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Lincoln is an English city in the East Midlands which, despite being small, is a beautiful and exciting place to visit, with its medieval Castle, Gothic Cathedral, streets filled with cute independent shops and buzzing nightlife. Here are a few of my recommendations for the top things to do in Lincoln…
Top things to do in Lincoln
Lincoln Castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 on a site previously occupied by a Roman fortress. The large, well-preserved castle is surrounded by tall Medieval walls with two moats (only one of two in the country) and contains a Georgian and Victorian prison.
The Castle is also home to one of only four surviving copies of the Magna Carta and is the only place in the world where you can see both the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest on display.
The Castle grounds are open to the public for free, while tickets for the wall walk, the prison and the Magna Carter vault can be purchased at the entrance.
Walking the Medieval walls is certainly the highlight of a visit to Lincoln Castle, with the audio guide telling tales of the Castle’s interesting and sometimes quite gruesome history while you admire the amazing views across the city and over to Lincoln Cathedral.
William the Conqueror commissioned the building of Lincoln Cathedral in 1092, shortly after neighbouring Lincoln Castle. The Cathedral was partially reconstructed over the next couple of hundred years, gradually taking on the beautiful Gothic architectural style of today.
A wander around the impressive interior of Lincoln Cathedral is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Lincoln. Exploring the different areas, chapels and libraries while admiring the many sculptures, carvings and enormous stain-glass windows could easily take a couple of hours. Or alternatively, you could take an organised floor tour, roof tour where you can get up close to the chapel roof, or tower tour with spectacular views out across Lincoln.
Tickets to Lincoln Cathedral can be brought at the entrance or at the Castle, however, on Sundays and after 4:30pm on weekdays entry is by donation only.
Steep Hill is a steep, cobbled street in the centre of Lincoln which leads from the Strait up to Lincoln Castle and Cathedral. Not only is Steep Hill one of Britain’s steepest streets, but it was also voted ‘Britain’s Best Street’ in 2012 due to the variety of independent boutiques, antique stores and cute cafes sitting inside some of the oldest buildings in the city (with the street dating back to Lincoln’s Roman routes).
Walking up the 16.12° gradient certainly isn’t the easiest feat, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to be huffing and puffing if you tackle the hill in one go, however, with all of the lovely shops and quaint tea rooms lining the street, you’ll find plenty of pit stops to take a quick breather.
High Bridge & Stokes Cafe
High Bridge in Lincoln was built around 1160 and is the oldest bridge in the United Kingdom which still has buildings on it. The black and white timbered building on top of the bridge is now home to Stokes High Bridge Cafe.
Stokes serve freshly roasted coffee and a light food menu of traditional dishes such as fish and chips, pies, salads and sandwiches, as well as what many would claim is the best afternoon tea in Lincoln. Stokes also sell their tea and coffee as wholesale and retail products, with the bridge acting as the brand logo.
To see the iconic view of the bridge you’ll need to find Stokes storefront on the High Street then go down the small alleyways on either side of the building.
The Collection Museum & Usher Gallery
The Collection is an award-winning archaeology museum with interactive exhibitions about the history of Lincolnshire. Across the road, you’ll also find the Usher Gallery, one of the regions premier art galleries with a collection of fine and decorative arts as well as a variety of contemporary art exhibitions throughout the year. Both are free to enter so make an interesting addition to any trip to Lincoln.
Where to shop in Lincoln
As well as plenty of big chains, Lincoln is a city full of independent and speciality stores where you can pick up anything from ethnic clothing to Russian Dolls to home-made fudge. Despite not usually being a huge shopper, hitting the shops is one of my favourite things to do in Lincoln. Here are a few of the best places to visit…
Salamander is a speciality shop on Park Street, just off of Lincoln’s main High Street. Any fans of Camden Market in London are guaranteed to love this quirky shop, with its range of ethnic, gothic and steampunk clothing, as well as jewellery, bags, hats, incense and other alternative knickknacks.
Goodies of Lincoln is a traditional sweet shop located at the bottom of Steep Hill, meaning you have a great excuse to pop inside and load up on sugar before tackling the iconic street. Goodies have hundreds of different types of sweets, all sitting neatly in large jars lining every wall.
The best thing about this little sweet shop has to be their ‘decade boxes’ – boxes filled with traditional sweets from each decade going as far back as the 1930s. And for just £9.95 they make the perfect customised gift for people of all ages!
YAK Clothing is a cool independent vintage clothing store on the Strait with a selection for both men and women, including tie-dye tees, patterned silk shirts, cropped jumpers and vintage jackets. YAK is definitely my favourite shop in Lincoln to deck out my Autumn wardrobe.
Roly’s Fudge Shop sells amazing fudge freshly made by passionate owners Guy and Greg. The shop has loads of creative fudge flavours from chocolate and cherry bakewell to rum and raisin, baileys and gin. Roly’s is at the top of Steep Hill so there’s no excuse not to stop by and indulge in a sugary hit.
The Cheese Society is a cheese lovers heaven, with a cafe serving a cheese-based menu including Raclette and Macaroni cheese, a wide selection of cheeses available to try and buy, and plenty of cheese-related accessories and accompaniments.
Other fun places to shop in Lincoln for quirky gifts and fun knickknacks include Birds Yard, Jolly Ducks & Snooty Cats and Annushka Russian Dolls.
Where to eat in Lincoln
Wandering around historic Lincoln and taking on Steep Hill is sure to leave you with a big appetite. These are a few of my recommendations for where to eat in Lincoln…
Madame Waffle is an independent cafe on Lincoln High Street serving a selection of sweet and savoury Belgian waffles cooked fresh to order.
Madame Waffle is a great option for any meal, with breakfast waffles featuring the likes of bacon, sausage and eggs, savoury waffles with toppings such as chicken, pulled pork, halloumi and avocado, and sweet waffles with fruit, Nutella, Oreos and nuts. The cafe also does gluten-free waffles, as well as other dishes such as sundaes.
The Place Lincoln is a family-run Chinese restaurant on the High Street serving a huge offering of delicious and authentic Chinese dishes.
For £16.99 per person, you can choose the unlimited buffet menu which is great value for money for both the quality and quantity of food. Despite being called a buffet, there is actually a wide selection of dishes (including starters and mains) you can choose from which are freshly cooked to your exact order and will keep coming until you’re completely full.
Brayford Waterfront is England’s oldest inland Harbour and is home to a range of classic restaurants and entertainment venues. Here you’ll find something to satisfy all cravings, with the likes of Wagamama, ASK Italian, Zizi, Nandos, Homemade Burger Co, Prezzo, Brayford Wharf Harvester and Marco Pierre White
Where to drink in Lincoln
The first thing to note here is that Lincoln is a university city and therefore there are plenty of lively bars and clubs every night of the week. If you asked the city’s many students I’m sure they’d tell you that heading out for a drink is one of the top things to do in Lincoln.
For a more chilled out pub atmosphere close to Lincoln Castle and Cathedral, grab a pint in the aptly named Magna Carter. You can also try The Strugglers Inn, The Victoria or the Adam & Eve Tavern (the oldest pub in Lincoln) in the Cathedral Quarter.
If you’re looking for something a little more lively later on in the night, head down to Silver Street just off of the High Street for some of the most popular student bars and clubs in the city.
Bierkeller is a Bavarian-themed pub with beers and cocktails by the stein, long dining hall style tables and a fun late-night atmosphere, while Swampy Johns American showbar will have you up and dancing all night with their bold neon decor, cheap drinks and nightly live DJ.
Days out in Lincoln
As well as having a beautiful and exciting city centre, there’s also plenty to do on the outskirts of Lincoln for a day. These are just a couple of suggestions for days out in Lincoln this Autumn…
Daisy Made Farm is a small farm on the outskirts on Lincoln with an animal petting area, crazy golf and a children’s play area. But the best thing about Daisy Made Farm has to be their cafe serving real dairy ice cream made fresh on the farm, using milk from the Daisy Made cows. Without a doubt one of the best ice-creams I have ever eaten and well worth a visit for any ice-cream connoisseurs, no matter what the weather.
Maxeys Farm Shop is around a 30 minute drive away from Lincoln City Centre and has to be one of the best pumpkin patches in the country. There are pumpkins of all sizes and colours as far as the eye can see, tractor rides, pumpkin-shaped bouncy castles and stalls selling Halloween knickknacks and hot food.
Whether you’re wanting to grab a wheelbarrow and pick some pumpkins to take home, have a fun day out with kids or just get that perfect Autumnal Instagram shot, Maxeys Farm Shop Pumpkins is definitely worth a visit!
Getting from London to Lincoln
By train, the best way to get from London to Lincoln is getting the North Eastern Railway from London Kings Cross to Newark, then swapping on to East Midlands Trains from Newark to Lincoln Central. Altogether the journey should take around 2 hours.
I hope that this list of top things to do in Lincoln UK has convinced you to give this beautiful city a chance yourself, and you think I’ve missed anything important off please drop me a message in the comments below…