When I was looking for local places to visit in the UK, I came across popular destinations like London, Manchester, Cambridge, etc. But as I wanted to explore a less known destination, I looked further and found Lincoln.
If you’ve never heard of Lincoln, it is located in Lincolnshire, in the East Midlands.
I didn’t have high expectations of the place before visiting it as I didn’t find much information on what to do in Lincoln.
However, my perception of the place changed, and I was quite impressed by it. Lincoln is known for its two top attractions – Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral.
But there’s more than these two attractions, you can find a good variety of restaurants and cafes and beautiful streets, like Steep Hill, full of independent shops.
The city is rather small so you can easily find your way to the main attractions. At the same time, it’s welcoming and charming. Once you’ve walked into the city centre, you’ll feel like you’ve been to Lincoln so many times that you know where everything is.
Something that also fascinated me was the fact that you can find many traditional and quaint afternoon tea rooms and traditional pubs in the town, whereas you wouldn’t find as many of these in other English towns.
Here are my recommendations on what to do in Lincoln UK in a weekend, where to eat, where to stay and other suggestions to make the most of your time in this charming city.
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What To Do In Lincoln UK
Things To Do In Lincoln City Centre
Lincoln Cathedral is one of those places you cannot miss when visiting this beautiful city. The cathedral is located near the tourist information centre, opposite Lincoln Castle.
It reminded me a bit of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, its stunning Gothic architecture won’t disappoint you, but as you get inside you’ll be amazed by all the colour-painted glasses, its details and length.
When you’re visiting it, you need to see The Blessed Virgin Mary, the patron saint of the cathedral, The Teaching Window, located in the fourth window of the north wall of the cathedral, The Organ, and last but not least, the famous Lincoln Imp.
The Lincoln Imp is probably one of the most popular stories in Lincoln. Folk stories tell that he was a small but naughty creature that used to create chaos around the Midlands. Until one day the angels had enough and turned him into stone.
Something that you can’t miss is the rooftop tour to get incredible views and get to discover some secret spots inside the cathedral which you won’t normally see if you buy the normal entry ticket.
It was too late when I discovered about the tour because all the tickets were sold out, so I would definitely try to buy these tickets online in advance.
TIP: Visit Lincoln Medieval Bishop which is less than two minutes walk from the cathedral. It’s well-known for being once among the most important buildings in the country.
Lincoln Castle is a must-see for anyone who loves a city view and history.
It was built in the late 11th century by William the Conqueror, and what makes this castle special is the fact that it has two mottes – on two raised areas of ground – that you can only find in Lincoln’s castle and at Lewes in East Sussex in the entire country.
Inside the castle, there is so much to do that you can easily spend two hours visiting the castle and its surroundings. As you enter the castle, the first thing you’ll see is the beautiful Lincoln Crown Court – a stunning Gothic building covered with green and red ivies.
Your visit starts in the building on the left-hand side where you’ll find the Victorian prison and the Magna Carta experience.
Walking around the Victorian prison gives you the feeling of how prisoners felt in the cells. Some areas were a bit spooky, but I found it really interesting to learn how the prison worked.
The Magna Carta experience is located in a small building next to the Victorian prison.
You can see one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta – a key international document that represents liberty and freedom, and go underground to a widescreen cinema where a documentary of the Magna Carta is played every 15 minutes or so.
In addition to these two activities, you need to add the Medieval Wall Walk to your list.
It’s probably my favourite thing about the castle as you get a 360-degree stunning view of the city centre and cathedral.
Finally, there are green spaces inside the castle where you can relax, contemplate the buildings around you or have a picnic.
Overall, Lincoln Castle is one of the best places to visit in Lincoln!
Adult Castle Day Ticket: £14.00
Child Castle Day: £7.50
Adult Medieval Wall Only: £10.00
Child Medieval Wall Only: £5.50
Steep Hill is a beautiful quaint street and England’s fourth steepest street where you’ll find a good variety of independent shops, the best traditional tea rooms and pubs.
Walking up Steep Hill will make you work out, but you won’t mind at all as you’ll enjoy the atmosphere, the views of the bottom of the city and, of course, the unique shops.
At the same time, don’t be surprised if it’s busy as locals make their way to work or go for tea, and tourists will be wandering around taking pictures or shopping.
In this area, you’ll also find the Jew’s House, a house that has traditionally been associated with the Jewish community. An interesting fact is that it’s only one of five surviving Medieval Jewish houses in England.
I didn’t see it at first sight as it’s camouflaged with other buildings and shops around, however, I found it when I saw someone taking a picture in front of it.
TIP: If you’re looking for lovely and unique home decorations or souvenirs, visit the Jolly Ducks shop and the tourist information centre.
As much as I like visiting historic city centres, I love exploring green spaces and nature parks too. This is why during my trip to Lincoln, I looked for parks near the heart of the city.
The Arboretum is relatively close to Lincoln’s Cathedral and it’s a lovely park to visit. Inside the park, you can find different things to see and do.
Some of the things you can’t miss inside the park are the lake, the hedge maze and the lion statue. Also, if you’re visiting the park during autumn, you’ll have the chance to see many little squirrels running in the grass and trees.
The Collection Museum
The Collection Museum, only 3 minute walk from Steep Hill, is Lincolnshire county’s museum and gallery. The museum is divided into two different areas, The Collection and The Usher Gallery which is located across the road.
Due to covid restrictions, I couldn’t visit The Usher Gallery, however, I did visit The Collection and really enjoyed walking through the museum.
From the outside, you’ll feel like it’s a big museum in which you’ll spend hours and hours, however, I was quite surprised about how small it is.
One of my favourite parts was actually the photography exhibition where you can see how people have taken pictures of the local area and animals. This temporary exhibition is only until January 2021, but I’d highly recommend checking the exhibition room.
Apart from this, you can explore the main area that consists of the archaeology gallery. In the gallery, you’ll learn about the story of Lincolnshire’s heritage through displays, reconstructions, authentic historical costumes and much more.
Museum of Lincolnshire Life
I can’t talk from my own experience as when I visited Lincoln the museum was closed due to the current global situation. Nevertheless, it’s the perfect place to learn more about the culture of Lincolnshire and its people from 1750 to today.
The museum includes art galleries, exhibitions and group quiz sessions.
Although the entry is generally free, I highly recommend you check if there are any event days happening as they may charge for admission.
One of the best things to do in Lincoln is to look for Roman ruins as there are plenty across the city.
Newport Arch, located at the north of Lincoln Castle in Bailgate, is the most preserved remaining of the Roman city walls. This arch was built in the 3rd century, although it has been altered over the years.
Not very far from the city centre, you’ll find the lovely Brayford Waterfront.
The area used to be home to warehouses, but these were replaced by a good variety of hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities. Whether you want to go on a boat trip or have an international meal, Lincoln’s waterfront is the place to be.
The weather wasn’t great when I visited Lincoln so I had to skip the boat trip, but if you have the chance to do it, it’s a great experience.
Brayford Belle boat trips take you on a 50 to 60 minute guided canal trip in which you can learn about Lincoln’s history in an entertaining way.
Places to eat in Lincoln
Despite being smaller than other British cities, there are a big variety of cafes, tea rooms and restaurants in Lincoln to choose from.
It was difficult to decide where I wanted to eat, but I’m very happy with all the places I visited. So if you want a foodie guide, here are some of my recommendations.
Bunty’s Tea Room
BEST LINCOLN AFTERNOON TEA
Bunty’s is my go-to place for traditional afternoon tea. This small place is located on the famous and notable Steep Hill and you’ll probably find people queuing to get in.
I wasn’t expecting it to be so cosy and nice. Once inside, you’ll be surprised by the quaint decoration from the walls to the tables covered with old pictures and tags.
However, there’s even more to the atmosphere! The food won’t disappoint you either. I ordered a tea and a raisin scone with jam and cream, and I must admit it was one of the best scones I’ve ever had.
My partner ordered a piece of the chocolate cake and that’s a must for any chocolate lovers!
Price range: ££
📍 Location: Bunty’s Tea Room, 18 Steep Hill, Lincoln LN2 1LT
BEST WAFFLES IN LINCOLN
If you have a sweet tooth, you won’t want to miss Madame Waffle. As its name suggests, it’s a paradise for waffles. They have all sorts of delicious waffles – from sweet to savoury.
The place is really popular, so I would definitely go early morning as I did because in no time it was full. I ordered the apple crumble waffle with custard that was to die for! I loved the sweetness of the apples and waffles topped with warm custard.
The only thing I wish is that there were more places like this in the UK.
Price range: ££
📍 Location: 285 High St, Lincoln LN2 1AL
BEST LUNCH IN LINCOLN
I heard good things about the Rising Café before my visit to Lincoln, so I decided to add it to my list.
The cafe is located within Alive Church, and it’s the perfect place to enjoy a delicious homemade lunch – sandwiches, salads, burgers and much more.
Portions are generous and the food is on point. I tried the Moving Mountains vegan burger, and it was amazing. I never thought a vegan burger could taste so good.
Apart from lunch, they also offer afternoon tea. I didn’t try it, but I saw other people ordering it and it looked really good.
The Rising Café is worth visiting, not only for its great food but its atmosphere, decor and friendly staff.
BEST BREAKFAST IN LINCOLN
When I was looking for cafes in Lincoln on Google, I came across Thomas2 and I knew I had to try it.
The cafe is located just a couple of minutes walk from the Lincoln Guildhall, opposite St. Swithin’s Church. The interior of the cafe is simple but nice although they had some lovely Halloween decorations when I visited it.
However, my recommendation is based on their food. I had one of the best pancakes ever! They were fluffy, not too thick and topped with smooth natural yoghurt as well as some seasonal berries.
To be fair, I was full after those delicious mini pancakes, but I wish I had saved some space for their homemade cakes, displayed in the middle of the dining room.
Price range: £
📍 Location: St Swithins Square, Lincoln LN2 1HA
Olé Olé Tapas Bar & Restaurant
BEST TAPAS RESTAURANT IN LINCOLN
Being a Spanish expat in the UK, you may believe that I love going to Spanish restaurants. However, I don’t normally go to Spanish restaurants as I get disappointed with the fact that the food tastes far from an authentic Spanish meal and tapas are too small for their price.
Having said so, I saw very good reviews about this restaurant and decided to give it a go. The restaurant is located in The Lawn, just behind Lincoln Castle and you’ll think the place is tiny from the outside, but you’ll be surprised how big it is when you go in.
The restaurant is beautifully decorated with Spanish pictures and ceramics and from my visit, I can say that most staff were Spanish. My partner and I wanted to order a total of six tapas as they tend to be small, but the waiter advised 4, so we went for 5.
When the tapas arrived, they were big and we instantly regretted ordering so much. Although the paella wasn’t like my dad’s, it was quite nice and the rest of the dishes too.
One of my favourite dishes was calamares fritos (fried squid).
Also, you can’t leave this place without having a glass or two of the delicious sangria!
Price range: ££
Where to stay in Lincoln
Choosing a hotel is never an easy task wherever you go, but I was quite surprised by how many hotels in Lincoln you can find.
I found a really good offer to stay in DoubleTree Hilton and went for it because I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed.
The hotel is located in Brayford Wharf, a beautiful inland Harbour where you’ll find plenty of well-known restaurants like Wagamama, which seemingly floats on the water, and Nando’s along with entertainment venues. On top of these activities, you can take a boat tour with spectacular scenery from Easter to October.
Although it isn’t in the city centre, it’s relatively close which makes it a great location to stay. The hotel is really nice inside and the rooms are spacious and modern. I especially loved the fact of having a big desk to go on my laptop.
One of the best things to do inside the hotel is to visit their top-floor bar overlooking the city. I wasn’t very lucky with the weather so I didn’t have a spectacular view, but I’d definitely go back just for that.
If you’re looking for a different stay experience, there are also many inns in Lincoln to choose from.
As you’ve seen, there are plenty of activities in Lincoln to do, places to explore and food and drink options to enjoy in a day or two.
Also, although I haven’t been to the north of Lincoln, I’ve heard that you can find lovely villages surrounded by countryside and the three market towns of Gainsborough, Caistor, and Market Rasen. So if you have time, explore other places near Lincolnshire.
No matter if you’re having a day out in Lincolnshire or spending a weekend, you’ll love this charming city.
However, if you’re looking to travel longer in England, discover the best places to visit in Northern England.
If you have any questions about what to do in Lincoln, reach me at cristina[at]mylittleworldoftravelling.com or on Instagram.
Enjoy your trip to Lincoln!
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