If you’re looking for a great day out for the whole family, look no further than Nottingham Castle. Famously connected to Robin Hood, there’s so much more to this castle than a band of merry thieves.
It’s time to dig out your feathered caps and green tights, and get down to Nottingham Castle for a day of fun you will never forget.
There are many reasons you might want to visit Nottingham Castle. Here you can explore the ties to Robin Hood, enjoy the art on display, marvel at amazing views of Nottingham, and discover the caves and tunnels deep below the city.
With plenty of added extras on offer, there’s not much more you could want from a day out.
Capture Little Imaginations
Nottingham Castle has been immortalised as the home of the Sheriff of Nottingham, made infamous in the stories of Robin Hood. The original castle, built in 1068 by William the Conqueror, has long been destroyed, but there’s still plenty to capture the imagination.
Although it’s unclear whether Robin Hood was a real person, the legends told about him are certainly captivating.
Top Tip: The Robin Hood statue outside of the Castle Grounds is one of the most photographed spots in Nottingham - your mini Robin Hood will love having their picture taken beside the legendary man.
Younger children will love running around the grounds Robin Hood once visited. His hatred of the Sheriff of Nottingham was confirmed as early as the 12th century and many of the legends link him to the Castle.
Top Tip: If you’ve been inspired by the story of Robin Hood, you may want to visit again in October when, for a weekend, the Castle is transformed into a medieval village encampment. Here you can meet a cast of colourful characters including Robin Hood himself.
The labyrinthine caves and tunnels deep below the Castle are the oldest surviving part of the site, with some even predating the legend of Robin Hood.
With over 300 steep steps, a tour of the caves isn’t for the fainthearted. But if you and your little ones are interested in the history of this fascinating site, you shouldn’t miss it. Your guide will lead you through centuries of history.
Image Credit: VisitEngland
Over the years, these caves have been used for everything from wine cellars to dungeons. They were even used as a secret way to access or leave the Castle. As you explore these tunnels, your guide will introduce you to the long and often dramatic history of the caves.
Top Tip: If you have particularly enjoyed the caves at Nottingham Castle, we recommend paying a visit to the City of Caves. Part of the National Justice Museum, there are actor-led tours at weekends.
The caves under Nottingham are older than the city itself. As far back as 868, Welsh monks were referring to the settlement as “Tig Guocobauc”, which translates roughly as “place of caves”. Exploring these ancient catacombs is a fascinating, albeit slightly spooky, adventure.
When the medieval castle was destroyed during the Civil War, it was replaced with the current 17th-century mansion. The building has had several incarnations since, with alterations made to both the interior and exterior as fashions and opinions changed. Today the mansion is home to an extensive collection of art.
Image Credit: Nottingham City Museums
Visitors to the Nottingham Castle Museum can see many works of modern and ancient art. The collection includes alabaster carvings dating to the 15th century and the impressive Joseph Collection of Wedgwood Jasperware, as well as beautiful contemporary ceramics. There’s also a costume collection with stunning examples of local lace-making.
Top Tip: For children interested in art and ceramics, Nottingham Castle Museum is an excellent place to learn about local artists both past and present. Bring a sketch pad or notebook so your little ones can learn from the masters.
Alongside the permanent collections, the museum has temporary collections, often showcasing some of the best art from across Europe and beyond. This summer, the museum is showcasing portraits, highlighting how traditional portraiture continues to inspire today.
Top Tip: The Museum of Nottingham Life is another great museum on the site of Nottingham Castle. Housed in five 17th-century cottages, you and your little ones can learn about the people of Nottingham through the objects they made, used or owned.
There’s so much to see and learn about at the Castle, particularly through the objects housed within the collections. Whether you are more interested in contemporary ceramics, or the pieces made and collected by people in times gone by, there’s something for everyone.
One of the major draws of Nottingham Castle is the amazing views it affords over the whole city. It’s built on Castle Rock in the centre of the old town, speaking to its history as an ancient medieval fortress. Today the site is a budding photographer’s haven and kids will love trying to spot landmarks from the high vantage point.
Top Tip: Loving the view? Café at the Castle has panoramic views of the city, and offers the perfect respite from a busy day exploring and playing. The café serves a delicious array of soups, sandwiches, and seasonal specials, all made with local ingredients.
Image Credit: Nottingham City Museums
Visitors young and old will also love spending time on the Castle Green. It’s the perfect spot for picnicking with the whole family. Spread out on the lush grass and enjoy your time together. There are also lots of play activities nearby with climbing frames, slides and even table tennis.
Top Tip: Pick up a Robin Hood hat for your little ones from the well-stocked gift shop at the castle. You can also buy postcards, small gifts and souvenirs, so make sure the kids have brought their pocket money.
CrossCountry can take you and your mini Robin Hoods to Nottingham for less with our Advance tickets. You can buy CrossCountry Advance tickets up to 15 minutes before departure, and they all come with a seat reservation, making it more affordable to get to some of the UK’s most popular destinations.
If you're looking for a day out with the family why not check out our other blog posts about Nottingham, like our Guide to Live Music in Nottingham or dine at one of the restaurants that's on our Map of the UK's Michelin Star Restaurants? Or, alternatively, see our post about our favourite museums to see if there's one near you!
Written by Seb