Nottingham is rapidly becoming one of the most popular destinations in Great Britain. In 2010, international publishing giant DK Travel named Nottingham a top 10 city to visit. The city has its share of urban delights including world-class shopping, edgy galleries, and a vibrant nightlife. But special attractions you can find only in Nottingham make this place a one-of-a-kind travel adventure. If you’re planning a trip to Nottingham, don’t miss these eight must-see sites.
Lenton Road, Nottingham
Nottingham Castle is at the center of the Robin Hood saga, and this imposing structure sits high on a hill overlooking the city. The castle dates back to the Norman conquest; William the Conqueror constructed its first tower. The castle served as a royal residence for Edward III and Henry IV’s wife, Joan. The castle played an important role in England’s Civil War, when it was completely razed after executioners killed Charles I. The castle was rebuilt in its present form as a ducal mansion in 1674 and became a municipal museum in 1875.
Today, beautiful gardens, art galleries, and a maze of underground tunnels and caves to explore dot the property. Located on Friar Lane, the castle is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is £5.50 for adults, £4 for children, and £15 for families.
Edwinstowe, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire
Another important element in Robin Hood’s story, Sherwood Forest is a place you need to see to believe. Filled with ancient 500-year-old trees, Major Oak the most famous among them, the 450-acre park offers miles of walking paths and bike trails to explore. Edwinstowe, the charming village at the heart of the forest, boasts the Church of Saint Mary, where Robin Hood took Maid Marian as his wife. For a spectacular treat, visit in August during the annual Robin Hood Festival.
Sherwood Forest is about 20 miles north of Nottingham. Admission is free, but if you drive your car, parking runs £3 for the day. It’s easy to get there from the city by both bus and train for an inexpensive fare.
Wollaton Hall and Park
Wollaton Hall & Deer Park, Nottingham
Fans of Batman will recognize Wollaton Hall as Wayne Manor from “The Dark Knight Rises.” This fabulous home is a perfect example of an Elizabethan mansion, built in the late 16th century by Sir Francis Willoughby. The mansion is surrounded by 500 acres, including countless manicured emerald lawns, gardens, and a charming park where deer roam freely. Nottingham’s Natural History Museum and Industrial Museum are also on the grounds.
Wollaton Hall and Park is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during high season, closing at 4 p.m. from November through February. Admission is £5 and parking is £2 for three hours or £4 for the entire day.
The Great Central Railway
Mere Way, Ruddington, Nottingham
Take a ride on the Great Central Railway to experience the thrill of trains at the height of the rail era. This heritage railway is the only double-track line in the United Kingdom, meandering through Nottingham for 10 kilometers. Train lovers will want to book the “Drive a Locomotive Experience” and control a massive steam locomotive. A swanky, full-service restaurant car serves a luxurious five-course meal.
The trains run every weekend throughout the year and on certain weekdays during the summer. Fares run between £5 and £15, depending on the route, and a family can ride for about £23.
This soaring Norman cathedral can trace its beginnings all the way to the seventh century, when Paulinus, the Archbishop of York, was baptizing Christians in the River Trent. King Eadwig offered a grant to establish the minster in the 10th century. The structure was built over the following two centuries in classic Anglo-Saxon Gothic style. The most spectacular stained glass windows graced the structure about 400 years later. Try to visit during Evensong or one of the renowned Cathedral Choir concerts.
The Southwell Minster, on Church Street in Southwell, is open every day of the year. While admission is free, a £5 donation is recommended.
Nottingham Consumer District
Nottingham was a world leader in lacemaking during the height of the British Empire, and the Lace Market district is a historical area with unusual examples of 19th-century industrial architecture. Today, the Lace Market’s transformation into an urban hot spot packs it with trendy bars, chic galleries, and bohemian shops. You’ll also find live music venues and the famed FM Arena in Lace Market.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem
Brewhouse Yard, Nottingham
Nottingham has a thriving pub and brewery scene, and you can take several self-guided brew tours and pub crawls. If pubs are your passion, however, a visit to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem is a must. The pub is the oldest inn in all of England and retains much of its original 12th-century ambience. Built into the outer walls of Nottingham Castle, the inn is a landmark, and the chimneys from its massive fireplace extend through the rock.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. A full menu of traditional pub fare makes a hearty accompaniment to ales you can enjoy on your visit.
City of Caves
Drury Walk, Upper Level, Broadmarsh Shopping Centre, intu Broadmarsh, Nottingham
Nottingham can trace its roots back to Roman times and was built on a honeycombed maze of nearly 500 tunnels and caves. Tour the City of Caves and walk through tunnels used by Roman soldiers and invading Vikings. Explore the dungeons and cells that held some of England’s most notorious criminals.
Located in the Lace Market district, the City of Caves is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last tour beginning at 4 p.m. Tickets are £7.50 for adults and £5 for children; pre-booking is highly recommended.
Keep in mind that Nottingham hosts thousands of tourists every year, so booking your hotel stay in advance ensures you’ll get the best room for your budget.
If Nottingham is on your travel agenda, make sure to visit these eight must-see attractions to immerse yourself in the spirit of the city.