Visiting Nottingham - What to See and Do
(Nottingham East Midlands Airport EMA, England)
The East Midlands city of Nottingham
has strong links to Robin Hood, Britain's Industrial Revolution and Lord Byron. It is one of the more interesting travel destinations for visitors to this region of central England
, even though it seems to lack obvious tourist attractions.
Lying nearby and to the north, Sherwood Forest is a lovely stretch of woodlands interlaced with walking paths and sunny glades. Literary fans can visit the family home of Lord Byron, the Romantic poet, at Newstead Abbey or try to find the little cottage where DH Lawrence was born. Just 72 miles / 116 km south-east of Manchester
and roughly 125 miles / 201 km north of London
, Nottingham is an accessible and underrated travel spot.
At its heart, Nottingham is an industrial city, and so it tends to be a little thin in the ambience department. Thankfully, its lively student population has created a handful of entertaining pockets, like the Hockley neighbourhood. The shopping here is surprisingly diverse, with over 800 shops tucked into its pedestrian downtown core.
Ten things you must do in Nottingham
- The legendary Robin Hood and his Merry Men may not live here anymore, but Sherwood Forest is still a lovely patch of manicured wildness. Few other woodlands carry so much lore and legend. Its 450 acres / 182 hectares are completely protected now, and the Visitors Centre will help guide your way to the paths and landmarks such as the famous Major Oak, the tree that Robin Hood is said to have had a fancy for.
- In 1540, Sir John Byron bought an Augustine Abbey called Newstead. It became the family manor, and eventually the famous Romantic poet Lord Byron live here as well. Today, it is a museum devoted to the writings of Lord Byron, with some first edition manuscripts and other mementoes. The 300 acres / 121 hectares of gardens are reason enough for a visit to Newstead Abbey.
- Nottingham Castle is the city's one and only, built over the site of an older Norman fort. It is worth a visit just to admire the artwork assembled in the History of Nottingham Gallery that tells the colourful stories of this city. This is part of the Art Gallery that contains a respectable collection of 16th- and 17th-century European art.
- England's most ornate Elizabethan mansion is right outside Nottingham. Wollaton Hall was built in the 1580s and is incredibly well preserved, being one of the city's top tourist attractions. A garden and deer park surround the manor, while inside is an interesting natural history museum.
- Nottingham is one of the UK's top shopping destinations. It has two excellent indoor malls (the Broadmarsh and the Victoria) that rival anything in London. The city centre's web of pedestrian streets are also speckled with interesting little shops, and for antiques head straight to Derby Road. Hockley Village is also a fun place to explore for shops with a more chic bohemian edge.
- To take a look at Nottingham's thriving arts and crafts scene, spend an afternoon wandering the 60 acres / 24 hectares of the Patchings Farm Art Centre. The wonderfully restored farm buildings are now home to several working pottery and art studios, along with three art galleries, a gift shop and other artistic outposts.
- If Sherwood Forest isn't enough, head over to Clumber Park, a National Trust attraction. This 3,800-acre / 1,540-hectare area of woodlands and parks is simply beautiful. With a huge lake at its centre, the park offers the perfect place for casual strolls and picnics.
- One of Britain's finest arts centres can be found just outside the city at Ravenshead, roughly 20 minutes to the north. The Longdale Craft Centre is a haven for real artists and crafts people, who ply their trade using traditional methods in a maze of recreated Victorian streets. Everything from jewellery to prints and pottery can be found being both created and sold in this impressive art village.
- The Nottingham Playhouse and Theatre Royal are the city's two top venues for catching a play or some live music. Besides the regular troupe of actors who put on frequent theatre shows and the city's famous classical symphony, these venues get a solid stream of travelling performances by musicians, singers and other acts.
- Once the centre of the world's lace production, Nottingham has preserved this medieval district in a quarter-mile square area known as the Lace Market. The old warehouses have been perfectly restored, and other highlights like the Galleries of Justice are here as well. Hockney Village is just next door, to make for a full-day outing.