What to do in Nottingham in a day

The Council House & Market Square with a recent resident!
The Council House & Market Square with a recent resident!

I was inspired to write this hub after an Australian woman that I 'met' in an online forum said that she would be visiting the UK later this year and would have just one day in the beautiful city of Nottingham - could I suggest some sights for her to see? Her particular interest was architecture so I told her about some of the fine buildings in the city including the wonderful examples by the Victorian artist Watson Fothergill.

It started me thinking though - what if someone had just one day to spend in Nottingham and wanted to experience the best that the city has to offer in such a limited time, what should they concentrate on?

So here are a selection of some of the main sites that can be easily seen in a day. The tour starts and ends at the heart of the city in the Old Market Square and should whet your appetite to explore more that this compact and vibrant city has to offer.

(If you scroll down the page there's a handy map with markers showing the main places mentioned).

'Boys will be boys' - Playing in the water feature of the Market Square
'Boys will be boys' - Playing in the water feature of the Market Square
Exchange Arcade at Christmas
Exchange Arcade at Christmas
The Wheel lighting up the Square!
The Wheel lighting up the Square!

Starting from the Market Square

OK - so you have just one day to spend in Nottingham and you want to get a flavour of the city - maybe with a view to coming back one day and explore it in more depth - where to start?

The beauty of Nottingham is that it's a relatively small city that's easy to get around, whether by walking, or hopping on the buses that link the two main shopping centres - the Victoria Centre and the Broadmarsh Centre - that are located at opposite ends of the city. The logical place to start though would be in the centre, specifically in the Old Market Square.

This open square is the largest such in the country at 22,000 sq m and has for hundreds of years been considered the heart of the city. Once the site of the daily market and the famous Goose Fair until both were moved to other locations, it is still used for concerts, exhibitions and events such as craft markets, and the lovely traditional German Christmas market.

In spring the Nottingham wheel is usually in place offering wonderful bird's-eye views of the city and in the summer the council turn the square into a 'seaside' playground complete with a sandy 'beach', deckchairs & fairground rides.

The square has recently been refurbished with a new water feature at the top end - a magnet for children in sunny weather! The Council House at the other end is guarded by a pair of magnificent art-deco Lions - a traditional place for the people of Nottingham to meet.

Under the Council House is Exchange Arcade, with its lovely glass roof, housing boutiques such as Warehouse, Karen Millen, Kookai & Kaliko, and also the Tourist Information Centre - a good place to pick up a map to guide you for the rest of the day.

Statue of Robin Hood
Statue of Robin Hood

Nottingham Castle and the surrounding area

Now, armed with your map, and with your back to the Council House, head west, keeping the fountains on your right hand side and go up Friar Lane, crossing the dual carriageway of Maid Marian Way about half way up until you arrive at the gateway to the castle.

The present castle building is a 17th century mansion which was built on the site of the original medieval castle (demolished after the execution of Charles 1). It commands an elevated position with spectacular views across the city and surrounding countryside. It houses an excellent museum and art gallery with a collection of Nottinghamshire archaeological and historical artefacts, silver, glassware, decorative items and paintings. The galleries showcase works from local, national and international artists. It's also a great place for children with interactive displays and activities and a medieval themed playground in the grounds with a covered picnic area.

There is an admission charge - with concessions and family tickets available - which also includes entrance to the Museum of Nottingham Life, housed in the Brewhouse Yard at the foot of the castle - a fascinating museum depicting the social history of Nottingham over the past 300 years. These are both worth a visit if you have the time - more information can be found here.

Also in this area is the much photographed statue of Robin Hood and Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem - one of the three contenders for 'oldest pub in England' situated in Nottingham (the others being The Bell in the Market Square and The Salutation on Maid Marian Way.


A pleasant place for a lunch stop
A pleasant place for a lunch stop
A tranquil scene in the heart of the city
A tranquil scene in the heart of the city
How about a canal-side stroll to walk off lunch?
How about a canal-side stroll to walk off lunch?

The canal and waterfront area

A short walk from the Brewhouse Yard, across Castle Boulevard, will take you to the recently refurbished waterfront area. This contains the amazing architecture of the Inland Revenue building and many pubs & restaurants lining the waterside - a good place for a lunch stop maybe?

Interesting pubs include the Canal House Bar & Restaurant which is said to be the only pub in Britain with a canal running inside it - there are often a couple of barges moored inside - and Fellows Morton and Clayton, a real ale pub which brews its beer on the premises.

Weekday Cross with the Nottingam Contemporary art gallery behind
Weekday Cross with the Nottingam Contemporary art gallery behind
The old Unitarian Chapel - now a 'Pitcher & Piano' pub
The old Unitarian Chapel - now a 'Pitcher & Piano' pub
The medieval church of St Mary's
The medieval church of St Mary's
Typical architecture of the Lace Market
Typical architecture of the Lace Market

The Lacemarket

After a refreshing lunch, cross Canal Street and head up Middle Hill until you reach Weekday Cross - the site of a medieval market. If you turn right here, you will find yourself in the Lace Market area.

The Lace Market got its name in the 18th century when it became the centre of the lace industry with over 130 factories being based in the many architecturally magnificent buildings to be fond here.

It's now a trendy area with many pubs, clubs and fine restaurants tucked away in the cobbled streets and is also the site of Nottingham's newest art gallery - the Nottingham Contemporary which opened in 2009 with a David Hockney exhibition.

There is also the Galleries of Justice Museum housed in the old courthouse and gaol, devoted to the history of crime & punishment in an entertaining way!


Houndsgate - one of Nottingham's main shopping streets
Houndsgate - one of Nottingham's main shopping streets
Look for the 'hound' at the bottom of a lamp post on Houndsgate!
Look for the 'hound' at the bottom of a lamp post on Houndsgate!
One of the magnificent Watson Fothergill buildings to be found in the city
One of the magnificent Watson Fothergill buildings to be found in the city
A tribute to the famous Brian Clough
A tribute to the famous Brian Clough

Back to the Square

From the Lace Market there are several ways to walk back to the Square. If you head back to Weekday Cross you can walk down Middle Pavement and either turn right along Bridlesmith Gate which has some interesting independent and designer shops or go straight down Low Pavement and turn right at Marks and Spencer onto Houndsgate heading uphill back to the Square.

There's also the option of walking along Fletcher Gate and turning left down Bottle Lane or The Poultry - whichever way you wander, there are many quirky and interesting shops and alleyways tucked away to be discovered!

Photos

Please note that all of the photographs in this hub are my own and may not be copied, used or reproduced without asking and receiving my permission.

A selection of my images are available to buy as cards and prints at my web page on redbubble (where I am known as cassiegirl)  http://www.redbubble.com/people/cassiegirl

show route and directions
A markerold market square -
Old Market Square, Nottingham, Derbyshire, Nottingham NG1 2DT, UK
[get directions]

This is the location for the start and end of the tour.

B markernottingham castle -
Nottingham Castle, Castle Pl, Nottingham NG1 6EJ, UK
[get directions]

The location of the Castle, Brewhouse Yard museum and Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem inn.

C markercanal street nottingham -
Canal St, Nottingham NG80, UK
[get directions]

Location of the waterfront area

D markerweekday cross -
Weekday Cross, Nottingham NG1 2, UK
[get directions]

The starting point to explore the lace market area.

17 comments

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 6 years ago from The English Midlands

It's amazing just how much some places have to offer ~ when we really look! :)


Suki C profile image

Suki C 6 years ago from Andalucia, Spain Author

Hi Trish - yes, there's a lot that we take for granted on our own doorsteps!!!!


Geoff 6 years ago

I think the same, its such an interesting city we take for granted cause we live here. Great work.


Hannah 6 years ago

I thought this was very well written and informative and have passed to a friend who has a Spanish visitor coming to stay


Paula Walker 6 years ago

An excellent portryal of a wonderful and vibrant city. Love the photos and the ideas of how to spend a day in Nottingham. Helps me realise how lucky we are to live here.


Suki C profile image

Suki C 6 years ago from Andalucia, Spain Author

Geoff - I think it's the same wherever we live - I'm now only an hour and a half from Granada & ashamed to admit I've not yet visited the Alhambra!

Thanks Hannah - hope they enjoy their visit :)

Paula - thanks, I appreciate it more now that I'm living in Spain!!!!


Angela J 6 years ago

Very interesting info here. I hope to visit Nottingham one day soon and will try to follow your 'tour'

Can you recommend any good but inexpensive places to stay?


Rudra profile image

Rudra 6 years ago

Very nice indeed, an ancient city.


Suki C profile image

Suki C 6 years ago from Andalucia, Spain Author

Angela - there are budget hotels such as travelodge and premier inn in the city centre. If you want somewhere a little more special I'd suggest that you contact the Nottingham Tourist Information Centre http://www.visitnottingham.com/exec/102603/19109/P... as I wouldn't like to recommend somewhere that I haven't actually stayed in :)

Thank you Rudra - it is an old city but there are also many up-to-date attractions to see!


lizzie 5 years ago

Thank you Suki for sending me this link on FT. Its very interesting and I love your photos. You have really thought it all out so that your words hold our interest. Well done you xx


Suki C profile image

Suki C 5 years ago from Andalucia, Spain Author

Thank you for your comment Lizzie - I hope that you get to visit Nottingham one day and maybe can use this guide as a starting point :)


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 5 years ago from Great Britain

l´ve never been to Nottingham, and now that l´m living back in Britain(groan.. Not my choice) it´s good to know that l can visit cities like Nottingham, with some ideaof where l´m going . Thanks for this.


Sylvia 4 years ago

This is so well put together - great photos and descriptions.

It's good for Nottingham residents like me to be reminded now and then of the delights of our city!


Suki C profile image

Suki C 4 years ago from Andalucia, Spain Author

Thank you Sylvia - I'm so glad that you enjoyed it. We hear too many negatives these days - I thought it would be good to show the positive side for a change!


Craig howitt 4 years ago

Great stuff barbara, very informative even for myself a nottingham resident for 38 years...

Very well written with great photos, well done you, I'm sure this will be of great help to anyone visiting nottingham...!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, I must admit that I have never visited yet, I didn't realise there was so much to see, thanks again for such a great tour! cheers nell


Suki C profile image

Suki C 4 years ago from Andalucia, Spain Author

@ Craig - thanks and glad that you liked it :)

@ Nell - it's a lovely city and this is just a small part of things to see there, plus there's also lovely countryside surrounding it :)

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