10 of the best places to stay in Shropshire

Days out, Rural, Destinations

Posted by Kate Atkin on 20th October 2022

Shrewsbury in Shropshire

One of England’s most rural counties, Shropshire is a beautiful patchwork of wooded hills, dramatic river gorges and flat, fertile plains. It lies on the Welsh Border within the Heart of England and is peppered with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, bustling market towns, and the best-preserved steam train network in England.

Whether enjoying outdoor adventures in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or discovering the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution at Ironbridge Gorge, there are so many things to do during a staycation here.

So, why not treat yourself to a relaxing break in one of our holiday cottages in Shropshire and make the most of this glorious county? Uncover the best places to stay in Shropshire with our guide to some of its most charming towns and villages. Or read our guide to the best places to stay in the Heart of England for further inspiration.

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Much Wenlock

Much Wenlock: best place to stay for history buffs

As you explore the narrow, winding streets of Much Wenlock, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. This picture-postcard market town is one of the most fascinating Shropshire destinations, brimming with ancient timber-framed buildings which play host to an eclectic range of cafes, independent shops and traditional old inns.

The atmospheric ruins of Wenlock Priory create a stunning backdrop to the outskirts of the town, while along the streets, you’ll see fine examples of medieval, Georgian and Victorian architecture, as well as holy wells, shuts, cobbles, whipping posts and stocks. And for insight on more recent history, you can learn how the town helped give birth to the modern Olympic Games in the town’s free museum. Plus, the idyllic Shropshire Hills AONB lies right on Much Wenlock’s doorstep, so there are plenty of opportunities for scenic walks.

Highlights

  • Wenlock Priory – a ruined 12th-century monastery, now managed by English Heritage
  • Wenlock Edge – pre-historic fossils can be found along this tree-lined escarpment
  • Wenlock Olympian Games – have been held in the town almost every year since 1850!

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Market Drayton

Market Drayton: best place to stay for shopping

Home to one of the busiest street markets in England, Market Drayton is one of the best places to stay in Shropshire if you fancy some retail therapy. The thriving Market Drayton Street Market is held every Wednesday and dates back over 750 years. It’s one of the town’s most popular attractions, where you can pick up everything from antiques to delicious, local food from the region’s best producers.

If you like things sweet, you're in for a treat as Market Drayton is the home of gingerbread. This warming biscuit is said to have restorative powers and has been baked in the town for over 200 years – it makes for a lovely treat or gift for those back at home. And be sure to pick up a bottle of damson gin too, another local speciality, made from the trees which surround the town.

Highlights

  • Shropshire Union Canal – walk along the towpath to the impressive 40-step aqueduct
  • Wollerton Old Hall Garden – explore these glorious gardens set around a 16th-century hall
  • Joule’s Brewery – enjoy a tour and sample some of this local brewery’s cask ales

Ludlow

Ludlow: best place to stay for foodies

Sitting above the River Teme, Ludlow is one of the best places to stay in the Shropshire Hills for foodies. This medieval market town is famed for its home-grown fares, with an abundance of restaurants, cafes and farmers’ markets to experience. Beloved by gastronomes around the country, visitors flock here to indulge in Ludlow’s mouthwatering delights.

One of the highlights of the many festivals and events on the town’s calendar is the Ludlow Food and Drink Festival every September: a myriad of growers and artisan makers gather to showcase their produce and culinary creations, alongside live music, cooking demonstrations and entertainment. When you need to burn off those calories, you’ll be spoiled for choice with the walking trails on offer from the town, amidst the hills, valleys and forests of the Welsh Marches.

Highlights

  • Ludlow Farmshop – where farming and food come together to create a unique shopping experience
  • Ludlow Market – a traditional open-air market every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
  • Ludlow Castle – one of the most interesting and dramatic castles in The Marches

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Oswestry

Oswestry: best place to stay for incredible views

If you’re looking for one of the most beautiful places in Shropshire, then the ancient market town of Oswestry is a perfect choice. Sitting between the patchwork plains of Shropshire and the hummocky hills of the Welsh borders, it is a firm favourite with lovers of history and countryside. Dip in and out of the attractive shops, tempting eateries and cosy pubs.

Pick up delicious souvenirs and curios from the market (three days a week) or monthly farmers' market, and spend sunny days in Cae Glas Park, with its tranquil gardens and bandstand. Drift over the border to see the awesome Pontcysyllte Aqueduct World Heritage Site, built by Thomas Telford. And don’t miss the mighty castles in the surrounding area, including Chirk, Powis and Whittington – said to be the former home of that famous pantomime character!

Highlights

  • The British Ironwork Centre – admire outstanding metal artworks and sculptures
  • Offa's Dyke National Trail – this long-distance walking trail is ideal for a scenic stroll
  • Old Oswestry – an Iron Age hillfort considered to be one of the greatest archaeological monuments of the nation

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Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury: best place to stay for a romantic break

Encircled by a meandering loop of the River Severn, Shrewsbury is Shropshire’s county town and is most famous for being the birthplace of Charles Darwin. Awash with characterful, black and white buildings, including 660 that are listed, it is also one of England's best-preserved medieval towns.

Wander the town's cobbled streets and passageways, discovering all manner of boutiques and galleries. It is rumoured that Shrewsbury’s Wyle Cop has the longest uninterrupted run of independent shops anywhere – can you count them all? After some retail therapy, lay out a picnic blanket in the sunken garden of Quarry Park, explore the imposing fortress of Shrewsbury Castle, or head down to the river where you can hire a boat or hop aboard a sightseeing cruise.

Highlights

  • Shrewsbury Abbey – Cadfael fans will recognise it as the setting for Ellis Peters’ books about a medieval monk
  • Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery – has an excellent exhibitions and events programme
  • Festivals – annual events include the Shrewsbury Folk Festival, Shrewsbury Flower Show and The Darwin Festival

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Telford

Telford: best place to stay for family attractions

The largest town in Shropshire, Telford is overflowing with thrilling attractions for all ages. Named after the famous engineer Thomas Telford, the town is renowned for being one of the birthplaces of industry in Britain with its history of iron smelting.

You can learn more about its fascinating past at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ironbridge Gorge, home to the first iron bridge of its kind, built in 1779. Or, why not visit one of the ten museums in Telford, including the enchanting Blists Hill Victorian Town? Further excitement awaits in the form of an IMAX cinema, an indoor snowboarding and skiing centre, and a 450-acre town park complete with its own Wonderland.

Highlights

  • Telford Steam Railway – chug through the countryside on a magical steam train journey
  • Wonderland – fairy-tale characters, a variety of rides, and a challenging maze to conquer
  • Hoo Zoo and Dinosaur World – a child’s paradise with animals and 15 animatronic dinosaurs

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Ellesmere

Ellesmere: best place to stay for wildlife

If you’d like to explore a glacial landscape of shimmering meres, Ellesmere is one of the best places to visit in Shropshire. As well as its pretty market square and medieval streets lined with independent shops and eateries, the town is home to The Mere, a wildlife haven where nutrient-rich wetland areas play host to an abundance of animals and birds, including grey herons.

Forming part of Shropshire's Lake District, those who enjoy fishing, boating and walking will be in their element here. For a day out with the kids, amble along the Llangollen Canal to the Mere Visitor Centre – home to rowing boats, manicured gardens, a children's play area and relaxing woodland walks.

Highlights

  • Ellesmere Sculpture Trail – discover around 25 spectacular sculptures on this 3-mile walk
  • Ellesmere Castle – enjoy a picnic beside the remaining motte and bailey earthworks of this 11th-century fortress
  • Colemere Countryside Park – look out for a variety of wildfowl and waders, such as snipe, curlew, goldeneye, and pochard

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Wem

Wem: best place to stay for colourful gardens

One of our favourite destinations to make our list of nice places in Shropshire is Wem. This peaceful market town boasts striking architecture, small speciality stores including an old-fashioned ironmonger, and one of Shropshire’s best delicatessens.

Wem’s biggest claim to fame is that it was here that Henry Eckford developed the much-loved flower, the sweet pea, in the 19th century. Every year, it is celebrated at the Sweet Pea Show which, along with the annual carnival, brings a riot of colour and fragrance to the town. With gardening stalls, demonstrations, and crafts to keep you entertained – alongside over 70 classes of sweet peas up for judging – it’s not surprising that it attracts visitors from across the country and beyond.

Highlights

  • Hawkstone Park Follies – 100 acres of Grade I-listed parkland to explore
  • Mythstories Museum – features exhibits centred around fascinating myths
  • Wem Carnival – an annual parade including music, dancing, floats, and fancy dress

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Whitchurch

Whitchurch: best place to stay for walking

Nestled beside the Shropshire Union Canal, within the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is Whitchurch. Given its picture-postcard location, this is one of the best places to stay in Shropshire if you like to don your hiking boots and set off on an adventure. A tapestry of hills, open fields, forests and river valleys stretches for miles, rich in geology and wildlife.

Explore the marshes at Brown Moss and the woodlands at Greenfields Nature Reserve, or take a picnic to Jubilee Park in the town centre. And just outside of Whitchurch, you’ll find Alderford Lake where you can enjoy a plethora of water-based activities, including kayaking, paddleboarding and wild swimming.

Highlights

  • Sandstone Trail – set out on one of the best walking routes in northern Shropshire
  • Wye Valley Butterfly Zoo – wander amongst free-flying tropical butterflies
  • St Alkmund’s Church – admire one of the largest Georgian churches in the county

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Bridgnorth

Bridgnorth: best place to stay for railway enthusiasts

Perched high on a sandstone cliff with spectacular views of the Severn Valley, Bridgnorth is the final destination in our list of Shropshire’s best places to stay. This market town is divided in two – High Town and Low Town – separated by the steepest inland funicular railway in Britain (or seven steep and ancient flights of steps if you're feeling energetic!).

On the very peak of High Town are the remains of Bridgnorth Castle. While little remains of the original building, which leans at a startling angle, its gardens are a welcome spot to soak up the views. Exploring the town further, you can enjoy the banter of the street market, browse inviting shops, or take a scenic journey onboard one of the steam trains of Bridgnorth’s second railway, the famous Severn Valley Railway.

Highlights

  • Theatre on the Steps – showcases productions all year round, from classic plays to tribute acts
  • Lavington’s Hole – a Civil War tunnel dug into the sandstone cliffs beneath the castle
  • Bishop Percy's House – an iconic building built in 1580, now housing a lovely little tearoom

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Stay in a self-catering holiday cottage in Shropshire

Discover the best places in Shropshire during a stay in one of our cosy holiday cottages. Whether visiting as a couple, a family or a group, our Shropshire cottages offer the perfect setting for an unforgettable break in this stunning region of the Heart of England.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.