Stratford has good train connections and can be seen as a day trip from London if your time is limited (a matinee is your best bet if you want to squeeze in a play). Chiltern Railways trains leave from London Marylebone Station and take two hours direct or 2½–3 hours with transfers. They also go to Warwick. West Midlands and Avanti West Coast both run direct trains to Birmingham (about 40 miles from Stratford). From London, Avanti West Coast and West Midlands trains leave from Euston (it's 1½–2 hours to Birmingham), while Chiltern Railways trains leave from Marylebone. Trains from Euston tend to be quicker (around 1½ hours). Travel times from Paddington to Hereford and Ludlow are about 3 hours (most change at Newport); Euston to Shrewsbury, with a change at Crewe or Birmingham, is 2½ hours; and to Chester, direct or with a change at Crewe, takes two hours.
Chiltern Railways. 03456/005165; www.chilternrailways.co.uk.
West Midlands Rail. 0344/811–0133; www.westmidlandsrailway.co.uk.