What To Do In Lincoln – A Mini Travel Guide
A small Medieval city in England, Lincoln has been an establishment since pre-Roman times. Its strategic position upon the River Trent made it a natural place to build a fortress and this rich history makes a visit to Lincoln quite fascinating. The castle and the cathedral are the main tourist attractions and they are definitely worth a peek but the rest of the town has a few little gems too which also contribute to Lincoln being a fine place to visit. Add to all of that the fact that it was Lincolnshire folk who set up the separatist movement which then lead to the Pilgrim Fathers settling in New England (hence local names like Boston and Gainsborough in Massachusetts) and you have a really historically significant part of the country. Here are the highlights of Lincoln if you’re here for a day trip…
What To Do In Lincoln
- LINCOLN CASTLE. Built by William the Conqueror to keep Lincoln safe from marauders, Lincoln Castle is still intact today. The walls are impressive and can be walked for a price – the reward being great views of the town below. If you’re short on time and funds, thankfully its free to enter the lawned area inside the walls. The ivy-clad building ahead of you is the Crown Court – always a great place for a spot of people watching : Lincoln’s thugs and delinquents dressed in cheap suits wishing to impress the judge. Priceless.
- LINCOLN CATHEDRAL. A sucker for a high ceiling and a few gargoyles, Lincoln’s Medieval Cathedral definitely turned my head. It was the tallest building in the world for 238 years, knocking the Great Pyramid of Giza off the top spot. It’d be hard to not be impressed by this thousand-year-old Gothic structure, unless of course you’re Mr Giza, with its beautiful vaulted ceilings, rose windows and being the 4th largest church in the country.
- THE COLLECTION (& USHER GALLERY). The Collection is a Lottery-funded museum dedicated to showcasing the traces of Lincoln life from the last half a million years and it’s pretty interesting. Watch out for the interactive robot who sneaks up on you when you least expect it – he might have friendly advice on where to find the loo’s but he’ll scare the life out of you if you’re not prepared! Next door the cute little Usher Gallery has a few famous Lowry’s and Turner’s worth oggling too.
- STEEP HILL. Not for the short of calfed! Steep Hill must’ve been a flaming nightmare in Medieval times, a literal water slide after a wet day. Nowadays there are plenty of cute little boutique shops and tea rooms for excuses to escape the 14% gradient out in the street. There are also two of the oldest existing townhouses in England too – the Jew’s House and Norman House are built in the traditional Norman style and have existed since the mid-twelfth century.
- HIGH BRIDGE. Known to locals as Stokes High Bridge Cafe, this Tudor style section of the High Street is carried over the River Witham by the oldest surviving bridge with buildings on it in the UK. If you’re walking along the High Street you may even miss the fact that you’re above the river and actually on a bridge so it’s definitely worth taking the steps down the side of Stokes Cafe to see its ingenuity from the other side. The bridge was built about 1160 AD and the buildings from the 16th century. It gained the nickname The Murder Hole because it was said that this was the spot where bodies thrown into the Witham would wash ashore!
- LINCOLN ARBORETUM. This Green Flag awarded park is everything a park should be. Lake’s, fountain’s, statues and a bandstand, the Arboretum would be the perfect place to take a lunchtime picnic if you were in Lincoln for the day.
Where To Eat In Lincoln
Lincoln’s High Street has a mass of cafe’s, bar’s and restaurant’s and in particular the penchant for afternoon tea. Here are just a few of our favourite places to eat and drink…
GO GELATO. Go load up your ice cream cone with everything rainbow at Lincoln’s best ice cream parlour on The Strait. Never let it be said that ‘less is more’ in relation to the cold creamy sweet stuff!
THE JEW’S HOUSE RESTAURANT. Fine dining in Lincoln. As mentioned above, The Jew’s House is a very old historic home turned restaurant with one of the best reputations in town. The chef served his time at nearby Michelin starred Winteringham Fields and brings the same standard of food to the relaxed living-room feel of the Jew’s House. For £25.95 you receive a three-course lunch of taste sensations and leave content and in awe of the level of skill – definitely the nicest place to eat in Lincoln.
THE CARDINAL’S HAT. Built as an Inn in the 1500s The Cardinal’s Hat on The Strait is a beautiful old Tudor pub. It’s known for its healthy amount of craft ales and puts up a mean cheese/meat board – plenty enough to share. It’s a great place for a cosy nook or cranny with one or two seats with window views and is definitely one of the best pubs in Lincoln.
STOKES HIGH BRIDGE CAFE. Stokes are brewing coffee all over town in Lincoln but their flagship store on High Bridge is every foreign tourist’s dream. A crooked Tudor building with wonky floors and leaded windows supplies the backdrop for a tasty flat white. Serving good old British classics like a cheese scone or toasted tea cake, and even a bit of entertainment from street performers if you’re lucky.
Shopping In Lincoln
Lincoln has a cheerful amount of boutique and independent shops and makes a lovely change from your average High Street. Pretty little storefronts line Steep Hill and The Strait, luring you inside for a peek and maybe a purchase. It’s a great place to find local produce, interesting gifts and unique small businesses. Here are a few of our favourite shops in Lincoln…
THE CHEESE SOCIETY. Located in the Cathedral Quarter this award-winning cheese shop is the perfect place to pick up some unusual produce. They even do a cheese subscription and a monthly selection and if you want, you can dine from their entirely cheese-based menu.
CAHOOTS. Located on Steep Hill, Cahoots is your one-stop shop for designer boutique womens and menswear.
THE ARTISAN MAKER. Housey goods made by hand with beautiful natural materials. The Artisan Maker mostly supports local artisan craftsmen and has put together a lovely collection of useful functional goods that you just want to pick up, stroke and admire the handiwork.
REDHILL FARM SHOP. If their Pork Pies are good enough for Wimbledon, they’re good enough for us. The end.
OBJECT AND LINE. My favourite shop in Lincoln, Object And Line does contemporary gifts for the discerning householder. Object and Line have sourced the best of European designers from Scandi-style home furnishings to beautiful stationery and well-thought-out children’s toys. If you’re looking for a gift for any occasion, look no further.
GOODIES OF LINCOLN. A traditional sweet shop with some of the greatest confectionery from the last 80 years! The selection from bygone years means this gorgeous little sweet shop is a hit with old and young alike.
Places To Visit Near Lincoln
With such a colourful and long history, Lincolnshire has plenty of places to visit. Only 45 minutes to the coast and under an hours drive to several other historical cities, it’d make the perfect bolthole for a few days exploring if you were thinking of a UK mini-break. Here are a few of our suggestions…
- Nearby Horncastle and the adjoining AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) is a great day out if you love a good rummage around antique shops.
- Nottingham is only an hours drive, great for shopping, food enthusiasts and a historical walking tour.
- For some amazing coastal towns and villages, bypass nearby Skegness and choose the Norfolk coastal route instead.
- The Seal Sanctuary and Wildlife Centre at Mablethorpe will keep the kids entertained with more than just the slippery little grey mammals. Reptiles, Meerkats, Birds and Primates all in one place for the most lively of day trips!
- Two of Englands most impressive stately homes are only a short drive away in neighbouring Grantham and Stamford – Belton House (ran by the National Trust) and the majestic Burghley House. Imagine yourself a Downton Abbey resident for the day and travel back in time to the stately era.
Where To Stay In Lincoln
Nearby Washingborough Hall is a grand country house with all the trimmings. Four poster beds, glamorous reception rooms, beautiful grounds and attentive staff make this a total luxury stay and is the perfect location for visiting Lincoln. Their award-winning restaurant is the cherry on the top and is worth booking a night’s stay just so you can enjoy their amazing 3-course menu.
So there you have it – our mini-guide of things to do in Lincoln, England. If you have any favourite spots in this historical city, do let us know!
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