmates. Or why not take one of the after-dark lights out tours, or try one of the escape room experiences.
Shrewsbury is proud of its reputation as a destination for independent shopping. You’ll find a wide array of independent shops in the town’s winding roads and historic squares.
You’ll also discover a unique shopping experience at The Parade, an 18th century building which used to house the Salop Infirmary. Now it is home to independent shops and businesses, selling everything from antiques and collectibles to home decor and millinery. There’s also a riverside cafe where you can enjoy locally sourced and home-cooked food on the terrace.
Independent Food and Drink
Whether you’re looking for a hearty breakfast to set you up for a day of sightseeing, a reviving coffee or dinner and drinks in the evening, there’s a huge selection of independent bars, cafes and restaurants in Shrewsbury.
You could put together a fantastic deli picnic to enjoy in the Quarry or dine in one of the town’s many restaurants. There’s everything from traditional English pubs to Japanese sushi restaurants, and a wide selection of cafes.