Top things to do in Lincoln

Our guide on what to do in Lincoln

The East Midlands city of Lincoln has a lot to be proud of – and its story goes way back. First settled in by the Romans, then invaded by the Vikings, the city’s mini-districts are a mish-mash of modern bars and restaurants with a smattering of historical and cultural remnants, from the medieval cathedral to the cobbled streets of Steep Hill. Ready to delve deeper? Read on to discover our favourite ways to explore this historic city. 

Top attractions in Lincoln

Lincoln Cathedral

Standing on the city’s hilltop for nearly a thousand years, Lincoln Cathedral was once the tallest building in the world – even taller than Egypt’s Pyramids of Giza (yep, you read that right). This Lincoln landmark houses an array of mementoes that have shaped the city’s past. Take the Graffiti Tour and learn about the inscriptions left by ordinary people expressing their hopes and fears, or climb to the top of the cathedral on a Tower Tour, for immense views over the city and beyond. Inside, keep an eye out for fossils embedded in the Nave floor, and see if you can spot The Lincoln Imp hiding in the pillars – folk stories say that this naughty creature was captured by angels and turned into stone.

More top attractions

Built by William the Conqueror, Lincoln Castle is the only building in the city to rival Lincoln Cathedral – in looks and in history. Much of the building is in its original state, and you can delve into 1,000 years of history, drama and bloodshed as you explore its towers, dungeons and Victorian prison. If you only see one thing, though, make sure it’s the Magna Carta – this historic document was once the rule of law in Britain and is one of only four copies left in the world. Just a short drive from the city centre, explore Elizabethan life at Doddington Hall through its fascinating collection of furniture, weaponry, textiles and stories that date back to 1600. Or take a free tour of the 16th-century Guildhall and Stonebow and discover a treasure trove of objects including the sword of King Richard II.  

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Pretty walks and tours in Lincoln

Steep Hill

One of Lincoln’s most historic shopping streets is Steep Hill, a narrow, cobbled road that climbs up to the castle and cathedral and the epicentre of local independent shops. Browse specialist stores and boutiques selling books, vintage clothes, art, wine, fine teas and much more. You will probably need to take a breather during your climb, but you’ll find benches halfway up for exactly that. Better still, pop into the many shops and then get some photos of the wonky buildings and pretty side streets before continuing your ascent.

More walking tours and trails to try

The Fossdyke Canal is a waterside walking and cycle trail that follows the Roman-built canal out from Brayford Waterfront to the rural outskirts of the city towards Saxilby, but if you simply want to sit back and enjoy the views, hop on the Brayford Belle. Departing three times daily, you can take in all the sights of the city without getting any blisters. Back on terra fermi, spot Roman remains on a dedicated Roman Trail. The city was one of Britain’s largest Roman settlements and you can still see ruins speckled around the city such as Newport Arch, once the northern gate to the city, and still the only Roman archway in the UK to be used for traffic.

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Places to eat in Lincoln

Browns Pie Shop

Tuck into a stellar assortment of pies at Browns Pie Shop. Established in the late 1980s, this family-run restaurant headed up by Danny Gill, a former Great British Menu finalist, is not your typical run-of-the-mill pie and mash shop. Its authentic shortcrust-pastry pot pies are famous for their imaginative range of fillings, including the likes of chicken wellington stuffed with white pudding or creamy cheese filled with a mix of hard and soft cheeses and broccoli florets. There are vegan options too, but if you’re just in the mood for pie (why though?) the restaurant also serves a selection of burgers.

More top restaurants in Lincoln

Savour seasonal produce with an imaginative tasting menu at Lincoln’s only two-AA Rosette restaurant, The Old Bakery, housed inside a converted Victorian bakery. For more food served with a side of history opt for seasonal small places at The Jew’s House, set inside one of the oldest stone houses in Britain. Live out your fromage fantasies at the 12-seater Cheese Society, where you can try local favourites like Lincolnshire Poacher alongside English and European classics, or if you’re looking for vegan food, tuck into plant-based dishes like dhal, chickpea and spinach kadala curry and fries with banana ketchup at Shanti Vegan.

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Fun activities in Lincoln

Tension Twisted Realities

You’ve been to arcades and conquered escape rooms, but have you ever been somewhere that’s dedicated to virtual reality? Well, Tension Twisted Realities does just that. As well as having six different Lincoln-themed escape rooms, this games company is the UK’s first virtual reality venue. There are more than 100 mind-blowing experiences you can try over four virtual reality booths. Just pop your headset on and you can choose to experience the sights and sounds of a Mount Everest Climb, tour the International Space Station, or take on games like Chair in a Room, where you play the protagonist in your own horror story, navigating memories, clues and puzzles.

More activities to check out

Release your inner lumberjack (and stress) at Axed Lincoln, where you’ll get into the swing of axe throwing with a full hour of chucking (it’s harder than you think), or get into a caddie war next door at Urban Putters, a wacky nine-hole urban crazy golf filled with a bizarre mish-mash of props and obstacles. Need a bit of fresh air? Pet ponies at one of the UK’s largest equine welfare charities. Located just a few miles north of Lincoln, you can explore miles of walkways at Bransby Horses’ sanctuary, stopping off to fuss some of the 300 resident horses, ponies, donkeys and mules as you do.

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Markets in Lincoln

Lincoln Farmers Market

Lincoln’s trading history has mostly been rooted in markets and the city centre’s streets are still abuzz with a mix of markets to this day, with many taking place on the cobbles of Castle Hill.  If you’re keen to take home some local Lincolnshire goodies, visit on the third Saturday of the month for Lincoln Farmers Market, where you can get your hands on pies and pastries, local jams and chutneys and even wines. Another one worth checking out is the Makers Market on the first Saturday of the month (as well as every second Saturday at Cornhill nearby). This market is known for its array of local craftworks, from bespoke cushion covers to handmade sculptures.

More markets to visit

Built in 1938 and open six days a week, Lincoln Central Market is your destination for everything from fresh foods to comics alongside pop-up markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Find out more about Lincoln’s markets

Bars and pubs in Lincoln

Electric Bar

Built on the former site of the electricity works, the aptly named Electric Bar is the city’s first sky bar, located on the rooftop of the Doubletree by Hilton. Enjoy bottomless brunch in the lounge, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, or sip coffee in the sun on its heated outdoor balcony. The bar really comes into its own at night when the sun sets over Brayford Marina, so put on your glad-rags and pop a bottle of ice-cold Champagne or order one of the bar’s signature cocktails and sit back and enjoy the view.

More places to party

A legend amongst locals, Strait and Narrow is a hip bar that’s not only famous for its mean Negroni but also its 120+ types of bottled beers and at least 15 beers on tap at any time. The Adam & Eve Tavern is also legendary, in that it’s said to be haunted, with tales of ghostly experiences passed down through generations of punters. Despite the resident ghouls, the pub is very welcoming, with a lovely beer garden under the shadow of Lincoln Cathedral. For raucous revelry, there’s Bierkeller, a German-themed bar where you can clink your beer steins and dance along to a traditional Oompah Band. And, if after all that, you’re out late enough, go to Home for six whole storeys of floor-filling anthems.

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Places to stay in Lincoln

The Old Palace Lodge

Housed in a former 19th-century church, The Old Palace Lodge is one of the city’s most imaginative guest houses. It still features the church’s original beams, apex ceilings and ornate windows, and has 16 boutique rooms, all of which feature lots of reds, purples and golds as a nod to the building’s origins. Some rooms also have rolltop baths for that extra touch of luxury. And don’t worry about forking out for breakfast as your morning meal is included as part of the price.

More places to stay

Another boutique hotel worth looking into is Bail House Hotel, just a couple minutes’ walk from the Cathedral Quarter. Its large bedrooms have a period drama vibe, with four-poster beds, wooden beams and views of the city, from the castle to the historic Bailgate. A few miles north of the city is Bridleway B&B, a family-run establishment made up of a collection of charming outhouses that date back to the 19th century. Breakfast is served in a stylish conservatory and chickens and horses roam the grounds and fields giving the place a real rural feel.

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Green spaces in Lincoln

Lincoln Arboretum

If you fancy lunch outdoors, make sure it’s in the Arboretum. Designed by Edward Milner, one of the most celebrated Victorian gardeners of his time, the Arboretum is a pristine 22-acre park and gardens that have been around for over 150 years. Pack up a picnic and find a spot in vast, open grassy space, explore the handful of colourful, cultivated gardens, or go on a long walk around the lake, keeping an eye out for the iconic bandstand that’s still used for events throughout the year. There’s a tea room too, perfect for a sweet pick-me-up, and a hedge maze that’s ideal if you’ve got little ones in tow.

More green spaces to enjoy

Another great green space is South Common. Its sprawling, rugged and quiet land is perfect for a spot of downtime and, with its elevated position, has the most cracking views of the city. Or why not navigate the maze of woodland nature trails in Hartsholme Country Park? As well as a peaceful reservoir and landscaped gardens, the park also hosts free monthly RSPB guided bird watching walks.

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Museums in Lincoln

International Bomber Command Centre

The International Bomber Command, made up of teams like Aircrew, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and many others, suffered the highest losses of any unit during the Second World War, but are hardly mentioned in the history books. At the International Bomber Command Centre – based in Lincoln as it’s a central point for all 27 UK bases – you can learn about this incredible unit, hear stories of the people affected by bombing campaigns and commemorate the thousands of people who lost their lives during WWII. Explore the exhibitions and displays, which delve into themes of recognition, remembrance and reconciliation, before taking a wander through the two peace gardens, paying homage to the 62 nations who served or supported the Command.

More museums worth a look

Journey through the Stone, Bronze and Roman ages at The Collection, and discover everything from archaeology and fine art to ancient Egyptian artefacts and natural history, or take a look around the Harding House Gallery – a 15th-century building home to an assortment of paintings, sculptures, photography and textiles by a collective of resident artists. To get a deeper understanding of the area, pop along to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life. This museum tells the story of the county over the last 250 years through reconstructions of shops and houses and artefacts like a real-life World War I tank.

Find more museums and galleries in Lincoln
03 Nov 2023(last updated)

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  • 1

    Lincoln Cathedral

  • 2

    Steep Hill

  • 3

    Browns Pie Shop

  • 4

    Tension Twisted Realities

  • 5

    Lincoln Farmers Market

  • 6

    Electric Bar

  • 7

    The Old Palace Lodge

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    Lincoln Arboretum

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    International Bomber Command Centre

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