Your guide to a weekend in the action-packed heart of the country
If you love beer and cider then the home of Robin Hood will be a welcome place for you to visit in October, when the annual Robin Hood Beer and Cider Festival brings more than 1,000 beers and 200 ciders to Nottingham Castle.
The city at a glance:
- Soak up some shire history or give yourself the creeps with visits to the Galleries of Justice and City of Caves
- For a change of pace, explore Sherwood Forest and engage in some countryside pursuits
- Survey everything the city has to offer from the top of Nottingham Castle
- Sup ale in some of the most historic pubs in the country
- Enjoy evening drinks and mingle with the locals on trendy Carlton Street
Lace Market and Hockley Village – the artsy area buzzing with independent spirit
The Lace Market gets its name from the industry that kept the area occupied in days gone by. It’s one of the more artistic spots of the city centre and home to many independent shops, restaurants and bars to people entertained day and night. There’s a happy mix of chain bars and restaurants with a few quirkier places thrown in the mix too. Some of the best curry houses can be found here and in the evening it is buzzing with students, particularly down trendy Carlton Street.
Canning Circus – hipster heaven
As you head out towards the student area of Lenton, there are some spots en route that are certainly worth closer inspection. Not quite as scenic as other parts of the city, but with plenty of eating and drinking hotspots within 50m of each other, it is certainly convenient. A popular place to start a night out out before converging on Market Bar.
Sherwood Forest – back to nature for some legendary tales
About 40 minutes drive from Nottingham you’ll find Sherwood Forest, famed for its folklore and tales of Robin Hood. It’s also perfect spot for getting in touch with nature, while there are plenty of outdoor pursuits to enjoy.
The Canal Front – the perfect spot for scenic drinking
The Canal Front is a great place to watch the world go by on a sunny day. It’s home to some great real ale pubs, including the Canalhouse and Fellows, Morton & Clayton, plus a nice selection of bars and late night entertainment venues. Within easy reach of the city centre, located not far from the Broadmarsh shopping centre.
Victoria Street and The Cornerhouse – the entertainment district
The Cornerhouse contains several bars and restaurants, a cinema and a comedy club so is a popular one-stop shop for weekend visitors. Plenty of other nightlife venues are within easy reach too, including indie kid favourites Rock City and the Rescue Rooms.
Best bars in Nottingham:
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, Castle Boulevard
This quintessential English boozer claims to be the oldest pub in the country and who are we to argue? The place is cosy, nestled into the cliff underneath the castle, and the beer is plentiful. Thanks to its position next to the castle walls this quaint venue welcomes a mix of locals, students and tourists all wanting to drink and soak up the atmosphere. Good local ales at reasonable prices are on offer, while ale tasters are available giving you three tipples to try if you can’t make your mind up.. The hearty food isn’t bad either.
Ye Olde Salutation Inn, Maid Marian Way
Not quite as old as Ye Olde Trip but historic nonetheless, there’s a great range of beers here and a decent pub menu. The place is popular with bikers and has regular live music nights.
The Victoria, Dovecote Lane
A short bus ride into Beeston on the outskirts of Nottingham you’ll find The Victoria, which boasts a great selection of beer, ales and ciders. If your mobile is usually surgically attached to your hand you may want to be aware that they operate a no phone rule to protect the atmosphere.
Langtry’s, South Sherwood Street
Right across the road from the Theatre Royal and Concert Hall you’ll find this warm and cosy establishment that’s often heralded as a ‘proper’ pub. With a typical pub menu, reasonable prices and a good range of ale, it’s a safe bet for those who like their beer.
Kean’s Head, St Mary’s Gate
Conveniently situated near the Galleries of Justice, this pub serves a good range of ales, European beers and pub grub.
Lincolnshire Poacher, Mansfield Road
This pleasant pub looks modest from the outside but is well worth a visit. It is split over two levels with a small patio area and enjoys a reputation for serving up good food alongside a cracking selection of cider, real ales and wine.
The Cross Keys, Byard Lane
People come as much for the food as they do for the ale but both are excellent, the service is good and the number of regulars a testament to the good atmosphere.
Canalhouse, Canal Street
A very unique building in a great location combined with an impressive real ale and international beer selection makes Canalhouse a popular venue. The canal actually extends inside the venue, which makes it an excellent spot for watching the water.
The Roebuck Inn, St James Street
This Wetherspoons is a bit of a hidden gem. You’ll find it down a side street in an attractive building and offering the usual vast selection of reasonably priced ales.
The Malt Cross, St James Street
This is a pub with plenty of character. Built inside an old music hall, The Malt Cross is a café/pub combo, which results in a great atmosphere complemented by a good ale selection. You’ll find some pretty good cakes here too.
Best clubs in Nottingham:
Rock City, Talbot Street
The reputation of this huge club venue usually precedes it. Big names from all genres play here when they visit the city and if you’re not lucky enough to catch a gig, you could always enjoy some reasonably priced drinks at one of the busy club nights. Rock and metal are the club’s staples, with a good chunk of classic indie thrown in too, but with good number of rooms, each club night usually offers a few musical choices.
Market Bar, Goosegate
In the heart of Hockley this relatively small bar is always busy, so expect to queue. Mostly frequented by students during the week the crowd is more mixed at weekends and it’s open late.
Oceana, Lower Parliament Street
You may well know what to expect from an Oceana nightclub – cheesy pop, themed rooms and in the case of this particular venue, a large club you need to be careful not to get lost in. Students descend here on Mondays and Tuesdays but at the weekend this is a top spot for stags and hens.
Stealth and Rescue Rooms, Goldsmith Street
These two clubs sit next to each other but have a somewhat different vibe. In the Rescue Rooms you’ll find food, acoustic nights, indie gigs and club nights and next door is for serious dance enthusiasts. Neither venue is particularly large but they do attract big names to play both in terms of bands and DJs – and when they open the doors between the two you can enjoy a night to suit everyone’s tastes.
Bodega Social, Belham Street
A little bit quirky and a lot of fun, Bodega Social is a club and bar with a pretty beer garden. It hosts gigs and club nights that span reggae to soul and include plenty of indie and electro in between.
Hidden behind an unassuming door, this small bar is a great place to spend a night if you don’t want a mass crowd. Saturdays throw up some of the best deals with 2-4-1 cocktails throughout the night. Soft blue lighting and comfy seating often means you won’t leave for a long time – but luckily it doesn’t close until 3am.
Food: eat like a local:
Whether you’re aim is to eat some of the best food you’ve ever tasted or just to heartily line your stomach, you’ll find a fantastic range of eateries eager to welcome you through the doors, including some unusual and fun independent cafes and restaurant bars.
If filling your stomach is your aim, you should try Warsaw Diner, this place is situated in the Canning Circus area and offers hearty sized portions in a brilliant American diner themed restaurant.
For evening dining, Iberico is a tapas restaurant that’s consistently named among the best places to dine in Nottingham, while Harts is a hotel with a cracking fine dining menu.
For a view with your meal, try the Riverbank Bar and Kitchen on the outskirts of the city or Saltwater at the top of The Cornerhouse.
For sheer quantity of food and value, try all you can eat buffets May Sum or Peachy Keens, the former serves all kinds of Asian food whereas the second seems to know no international boundaries.
In need of an emergency fry up? Try the Full Monty at the Wollaton on Wollaton Road, which sources ingredients locally.
Nottingham centre is fairly manageable to walk. However, you should definitely jump on one of the trams throughout the city. It’s a quick and easy way to get to the centre where many of the bars and clubs operate. Nottingham train station is a convenient 10 minute walk from the Lace Market.
Bus services are great during the day but not nearly as popular in the evening with fewer stops, so you might want to take a taxi after dark.