History, heritage, culture and nature abound in equal parts in Nottingham, the vibrant university town in England's East Midlands region. While many visitors tend to use Nottingham as a base to explore Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood's legendary stomping ground, the city itself should most definitely not be overlooked. From the thousand-year-old Nottingham Castle and the historic Old Lace Market to nature reserves, museums and fantastic theatres, Nottingham is more than just a place of storybook legend. If you're looking for day or weekend trip ideas from London, we highly recommend considering Nottingham as an option!
The 450-acre woodland where Robin Hood once lived is an easy hour's drive north of the city along the A614. According to the official website, this impressive park boasts 900 veteran oak trees including one called The Major Oak, which was named England's Tree of the Year in 2014 (yep, that's a thing). But you don't have to be a tree hugger to enjoy a trip to this vast expanse of lush greenery - far from it. Children will love running along the well-marked wooded paths and playing hide-and-seek among the trees, and birdwatchers can spot breeds like nuthatches, jays and woodpeckers. There are also opportunities to go zip-lining, quad biking, paint-balling and cycling, as well as a calendar of family-friendly events year-round (including the annual Robin Hood Festival in August).
Nottingham is fascinating enough from the outside, but dig a little deeper and you'll find even more drama and intrigue. Beneath the city, there's a whole labyrinth of caves and tunnels that were carved out of sandstone and date back to medieval times. It may sound spooky, but this quirky attraction is a super interesting insight into what life was like a thousand years ago. Expect to see old dwellings, World War II air raid shelters and a medieval tannery. Entry is in the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre, and you can save money by purchasing a joint ticket that includes a guided cave tour and a ticket to the National Justice System. Good to know: Unfortunately the caves aren't amenable to wheelchair users or anyone with mobility issues.
One fun way to get to grips with Nottingham's past is by going on a historic pub crawl. According to locals, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem is the oldest inn in England, originally opening its doors back in 1189. It's carved out of sandstone and with its wonky interior and dated decor, it's certainly got the haunted house feel down. But if you're not convinced, there are two more pubs in the city that also claim to be the oldest in the country - Ye Olde Salutation Inn and the Bell Inn. We'll let you decide.