TOWN BREAK TRAIL
ENJOY THE PERFECT 48HRS IN WARWICK
Warwick is a charming medieval market town and the perfect place for a town break. Warwick’s town centre is packed with historic buildings, lovely parks and gardens, beautiful churches, a stretch of the River Avon and let’s not forget the famous Warwick Castle.
The town also has an abundance of places to eat and drink, snug coffee shops, traditional tea rooms, characterful old pubs, trendy restaurants and bars, and a number of fine dining spots. If shopping is your priority, you’ll be in seventh heaven, with a wealth of independent shops and boutiques nestled amongst Warwick’s stunning historic buildings as well as a weekly Saturday market.
You need two full days to do Warwick justice and take everything in, so we’ve constructed a plan for a perfect 48 hours. Bear in mind that not all the places listed below are open every day or throughout the year, so depending on when you visit you may have to tweak this trail.
Day 1: Warwick Town Centre
Warwick Visitor Information Centre is the perfect place to start your day. Located in the heart of the town, within The Court House, a friendly and knowledgeable team of local experts are on hand to help you with any questions. The Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum of military history is also located here, in addition to a great gift shop if you’re looking for a nice keepsake and there’s often pop-up events taking place within the building.
Photo: The Court House
The Court House was built in a refined Palladian style, by architect Francis Smith of Warwick, in 1725 after the original building burned down in the Great Fire of Warwick. The building also houses an elegant ballroom, which is a popular wedding venue that overlooks the gorgeous Pageant Gardens to the rear.
With a map on hand (or on your phone) set off for a walk around the historic centre of Warwick. Step outside the Court House building and head up the hill towards St Mary’s Church, one of Warwick’s most iconic buildings.
Photo: Aerial of St. Mary’s Church
Half way up Church Street you’ll see the Warwick War Memorial, and just to the right you can follow the curiously named ‘Tink a Tank lane’ which runs down the side of the churchyard to the secluded and often missed College Garden, where walkers are shaded from the sun by the high walls and pleached lime trees.
From the War Memorial keep following the path up the hill bringing you to the front of the church, where on a clear day you can climb the St Mary’s Tower to take in spectacular views of Warwick.
In December you’ll also see a wonderful display of Christmas trees inside the ornate nave of the church.
If you are looking to grab some breakfast this is the perfect point to take a stroll down Old Square, directly in front of the church, where you’ll find a number of different places to grab a bite and if you’re visiting on a Saturday you will find the bustling Warwick Market with local artists, bread makers and fresh produce. Throughout the year numerous special events are held in the Market Place, so be sure to check the schedule on the Visit Warwick website.
If you’re not hungry just yet and would like to see a little more of the gorgeous Georgian architecture, turn right, looking out from the church entrance, and head along Northgate Street and follow the row of luxury townhouses situated opposite Shire Hall which dispensed justice and housed prisoners in the dungeon until the 1800s. This building was home to the Warwick Crown Court until 2010, when it relocated to Leamington Spa. Shire Hall is now the main office and meeting place for the Warwickshire County Council.
Photo: Shire Hall and St. Mary’s Church on Northgate Street
Just in from the corner of Shire Hall, to the left, you’ll see one of the original prison doors incorporated into the side of the building. If you follow this road along it’ll take you around to the Market Square and the Warwick Library.
The square is lined with a number of fantastic eateries and pubs. Half way down the square, on the right, is a statue of Britain’s first black World Boxing Middleweight champion, Randolph Turpin, who grew up in Warwick in the 1930s.
At the bottom of the square, the Market Hall Museum takes you back in time through the history of Warwick and the surrounding area, including a fantastic full wall tapestry map of the area from the 16th century.
Photo: The Market Hall Museum on the Market Square
Heading straight out of the museum doors, walking down Market Place and straight onto Swan Street, will see you pass many more fantastic eateries and bars, as well as a number of independent shops and boutiques.
If you are feeling peckish then now’s the perfect spot to grab a few snacks before the second half of your walk.
At the bottom of Swan Street, we now join back up with the High Street where we’ll turn right and head down to the famous Lord Leycester Hospital which has been featured in many films and TV shows, including Pride and Prejudice, Doctor Who and A Christmas Carol. This spectacular building was fortunately untouched in the Great Fire of Warwick of 1694 and re-opens in the summer of 2023 following extensive works to ensure the building remains in great shape for future generations.
Hidden behind the ancient buildings of the Lord Leycester Hospital is the enchanting Master’s Garden which has been cultivated for over 500 years.
Photo: Lord Leycester Hospital
Continuing down High Street you’ll see one of the UK’s oldest working pillar post boxes, installed in 1856, after which pass through the beautiful 12th century West Gate of Warwick, one of the last remaining sections of the original town walls, on top of which lies a small chapel, part of the Lord Leycester Hospital. When walking beneath, take a second to look up and appreciate the recently restored sandstone ceiling.
Walking down the hill on West Street, you’ll appreciate the unique architecture of the buildings, in particular a residence on the left with tudor styling extended out over columns.
Shortly after you’ll come across St Mary Immaculate Catholic Church, which was where Lord of the Rings writer JRR Tolkein was married in 1916.
Following the road a little further down, you’ll take the first right onto Crompton Street, which will take you through to Warwick Racecourse, on St Mary’s Lands, which has a packed agenda year round with 25 meets and numerous other events such as an annual Thai Festival and a fantastic Fireworks display for bonfire night.
For nature lovers, to the right of the racecourse entrance is the fantastic Hill Close Gardens. These nationally recognised Victorian pleasure gardens transport you back in time to when the townsfolk of Warwick escaped the hustle and bustle of daily life to tend to their individual plots, each with their own unique summer house.
Photo: Hill Close Gardens
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed your walk around the historic centre of Warwick, and from here head through to the end of the car park and follow the path to the right, before the white gate, and take a leisurely stroll up Linen Street into town where you’ll again find many fantastic places to rest your feet, enjoy a drink and sample some food from one of our numerous independent restaurants.
Day 2: From Park to Castle
Having spent day one in the historic centre of Warwick, we’re going to explore the Eastern side of Warwick, by taking in the sights on the way to St Nicholas Park before looping back around to spend the day at Warwick Castle.
Starting from Pageant Gardens, to the rear of the Visitor Information Centre, marvel at the huge sweet chestnut tree which casts a welcome shade for visitors. Several generations of buildings were demolished to create this beautiful garden, which offers fantastic views of Guy’s Tower.
Walk through the gardens and the adjoining car park out onto Castle Lane where we’ll follow the road along to the left until you reach the main road. Head down Castle Hill, until you reach the original gated entrance to Warwick Castle.
Here we enter Mill Street, this historic cobbled street is incredibly picturesque, combining a unique combination of architecture with the gorgeous backdrop of Warwick Castle. At the bottom of the street is The Mill Garden which provides a peaceful setting to take in the natural beauty of the river.
Photo: Mill Street
Back at the entrance to Mill Street, turn right and follow the path along to the crossing. For a fantastic photo opportunity, remain on the same side of the road and walk along to the bridge, which provides unparalleled views to the castle captured by famous painter JMW Turner 200 years ago. Now we’ll cross the road and head into St Nicholas Park, affectionately known locally as St Nick's.
Located to the South East of Warwick town centre, the park is a popular meeting spot for families and is home to numerous attractions including crazy golf, a fun fair with children's rides, gym/swimming facilities, tennis courts, paddling pool, playground and river boats.
Photo: River Avon at St. Nicholas Park
The River Avon, at this point, is wide and slow thanks to a weir near to the base of the castle, which is how Warwick gained its name over 1,000 years ago (meaning “dwellings by the weir”).
St Nicks is home to many birds including herons and swans, and has beautiful views of the famous Warwick Castle.
Weeping Willows and Cherry Trees line the river bank, making for a delightful walk, circling back to the entrance of the park along a tree lined walkway. Head out of the park through the back corner of the car park, along the side of St Nicholas’ Church which will bring you out onto St Nicholas Church Street.
Follow the street to your right, to the bottom of Smith Street. If you continue to follow the road along for a few 100 metres you’ll arrive at St John’s House, a Jacobean mansion with over 900 years of history. Next, we’ll make our way up Smith Street.
Photo: Smith Street
Smith Street is Warwick’s renowned shopping street, packed with over 30 independent shops, eateries and businesses. Given the wide range of choice, this is the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat and to have a little browse in the shops whilst you work your way up the hill into the heart of Warwick.
Untouched by the Great Fire of Warwick, many of the town’s medieval buildings still survive, this street is bursting with character.
At the top of Smith Street is the second, and last, of Warwick’s Gates, East Gate, constructed in the 14th century. Here you’ll find the second of Warwick’s original red pillar post boxes.
Cross here and follow Jury Street along until you’re back in front of The Court House. Crossing here to the left, follow Castle Street down, taking in the charming facade of Thomas Oken’s House, which was built over 500 years ago and provides a fantastic backdrop to take a memorable photo of Warwick.
Follow the path to the left of the house, to capture a great view of the castle tower before entering through the town entrance to Warwick Castle.
Photo: Warwick Castle
Renowned for its spectacular events, steeped in history and meticulously maintained, Warwick Castle is the perfect way to wrap up your visit to Warwick.
After a fun packed time at the castle, head into town to enjoy a meal at one of Warwick’s fantastic eateries. The choices are endless, with a wide range of options across the culinary spectrum and if you can’t make up your mind then the team back at the visitor centre are always on hand to share some of their own experiences and are handily just next-door, open until 4:30pm most days.
Thank you for visiting Warwick, we hope it proved to be a home away from home and a truly unforgettable experience. Don’t forget to tag us @buyin2warwick in your trip photos, we’d love to hear about your stay.
More info: www.visitwarwick.co.uk
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