21 Things To Do In Nottingham

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Nottingham is in the East Midlands of England and lies along the River Trent. The city is famous the world over for its ties to the legend of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men. There are traces of his influence dotted across the city, including a statue displayed outside the castle. British health and beauty giant Boots originated in Nottingham. John Boot opened his first store during the early 1800s to supply herbal medicines to the poor of the city. Following his death, his wife and children continued his work and built Boots into the giant it is today.

Nottingham has many links to culture and history. Lord Byron’s ancestral home Newstead Abbey is a beautiful abbey and park well worth visiting. Writer D.H. Lawrence was born in nearby Eastwood. Fashion designer Paul Smith was born in the city and has taken part in numerous projects as part of the city’s regeneration.

Nottingham is also famous for its music, with many important music venues such as Rock City a must-visit during any stay in the city. Many famous musicians are also from the city, including Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson, Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice, and singer-songwriter Jake Bugg.

Although it’s a relatively small city in size, there’s an incredible range of things to do in Nottingham such as exploring the independent shops and restaurants around the Hockley and Lace market areas. There are also many things to do together as a family, with museums, farms and activity centres offering lots for little ones. Start with these 20 best things to do in Nottingham.

nottingham city wide shot
Admiring the city’s charming architecture is a must-do while in Nottingham.

Nottingham, UK

21 Things To Do In Nottingham

1- Explore History At Nottingham Castle

things to do in nottingham Robin Hood statue outside the castle
Visiting Nottingham Castle is one of the top things to do in Nottingham for first-time visitors. Look out for the statue of Robin Hood.

Nottingham Castle’sCastle’s history spans more than 1000 years.

King William decided to build Nottingham Castle in 1068 as a wooden motte-and-bailey castle before being constructed from stone.

The castle has a bloody history. A civil war broke out within its first 100 years, and the castle was besieged.

Along with the castle, the town below was plundered.

A large fire started by riots about a bill to extend the right to vote to more people in the town in 1831 gutted the castle, leaving it a shell.

Today, the castle displays a range of art and history collections from Nottingham’sNottingham’s past and offers a space for local artists and art students to showcase their work.

Nottingham Castle is open every day and is within walking distance from the city centre. Tickets are £13 for adults and £9.50 for children.

Nottingham Castle is at Lenton Road, Nottingham, NG1 6EL.

2- Admire Art At Nottingham Contemporary

things to do in nottingham city centre Contemporary Art Gallery with clear blue sky.
Visiting the city’s galleries is one of the best things to do in Nottingham for art fans.

Located in the trendy Lace Market is Nottingham Contemporary, a modern art gallery the Guardian describes as ”the most inspiring gallery in the UK”.

The gallery opened in 2009 and Caruso St John Architects designed the green and gold building.

The building itself has won the RIBA Award and is one of the largest contemporary art galleries in the United Kingdom.

Richard Birkin designed the lace in the mid 19th century.

The concrete facade of the gallery is embedded with a cherry blossom lace found in a time capsule buried at the building’s site.

The gallery hosts several changing exhibitions from artists from across the globe.

The gallery is free to enter.

Nottingham Contemporary is at Weekday Cross, Nottingham, NG1 2GB.

3- Hang With The Cool Crowd In Hockley

best things to do in nottingham aerial view
Looking for things to do in Nottingham? Here are 20 to get you started.

One of the coolest neighbourhoods in the city to visit is Hockley, known locally as the Creative Quarter.

Located in the city centre, Hockley is filled with independent shops, restaurants and bars.

The streets are painted in rainbow colours and the walls of the buildings are covered in creative street art.

Head down the hill and past the Motorpoint Arena to Sneinton Market, a trendy marketplace filled with more independents.

Look for Blend, a cafe specialising in locally roasted coffee, and The Watered Garden, a plant shop specialising in houseplants and seasonal plant-themed classes.

Hockley is a neighbourhood in Nottingham.

4- Stroll Along Victoria Embankment

To explore the River Trent close to the city, Victoria Embankment is the perfect place to begin.

Victoria Embankment is a landscaped park that runs along the side of the River Trent.

There are many pleasant places to stop for a rest to admire the views across the river and easy access to several local parks.

Stop into Memorial Garden for a peaceful stroll amongst some beautiful plants and the war memorials.

Victoria Embankment is at 282-284 Arkwright Street, Trent Bridge, Nottingham, NG2 2GR.

5- See A Show At Theatre Royal and Concert Hall

things to do in nottingham for couples Theatre props
Seeing a show is one of the things to do in Nottingham for couples.

Theatre Royal opened in 1865, but architect Nick Thompson and designer Clare Ferraby redesigned the Royal to modernise it during the 1970s.

Plans for his modernisation are available in the theatre’s archive, alongside early posters and programs.

Each year, the theatre puts on numerous theatrical performances, including plays, ballets, musicals and orchestral concerts.

Before heading to the theatre, head to one of the city’s independent restaurants for a pre-theatre meal.

Theatre Royal and Concert Hall is at Upper Parliament Street, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND.

For more ideas around England read:

6- Visit The Cathedral

The Cathedral Church of St Barnabus is a Roman Catholic Church and is the seat of the Bishop of Nottingham.

The cathedral is relatively new compared to others within England, as it was built in the 1840s.

Augustus Webly Northmore Pugin designed the cathedral. Pugin was also the architect behind the interior of the Houses of Parliament.

Pugin designed the cathedral to be Gothic in style, with a highly decorated Gothic style throughout its interior.

The cathedral is Grade II listed and is one of the finest examples of Pugin’s work.

Cathedral is at North Circus Street, Nottingham, NG1 5AE.

7- Tour The City Ground

The City Ground has been the home base of Nottingham Forest FC since 1898.

The club moved to the city ground during this time due to being unable to find a suitable permanent home in the years prior.

The ground sits on the banks of the River Trent.

During the Euro 96 games, The City Ground was used as a venue for these international fixtures.

Today The City Ground has a capacity of 30,576.

The stadium has four stands: Trent End, Bridgford End, Peter Taylor Stand and the Brian Clough Stand, named after the club’s most successful manager.

Tours of the stadium are available to book on certain dates of the year, so check the club’s website.

Tours last 90 minutes and are ran by two-time European cup winner and club ambassador John McGovern.

The tours take in the director’s box, player’s entrances and dressing room, and the boardroom where the two European Cups the club has won are displayed.

The City Ground is at Pavilion Road, Nottingham, NG2 5FJ.

8- Watch A Cricket Game At Trent Bridge

Trent Bridge is the home of Nottingham County Cricket and, like The City Ground, sits close to the River Trent in West Bridgford.

The first match recorded at Trent Bridge was in 1838, with the ground officially opening in 1841.

Trent Bridge is one of the best cricket grounds in the world.

The pavilion follows its original 1889 footprint and has one of the best views of the wicket anywhere in the world.

Tours of varying levels are available at the club allowing visitors to see the 1880s pavilion, players dressing rooms, the pitch and the media facilities.

Tours are held each Tuesday and alternate Saturdays. Tickets are £10 for adults and £5 for children.

Trent Bridge is at Trent Bridge, West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 6AG.

9- Relax In Highfields Park

Set within the grounds of Nottingham University Park is the beautiful Highfields Park.

The park is Grade II listed and covers 121 acres of land.

Despite being within the university’s grounds, the park is owned and operated by the City Council.

You’ll find a boating lake within the park, with boats available to hire during summer, a mini-golf course, and play areas for children.

Stretch your legs by walking around the lake and enjoy the park’s collection of plants.

Highfields Park is easily reachable on the city’s public transport network.

Highfields Park is at University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD.

10- Nottingham Arboretum

Nottingham Arboretum is the city’s oldest park.

Samuel Curtis, a botanist and horticultural publicist, designed the park in 1850, with it opening officially in 1852.

The arboretum is filled with more than 800 trees, many planted during the 19th century when the park was founded.

According to local legend, the arboretum was the inspiration behind J.M. Barrie’s Neverland, as Barrie did live in Nottingham.

Nottingham Arboretum is at Waverley Street, Nottingham, NG7 4HF.

11- Explore Wollaton Hall and Deer Park

things to do in nottingham for students green lawn and driveway leading up to Wollaton Hall
Exploring Wollaton Hall is a charming thing to do in Nottingham for history lovers.

Robert Smythson designed Wollaton Hall in 1580, with Sir Francis Willoughby building the house as a home for his family.

Completed in 1588, the hall is a Grade I-listed building.

Within the hall is a Natural History Museum and several rooms laid out in the style of the 1580s.

Even without visiting Nottingham, fans of Batman will recognise Wollaton Hall as Wayne Manor from the Dark Knight Rises.

Since appearing in the movie Wollaton Hall has seen a significant rise in visitors, all wanting to capture a glimpse of the famous manor.

Surrounding the hall are 500 acres (202 ha) of gardens and parkland filled with a herd of deer.

Entry to the hall is free for permanent exhibitions. Car parking is £5 for the day and the park is easily accessible by public transport.

Wollaton Hall and Deer Park is at Wollaton Park, Wollaton, NG8 2AE.

12- Visit The National Justice Museum

free things to do in nottingham front view of Robin Hood statue
Legendary outlaw Robin Hood is immortalised in the form of a statue outside Nottingham Castle.

National Justice Museum is an interactive museum in the Lace Market area of the city.

The museum has interactive exhibitions, a cast of characters from the history of justice and various activities relating to justice to get involved with.

One of the biggest lures to the museum is the courtroom performances, which change throughout the year.

The museum takes visitors through ancient dungeons right up to modern justice systems.

After visiting the National Justice Museum, head to the Nottingham Contemporary, which is a short walk away on the same road.

Tickets are £12.50 for adults and £8.75 for children. Family packages are available.

National Justice Museum is at High Pavement, Nottingham, NG1 1HN.

13- Wander Around Old Market Square

Nottingham Old Market Square
Wandering around Old Market Square is a relaxing way to soak up the city’s vibe and a fun thing to do in Nottingham.

Running down the centre of Old Market Square is a metal line representing a wall built across the market to separate the animal market from the grain market.

The square is the city’s centre, with shopping streets leading to it from every direction.

Many of the city’s main attractions are just a short walk from the square.

Old Market Square is the UK’s largest public square after Trafalgar Square in London.

Various events are held in the square throughout the year, including the Christmas Winter Wonderland and market, and Riviera Beach, which sees the city transformed into a beachfront location.

Look out for the two lions that guard the town hall.

The Left Lion, also the name of a local publication, is a popular place for locals to meet.

Old Market Square is at Nottingham, NG1 2DT.

14- Have A Pint At Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem

things to do in nottingham for adults white tudor pub building with sign 'the oldest inn in England'
Drinking beer at ‘the oldest inn in England’ is one of fun things to do in Nottingham for adults.

As an ancient city, Nottingham has plenty of old pubs waiting to be explored; however, the oldest is Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem.

The pub is built into the rocks and caves immediately below Nottingham Castle.

It is believed that the pub’s name formed part of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was a stopping point for pilgrims to rest.

The caves are the most significant feature of the pub.

The ground level caves serve as the pub’s main drinking rooms, however, it is the caves below that are of greater interest.

The caves date to the castle’s construction in 1068 and were originally used as a brewery.

Look out for the cursed galleon, displayed in glass. It is believed that anyone who has attempted to clean the ship has bet a mysterious death.

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem is at 1 Brewhouse Yard, Nottingham, NG1 6AD.

15- Discover D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum

D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum preserves the home where D.H. Lawrence, a famous writer, lived.

The home is now a small museum where visitors can explore independently or on guided tours.

It’s laid out in the style Lawrence would have seen during his childhood in the 19th century.

The home is a working-class miner’s house, with many items coming from the museum’s founder, Enid Goodband.

Despite this, there are still artefacts from the Lawrence family displayed.

As well as writing, Lawrence was a gifted painter and many of his watercolours are on display within the museum.

D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum is about 20 minutes away from the city centre by car and is accessible via public transport.

D.H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum is at 8A Victoria Street, Eastwood, NG16 3AW.

16- Green’s Windmill

things to do in nottingham this weekend top of the windmill against a blue sky
Visiting Green’s Windmill is one of the educational things to do in Nottingham for kids.

Green’s Windmill is a restored and working 19th-century windmill.

George Green, a mathematical physicist, owned and operated the windmill during the early 1800s, giving the windmill its name.

The windmill is still functional today and is used to grind local wheat into flour which you can purchase onsite.

Next to the windmill is a science centre that tells the story of Green and his experiments and achievements.

Many of the displays centre around his fascination with electricity, light and magnetism.

Greens Windmill is at Windmill Lane, Nottingham, NG2 4QB.

17- Mary’s Church

One of Nottingham’s most beautiful churches is St Mary’s, which is in the Lace Market area of the city.

St Mary’s makes a pleasant stop to explore as you meander through the narrow streets.

Building started on the church in 1386, and it is believed to be the third church to be erected on the same site.

The oldest door in Nottingham is on the north aisle.

The church’s turbulent history makes it all the more interesting. It has suffered fires, bombings and storm damage.

Thankfully ongoing restoration works over the centuries have preserved this beautiful building.

Mary’s is open during the week between 11 am and 2.30 pm and on Sundays for services that begin at 10:45 am.

Mary’s Church is at High Pavement, Nottingham, NG1 1HN.

18- Stonebridge City Farm

Stonebridge City Farm is located in the heart of the city and is open seven days a week.

It’s run by a team of more than 140 volunteers who maintain the grounds, care for the animals and run the onsite cafe.

Stonebridge City Farm has been awarded a Green Flag Award as one of the country’s best parks.

There are two friendly cows and their calves, sheep, ponies, chickens, and many small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs at the farm.

Volunteers take part in daily hands-on activities to introduce all to the animals and how to care for them.

The gardens in the farm are filled with fresh produce, including fruits and vegetables, which are sold from the onsite shop.

Entry to Stonebridge is free, however, as a charity, donations are greatly welcomed to keep the farm running.

Stonebridge is open from 10 am till 3 pm.

Stonebridge City Farm is at Stonebridge Road, Nottingham, NG3 2FR.

19- Visit Newstead Abbey

things to do in nottingham for students green lawn and driveway leading up to Wollaton Hall
Exploring Wollaton Hall is a charming thing to do in Nottingham for history lovers.

Newstead Abbey was founded in the late 1200s as a monastic house.

Lord Byron lived at the abbey between 1808 and 1814.

Today, displayed in the abbey are personal items belonging to Byron, and his private apartments are kept in the style of Byron’s day.

The gardens surrounding the abbey cover more than 300 acres (121 ha) featuring lakes, ponds and waterfalls and showcase a vast array of plants from across the world.

During autumn, wander through the spectacular Japanese gardens to see the leaves change on the Japanese maples.

Newstead Abbey is open to the public for £10 for adults and £6 for children.

The gardens are free to enter however, there is a parking charge of £6 per car.

Newstead Abbey is at Newstead Abbey Park, NG15 8NA.

20- Visit The City Of Caves

things to do in nottingham today caves
One of the intriguing things to do in Nottingham is to explore the labyrinth of caves underneath the city. There are over 800 caves, tunnels and passages cut into the sandstone rock.

With over 800 caves, Nottingham is home to the most extensive network of caves in the UK.

From medieval tanneries to air-raid shelters during WWII, the mysterious labyrinth is beneath the city centre is sure to capture your imagination.

City of Caves is at Garner’s Hill, Nottingham NG1 1HF.

21- Eat Poppa Pizza

fun things to do in nottingham traditional pizza
Having a traditional pizza at Poppa’s is a fun thing to do with kids in Nottingham.

Frequently referred to by locals as the ”best pizza in Notts”, Poppa Pizza is a must-visit when in the city.

The Gharamarni Family has owned Poppa Pizza since the 1980s and has seen families from across the city coming back for years to try the pizza.

The pizza here is crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy inside.

While no particular topping is the best-seller, the cheese and tomato pizza or traditional garlic bread with cheese are popular favourites. 

Prices are incredibly affordable and it’s an excellent place for a casual meal.

After a stroll around Highfields, take a short walk into Beeston to take in its independent shops and relaxed vibes before dining in or taking out a delicious pizza.

Poppa Pizza is at 108 High Road, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 2NL.

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Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.