Things to do in Nottingham: 10 things for your itinerary

What comes to mind when you think of Nottingham? Robin Hood? The Nottingham University? Or, perhaps, nothing at all.

Regardless of your familiarity with Nottingham, I can promise that it makes a fantastic UK break. There are plenty of things to do in Nottingham, including visiting the city’s castle, go-karting, and getting up close to deer.

Here’s a guide to the ten best things to do in Nottingham – perfect for your upcoming itinerary.

Explore Nottingham Castle

Nottingham Castle is one of the best things to do in Nottingham. This image shows a castle entrance.
A castle via Unsplash.

If you’re visiting Nottingham, paying a visit to Nottingham Castle is an absolute must.

The castle was built in 1068 under the orders of William the Conqueror. However, Nottingham Castle has seen many a coup and rebellion since then. The most famous are the legends of Robin Hood, the thief who hated the Sheriff of Nottingham and stole from the rich to give to the poor.

Visitors to Nottingham Castle can discover over 1000 years of political drama and influential historical events. Whether you are a fan of history, literature, or just sightseeing, the castle is a great way to spend a day.

I’ve compiled the 2022 entrance rates into the table below.

 AdultChild 5-17SeniorStudent
Ticket Price (£)139.51212

Take a scenic steam train ride

This image shows a steam train in a wooded area.
A train via Unsplash.

To explore the surrounding countryside in style, hop on a steam train at the Nottingham Heritage Railway.

You’ll board one of the preserved locomotives and make the journey from Nottingham to Loughborough. And, when you aren’t on board, you’ll have miniature and model railways to discover, plus a railway workshop to explore.

Riding the Nottingham Heritage Railway is an ideal rainy or cold day activity. If you want to explore the Nottingham countryside while staying warm and dry, note this down.

**The Nottingham Heritage Railway is currently under discussion regarding its future and may not be open to visitors. I suggest we keep our fingers crossed! Just check before visiting to avoid disappointment**

Go go-karting

Go-karting is one of the most fun things to do in Nottingham. This image shows a go-karter racing.
Go-karting via Unsplash.

Whether you are eight, eighteen, or eighty, go-karting is one of the most fun things to do in Nottingham.

Go Karting Nottingham is located in Netherfield, just outside the city centre and well-connected by public transport. Their website advertises ‘hair-raising hairpins and 40mph straights’ – so come prepared for an exhilarating day out.

You can book for a group of 8+, attend as an individual or small group, or race as a family. These are the 2022 rates per session:

 IndividualsSmall GroupsLarge Groups 8+NHS & ForcesStudent
Entry Tickets per person (£)3333432626

National Justice Museum

This image shows a blinded folded classical figure of Justice holding her weighing scales.
Justice via Unsplash.

Politically minded? The National Justice Museum is full of comical actors, interactive displays, and inspiring exhibitions about activism.

As of February 2022, the Young People and Protest exhibition is particularly popular. If you are a passionate young person yourself or travelling with a politically enthusiastic son or daughter, make sure to visit this exhibition! It is completely free and covers young people’s activism from the Vietnam War to the recent Black Lives Matter protests.

Exhibitions, events, and workshops change frequently, so check the website for ‘what’s on’ to keep updated before your visit.

Adult entrance costs £10.95, while students and over 60s receive £9.95. If you are visiting as a family, consider the £32.50 ticket, which should save you some money.

Wander the Attenborough Nature Reserve

Visiting the Attenborough Wildlife Reserve is one of the best things to do in Nottingham. This image shows a lake surrounded by woodland and plant life.
A lake via Unsplash.

Who wouldn’t want to visit a nature reserve opened by Sir David Attenborough himself? The site is home to over 160 bird species, including Kingfishers, with the additional chance of seeing bitterns and otters.

The reserve covers an impressive 224 hectares, with plenty of walking trails and picnic tables. If you want a taste of the country and escape from city life, the Attenborough Nature Reserve is perfect. Just make sure the weather forecast is on your side! There isn’t much shelter, so it’s best to coincide a visit with a sunny day.

While all-day parking costs £3, the entrance to the reserve is free. Bonus.

Go skating at the National Ice Centre

Ice skating is one of the most fun things to do in Nottingham. This image shows a pair of white ice skating boots.
Ice skating boots via Unsplash.

Switch your walking boots for ice skating shoes.

The National Ice Centre is centrally located and a short walk from the National Justice Museum and Old Market Square. The sessions vary with different slots for ages and abilities, so check the timetable before booking. The last thing you want is to end up surrounded by toddlers and penguins or professional skaters!

There is a photo booth to snap photos and ice equipment to rent (just in case those penguins tempt you). I’ve attached the National Ice Centre’s 2022 rates below:

 Adults 16+Juniors (5-15)Under 5sStudentsSeniors (60+)Family of 3Family of 4Family of 5Group of 10+
Price (£)9.508.50Free5.504.0024.0032.0040.005.00 per person

Head underground in the City of Caves

This image shows a dimly lit cave walkway.
A cave via Unsplash.

Coined the ‘UK’s largest network of caves’, the City of Caves contains over 800 caves to explore beneath Nottingham’s streets. If you’re looking to escape the weather or experience a unique underground tourist attraction, the City of Caves is for you.

The caves have served diverse purposes over the past centuries, including medieval tanneries and air raid shelters during WW2. You can walk through the caves and explore various exhibitions and displays en-route. In fact, picture Paris’ Catacombs minus the skulls.

I’ve included the City of Caves 2022 rates below:

 AdultUnder 18sUnder 5sStudentsOver 60sFamily Ticket
Ticket Price (£)8.757.65Free7.657.9526.95

Undergo the Robin Hood Experience

The Robin Hood Experience is one of the most interesting and lighthearted things to do in Nottingham. This image shows a statue of Robin Hood.
Robin Hood statue via Unsplash.

Who hasn’t heard of Robin Hood? The loveable outlaw is a favourite among childhood bedtime stories and adult television dramas. For centuries, the tales of rebellion and charitable robberies have captured England’s heart.

The Robin Hood Experience has a family focus but is suitable for all visitors. On a museum on Friar Lane, you can spot costumes and artifacts – immersing yourself in what would have been Robin Hood’s reality. There are actors to guide you along the way, too, including the much-loved character Little John and the evil Sheriff of Nottingham.

If you want a light-hearted, short experience, the Robin Hood Experience does exactly what it says it will. Entrance costs £7.95 per adult and £5.95 per child, although it may have been updated since, so check the website before visiting.

Spot the deer at Wollaton Hall

Spotting deer is one of the best wildlife related things to do in Nottingham. This image shows a deer, looking towards the camera.
A deer via Unsplash.

If you fancy another escape to nature, head to Wollaton Hall. The Hall is a 16th-century mansion with a natural history museum on-site and extensive grounds.

On these grounds, deer roam freely and are extremely accustomed to visitors with cameras! While I don’t advise you to try to touch them, you should snap a good photo or two. Wollaton Hall was used as a filming location for The Dark Knight, so you might want to save some camera charge for the mansion itself as well.

I’ve included the 2022 entrance rates in the table below:

 AdultConcessionFamilyUnder 3sCarer
Ticket Price (£)13.008.7534.00FreeFree

Take an afternoon trip to Sherwood Forest

This image shows a sign for the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest.
Sherwood Forest via Unsplash.

The legendary Sherwood Forest was the heart of rebellious action. It was here, in the forest, that Robin Hood and his men lived while outlawed by the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Nowadays, you can explore the forest on foot, by bike, or on horseback. Entrance is free, although you’ll likely have to pay for parking. Sherwood Forest is an approximate 50-minute drive from Nottingham or an hour and 50 minutes by bus. So, if you have a car, I’d recommend driving to maximise your time in the forest.

What are the best things to do in Nottingham for couples?

A picnic by the deer in Wollaton House is one of the most romantic things to do in Nottingham, while the City of Caves is also fun to explore as a couple.

What are the best free things to do in Nottingham?

The Attenborough Nature Reserve and Sherwood Forest are the best free things to do in Nottingham.

What are the best things to do in Nottingham city centre?

Nottingham Castle and the National Justice Museum are the best things to do in Nottingham city centre.

What are the best things to do in Nottingham for students?

Nottingham Castle and the National Ice Centre are the best things to do in Nottingham for students (and much cheaper with concession tickets).

What are the best indoor activities in Nottingham?

The City of Caves and the Nottingham Castle are the best indoor activities in Nottingham.

Nottingham is full of great things to do and see. Have I missed out one of your favourites? Drop any extra suggestions below.

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