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Top Things To Do in Nottingham
Nottingham is sometimes known as the ‘capital of the Midlands’ because it’s located in the East Midlands of England. Of course, it is a literary hub, a place of legend, and has a long history as a center of industry. It sits on the edge of the Peak District within easy access to beautiful countryside, walking paths, historic estates, as well as weekend excursions.
Nottingham city itself is not the most well-known tourist destination, though. But, there are many things to do in Nottingham and around the city as well. It truly is an off the beaten path destination in England.
Where to Stay in Nottingham
For accommodation, the city offers all of the usual hotel chains. There are a few of noteworthy recommending. For good access to the city, St James Hotel is located directly opposite Nottingham Castle, and the Bentinck Hotel is located next to Nottingham Train Station. A little further afield is the award-winning De Vere Orchard Hotel located on the University of Nottingham, University Park Campus and right next to the Nottingham convention center.
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The City Beneath the City
The sandstone cave networks are extensive and built under Nottingham. The caves have been in use as shelters, prisons, secret passages, and places of business since the earliest inhabitants occupied the site. There are a few ways to explore the accessible portions of the cave network.
Lost Caves Gin Bar is located in caves carved out during the medieval period some eight meters below the street level. Lost Property Bar adjoins the Bar with a “secret” door in which visitors can access. Staff greet visitors underground and lead the way through winding passages. The cavernous space is lit by colorful changing lights and candles. Gin is the specialty of this subterranean space (with 28 varieties on offer), but a limited selection of other drinks (wine, beer, soft drinks) are also available.
Phone: +44 (0)115 988 1252
Address: 2a George Street, Nottingham, NG1 3BE
City of Caves
The City of Caves Tour is a family-friendly tour that provides dramatic reconstructions representing different points in Nottingham’s cave usage from pre-history to modern times. For instance, there is a medieval tannery and a simulated WWII air raid. The tour is short and especially appropriate for primary school-aged children.
Phone: +44 (0)115 952 0555
Address: Upper Level, Broadmarsh Shopping Centre, Nottingham, NG1 7LS
The Castle Caves
The original medieval castle overlooking Nottingham was destroyed at the end of the English Civil War. However, the medieval foundations are still extant along with a historical network of subterranean passages with connections to Roger Mortimer (3rd Baron Mortimer, 1st Earl of March), King David II of Scotland, and Robin Hood. Currently, the castle is undergoing an extensive renovation project expected to finish in 2020. The caves will feature in this renovation as an important aspect of the site’s thousand years of history.
Address: Nottingham Castle, Lenton Road, Nottingham, NG1 6EL
The Legend of Robin Hood
Nottingham is most recognizable for its connection with Robin Hood. Through the Nottingham Castle renovation project, the city is attempting to make its Robin Hood connection more accessible and interesting for tourists visiting the city in search of the hero. Apart from the castle, sites associated with Robin within the city include St Mary’s Church and the Galleries of Justice Museum. Other sites near to the city include Sherwood Forest, Southwell Minster, Edwinstowe, and Newark Castle.
Wollaton Hall and Deer Park
500 acres of deer park surrounds the Elizabethan Wollatan Hall. It is about a 10-minute drive from Nottingham city centre. ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is the Hall’s most recent claim to fame as Wayne Manor in the film. The Christopher Nolan Batman films are projected at the Hall during the summer months.
Inside the Hall, is an early 20th-century natural history museum (the largest dedicated museum of its kind in the country). The museum has a collection of 750,000 objects, including fossils, minerals, shells, taxidermy, and other specimens reflecting the Victorian interest in the natural world. For more history of the house, private guided tours are available on the themes of Elizabethan architecture, ghost tours, Tudor experience, and gardens.
Phone: +44 (0)115 876 3100
Address: Wollaton Park, Nottingham NG8 2AE
200 Degrees Coffee Shop Nottingham
This coffee shop has only been around for a few years, but it has made an impact with its slow-roasted coffee and amiable atmosphere. Now with eight locations across the Midlands, all of the coffee is roasted in Nottingham ‘on the banks of the River Trent.’
The flagship store in Nottingham, located in a 17th-century inn off of Market Square, was selected for two Coffee Stop Awards for ‘Best for Working out of the Office’ (winner) and ‘Best Coffee Shop in Britain’ (Second place). Furthermore, it was the runner-up for the Nottingham Food & Drink Awards Best Deli or Café 2015 and 2016. The second shop to open in Nottingham is located right next to the train station. It has the same delicious coffee, but a slightly earlier opening time to serve commuters and train traffic.
Flagship Shop: 16 Flying Horse Walk, Nottingham, NG1 2HN
Train Station Location: 99 Carrington Street, Nottingham, NG1 7FE
The Literary Legacy
Nottingham received the UNESCO City of Literature status in 2015. The objective is to sponsor events concentrated on the city’s historical literary figures and contemporary writers. The Nottingham Writers’ Studio is one such dedicated city space where writers can attend workshops, meet with agents, and receive mentoring and feedback from other writers. D.H. Lawrence and Lord Byron are amongst the most well-known historical authors connected with Nottingham.
D.H. Lawrence was born in Eastwood, about eight miles outside of Nottingham. Today tourists can visit the D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum and learn about the author’s life in the Nottingham mining community. The infamous poet Lord Byron lived in Nottingham, but spent much of his time in his ancestral home, Newstead Abbey, which is about 12 miles north of Nottingham. Now, the Nottingham city council owns the Abbey and the items connected with Byron on display, including 300 acres of parkland, gardens, and walking paths.
D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum: 8a Victoria St, Eastwood, Nottingham NG16 3AW
Newstead Abbey: Newstead Abbey Park, Ravenshead, Nottinghamshire NG15 8NA
Films shown at Broadway are not in mainstream cinema which include a good offering of international films.
Total Film Magazine has ranked it as ‘the smartest cinema in the world’ due to the noteworthy selection and quality of the films.
Phone: +44 (0)115 952 6600
Address: 14-18 Broad St, Nottingham NG1 3AL
The Oldest Inn in England
While Nottingham is home to several medieval establishments with interesting histories, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem that claims the title of the ‘Oldest Inn in England’. The Castle has its foundations carved into the cave networks. According to legend, the Trip was a favorite of Robin Hood and his gang.
Other interpretations say that it was a popular gathering place for soldiers before they left for the Third Crusade. But, apart from its old and varied history, the pub has an up to date menu of English pub classics, local ales, and a lively atmosphere.
Phone: +44 (0)115 947 3171
Address: Castle Blvd, Nottingham NG1 6AD
Bromley House Library
Off the busy market square of the city center is an old Georgian building that houses one of the last subscription libraries in England. Bromley House Library was founded in the early nineteenth century and holds an eclectic collection of rare manuscripts, early printed books, and works by new authors that are unavailable in more conventional libraries.
With its serene reading rooms, spiral staircase, ‘secret garden,’ conservation efforts, and over 40,000 books, it is an enchanting place for scholars and book lovers. Fortunately, Bromley offers free tours on a fortnightly basis despite being a membership library. It also offers a wide range of lectures, teaching course, and other events for non-members and visitors alike.
Phone: +44 (0)115 947 3134
Address: Bromley House, Angel Row, Nottingham NG1 6HL
Attenborough Nature Reserve
The Attenborough Nature Reserve is located about four miles away from the city center.
It boasts an award-winning nature center, miles of accessible walking trails, and close encounters with wildlife. The BBC listed it as #9 of the top 10 eco places in the world.
Moreover, visitors of all ages will gain the most out of their visit on the trails by viewing the wildlife in designated areas and reading the educational signposting.
If you like wildlife and the outdoors, this is the spot for you.
Restaurants And Pubs In Nottingham
Nottingham’s culinary scene has developed greatly over the past decade. The city is well-known for its choice of dining options and world cuisines. One could make a holiday of just visiting the interesting and ever-evolving restaurants in the city center.
It is home to a diverse mix of fine dining, traditional and international cuisines, themed pubs, and pop-up dining experiences. A current pub trend harkens back to the American era of Prohibition with disguised locations and secret access points, such as the Lost Caves Gin Bar and Boilermaker.
The Hockley Arts Club and the Alchemist are other popular spots for inventive and artistic cocktails. There are too many options for dining and drinking to mention here, but a little bit of research before your visit will provide a range of great choices to suit all preferences.
Things to Do in Nottingham was written and partly photographed by Erin Connelly.