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The 8 best things to do in Nottingham

From cutting-edge theatre to making feline friends over coffee, here are the best things to do in Nottingham

Written by
Rosemary Waugh
Kayleigh Watson

The city of Nottingham is probably best known for its links to the legend of Robin Hood and his merry men, but did you know it also happens to be the birthplace of Ibuprofen, traffic lights and HP sauce? 

Whether or not any of those topics interest you, the city is well worth a visit. And whether you’re a cash-strapped fresher at one of Nottingham’s two universities or a tourist looking to throw about some dollar, there’s plenty of culture to take in and loads of great food to be found too. 

Ready to get out and explore? From cutting-edge theatre to making feline friends over coffee, these are the best things to do in Nottingham according to us.

Top things to do in Nottingham

What is it? An underground network of 500 sandstone caves concealed under the streets of Nottingham.

Why go? Get away from the bustle of the city centre and immerse yourself in a vast network of caves owned by the National Justice Museum. Visitors can take a tour and learn about their fascinating history. At one point they served as a medieval tannery and also as an air raid shelter during WWII. 

What is it? A contemporary art gallery in the city’s Lace Market area where you can browse exhibitions or watch films.

Why go? The Nottingham Contemporary opened in 2009 and is one of those venues people should visit for the building alone. Built on a very, very old site, building’s exterior decorated in a traditional Nottingham lace pattern. Inside, the same attention to detail remains, with a changing programme of exhibitions, plus screenings of classic and art house films.


What is it? Local theatre with a strong national reputation programming and producing quality shows.

Why go? If you’ve lived in Nottingham any time at all, but have not checked out the excellent venue right on your doorstep, then now is your chance. The Playhouse produces a brilliant range of new and classic plays and musicals, plus comedy, spoken word poetry, dance and family shows.

What is it? Independent cinema in Hockley that’s loved by the locals and has been recognised as one of the best cinemas in the world.

Why go? Adding a cinema trip into your sightseeing holiday might sound counterproductive, but Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema is such a  gem of a venue you’d be genuinely sorry to miss it. Book tickets and arrive early for a stone-baked pizza and a beer in their café-bar.


What is it? A giant Scalextric track in the backroom of a pub that you can book in advance for parties of any kind. Making car noises throughout the evening is almost certainly compulsory.

Why go? Your head tells you to book somewhere ‘classy’ for cocktails, but your heart says: no, I’d rather race a very small car around a huge Scalextric track. Book into The Racing Room at The Dragon and have a ridiculous amount of fun competing with your mates. You can also book in advance to get food prepared for the hungry racers.

What is it? A cat café where you can get your paws on a slice of purr-fect cake while thinking up better puns than that one.

Why go? If you like your cappuccino served with a kitten on the side, then a trip to Nottingham’s Kitty Café should be on your list. Along with giving you the chance to get stroking some lovely kitties, they also do a cat-themed mocktail menu. Anyone for another Catty McCatface?


What is it? A beautiful area of countryside where you can head out on a brisk walk and look out for birds.

Why go? You might think bird watching sounds like a bit of rubbish way to pass the weekend, but like the programmes made by David Attenborough himself, the nature reserve sharing his name (but actually named after the local area) is fascinating. Lock yourself away in one of the hides, or get up close feeding wildlife. Either way, you’ll leave feeling recharged and better equipped to deal with any office-based stress.

What is it? A board game and escape room café that caters to the needs of serious gamers and the more casual Cluedo fan.

Why go? You’ve already been to The Racing Room and, frankly, there’s unfinished business between you and the people you went with. So what do you do? Shake hands and make nice? Or book into the Ludorati and feed the dragon of competitive fury. Ludorati takes games seriously and, most likely, so will you after a trip here.

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