25 of the best things to do in Shrewsbury [2024]

Discover 25 of the best things to do when you visit Shrewsbury, the beautiful county town of Shropshire

Stone bridge over a calm River Severn with reflections of trees, nearby buildings, and a church spire against a clear blue sky.

Shrewsbury is the county town of Shropshire in the United Kingdom. This beautiful market town is a popular place for locals and tourists to head for a day trip or a weekend. It’s also a fantastic place for family days out or as part of a longer break in Shropshire.

When you visit Shrewsbury, you’ll discover a massive choice of things to do, including fascinating museums, historical sites and great opportunities for shopping. In fact, you might need help choosing what to do first!

I’ve lived within a few miles of Shrewsbury for most of my list, so I’ve compiled this guide to the top things to do in Shrewsbury to help you plan your visit. 

A clear day with a blue sky over Shrewsbury railway station, identifiable by its sign, with the station's Victorian gothic architecture visible in the background.

Key Takeaways:

  • Shrewsbury has plenty of attractions to suit all tastes.
  • History lovers are well catered for, with plenty of historic buildings to discover.
  • Independent shops, restaurants and bars make Shrewsbury ideal for a weekend away.
  • For an active weekend, try canoeing on the River Severn, walking around the Quarry Park and climbing Haughmond Hill.
  • Click here for more ideas for things to do in Shropshire.

Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery

Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery is housed in the Old Music Hall, overlooking the bustling Square in Shrewsbury town centre. 

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. 

Along with the permanent collections, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions by local artists and occasional workshops, and you can also book tickets for a 90-minute guided tour of the town. And don’t forget to call in for refreshments at the STOP. cafe bar after your visit.

Entrance to the museum is free, but donations are always welcome.

The red brick Shrewsbury Castle with arched windows, surrounded by a well-manicured lawn and lined with potted rose bushes under a partly cloudy sky.

Visit Shrewsbury Castle

The red stone fortress of Shrewsbury Castle is one of the town’s main historic sites. It looks over the town from its prominent position close to Shrewsbury railway station, a Grade II listed building with Victorian Gothic architecture that dates back to 1848.

Work began on the castle shortly after the Norman conquest, and it became a major Welsh border fortress in the Middle Ages.

There’s a small entrance fee for visiting the castle, but admission to the beautiful gardens is free. 

Click here to learn more about the historic castles of Shropshire.

Laura’s Tower

While you’re at Shrewsbury Castle, you can also check out Laura’s Tower. This is a pretty little folly in the castle grounds, which was built by Thomas Telford.

You can’t go inside the tower but its steps provide a great view over the town.

Soldiers of Shropshire Museum

Within Shrewsbury Castle, you’ll also find the Soldiers of Shropshire Museum, which celebrates the soldiers of various Shropshire-based regiments. The museum covers the regiments’ history from the 18th century onwards and pays tribute to the modern Army. 

The museum’s collection contains uniforms, medals, weapons and other artefacts, as well as information about the history of the Castle itself. They also host a programme of fascinating talks throughout the year.

A path through Shrewsbury (Shropshire) flanked by colourful flowers leads towards a collection of medieval buildings with distinct architectural features, including timber framing and brickwork.

Explore Historic Shrewsbury

The historic town of Shrewsbury lies within a horseshoe-shaped loop in the River Severn. The medieval town centre is packed with winding roads, cobbled lanes and over 600 listed buildings. The architecture in Shrewsbury ranges from medieval timber-framed buildings to Georgian crescents and Victorian Gothic masterpieces.

When you visit Shrewsbury, you’ll wander along roads with memorable names, such as Fish Street, Grope Lane and Mardol. Shrewsbury is also known for its maze of ‘shuts’, the local name for the little alleys and passageways that snake around it.

As you explore Shrewsbury, don’t forget to look up to see some of the fascinating decorations on the town’s many historic buildings. 

Shrewsbury Market

Shrewsbury Indoor Market is situated within a glorious mid-century Market Hall with a red brick clock tower that can be seen from all around the town. The market opened in 1965 and was named ‘Britain’s Favourite Market’ in the Great British Market Awards in 2018, 2023 and again in 2024. 

Its two floors are filled with various innovative and independent market traders. You’ll find traditional market stalls selling fresh farm produce, award-winning artisan producers, antique and vintage goods, vinyl records and a whole host of crafts and gifts. 

There are also fantastic places to eat and drink, including a traditional market cafe, an artisan gin bar and excellent street food. 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.

The Dingle formal garden in the Quarry Park in Shrewsbury, England. A variety of flowering plants and greenery are in full bloom, and the tower of St Chad's church can be seen in the background under a clear blue sky.

The Quarry Park

The Quarry Park is Shrewsbury’s beautiful park on the banks of the River Severn. This open space has been an important recreation site for the town’s residents and visitors since the 16th century, and it’s a great place to relax, walk or enjoy a picnic in the great outdoors.

A sculpture of the reclining figure of Sabrina in the Quarry Park, Shrewsbury, England. The sculpture is situated under an arched stone bridge, surrounded by water.

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.

You’ll also find the Dingle, a landscaped garden within the Quarry, filled with beautiful flora, shrubbery and water features.

An ornate multi-tiered fountain in the Quarry Park in Shrewsbury, England, surrounded by vibrant tulips set against a backdrop of lush greenery under a clear blue sky.

Every August, the Quarry hosts the Shrewsbury Flower Show, which has been running for over 125 years, making it the UK’s oldest flower show of its kind.

The park also hosts several other events throughout the year, including the Shrewsbury Food Festival. 

The historic stone Old Market Hall in Shrewsbury with sundial and a central coat of arms, flanked by two sculpted figures, under a clear blue sky.

Visit the Square

You’ll find the Square right in the heart of Shrewsbury, surrounded by historic buildings. You’ll find the town’s regular open-air markets here, and during the festive season, the Square also hosts carol singing and the Christmas Market. 

The imposing stone building that dominates the centre of the Square is the Old Market Hall. This was built in 1596 and now houses a stylish cafe bar offering lunches and afternoon tea. It’s also the location for Shrewsbury’s 81-seat independent cinema.

The River Severn flows gently past a tree-lined bank in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, with red-brick buildings reflecting the late afternoon sunlight under a mostly clear sky.

Paddle on the River Severn

The River Severn flows around Shrewsbury town centre, providing an opportunity to view the town’s historic architecture 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. There’s no need to book in advance, just turn up and hire a canoe to explore Shrewsbury’s many bridges or paddle upstream to enjoy the peaceful countryside around Shrewsbury.

Take a Boat Trip on Sabrina

If paddling a canoe sounds too energetic, a boat trip around Shrewsbury on Sabrina is a more relaxing way to see the town. Sabrina runs hourly tours of the River Severn between 1st March and 31st October. 

Tours depart from the Welsh Bridge and travel down to the English Bridge before heading back upstream again. You can also enjoy weekly dinner cruises, a Sunday Lunch cruise, themed cruises and evening sunset cruises.

Shrewsbury Regatta

The Shrewsbury Regatta takes place in May each year. It was first held in 1871, making it one of the UK’s oldest rowing events in the rowing calendar.

Around 1500 competitors from across the UK take part in races on the River Severn, cheered on by spectators on the riverbanks. Entrance is free for spectators, so if you’re in Shrewsbury on 11th and 12th May 2024, the Shrewsbury Regatta is a must-see!

Dana Prison

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 completed in 1793, remaining in use until it was decommissioned in 2013.

Dana Prison now offers guided and self-guided tours of the Victorian prison wings and the Georgian cells below. You could even brave one of the after-dark ‘Lights Out’ tours or try one of the prison’s escape room experiences. 

A quiet, curved street in Shrewsbury, England, lined with traditional red brick Georgian townhouses under a cloudy sky.

Independent Shopping

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. 

Wyle Cop is a great spot for independent shopping, and there are also some excellent places to eat and drink on this steep hill.

You’ll also discover a unique shopping experience at The Parade shopping centre. This is a gorgeous 18th-century Grade II listed building that was the former site of the Salop Infirmary. 

Now, it hosts a collection of independent shops and businesses, selling everything from antiques and collectables to home decor. 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 visit one of the town’s many restaurants. The choice ranges from traditional English pubs to Japanese sushi restaurants and a wide selection of cafes selling artisan coffee and cakes.

Shrewsbury Cathedral

Despite having a cathedral, Shrewsbury isn’t a city. The town applied for city status twice in the last few decades but was unsuccessful each time. 

Shrewsbury Cathedral opened in 1852 and sits on a road called Town Walls within the main loop of the River Severn. It’s a Roman Catholic cathedral and has one of the four famous spires in Shrewsbury’s skyline, along with the churches of St. Mary’s, St. Chads and St. Alkmund’s.

Shrewsbury Cathedral’s Gothic Revival architecture used to be matched by colourful interior decoration, but much of this was removed in the 1960s. Some of these changes are now being reversed through conservation work that began in 2019.

The cathedral is also famous for its stunning stained glass windows, many created in the 1900s by local artist Margaret Rope. 

When you visit Shrewsbury Cathedral, call into the Orchard Cafe onsite, which serves tasty ‘homemade’ food and drink.

St Chad's Church in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, showing its round shape, dome and a golden cross against a partially cloudy sky.

St Chad’s Church

St Chad’s Church is believed to have been founded by King Offa in Saxon times, although it may be even older. It was originally on College Hill but moved to its current site in 1792. The old church was mostly demolished in 1788, but the remains of the Lady Chapel and some walls can still be seen.

The unusual round design of the current church building makes the church one of Shrewsbury’s best-known landmarks. The church is now a Grade I listed building. 

This is one of the Shrewsbury sites associated with Charles Darwin, who was baptised in the church in 1809 and attended the church with his mother.

St Chad’s Church holds weekly lunchtime concerts on Fridays. Entrance is free, but donations are welcome in the collection afterwards.

St Alkmund’s Church

The Shrewsbury Church of St Alkmund was founded around 912 by Aethelflaed, the eldest daughter of Alfred the Great and wife of Aethelred the Unready, Lord of the Mercians. After he died in 911, she continued to rule Mercia, which was incredibly rare for women in those times.

The church is part medieval and part Georgian, with a 56m Perpendicular-style spire, which was added around 1475.  

Like St Chad’s, there’s a regular programme of live music events at St Alkmund’s church, some of which are free to watch (donations are welcomed).

Church of St Mary the Virgin

The Church of St Mary the Virgin, also known as St Mary’s Church, is a redundant Anglican church and a Grade I listed building. This is Shrewsbury’s oldest church, believed to have been founded as a collegiate church in the 10th century. It’s also the only complete medieval church in the town, with a spire that’s said to be the third tallest in England. Unlike many churches, St Mary’s escaped significant damage during the suppression of the colleges or the English Civil War.

St Mary’s Church is famous for its glorious stained glass windows, which were installed during the 18th and 19th centuries. The church also has an intricately carved ceiling dating from the 15th century and richly coloured Victorian tiles on the floor. 

Altogether, it’s a beautiful historic building that’s well worth a visit when you’re in Shrewsbury. There’s also a cafe on site that serves drinks and food made with local produce.

Lord Hill’s Column

At just under 41m high, Lord Hill’s Column is England’s tallest Doric column. It was built between 1814 and 1816 and is topped by a 5m tall statue of Lord Rowland Hill, Viscount of Almaraz and Hawkstone.

Lord Hill fought alongside the Duke of Wellington in battles across France, Spain and Portugal. He also took over as Commander-in-Chief of the British Army when Wellington became Prime Minister, holding the post until 1842.

There are limited opportunities to climb the Grade II* listed column throughout the year. You’ll need to have a head for heights and be fit enough to climb the 172-step spiral staircase, enjoy the view and get back down within your 29-minute time slot. But your reward will be a stunning view over the rooftops of Shrewsbury.

Fancy trying it? The 2024 dates are yet to be announced, but you can find booking details at the Friends of Lord Hill’s Column website.

The Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, England, showing its mix of wooden and brick façades, large glass windows, and a curved metal roof on a sunny day, with the name "theatre severn" displayed on the side.

Theatre Severn

If you love the theatre and live entertainment, you’re sure to enjoy an evening at Theatre Severn. Shrewsbury’s theatre opened in 2009 and overlooks the River Severn from its position at Frankwell Quay. 

The entertainment at Theatre Severn covers everything from drama and comedy to musicals, concerts and dance performances. They also host talks along with screenings from the National Theatre and Royal Ballet. 

The theatre’s restaurant has a menu that showcases local produce, and your meal will be timed perfectly to finish before your show begins. There are also two bars where you can enjoy a drink before the performance or pre-order your interval drinks.

A traditional British red telephone box stands out against the red sandstone bricks of Shrewsbury Abbey and its prominent stained glass window, under a clear blue sky.

Shrewsbury Abbey

Shrewsbury Abbey, also known as The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul or the Abbey Church of the Holy Cross, is a Grade I listed church in the area of Shrewsbury that has become known as Abbey Foregate.

It was built on the orders of Roger de Montgomerie, the first Earl of Shrewsbury. He was one of William the Conqueror’s most important supporters and is buried at the Abbey. 

The Abbey became one of the most important abbeys in England and a popular pilgrimage site. The Benedictine monastery was one of the last abbeys to surrender to Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Abbey was dissolved in 1540, and much of its structure was destroyed. However, part survived as a parish church. 

Entrance to Shrewsbury Abbey is free of charge, but donations are appreciated. 

Historic stone building of Shrewsbury Library showing its clock tower under a clear blue sky, flanked by pink-blossomed trees and parked cars along the street.

Shrewsbury Library

Shrewsbury is closely linked to Charles Darwin, who was born at The Mount in 1809 and grew up in the town. Charles and his elder brother Erasmus both attended the Shrewsbury School, which, until 1882, occupied the building that now houses Shrewsbury Library.

The library is located on Castle Gates near Shrewsbury Castle and is now a Grade 1 listed building. 

A bronze statue of Darwin sits outside the library’s entrance. Above the doorway, you can see two statues of schoolboys in 17th-century school uniforms. One represents a student who loves to learn and bears the Greek inscription ‘Philomathes’. The other represents a learned scholar leaving school and bears the inscription ‘Polumathes’. 

The quote on the tablet between the statues is from the Greek teacher and orator Isocrates: ‘If you are a lover of learning, you will become learned’.

Bronze statue of Charles Darwin, seated with a book, in front of the Shrewsbury Library clock tower, under a clear blue sky with pink blossoms on the branches nearby.

Flaxmill Maltings

Who would have thought the world’s first skyscraper would be found in Shrewsbury?

OK, it might not quite be a Manhattan-style skyscraper. However, the Flaxmill Maltings’ five-storey Main Mill was the first building in the world to have an internal frame created entirely from cast iron. This development led to the construction of much taller buildings.

This innovative flax mill opened at the height of the Industrial Revolution in 1797 and finally closed its doors in 1987. 

A major renovation project oversaw the restoration of the Smithy and Stables in 2015 and the Main Mill in 2022. Visitors can now see an exhibition about the history of this historic attraction, and guided tours of the site are available. 

The Jubilee Tower tour takes you to the top of the mill, where you can enjoy a fabulous view of Shrewsbury town and the countryside beyond. You’ll need a head for heights for the final 56 steps on the ladder to the top of the tower!

When you visit Flaxmill Maltings, remember to call into the Turned Wood Café. It serves delicious vegetarian and vegan meals, hot and cold drinks and their special house-blend coffee. 

The Neoclassical mansion at Attingham Park in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, under clear blue skies.

Attingham Park

If you’re staying in the area for longer than a day or two, it’s worth taking a short drive to Attingham Park

This beautiful Georgian mansion was built by the Hill family in 1785 on land that originally came from Haughmond Abbey during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Over time, the estate was expanded until it extended to the town of Shrewsbury. 

In addition to looking around the beautiful historic house, you can take a leisurely walk around the deer park, which is home to around 180 fallow deer. There’s also a walled garden and fruit orchard to explore, and various places to eat and shop. 

Now under the care of the National Trust, there’s a full programme of events at Attingham Park throughout the year and plenty to keep children busy during the school holidays. 

Haughmond Hill

If you’re a keen walker, a nature lover, or just want to get out and enjoy the Shropshire countryside, Haughmond Hill is well worth visiting. The wife of King Henry IV is thought to have watched the 1403 Battle of Shrewsbury from Haughmond Hill, which is also believed to be the ‘bosky hill’ mentioned in Shakespeare’s Henry IV part 1.

Haughmond Hill is a fairly small hill covered by woodland where deer live. It’s a perfect spot to spend a few hours with parking areas, guided trails, picnic spots and a small family-run cafe.

From the rocky summit, you can get a breathtaking view of Shrewsbury and the surrounding countryside, including the Wrekin and the Shropshire Hills. The ruins of Haughmond Castle, an 18th-century folly, are also at the summit, while Haughmond Abbey is just a short walk away.

This is just a selection of the fantastic things to do in Shrewsbury. Which is your favourite Shrewsbury tourist attraction?

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