Nottingham: Top things to see and do

Newstead Abbey

When a friend came to Nottingham for a long weekend recently she asked for some tips on things to see and do. I relished at the opportunity to share all the things I love about this East Midlands city and my favourite places to eat and drink, so it seemed a shame to keep it all to myself.

Things to do

Right in the city centre there is an abundance of things to see. Perfect for rainy days and keeping the kids occupied there is the City of Caves attraction, which tells you all about the network of caves Nottingham is built on. People (mainly those born and bred in the city) have laughed when I have suggested this place to visitors but I genuinely found it fascinating when I first went.

There is also the National Justice Museum which housed the first Victorian courtroom and gaol. Now this place IS cool. You can visit the dungeons and prison cells and and learn about Nottingham’s link to crime and punishment. You can even buy a joint ticket with the caves for £16 to save a bit of money.

You also can’t make a visit to Nottingham without visiting the castle. Sadly it is not the kind of castle many people expect, more like a big house on a hill. It is currently closed for renovations (until late 2020) but you can see it from outside the gates and sitting high up above the city. There’s also a statue of the city’s famous outlaw, Robin Hood, nearby so make sure you grab a selfie with him.

You can even go on a walking tour with Robin Hood and hear all about the city’s best bits.

When the weather is bad there are still lots of options.

There’s crazy golf at the Lost City Adventure Golf, an abundance of escape rooms to test your code cracking ability, and the Ludorati board games cafe where you can spend hours working out the rules to games you haven’t even heard of. There’s so many to choose from so you won’t be stuck on what to play.

Not quite in the city centre, but still close by, you can escape the traffic and walk along the River Trent at the Victoria Embankment. It’s especially lovely on a sunny, clear day with blue skies and from here you can see the city’s sporting triangle – Nottingham Forest’s city ground, Notts County’s Meadow Lane and the infamous Trent Bridge cricket ground.

Outside the city

If this kind of tranquility away from the noise of the city is what you want there are plenty of country parks to choose from. Nottingham is actually very lucky to have so much green space on the outskirts of the city that it would be a shame not to indulge in it.

Perfect for runs, walks or to watch the world (and ducks) go by, are Colwick Park, Wollaton Hall and Deer Park (famous for where The Dark Knight was filmed), HIghfields Park and Attenborough Nature Reserve.

Further north of the city, and now fully into Nottinghamshire territory, there are several heritage sites that are ideal for a day out. Whether you want to walk in beautiful gardens, discover some big houses or just find a delicious cream tea, these are worth adding to your list:

  • Newstead Abbey – The ancestral home of Lord Byron is set among beautiful lakes and watch out for the resident peacocks too.
  • Rufford Abbey – With its origins as a monastery there is something for everyone here, A children’s play area, boating lake and the chance to try your hand at some archery.
  • Clumber Park – A historic country park offering more stunning scenery, bike and walking trails and events throughout the year.
  • Sherwood Forest – This doesn’t need much explanation but there are more walks and cycle trails and a famous big tree to see too – The Major Oak.
  • Sherwood Pines – This is another area within the forest and houses the GoApe adventure and Center Parcs.

Places to eat

Back to the city centre there are so many food places to choose from and new ones opening up each week, but here are just a few of my favourite independent venues:

  • Annie’s Burger Shack – Purely because they make every burger on the menu as a veggie or vegan burger and they’re epic!
  • Tarn Thai – Some of the best Thai in Notts in my opinion.
  • Iberico / Bar Iberico – Great tapas. The bar is a more casual venue but that does not reflect on the food as it is still tasty and great quality.
  • Oscar & Rosie’s – Great pizza. Full stop!
  • Tamatanga – Convenient and tasty Indian food without the fuss.
  • Doughnotts – The best doughnuts in the city. You won’t regret the calories!
Pudding Pantry

And for the best meal of the day – breakfast – there are so many ways you can make sure you start it right:

  • Hungry Pumpkin – Small but friendly cafe with great veggie options.
  • Pudding Pantry – Awesome cakes for after brekkie and amazing freakshake style hot chocolates
  • The Kitchen @Pelham Street – I love all the options they have offering food for all diets and at a good price too.
  • Yolk – This is a new entry. Having only opened a few months ago it is already on my list. And as you’ve probably guessed from the name, there is nothing but eggs on the menu.

Places to drink

There is no shortage of drinking places in Nottingham either and even after six years living here there are still bars and pubs I haven’t visited. But here are some of the noteable ones:

  • Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem / The Bell Inn / Ye Olde Salutation Inn – All claim to be oldest pub in England, but whichever one it is, they’re all worth visiting.
  • Hockley Arts Club – Trendy, funky and great cocktails
  • Boilermaker – The key to this place is finding it. Once you’re inside the cocktails are fun and tasty too.
  • Das Kino – Play ping pong, eat pizzas and drink good cocktails. What more do you need?! My most ordered cocktail here is the espresso martini, it’s very strong but perfect.
  • Pitcher & Piano – An old church converted into a bar. Can get very busy on Friday nights and weekends but there’s always a great atmosphere, music and a lovely outdoor area for the summer months.
  • 31K – Cool, trendy, hipster kind of place. They serve food too but it is only meat/veggie balls

Have a great trip!

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