The city of Nottingham is laced in legend as its pavements are steeped in the history of Robin Hood. English folklore’s own bad boy with a heart of gold, Robin Hood is known world over for stealing from the rich to give to the poor. A highly skilled archer and swordsman, the medieval outlaw legend hailing from Sherwood Forest lives on today in books, movies and culture. But nowhere else can the sheer scale of his lore and fame be felt in greater bouts than in the English city of Nottingham.
Nottingham gained international repute during the Industrial Revolution particularly for its lace making, bicycle and tobacco industries. Its origins date back to 600 AD even though it was bequeathed its city charter in 1897 during Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Being a major English tourist hub, it managed to rake in collective tourist revenue of 1.5 billion pounds in 2011. It features in the top ten English cities visited by foreign tourist.
Besides London, Nottingham is said to have the best public transport system in the country. The entire city is well connected by extensive and accessible bus routes and tram limes. You can also catch a cab. The best way to explore the city is on foot. It’s great exercise and many historical sites have superb pedestrian access.
Attractions and Activities
First off, you must pay a visit to Nottingham Castle, where the Sheriff of Nottingham plotted, schemed and failed to deter Robin Hood. The castle today has been revamped showcasing a museum with collections of silver, glass, trinkets, visual arts, paintings speckled with the archaeology and history of the city. If all of this fails to charm you, remember that you are in the home of the fabled Sheriff of Nottingham.
Travel beneath the city to see its caved alter ego. You can feel absolutely safe in the depths of the authentic Anglo-Saxon tunnels, which were used to take refuge from the world that saw the sun in times of bomb blasts and other emergencies.
Step into the home of the legendary Robin Hood. Sherwood Forest was once a royal hunting venue but has today been protected owing to its ecological importance. As you look through the sea of massive oak trees, each older than the next, don’t forget to spot Major Oak, a 900 year old tree that was believed to serve as a hollow hideout for Robin Hood and his men. It was voted Britain’s favourite tree in 2002.
Take a Nottingham ghost tour to the oldest parts of the city. Try not to look over your shoulder when hearing tales of executions and death. There’s also a graveyard walk involved. For a real case of the spooks, visit the Galleries of Justice for a spine chilling experience. With spooky artifacts relating to crime, punishment and unsolved mysteries, be wary of creepy sounds, smells, sensations and apparitions.
If you’re quite the literature aficionado, make sure you visit Nottingham Castle in August for the Shakespeare festival. Experience an evening with Shakespeare and watch some of the finest Shakespearean actors of the stage transport you into Elizabethan England. There’s sure to be live music, action, sword fights, comedy and tragedy.
You could also pay a visit to Lord Byron’s home at Newstead Abbey. You can actually enter his home and feast your eyes on his quarters, his furniture, his belongings and correspondence.
Take time to visit the charming Wollaton Hall with its gardens and deer park. Catch a Nottingham Forest Football Game. Watch a performance at the Lace Market Theatre. Feed your soul at St. Mary’s Church. Play a hand of Poker at Dusk Till Dawn. Check out the Ruddington Framework Knitter’s Museum.
Go ice-skating at the National Ice Centre and try and catch the Nottingham Panthers playing hockey there. Watch a bit of cricket at Trent Bridge, an international cricket ground. Lead up to Wimbledon with the Nottingham Open at the Nottingham Tennis Centre. There are plenty of places to try your hand at clay shooting, climbing, playing pool and snooker and cycling.
Accommodation and Dining
Accommodation in Nottingham is available for all budgets. For a budget holiday, Igloo Hostel, Midtown Hostel and Ibis Nottingham are good options. Days Hotel, Jury’s Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Rutland Square Hotel and SACO Apartments cater to a moderate budget. If you wish to splurge, Hart’s Hotel, Dave Hotel, Britannia Hotel, Lace Market Hotel and Village Nottingham are excellent options.
For a budget meal, head to Gusto for simple Italian food, Wagamama for a bit of Japanese style noodles and rice, The Kean’s Head for simple British Pub food, the Alley Café for the vegan tongue and Desi Downtown. For a moderate budget, there are many options too. French Living offers Bistro style French cuisine. Las Iguanas is an excellent Brazilian option. Chai Yo offers Thai Food. Minton’s Tearoom maintains that British tea salon atmosphere with cakes, meals and drinks. The Ferry Inn is one of the oldest restaurants in the city and offers local specialties. For the large walletted, Hart’s Restaurant, World Service and Restaurant Sat Bains are excellent options.