Things to do in Lincoln – United Kingdom

Lincoln is famous for its cathedral and castle – affording an amazing skyline at sunset every evening – but there is so much more to see and do here.

I only discovered all these things myself when I moved here several years ago – and am still finding out more as I weave my way through the warren of streets leading from the riverside restaurants up to and around the historic medieval centre.

With all the trappings of a modern city where you would expect them – Lincoln still has many unexpected surprises at every turn – keeping even us regulars on our toes.

Must Do:

You must visit the castle. Set atop a defensive limestone ridge – this amazing structure with a complete 12th century walled bailey, two towers, two gates, gaol, chapel and (more recent) courthouse has some really informative audio trails and great views of the city and away over the wolds. Entry into the grounds themselves is free, so even if you only pop in for a peek – it would be worth it for sure just to see the sheer scale of the 6 acre site.

The walk up to the castle; the cobbled entry route; and the cathedral opposite set the scene too – taking you back in time.  William the Conqueror made sure that this place became a powerful seat of power within 2 years of his victory battle. A wise man indeed.

The second thing to do would be to visit the Cathedral – such a powerful structure visible for miles across the Lincolnshire countryside – and so beautiful.

What do you like best about your city?

What I like best is the sheer volume of different routes you can take between any two places. The city was originally built in a strip from the river to the castle – within the old Roman walls. But because it is up a hill, there are deviations and short cuts all over the place – not only make this easier on the people who lived there – but to avoid the main routes if you had something to hide!

Rich in alleyways, twittens and footpaths, a walk in this city is a constantly changing view depending on whether you take a left or a right at any given point. And you are never far from a possible diversion! Peek around a corner and you could see a flint building, a different view, a new cafe, shop or bar, or just meet some new people.

Best Walk in Lincoln:

This has got to be ‘Up Steep Hill’.

It really is a massively steep hill – but so steep you need to pretend you are looking in all the tiny boutique shop windows to catch your breath. And going back down isn’t much easier either! 

It really is a beautiful historic cobbled street though – so be sure to stop even if you aren’t out of breath.

Best Restaurants in Lincoln:

Well, there are two places depending on your taste in locations. There are plenty of large restaurants on Brayford Quay – surrounded by the arts and culture and close to the university. Outdoor seating is a must and the ambiance right in the heart of the busy waterfront is amazing even if the food is more mainstream.

Alternatively, head up to the cathedral quarter into one of the boutique eateries serving a range of speciality foods and with an international twist – including Thai (great to takeaway and eat in the Forum), Mexican, Spanish, Italian, and my favourite – Browns Pie Shop at the top of Steep Hill. You will certainly work up an appetite getting there anyway!

Best Music/Festival in Lincoln?

For me – there are two festivals that I would recommend for two very different reasons. Firstly the Steampunk festival because of its quirky and fun nature and that it isn’t all just focussed in the city centre or within a showground. You can interact with the events, see amazing things and really get involved.

The second would be the Christmas Market – just because the city is absolutely magical in the snow (although too much snow got it cancelled one year?).

Best Nightlife in Lincoln?

For me it would be The Engine Shed. A converted industrial building right on the waterfront offering live music, comedy and event nights. Spacious, connected and well-placed – this venue offers both inside and outside space for meeting up with friends. An attached eatery and close to public transport or overnight accommodation too. Right in the heart of the uni scene – and accessible.

Best Day Trip Out Of The City?

For something completely different – head west to the Peak District.

A bleak and dramatic landscape pocked with picturesque villages such as Bakewell and Buxton. Wild rivers, medieval bridges, industrial heritage and great tea shops – all in one great road trip!

You are also perilously close to Robin Hood country – with Loxley and Sherwood Forest within touching distance. The forest used to come right up to Lincoln (so says a plaque in the town hall) and the wood from Sherwood Forest has made many a part of the buildings here. It is now more than 30 miles away – and still shrinking – but Major Oak is still there and protected within the RSPB reserve that surrounds it.

Something that not many travellers would know about it?

Lincoln is actually on a very important historic crossroads in the Midlands. One route makes sense and passes directly through the heart of the city – Ermine Road: the old Roman road from London to the old Viking capital of York. It actually passes under the arches of the Guildhall and through the old South Gate and you can follow it on foot even today.

The other Roman road – Fosse Way – is rather more random. It is basically the entire A46, running in a straight line from Exeter to Lincoln?

It was essentially a giant 250-mile long ditch dug by the invading Romans within a few decades of their arrival to keep out ‘the heathens’ in Cornwall, Wales, the Marches and ‘the North’.  You can follow it very easily on a map (if you are so inclined) and for nearly its entire length it doesn’t swerve more than 6 miles from a straight line. Great engineering wouldn’t you say?