The Top Things to Do and See in Nottingham, England

Wollaton Hall is one of the top places to see in Nottingham
Wollaton Hall is one of the top places to see in Nottingham | © Bailey-Cooper Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Kelly Bradshaw

Famous for being the home of Robin Hood, Nottingham boasts a historic castle, an Elizabethan country house and underground caves, as well as a playhouse and contemporary art gallery for culture vultures. Here’s Culture Trip’s pick of the best things to see and do in this UK city.

Nottingham Castle

Described as a magnificent 17th-century ducal mansion, Nottingham Castle sits atop cliffs 40m (130ft) high, offering fabulous views of the city. Originally built in 1067 by William the Conqueror and then rebuilt by a series of other kings, Nottingham Castle is embedded in history. Offering a medieval-to-modern British and European art collection, this ancient building has a lot of culture for visitors who wish to take a step back from the energetic city life.

Flying Horse Walk Shopping Centre

A shopping arcade located at the heart of the city centre, Flying Horse Walk Shopping Centre boasts a series of boutique shops offering an array of well-known designer brands such as Vivienne Westwood. With a collection of clothing, lingerie and jewellery shops to choose from, this shopping arcade has much to offer visitors who are hoping to find hidden gems. Also offering a bridal shop, an art gallery and even a craft beer shop, Flying Horse Walk Shopping Centre provides something to accommodate all visitors’ needs.

Nottingham Cathedral

An outstanding building and a renowned landmark in Nottingham for more than 150 years, Nottingham Cathedral was originally built during the 1800s, giving it historical appeal. A house of prayer and worship, the cathedral is magnificently built and boasts intricate architectural design. Also hosting a range of choirs, concerts and events, this ancient building is the perfect place for visitors to treat as a sanctuary, and as a place of tranquillity.

Rushcliffe Country Park

Providing the perfect escape from the lively city life, Rushcliffe Country Park offers incredible scenery and spectacular views. With over 8km (5mi) of footpaths, grassland, conservation and landscaped areas for visitors, the park is ideal for joggers, dog walkers, cyclists and those who wish to spot a bit of wildlife. Overlooking the lake and providing a variety of attractive seating – such as the wooden bench carved into a swan – the park is an excellent place to sit back and enjoy the fantastic views. There is also a play area for children, making Rushcliffe Country Park the perfect choice for a family day out.

Nottingham Playhouse

Described as a venue for world-class theatre in the heart of Nottingham, Nottingham Playhouse hosts a variety of dance, drama, comedy and music performances. One of the UK’s leading theatres since opening in 1948, this impressive establishment is incredibly popular with tourists. Known as one of the region’s most popular landmarks due to its modern decor and sky mirror, Nottingham Playhouse is the ultimate place to visit for a night of brilliant entertainment.

Adrenalin Jungle

The ultimate activity centre, the Adrenalin Jungle provides an exciting day out for everyone. With an impressive variety of activities such as archery, quad biking, an assault course, the Jungle Olympics and even treasure hunts, the Adrenalin Jungle has much to offer visitors who are hoping to find something a little different. There is a selection of exhilarating challenges for both adults and children, making the Adrenalin Jungle the perfect family activity day.

Nottingham Robin Hood Town Tour

Nottingham Robin Hood Town Tour is an immensely popular tourist attraction. Visitors will gain an outstanding and detailed insight into the life of the legendary Robin Hood as the trail takes visitors on a journey of historical discovery. Offering tourists an impressive array of facts and taking them to places associated with the hooded figure, such as the ancient caves and the historical Lace Market, this tour is an essential activity to participate in during a visit to Nottingham.

City of Caves

A network of caves carved out of sandstone, this historical site is a must-visit destination for any tourist hoping to delve into the fascinating history of Nottingham. The City of Caves gives visitors the opportunity to discover a hidden world beneath the bustling streets of the city, with actor-led tours and the chance to freely wander around the site with a fantastic audio guide. Promising to take tourists on an archaeological journey, the City of Caves is an essential place to visit for those hoping to learn a great deal more about this ancient city.

Nottingham Arboretum

Having been awarded the Green Flag Award, this popular place is Nottingham’s oldest park. Nottingham Arboretum boasts spectacular views and is home to over 800 trees, some of which were originally planted in the 19th century. This historical park has a variety of heritage features, tree trails, orienteering and much more, making it the perfect afternoon out for families or dog walkers seeking a relaxing and welcoming environment.

Wollaton Hall and Park

An Elizabethan country house built during the 1500s, the ancient building of Wollaton Hall is situated on a prominent hill away from the lively city centre. Located by a magnificent park offering a variety of walking trails, a botanical garden and a large variety of flowers, the picturesque Wollaton Hall and Park is perfect for visitors hoping to discover the spectacular beauty and views that Nottingham has to offer. Visitors are sure to be charmed by this wonderful landmark.

Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery

As one of the biggest contemporary art galleries in the UK, it’s no surprise that you’ll find an eclectic selection of works at the Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery. Opened in 2009, the gallery has gone on to host a number of high-profile exhibitions during it’s run, including The Place Is Here, States of America and From Ear to Ear to Eye. The gallery is free to enter and features a lovely cafe, perfect for a spot of lunch.

Broadway Cinema

One of the best independent cinemas in the UK, Broadway Cinema is definitely worth a visit. It features an extensive programme throughout the year, with foreign language, art house and experimental titles all on offer. Outside of its usual screenings, the Broadway runs a number of film-making and educational workshops throughout the year, aimed at the local community.

Attenborough Nature Reserve

Named after a cherished national treasure, David Attenborough, the Attenborough Nature Reserve is a fabulous display of preserved wildlife in the region. Covering just over 142ha (350 acres), the former gravel pit is now home to a huge wealth of local flora and fauna, including kingfishers, sand martins and widgeons. Run by the Nottingham Wildlife Trust, the reserve is key to educating visitors to help assist in the preservation of the region’s natural wonders.

Green’s Windmill

An excellent hands-on experience in Nottingham is Green’s Windmill – a fully functioning mill just outside Nottingham that is open to the public. The mill itself, once the home of famed mathematician George Green, is a great day out for kids and adults alike. With activities including learning the inner workings of how the mill runs, to more science-orientated exhibits in the science centre, there’s no shortage of new things to learn.

Ludorati Café

If you’re looking for something a little more chilled out on your trip to Nottingham, why not pay a visit to Ludorati Café? Boasting over 750 games on “The Wall”, Ludorati is the perfect place to while away a Sunday afternoon with your mates. If you’re looking for something a bit more challenging, however, test yourself in one of the venue’s escape rooms. Be sure to book your table in advance over the weekend as they have a tendency to fill up fast.

Additional reporting by Nicholas Grantham

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