The Top Things to Do and See in Sheffield, England

The English city of Sheffield, with its striking skyline, is brimming with great attractions
The English city of Sheffield, with its striking skyline, is brimming with great attractions | © Darren Galpin / Alamy Stock Photo
Linn Vardheim

Once an industrial giant famous for its steel production, Sheffield is today a prosperous city with more trees per person than any other city in Europe. With the largest theatre complex outside of London and a thriving music scene, this UK city does its best to entertain. From the Millennium Gallery to Chatsworth House, here are the best things to do and see the next time you’re in the Steel City.

1. Millennium Gallery

Art Gallery, Museum

Millenium Gallery in Sheffield, South Yorkshire England UK
© Tracey Whitefoot / Alamy Stock Photo

One of the most visited free attractions in the UK, the Millennium Gallery is an art gallery and museum in the heart of Sheffield. The museum displays both permanent and changing exhibitions throughout the year, including touring exhibitions from places such as the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The museum’s permanent collection includes the Ruskin collection, created by John Ruskin to inspire the working people of Sheffield, as well as the Metalwork collection displaying a wide array of Sheffield’s steel products. The Millennium Gallery offers an important contribution to the art and design scene of the city.

2. The Winter Garden

Architectural Landmark, Botanical Garden

The Winter Garden is a large indoor garden displaying over 2,500 species of plants from all over the world. The Winter Garden is housed in the city centre in the largest urban glasshouse in Europe and in one of the largest greenhouses in the UK. The building is 70m (230ft) long, 22m (72ft) high and designed by architectural firm Pringle Richards Sharratt. Largely made out of glass and wood, the building is a sight in itself and has won several awards for design and innovation. Take shelter from the rain, or see the sunlight shine through the many glass panes; admission is free.

3. Sheffield Cathedral


As one of Sheffield’s only grade I listed buildings, the Sheffield Cathedral in the city centre is indeed a building of special interest. The construction of a church on the site of the cathedral began in the 12th century, and the cathedral itself was slowly constructed over several centuries. Part of the church has stones dating back to the 13th century, while the lantern tower’s glass panes are examples of abstract art from the 1990s. Visit the Sheffield Cathedral to see the light filter through the coloured glass, take a guided tour and see the swords of the York and Lancaster Regiment displayed in Saint George’s Chapel.

4. The Sheffield Theatres


Crucible Theatre and Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield
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The Sheffield Theatres, consisting of the Lyceum Theatre, the Crucible Theatre and the Studio Theatre, all located in and around Tudor Square in central Sheffield, make up the largest theatre complex outside of London. There is therefore no precedent for boredom in this part of the city, thanks to the range of performances put on in these venues. The theatres put on everything from classic drama and musicals to dance and comedy all year round, and they have won awards for best regional theatre in both 2013 and 2014.

5. The Butterfly House


Just outside Sheffield, the Tropical Butterfly House Wildlife and Falconry Centre offers an exotic experience in the middle of the English countryside. Walk through an indoor rainforest and see butterflies, birds, bats, insects and crocodiles, or encounter meerkats, otters, snakes and owls. As Tripadvisor’s number-one Sheffield attraction, the Butterfly House is a popular destination and experience for people of all ages, with everything from birds of prey to free-ranging farm animals. Animal encounter events are held every day, providing a chance for you to get up close and personal with your favourite animal or, perhaps, with your greatest fears.

6. Kelham Island Museum


Kelham Island is a result of industrial endeavours. Created by a diversion of the River Don, Kelham is a manmade island over 900 years old. Kelham Island is today the home of the industrial museum in Sheffield, showcasing and documenting centuries of scientific and industrial innovation in the city. The museum contains reconstructed workshops, functional 19th-century steam engines, a vast photographic collection and numerous artefacts representing a significant industrial history that has an impact on the whole world.

7. Peace Gardens

Architectural Landmark

sheffield city south yorkshire england uk gb
© Colin Palmer Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

As a part of the Heart of the City project, an effort to redevelop the Sheffield city centre and make it more attractive to Sheffield residents, the Peace Gardens were constructed and renewed. A public square in the middle of the city centre, the Peace Gardens offer a serene break from the busy city and connect several new features of the city, including the Millennium Gallery and the Winter Garden. The Peace Gardens contain lighting, water features and a variety of plants, creating a green lung in the steel capital of the world.

8. The Peak District


With the highest number of trees per person in Europe, Sheffield unsurprisingly offers some spectacular natural sights. One-third of the city is located within the Peak District National Park, the first national park created in Britain. The Peak District consists mainly of moorland, and a large network of hiking trails and footpaths makes it an ideal destination for a hike or a breath of fresh air. If you’re in the Peak District, be sure to pay a visit to Chatsworth House, Britain’s favourite country house, popularly featured in adaptations of Pride and Prejudice.

9. Endcliffe Park


Opened in honour of Queen Victoria and her 1887 Jubilee, the Endcliffe Park is a prominent example of Sheffield’s many green lungs. The park is a great place for children thanks to a large, newly refurbished playground, and for joggers and casual walkers thanks to both its park and woodland. The park interestingly also features a parkour training facility for those interested in more extreme running and jumping activities. The park is a frequent host to circuses and music festivals and has a small café serving food and drink that is open every day throughout the week.

10. Sheffield Botanical Gardens

Botanical Garden

Greenhouse in Sheffield Botanical Gardens - Summer 2019
© Piranhi / Alamy Stock Photo

As Sheffield consists of over 61% green space, the city cannot be complete without a proper botanical garden. Displaying more than 5,000 different species of plants, the Sheffield Botanical Gardens span more than 19 acres (8ha) of land and were first opened in 1836. The gardens feature beautiful glass pavilions, as well as an old bear pit and a spectacular main gateway. They host a number of events such as Music in the Gardens, a charity event with live music, and Art in the Garden, an annual arts and crafts festival.

11. Antiques Quarter


If you’re looking for a quirky corner of the city to find a deal or two, the antiques quarter is definitely worth a visit. Spanning three streets, the quarter has more than 60 shops. With everything from antique knick-knacks to independently run shops and charming cafes, it’s the perfect place to while away a Sunday afternoon. The corner is also home to a number of bars and restaurants, offering a great evening option if you’re out in the city.

12. The Moor Market


Once described as the Borough Market of the North, the Moor Market in Sheffield is a must-visit for any food lovers. Housed inside a beautifully renovated indoor market, the 90-plus independently run stalls offer a huge selection of locally produced foods. With fishmongers, artisan bakers and family-run butchers all on offer, there’s a real authenticity to the produce on sale. If looking at all the tasty morsels on offer makes you a little peckish, however, there’s a wide selection of street food vendors available – perfect for grabbing a bite to eat.

13. Showroom Cinema


Th front entrance of the Showroom cinema in Sheffield. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.
© Eric Murphy / Alamy Stock Photo
Featuring four cinema screens and a fully stocked bar and housed in a beautiful art deco building, the Showroom in Sheffield is one of the best independent cinemas in the country. First opened in the early 90s, the cinema is located just next to the city’s train station, making it easily accessible for those coming into the city. The cinema itself programmes a wide variety of titles, from the occasional Hollywood blockbuster to arthouse and foreign language offerings. If you’re a true film fan, be sure to visit during the annual Sheffield DocFest, where the Showroom is one of the main host venues.

14. Heeley City Farm


As the name suggests, Heeley City Farm can be found in the Heely district of the city and is home to a wonderful selection of farmyard animals to visit. Run primarily as a community endeavour, the farm has plenty of workshops and volunteering opportunities available to local residents and some of the area’s young people. For visitors, though, the farm is free to enter and is an excellent chance for kids and adults to get up close and personal with some adorable animals.

15. Chatsworth House

Art Gallery, Museum

Chatsworth House & Estate, Derbyshire, England, U.K.. Image shot 05/2015. Exact date unknown.
© Mark Richardson / Alamy Stock Photo
Just a short drive out of the city centre, Chatsworth House has been one of the defining landmarks for the area for generations. The ancestral home of the Cavendish family, the stately house is now operated by the Chatsworth House Trust, a charity that started in the early 80s with the main objective of preserving the house. Outside of its history, however, the 1,800-acre (728ha) estate has plenty on offer, including luxurious rooms, beautiful landscapes and even a working farm.

Additional reporting by Nicholas Grantham

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