Nottingham isn’t a city many people think of visiting, especially if they’re only in the UK for a short time. However, Nottingham is conveniently located in the centre of England and makes a great base for exploring the surrounding Midlands region and everything it has to offer.
Consider spending a weekend in Nottingham (or longer if you have the time) and learning more about this fascinating city and its history. Here are six things to know before you visit Nottingham.
If you have heard of Nottingham before, it’s usually in relation to Robin Hood. The legendary philanthropist who stole money from the rich to give to the poor was said to frequent the Sherwood Forest and there was even a secret meeting place where him and his Merry Men hid and slept inside the trunk of a huge Oak tree called the Major Oak.
You can visit Sherwood Forest, learn about the legend of Robin Hood and even see the Major Oak, whose tree canopy spreads 28m. Although the tree is no longer safe to enter, you can view it from behind barriers where huge stilts prop up the boughs of this centuries-old tree.
Nottingham was once the lace production hub of Europe, with huge lace factories producing this fine cloth for the upper classes all over the continent and the world. This industrial history has now been transformed into the coolest area of the city.
The Lace Market area is still characterised by these beautiful red brick factories which have now been converted into independent stores, restaurants and bars.
If you’re looking for the best places to eat in Nottingham or perhaps to frequent one of Nottingham’s well-loved hidden bars, you’ll find many of them in the Lace Market and Hockley area of the city.
For secret bars, check out the Hockley Arts Club, Lost Property, Boilermaker or Secret Garden.
Nottingham Castle recently reopened in 2021 after a £30 million renovation. The castle is perched high on the sandstone cliffs overlooking the city and plays a significant role in many famous English history stories including the Norman Conquest, the War of the Roses, the English Civil War and the rebellions of the early 1800s when the castle was burnt to the ground.
With the British people’s enthusiasm for pub culture, it’s no surprise that the oldest pub in England is a huge tourist attraction in the city!
Established in 1159 AD, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub is built into the sandstone cliffs which the castle sits at the top of. If you visit for a pint of local ale, grab a seat at one of the tables cut into the rocks or in one of the cave rooms.
The staff will be happy to tell you about the history of the pub and the strange items on display there, including a cursed model ship and the pregnancy chair – believed to cause pregnancy in women who sat on it!
The pub runs tours of the caves in the pub, which form part of the network of caves below Nottingham city. Or you might prefer the ghost tours at rival pub The Salutation Inn, which is across the road and believed to be frequented by 65 ghosts. It’s supposedly the most haunted place in Nottingham, with horror stories dating back to the 1200s.
Nottinghamshire and the surrounding counties are full of beautiful landscapes and historic places to explore and enjoy.
If you’re a National Trust member or historic properties enthusiast, visit Hardwick Hall and Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. They both sit on the border of Nottinghamshire, on the edge of the Peak District.
The Peak District is a stunning National Park in the UK which is characterised by rocky tors great for hiking, as well as the largest underground caves in Britain, which you can explore on foot or by boat. Speedwell Cavern and Peak Cavern are the most popular to visit, while Mam Tor, Chrome Hill or Bamford Edge are all great day walking routes.
Despite being a city, Nottingham is surrounded by plenty of greenery and Wollaton Park is a gem just outside the city centre which is well worth spending the afternoon in.
Wollaton Hall is the gothic manor that sits at the top of the hill in Wollaton Park and it was used as the filming location for Wayne Manor in The Dark Knight Rises film. The beautiful house and surrounding gardens are perfect to spend the day at, with a Natural History Museum inside the house and often many events, markets and fairs in the grounds.
The park itself is also a protected deer park, so you’ll see many deer and stags roaming around the land and the lake.
Nottingham and the Midlands, in general, are very affordable places to visit, much more so than London and other cities in the south of England. This makes Nottingham a great base to explore a different area of England and English history, with enough city buzz and beautiful nature to suit everyone who spends time in the city.
Planning a trip to Nottingham? Stay in the Lace Market Hotel in a historic Georgian townhouse in a very convenient location.
Last Updated 6 June 2022