car-freeNottingham guideEast Midlands

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Lacemaking and literature, Robin Hood and craft beer: Nottingham is a many-sided city and a great place to explore. Regular trains arrive from all over the country, including London St Pancras, Liverpool, Lincoln. And skylink buses run from East Midlands Airport every 20 minutes. Nottingham’s prize-winning public transport will take you all over the city and beyond. By bus, tram, bike or simply on foot, you can find unusual museums and galleries, flowering parks and pretty shopping streets, underground caverns and really old taverns.

  • County: East Midlands
  • Great for: animals | art | bird watching | castle | family | good cafés and pubs | museums |
  • Refreshments: pubs, cafes and restaurants
  • Please note: researched/updated November 2023. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch:
Sky mirror -Nottingham car-free guide
  1. 4. Meet George the Gorilla

    Wollaton Park is also home to two fabulous museums – dedicated to industry and nature. Elizabethan Wollaton Hall opened to the public in 1926 and has been home to the county’s largest museum of natural history ever since, alongside some historical rooms and landscape paintings. Follow Good Journey’s directions.

    • The delightfully old-school Natural History museum, inside the hall itself, is free and open every day. It features classic taxidermy, including a room full of colourful birds, and a stuffed great ape known as George the Gorilla who’s been on display since 1879.
    • Among its other popular exhibits are prehistoric fossils and stuffed fish – giving visitors a glimpse of the pike that are swimming under the lilies outside.
    • For more than a century, powered by industrial innovation, Nottingham was the world’s lace capital. The Industrial Museum near the café in the nearby stable courtyard features lacemaking machines, morse code equipment, and a beam engine from Basford Pumping Station.
    • From Wollaton Hall’s main entrance, head diagonally right down the lawn in front of the house and keep on along the oak avenue, following the tarmac path out of the park. Turn right along Wollaton Road, passing the Wheelhouse pub, and hop on Trent Barton’s two bus from the next stop.
  1. 5. Get cultural at Nottingham Contemporary

    Lace-patterned concrete rises over a glass-walled gallery in the heart of town. Nottingham Contemporary is a stylish, spacious place to enjoy changing art exhibitions and a cool café. From major retrospectives to cutting edge design, there’s always something new here.
    • It’s free to visit, very central, and the tram stops outside.
    • As one of the UK’s largest spaces for contemporary art, there’s always a sense of space and light among the thought-provoking sculptures or video installations.
    • The building may be new, but it’s built on the site of an ancient Saxon fort and cave dwellings.

  1. 6. Try out the Nottingham Trail

    Nottingham has so much to offer that we weren’t able to cram it all into one feature. For more city treasures and trips into the countryside, see our last Nottingham feature.
    • This self-guided tour of the city’s major landmarks passes old favourites like the castle (closed for a revamp), the Robin Hood statue, and Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub.
    • Artist Anish Kapoor’s six-metre Sky Mirror outside the Nottingham Playhouse reflects St Barnabus church next door, floating miraculously upside down in a huge pool of stainless steel.
    Lord Byron’s home for a year is round the corner. The poet is one of many locally-connected writers who have made the city a UNESCO-listed literary landmark. In the Lace Market area, on the far side of Old Market Square, are more of Nottingham’s uniquely historic buildings: the National Ice Centre, where Olympic ice dancing champs, Torville and Dean trained in the 1980s. Then there’s the UK’s top gaming museum, The National Videogame Arcade and the site of the Jesse Boot‘s first shop – the origins of Boots the Chemist!

  1. 7. And shop till you drop...

    Souvenir-seekers could follow the Independent Shopping Trail, winding through the city’s unique bars and boutiques.

    • For authentic Nottingham lace, head to the Tourism Centre. As well as lots of handy info, they have hankies and lace-edged napkins made in Wetherall Lace, just outside the city.
    • In the neighbouring Lace Market area, Debbie Bryan‘s gift shop and cafe serves up elegant cream teas and creative crafternoons.
    • On the other side of the iconic Old Market Square in pretty St James’s Street is a fabulous Victorian music hall that is now the Malt Cross bar, cafe, concert venue, and art centre. It serves a great range of ales and a legendary hot chocolate topped with whipped cream and maltesers. You can also book hour-long tours of the caves underneath the building and music hall behind the scenes.
    • Nottingham’s many great pubs include some really ancient ones, like the 12th century tavern Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem near the castle, which once hosted Richard the Lionheart, and Ye Olde Salutation Inn, where both sides in the Civil War had recruiting rooms.
  • Wollaton Hall - Nottingham car-free guide
  • Deer at wollaton park - Nottingham car-free guide
  • Nottingham Contemporary Museum - Nottingham car-free guide
  • Sky mirror -Nottingham car-free guide
  • Malt Cross - Nottingham car-free guide
  • People walking in woods - Nottingham car-free guide