A weekend in Shrewsbury, Shropshire is a perfect cosy break for winter or Christmas time. Great food and drink, shopping and things to do. It’s a pretty Tudor town – like York or Chester but without the crowds. For some reason, people seem to pick Chester or York for a weekend of shopping and eating and drinking, overlooking the smaller Shrewsbury. But it’s exactly the same deal and a bit nicer in my opinion. It has pretty Tudor buildings, a beautiful public garden designed by the famous Percy Thrower of Gardener’s World fame, cosy pubs with roaring fires, good restaurants and brilliant independent shops to spend far too much money in. And you can get there easily by train, which means sampling all said cosy pubs is a must.
The Guardian recently featured Shrewsbury in their top 10 UK towns for winter breaks, similar to their top 10 UK towns list that featured our other favourite, Kirkby Lonsdale. There’s obviously a running theme here.
Here’s some things to do in Shrewsbury if you fancy a weekend there…
Where to stay for your winter weekend in Shrewsbury: The Lion + Pheasant Hotel
Ever since we first went on a whim a few years ago, we’ve been regular visitors to this: the gorgeous Lion + Pheasant Hotel. Beautifully grey and Scandi inside. And it’s the only hotel we know is always going to be safe to recommend to friends – and no, I’m not being paid to say that (wish I was, like!). Isn’t it dead tricky recommending friends places to stay?! People always ask us and I go into a panic because they’re always after different things and I don’t want to run the risk of telling someone they’ll LOVE a hotel only for them to find it too expensive/cheap/fancy/basic.
Anyway, the Lion + Pheasant isn’t cheap (£120 a night) but it would be impossible to be disappointed by it. Also, it has a fantastic bar that is an absolute delight in winter with more fairylights than you could ever dream of. So if you’re just in Shrewsbury for the day and don’t need to stay over, you can still pop in for a drink and a dose of cosiness.
Walk through Quarry Park along the River Severn
Once we’ve deposited our suitcase at the hotel, we usually set off for a walk along the River Severn. The river curves round the edge of the town. Follow it down into the Quarry Park. You’ll probably see people rowing boats down the river, even in winter. Looks horrific to me, but it’s a thing.
There are also loads of people walking dogs round here. If you’re anything like me, this makes the walk 100 x better.
See the famously floral Dingle garden
This is the crown jewel of the walk along the river.
When you have the bandstand in sight, you’re near the Dingle. Turn off the path by the river and head up to the walls.
Inside is this amazing sunken garden created by Percy Thrower and maintained to incredible standards all year round. Admittedly, it’s best in spring or summer, but even in mid-December, it can be a little oasis. It has a pond with fountains, surrounded by various sculptures.
In winter, it only takes 10 minutes to wander round. When the weather is better, every inch of it is packed with colour and you can easily spend half an hour taking it all in.
Visit St Chad’s Church to see Scrooge’s grave…
Overlooking the Quarry Park is St Chad’s Church, where Charles Darwin was baptised. We went inside it on a previous trip just to have a nose round and it was quite nice if you’re into that kind of thing (churches, that is). You can end your walk here too and head into town for the shops.
But before you go, add a Christmassy touch to your walk: look in St Chad’s graveyard for Ebenezer Scrooge’s gravestone from ‘A Christmas Carol’, which was filmed in Shrewsbury #festivefact. I only know this because when we were walking out of the park, we passed a themed guided tour and had a good listen in.
Walk into town past some really cute picturesque streets and houses
After coming out of the park, wander along the old town walls towards the shops via some of Shrewsbury’s prettiest little streets.
On this particular visit, there were some seriously beautiful Christmas wreaths on the doors. I want to live there. You probably will too. Don’t check RightMove though: it’s too depressing. Where is that lottery win though?
Shopping o’clock: go wild in Shrewsbury’s independent shops
Okay, onto the important shit.
Shrewsbury has an indoor shopping centre and main high street with all the usual chain shops you get everywhere, which is handy but we all know it’s pointless going to them if you have them at home anyway.
It also has some seriously gorgeous independent shops. The best of these are tucked away off the main drag.
Some of our favourite Shrewsbury shops that we always go in are:
- White Orchard on Butcher Row (pictured above)
- Vinegar Hill on St Mary’s Street
- Wysteria Lane and Maggie Mae’s Vintage, both on Dogpole
- Hummingbird on Market Street
- Cooking Kneads on Wyle Cop
- Urban Folk on Grope Lane
- and our absolute favourite, Listers Interiors on Hill’s Lane.
Explore Grope Lane, Wyle Cop and more – before a hot chocolate
You may have gathered from all the olde-worlde street names above that Shrewsbury has a lot of character. Who doesn’t enjoy the name ‘Grope Lane’?
The whole town is a mass of winding little lanes and higgledy-piggledy shops, cafés and pubs. This is why I love it so much.
On this trip, we stopped off at the v trendy 77 Wyle Cop (unsurprisingly on Wyle Cop) for a hot chocolate to re-fuel during the shopping expedition. There are plenty of other options for a pitstop though (edit: Hello it’s me from the future with a 2018 update to this post! Just got back from yet another winter weekend in Shrewsbury and now really really recommend House of Grain, also on Wyle Cop, for a cuppa or a cocktail later on. Okay, bye.)
Another gem on Wyle Cop is an interesting homeware shop. Now, I’ve completely forgot the name and can’t find it online but it sold modern, unusual home accessories so if anyone knows what it was, give us a shout…
A quick pint at the Three Fishes Inn
Having exhausted the shops and our feet, we always end up going for a few drinks at the Three Fishes Inn on Fish Street (pictured below).
It’s a CAMRA/real ale type pub rather than craft beer/IPA, which is more our cup of tea. But it is very cosy and has a nice atmosphere. It’s also very close to the Bear Steps (also pictured below), one of the many quirky little cut-throughs in the town.
Post-pint, it was getting towards feeding time so we mooched back to the hotel to change.
Where to eat the best Japanese and Korean food in Shrewsbury: Momo’s Noodle Bar (formerly Momo No Ki)
We aren’t creatures of habit on our travels but seemingly this goes out of the window when it comes to Shrewsbury because we not only stay at the same place but also eat at the same place(s).
It’s either the Peach Tree if we want modern European style food, or our absolute favourite Momo’s Noodle Bar (used to be Momo No Ki) for the best ramen we’ve had outside of Japan. Momo’s also has loads of other delicious Japanese and Korean dishes at very reasonable prices.
Two tips for Momo’s:
- The portions, unlike in Japan, are on the larger side of average so you might want to pace yourself…
- If there are specials on, have them. Whatever they are. They’re always delicious. Everything pictured below was off the specials menu and we’ve completely forgotten what they were all called but everything was fantastic.
Breakfast at the Lion + Pheasant
The second day in Shrewsbury always begins with the Lion + Pheasant’s gorgeous breakfast. The haddock omelette is the dream AND they also give you all the fruit and pastries you want, if you’re feeling particularly starving (story of my life).
No rank breakfast buffet with flabby bacon in sight round here.
Other things to do in Shrewsbury: there’s lots more to it but…
On this particular Sunday, we had the blogging nightmare of a dead camera battery, which cuts this short for you. The plan was to take photos of the castle but alas, the battery had other plans. But if you’re interested, Shrewsbury does indeed have its own medieval castle. It’s well worth a visit.
It also has lots of other stuff we’ve missed this trip, but this definitely won’t be our last blog on Shrewsbury because it’s somewhere we’ll always return to. Screw you, Chester and York (although you are also quite good).
And if any of our readers can give tips on other cute towns to go that are under an hour and a half on the train from Stockport, do let us know.
A weekend break in Shrewsbury: useful information
How to get there
Shrewsbury’s train station is fairly central to the town and well connected. We try to avoid driving at all costs and I can barely drive TBH, so Shrewsbury is perfect for us.
Where to stay
We’ve been regular visitors to Shrewsbury ever since we first went on a whim a few years ago and became obsessed with it. We’ve concluded that it also has the best hotel we’ve ever stayed in: the gorgeous Lion + Pheasant Hotel, which is all beautifully grey and Scandi inside.
How to get around
The city centre is all very walkable.
When to go
It’s perfect for a weekend break in winter, especially around Christmas time when it’s all lit up and lovely. But equally, the Dingle garden comes into its own in spring and summer.
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