Nottingham – A Travel Guide

Nottingham is often referred to as the ‘Queen of the East Midlands’ as the English Kings held court there when they went hunting in its surrounding forests.  It’s famous for the legendary Robin Hood, lace making and much more.  Take a look at my guide of things to see and do in this intriguing city.

Nottingham Castle Wharf
Castle Wharf, Nottingham

Getting there:

The city is easily accessible from all parts of the U.K. being only 130 miles from London and just over 2 hours by train, with journeys of less than 75 minutes from both Manchester and Birmingham.

Attractions:

City of Caves

City of Caves, Nottingham
Entrance to the City of Caves

Go underground at the City of Caves located on Garner’s Hill.  It’s hard to believe that there are over 500 caves in Nottingham dating back to the Dark Ages with some pubs still having access to them today through their beer cellars.  Equipped with a hard hat, investigate the social history of the caves and view the only medieval underground tannery in the country.  Explore the Anderson air raid shelter where thousands of people sought refuge during the Second World War and learn about life beneath the city streets.

Touring the City of Caves, Nottingham
Touring the City of Caves

The National Justice Museum

A five minute walk from the City of Caves lies the National Justice Museum on High Pavement.  It’s located in Nottingham’s old Georgian courthouse and county gaol, the steps of which were the site of many public executions.  Admission to certain parts of the museum are free, with combination tickets available with the City of Caves.  Visitors are given wristbands labelled with a convict’s number which it’s fun to search for in the galleries to discover the crime and length of sentence.

National Justice Museum, Nottingham
The National Justice Museum

Discover how the law and justice contribute to our lives, meet historical characters and take part in a range of interactive activities including a mock trial.  This event takes place twice daily in the oak panelled Victorian courtroom where trials were still held as recently as 1986.

Victorian courtroom, National Museum of Justice, Nottingham
The Victorian courtroom

Visitors are invited to act as a judge and witnesses and are handed laminated narrative sheets with their own parts highlighted.  With everyone in place, the accused is called into the dock and the trial gets underway.  It’s a fun activity for all ages lasting around 20 minutes.

Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery

Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery
Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery

At Weekday Cross stands the Nottingham Contemporary, one of the largest contemporary art centres in the U.K.  The gallery has been open since 2009 and its iconic green and gold exterior celebrates the Nottingham lace heritage with a nineteenth century cherry blossom lace design embedded into the concrete façade.  The gallery offers free admission and its aim is to offer international art to everyone.

Nottingham Arboretum

Nottingham Arboretum Lake
The lake at Nottingham Arboretum

Take the tram to High School for a walk through Nottingham Arboretum.  It’s Nottingham’s oldest park and home to a collection of over 800 trees some of which are from the original collection planted in the 19th century.  Enjoy a pleasant stroll taking in the Victorian circular aviary, Chinese bell tower, bandstand and lake.

The University of Nottingham

University of Nottingham
University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham campus covers 300 acres and is regarded as one of the largest and most attractive in the country with its lakeside setting.  The university is quick and easy to get to from the city centre as it has its own dedicated tram stop from which a footpath leads up to the main buildings.

Trent Building, University of Nottingham
The Trent Building

Wander around the lakeside, step across an ornamental bridge and soak up the views from lakeside terrace.  Marvel at the stunning architecture of the university’s Grade II listed Trent Building which opened in 1928 before continuing into the building itself where visitors can view its elegant central hallway and Great Hall.

Chinese stone lions, University of Nottingham
The majestic stone lions

Before leaving University Park don’t miss taking a look at the majestic stone lions.  These were a gift from Nottingham’s twin city of Ningbo in China to mark a decade of civic partnership between the two cities.  Since 2004 a China campus of the University of Nottingham has been established in the historic city of Ningbo on China’s east coast, close to Shanghai.

St. Mary’s Church

St. Mary's Church, Nottingham
St. Mary’s Church

St. Mary’s Church on High Pavement is the largest medieval building in Nottingham and a fine example of the prosperity of the city during the 15th century.  View its stunning interior, stained glass windows and monuments bearing witness to the funds donated by the guilds, merchants and nobility of the city.

Canal side walks

Canal boats on the Nottingham & Beeston Canal
Canal boats on the Nottingham & Beeston Canal

The Nottingham and Beeston canal carves its way through the city centre and is a key feature of the vibrant waterfront district.  It’s overlooked by Nottingham Castle perched on a high rock above the city (currently closed for major renovations but due to re-open later this year).

Nottingham waterfront
Nottingham waterfront

The canal was once part of a much longer route which is now derelict but the present-day stretch is perfect for an afternoon stroll and to stop at one the bars and cafes for a drink to watch the brightly painted narrowboats chug slowly by.

Nottingham Theatre Royal

Theatre Royal, Nottingham
Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Nottingham’s Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall are two of the country’s most vibrant and thriving touring venues.  Situated in the heart of the city, they lead the way for arts and entertainment in the East Midlands.

Shopping

Old Market Square, Nottingham
Old Market Square

Fancy some retail therapy, then Nottingham’s the ideal place.  Start at the Old Market Square, a large pedestrianised plaza at the heart of the city with shopping streets leading off in each direction.  Dominating the eastern end of the square is the Exchange Building which was constructed in 1929.  Wander indoors and admire its magnificent 200ft dome and take a look in some of the arcade’s exclusive stores.  It’s definitely the place to go for designer shopping in Nottingham.

Designer shopping, Exchange Building Nottingham
Designer shopping in the Exchange Building

Lace Market and Hockley are two of the oldest areas in the city.  Making up part of the Creative Quarter, these districts each have their own unique character and today the area merges history with culture.  Once the city’s industrial centre, the Lace Market produced intricate lace that was renowned throughout the world and is what put Nottingham on the fashion map.  The grand red brick warehouses and factories are now home to creative businesses and quirky boutiques.

Lace Market, Nottingham
Lace Market, Nottingham

After strolling through Lace Market continue onto neighbouring Hockley.  The narrow lanes of Hockley exude bohemian charm and are filled with an array of vintage clothes shops, second hand bookshops and independent boutiques.

Food and Drink

Canalhouse Pub, Nottingham
Canalhouse Pub, Nottingham

Head to the Canalhouse pub, located on the lower floors of the former Canalhouse museum.  It’s unique as the canal actually extends into the building, complete with two full size narrowboats and a bridge, creating an extra special atmosphere.  The wholesome food and craft beers are great too!

The Pitcher & Piano Nottingham
The Pitcher & Piano in Nottingham

Sip cocktails in a former Unitarian church at the Pitcher & Piano on High Pavement.  This beautifully restored deconsecrated church is absolutely gorgeous with its vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows and original stonework.

Baresca Tapas Bar, Nottingham
Baresca Tapas Bar, Nottingham

Tucked away down a narrow lane lies Baresca, a Spanish tapas bar with its cosy atmosphere making diners feel as if they have been transported into an authentic Catalan bar in Barcelona.  Feast on dishes of garlic and chilli prawns, lobo beer battered cod, lamb koftas and Moroccan chicken.

The Cock & Hoop, Nottingham
The Cock & Hoop, Nottingham

The Cock & Hoop is a traditional Victorian ale house located in a period building that was once a pub with rooms for an audience to watch the hangings on the steps of the courtroom opposite, apparently a popular activity at the time!  Nowadays the Cock and Hoop is an AA rosette gastro pub serving real ales.

Dinner at the Cock & Hoop, Nottingham
Dinner at the Cock & Hoop, Nottingham

Diners can either eat in the cosy ground floor snug or in the downstairs dining room. Convivial atmosphere and superb cooking.

 

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Nottingham

 

86 thoughts on “Nottingham – A Travel Guide

  1. Pingback: Day 3. Liverpool – Crosby Beach & Sefton Park – Love Travelling Blog

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  4. youre posts are so comprehensive it’s very impressive! as is Nottingham it looks amazing. the caves especially are something different and I would think quite unexpected. Im thinking in a few years time – four or five, to spend a month somewhere in the UK. Nottingham has just entered the radar!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ThingsHelenLoves

    I had no idea Nottingham had a lace making heritage. I wonder if any where in the city still makes it? Hope you make it back to Nottingham soon Marion, it’s starting to feel like a long time since any of us have really been able to plan any thing. I’m optimistic that more freedom, at least in the UK, is on the horizon.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I grew up in Nottnm/West Bridgford in the 50s and 60s (born in Boston but to a Notts family). It’s amazing how cool Hockley now is, considering it was a shabby part we kids were warned not to go to unaccompanied.

    Nice overview of my old city. It’s quite a kickin’ place and it has given us Vicky McClure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for taking an interest in my travel guide to Nottingham. We enjoyed a lovely weekend there prior to the pandemic and hope to return later in the year. I’m so pleased my post brought back fond memories for you.

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    1. It was what we both said earlier Hannah that when things are on your doorstep you take them for granted and rarely get around to visiting. I was born in Blackpool but only went up to the top of the tower since I moved miles away! Thanks for your ever welcome thoughts, they are much appreciated. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve only heard of Nottingham due to the story of Robin Hood and also a British flat-mate who’d gone to university in that city– otherwise, I had little idea of what the city had to offer. Looks like there’s a lot to see and do here, and I’ll be marking this place down should I return to the UK someday!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Touring the City of Caves and learning about sandsto ne caves sounds very exciting. Certainly not what you would expect to find hidden underneath the streets of Nottingham. Thanks for sharing and have a lovely evening 😊 Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nottingham lace is so intricate and how lovely Shane that you had curtains made of them in your first home. Nottingham is another often overlooked city but one with much to offer. I just love that pub with the canal boats inside. We woke to a covering of snow this morning so not sure what’s happening with our Spring weather, hope it’s been better with you.

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  9. Our visit in 1977 was but brief and it is a pity we have never been back. So much more to see and explore than just the legend of Robin Hood. I love the Canalhouse Pub. How cool is that? Thanks for showing us more of Nottingham Marion. Stay well. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Marvelous, thanks Marion. I need to go back as I never got to see the city properly when I visited before. I went once for work, a training course, for a week back in the late 80s. I seem to remember that the city was known at the time for having one of the highest or the highest ratios of women to men. An American we got talking to in a bar commented on the fact one night. Interesting what jolts one’s memory from long ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s a lovely city and I’ve been there many times as my daughter lives there. Not recently, of course! And I don’t think she’s been into the centre in more than a year. Working from home is the new normal! 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my travel guide to Nottingham Jo. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer now that you will be able to be reunited with your son and daughter. I’m sure you can’t wait! Hope your weekend is going well. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  12. The St Mary’s Church is beautiful! And how lucky are the students at the University of Nottingham – who don’t want to study there when you have such a stunning view 😊.
    Nottingham looks like a great place to take a stroll … from shopping to eating great food. Thanks for another great post Marion!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your inspiring thoughts on my Nottingham travel guide. It’s another great city and yes, the university is beautiful with its lake and parkland setting and it has an excellent reputation too! Hope your weekend is going well. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Lovely piece, especially charmed by the role-playing at The Justice Museum. The pubs also look really cosy and atmospheric. I have a friend stationed in the village of Tean about an hour away, so I really should be able to get to Nottingham at some point. I did visit The Sherwood Pines once but hazy memories. Thanks for this guide!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure you would enjoy a visit to Nottingham Leighton. I liked everything about the city and look forward to returning when the castle re-opens. I’ve not been to Sherwood Forest yet so it would be nice to take a walk there too. Thanks for your welcome thoughts. Hope your weekend is going well! Marion

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There is a statue of Robin Hood in Nottingham, it’s up by the castle and used to be famous for having the arrow from the bow stolen fairly regularly. I lived there for 16 years, met my husband there but haven’t returned for quite a while, now that we live in Canada. A nice trip down memory lane 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you Sandra for taking an interest in my post featuring Nottingham. That explains why we didn’t come across the Robin Hood statue as the castle was closed for major refurbishments so we didn’t climb up there. Hopefully next time!

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  14. This is a nice introduction to Nottingham. I remembered Robin Hood and expected to see him merchandised all over the city as they do now as soon as something is known. But this seems to be very low key.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for taking an interest in Nottingham. Robin Hood merchandise might have been for sale here and there but there didn’t seem much of it around. The city is a very attractive place to visit if ever you are in the vicinity. Hope your weekend is going well. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

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