Things to do in Lincoln

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University isn’t all about lectures and studying – moving to a new city means lots of chances to explore, relax and have fun with your mates as you get to know your new home. Historic Lincoln, home to our newest IconInc, is packed with sights and attractions to keep you busy when you’re not studying. Whether you love history, getting out in the fresh air or a bit of retail therapy, there’s plenty to explore in this cute little city. We’ve picked some of our favourite things to do in Lincoln to get you started.

Browse the Bail

Uphill Lincoln is the perfect place to spend a lazy morning, browsing the independent shops and stopping off for a coffee to watch the world go by. Head for Bailgate to start your tour – know locally as just ‘the Bail’. Check out the imposing Newport Arch, one of the originally Roman gateways into the city, rummage for treasure in the antique shops and wander down the cobbled streets, dodging crowds of tourists and getting a few Insta snaps of the super-cute views along the way. The Bail leads you to three of the city’s biggest attractions – the Cathedral, Castle and Steep Hill – plus a Lincoln institution, Dennett’s Ice Cream Parlour Stop off for a takeaway cone or sit in for a sundae, choosing from 30 locally made flavours, before you head off for more sightseeing fun.

Hunt down the Lincoln Imp

You can’t miss Lincoln Cathedral. Set on one of the very few hills in this part of Lincolnshire, it’s visible from almost every direction as you approach the city and dominates the Uphill area (it was actually the tallest building in the world back in the 16th century). It’s one of the most highly regarded Gothic cathedrals in the world and the fourth largest in the UK, so there’s plenty to explore. One of the most popular attractions inside this vast building is the Lincoln Imp who, legend has it, was turned to stone by an angel after being sent to Earth by the Devil to cause mayhem. The cheeky scamp is hiding somewhere in the building and he takes a bit of tracking down, but there’s plenty to take in as you search. There are guided tours if you want all the detail, or you can explore on your own if that’s more your thing.

Step back in time at Lincoln Castle

A visit to Lincoln Castle is a great way to get your bearings when you first arrive, as the recently restored castle wall walkway gives you a 360 degree view of the entire city and one of the best views of the Cathedral you can get. Find out what life was like for 19th century criminals with a tour of the Victorian Prison (you can even play dress up) and check out one of the few surviving copies of the Magna Carta, an 800-year-old document that set out many of the laws we still follow today, complete with an immersive widescreen experience that brings the story of the Magna Carta to life. Weekends and holidays see the main castle green filling up with re-enactments, open air concerts and – come December – the world-famous Lincoln Christmas Market, but on quieter days, it’s a great place for a picnic or to chill out with a book.

Get some cardio in on Steep Hill

Lincolnshire’s known for its super-flat agricultural landscape, so any hill is going to seem steep to the average Lincolnite, right? Probably, but when they named Steep Hill, they weren’t kidding. This narrow cobbled hill, linking Uphill with the more modern Hight Street and the Brayford, is quite a challenge, on the way up and the way down. Luckily there are plenty of places to stop and admire the view, and lots of great little independent boutiques and cafes to pop into when your legs are burning. It’s a Lincoln rite of passage, plus it’s great exercise. The perfect excuse for a celebratory ice cream or a pint when you make it to the top.

Take a boat on the Brayford

Brayford Pool started out as a Roman port but has grown into one of the most buzzing areas of Lincoln – home to the University and loads of pubs, bars and restaurants. It’s a great place to spend a sunny afternoon, sitting by the water for lunch or a few drinks, but if you fancy going a bit further afield, hop on board a water taxi and head out of the city. The trip takes you out along the river, past the Brayford’s resident swans and on to The Pyewipe Inn, a couple of miles outside the city. Hop off here and enjoy a few drinks by the river, then either get back on the boat or wander back along the river path (about a 45-minute walk). You can hire the whole taxi if you want and take your own drinks – great for an afternoon out or special occasion with a group of mates.

Visit The Collection

Still want more history? The Collection is a great way to pass a rainy afternoon. But this county museum has more to offer than just exhibits – it’s also a gallery and event space, offering loads of creative activities from life drawing classes to film nights. You can even meet the museum’s own roving robot tour guide, developed by the University of Lincoln. With a calendar of temporary exhibits and art installations, it’s a place you can keep coming back to. Plus, it has a great café, selling coffee, toasties and cake in a bright modern setting, perfect for meeting friends or getting out of your room to study.

Shop ‘til you drop

Lincoln’s High Street is packed with all the big-name brands you’d expect to see, plus a few independent boutiques and retro stores for more unique pieces. The main shopping drag passes through the imposing Medieval Stonebow and over the River Witham, where you can see the striking Empowerment sculpture - two figures reaching across to each other from either side of the river. There’s loads of development happening at this end of town, with the Cornhill Quarter set to bring loads of new shops, plus an Everyman cinema and a branch of trendy cocktail chain The Botanist to the area down by the bus station.

Excited about living in Lincoln? Read more about what’s going on in the city here.

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