I happen to think that Lincoln is a beautiful little city with so much going for it. The Cathedral-topped city is a wonderful combination of modern and medieval, with enough history and culture to keep the enthusiast interested, and yet with all the shops and restaurants the rest of the family might need. It is the perfect location for a short break away. I know a lot of people who have said “oh Lincoln, I’ve been meaning to visit there”… if you’ve never been – or if you live nearby and haven’t played tourist in this wonderful city, this is the blog post for you.
The view from the top of Lincoln Cathedral.
Inspired by some of the articles I’ve read in Wanderlust, a great travel magazine edited by fellow GetOutside Champion Phoebe Smith, here’s a post celebrating some of the great things to do (and eat) in Lincoln – a bit of an itinerary for your first 24 hours in this gem of a city break destination.
Your First 24 Hours in Lincoln
Our 24 hours starts with the assumption that you have arrived early evening, in time to check into your hotel and head out for a nice meal. The city of Lincoln as a huge number of great restaurants to choose from; limiting my post to just 24 hours meant I had to choose just a couple of places, which was actually hugely difficult.
Dinner at Brown’s Pie Shop
Brown’s Pie Shop sits towards the top of Steep Hill (aptly named) in the older and cobbled part of the city. Famous for its “pot pies” (you know, the kind that comes in a pie dish with a pastry lid), I wholeheartedly recommend it as a superb introduction to dining out in Lincoln. The place is steeped in history, dating back to the 17th Century, and apparently the building was occupied by Laurence of Arabia in 1925! The restaurant is small and higgledy-piggledy, with tables close together and on several levels, but it has a comfortable atmosphere and is a lovely place to eat. I generally choose the steak pie, but the non-pie-based main courses are also excellent, and ask if they have a crumble for dessert (even if it’s not on the board) because they are always yummy.
Steep Hill, Lincoln. Aptly named.
Drinks at The Electric Bar
After dinner, burn a few of those pie calories by wandering down Steep Hill and through town to the Brayford Pool area, which has seen huge development in recent years and is where you’ll find a selection of bars, restaurants, and the Odeon cinema. Mooch along the Brayford to the Doubletree by Hilton, and head up onto their fifth floor Electric Bar for drinks. The views are truly wonderful; if the weather is decent, set yourself up on one of the two balconies and watch the world go by. I’m no drinker but the cocktail menu is supposed to be quite impressive, and it’s a nice place to sit and chat too.
Brayford Pool, Lincoln.
Sleep at the White Hart Hotel
Drinks down, walk yourself back up Steep Hill (or grab a taxi if you don’t think you’ll make it…), and head to the White Hart Hotel for the night. This is where Tom Hanks stayed during the filming of Da Vinci Code, and is located right in the heart of medieval Lincoln where you’ll spend the majority of the following day.
Breakfast at The Lawn
When I go away I generally don’t bother with hotel breakfasts unless they are included in the room rate, I’d rather sample something of a local restaurant instead. The Stokes Lawn Café, a short walk through the Castle grounds from the White Hart hotel, is a great option – get a full English if you like, or some smoked salmon, or do as I do and go for the blueberry pancakes with syrup. Mmmm pancakes.
Castle Square, Lincoln.
Tour of Lincoln Castle and the Magna Carta
Did you know that Lincoln is the only place with an original of the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest? The former document is the 800-year old paper that gave rights to landowners, while the latter was more about rights for the common man. They are housed in a new vault in Lincoln Castle, which, alongside the Victorian Prison – with its “separate system” chapel – and wall walk, makes for an excellent day out. Allow 2/3 hours to do it justice, and make sure you join one of the tours around the grounds for some great stories of battles and prisoners.
Inside the Victorian Prison at Lincoln Castle.
Lincoln Cathedral from Lincoln Castle.
Tea and Cake at Bunty’s
You had a big breakfast at The Lawn so you probably don’t want a huge lunch (if you do, head down Steep Hill to The Cheese Society for the Lincolnshire Rarebit), and so I recommend a stop at Bunty’s Tea Room on Steep Hill for some tea and cake. The family run vintage tea room is proper; serving loose leaf tea in mismatching china pots and cups with homemade cakes and scones. There’s even big band music playing in the background. It’s a real gem. There are plenty of other tea rooms to choose from, but as this is your first 24 hours in Lincoln I am recommending my personal favourite.
The View from St Hugh
You’ve filled your belly, now fill your eyes – and burn off some of those cake calories by heading to the other eye-catching building in the Bailgate; Lincoln Cathedral. Lincoln Cathedral is just a spectacular and beautiful Church, winning the Cathedral World Cup hosted on twitter recently! If you have the legs for it, I highly recommend the Tower Tour, which takes you up to the top of the Central Tower where you can experience fabulous views and (if it’s a clear day) much of Lincolnshire. If you’ve got more time then I can highly recommend one of the photo tours; I did one a few years ago and had such a great time getting tips and taking snaps.
Inside Lincoln Cathedral.
From the Tower.
A Spot of Shopping
After a day of culture in the Castle and Cathedral, it’s only right that you should take time to browse some of the shops in the city. Stay up in the Bailgate area for artists’ galleries, boutiques, craft shops and gift shops lined either side of the cobbled streets. If you’re looking for the big chains, you want the High Street which is at the bottom of the hill and down towards the train station. Either way, you’ll do well to just peruse the wares… it’s too easy to spend money here!
A Shake for the Road
You’ll have done well to fit all this in within your first 24 hours in Lincoln, but before you go, make sure you pop into Eskimoo Milkshakes, one of the best independent milkshake shops in the world. A big claim, perhaps, but I am yet to find any milkshake shop serving such good shakes! My personal recommendation is for a simple Daim or After Eight Mint shake, or the Light Headed Grampa special which is a combination of Werther’s Original and Flumps. Mmmmmm milkshake. It’s just a takeaway so grab yours
Lincoln Cathedral from Lincoln Castle.
Lincoln really is an excellent place for a short break; there is so much more to see and do (and eat…), but this should get you started. If you’re local or you’ve been, add your tips for a great time in the comments below. And if this has inspired you to go – let me know what you think!