Nottingham is one of the biggest cities in the country, with a population of more than 300,000 in the city itself and 750,000 people including the suburbs. That makes it the largest city in the East Midlands and the second largest in the Midlands after Birmingham. It has a rich history too, officially being granted city status more than 125 years ago in 1897. So, with a rich history and a big population, you may be wondering: what is Nottingham famous for? Well, that’s what I am going to try to answer. Whether you’re an incoming fresher looking to discover a little more about your future home or a curious current student, there’s plenty to learn about the city of Nottingham. 

1. Robin Hood

what is Nottingham is famous for?  robin hood

Let’s start with the obvious one, Robin Hood. The legendary folk tale of the outlaw that would steal from the rich to give to the poor. This folklore, taking place in Nottingham, is present all across the city. With a Robin Hood Experience museum in the city centre, you can discover all things about this based anticapitalist king. Alternatively, you can visit Sherwood Forest itself, or go and see the Robin Hood statue outside of Nottingham Castle. One of the most iconic parts of Nottingham. 

2. Universities

what is Nottingham is famous for?
Source: Nottingham Trent University

Nottingham is home to two big UK universities, the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, as well as one of the nine University of Law campuses nationally. Students make up a big part of the city (around 65,000 between the two main unis) and consequently, there is so much to do while you are here for your degree. Check out this list for some cheap things to do in Nottingham as students. 

3. Nottingham Castle

Nottingham is famous for its castle

Nottingham Castle was first constructed in 1068, so it’s nearing a whole millennium since it was first constructed. While the castle is currently closed, it is still an iconic landmark within the city. Even if you can’t go in and explore the castle itself, there is still plenty to do in the surrounding area. For instance, you can head to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, the oldest surviving pub in England that is built into the rocks of the castle. It’s a family-friendly pub with all the British pub food classics and some great deals on drinks (currently 3 shots for £10). 

4. Stilton cheese

Nottingham is famous for stilton cheese?
Source: Wikipedia

Nottinghamshire is one of the three regions in the country along with Derbyshire and Leicestershire that can officially produce Stilton cheese, having been granted Protected Designation of Origin status by the European Commission. It must be made in one of these counties and use local pasteurised milk. Despite the UK leaving the EU, this requirement still stands under both EU and UK law. What fun!

5. Bella Ramsey

Bella Ramsey comes from Nottingham
Source: Instagram

The Last Of Us is one of the biggest TV shows right now, but you may not know that one of the leads is from right here in Nottingham. Bella Ramsey, who plays Ellie on the show, was born in Nottingham in September 2003. She’s also had roles in Game of Thrones and His Dark Materials.

6. Lace and hosiery manufacturing

10 things Nottingham is famous for?
Source: Lace Market Studios

You can probably make this assumption based on the area of the city called the Lace Market, but Nottingham is famous for lace and hosiery manufacturing. It was the centre of lace manufacturing during the British Empire, and the city rose to prominence because of the textile industry during the Industrial Revolution. While the textile industry does not play as large of a role in Nottingham anymore, the Lace Market is still one of the city’s most vibrant areas, full of restaurants, bars and shops, all while still exhibiting that famous 19th-century architecture. 

7. The Downie Sisters

The Downie Sisters
Source: Team GB

Becky and Ellie Downie are two members of the British national gymnastics team from right here in Nottingham. The two were part of the 2016 Olympic Team and were part of the team that won GB’s first-ever team medal at the world championships in Glasgow in 2015. They also won individual medals on the same day at the 2019 World Championships in Germany (again, another amazing day). Both sisters have also been vocal about the British Gymnastics abuse scandal, standing up and speaking out against abusive coaching practices within the federation. Truly two inspirational athletes and women from right here in Nottingham. 

8. Torvill and Dean

10 things Nottingham is famous for?
Source: Olympics

Torvill and Dean are arguably the most famous athletes from Nottingham, or at least their sporting achievements have had the biggest impact on the city. The pair won Olympic gold at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo for their iconic Boléro routine. Back in Nottingham, the two have streets named after them in Wollaton (Torvill Drive and Dean Close), as well as Boléro Square in the city centre, which leads to the National Ice Centre, which was opened by the two in 2000, at the site of their former training centre. 

9. Ibuprofen

10 things Nottingham is famous for?
Source: Waitrose

The pioneering research on the drug was done at Boots’ (which was also founded in Nottingham) factory site in Beeston and at BioCity Nottingham in the city centre, the site of the original laboratory. Its creator, Stewart Adams, gained a pharmacy degree from UON and fun fact: he came up with the drug after a strong hangover. Something most students can relate to (well, not the drug invention part). 

10. Football; Nottingham County and Nottingham Forest

10 things Nottingham is famous for?
Source: Football Stadiums

What’s the oldest professional football club in the world? I’ll give you a hint, it’s probably not a team you expect. That’s right, Notts County is the oldest professional football club in the world, founded in 1862. Just across the river, you can find Nottingham Forest, Premier League side in the top flight for the first time this decade. The two clubs, although not at the same level currently, maintain a fierce rivalry. Forest currently leading with 40 wins to Notts County’s 30 and 27 draws. 

So, to answer the question, what is Nottingham famous for? Well, a lot of things. Actors, athletes, medicine, universities, and myths, among others. Nottingham is an exciting, vibrant and diverse city with something exciting for everyone, no matter what your interests are. 

If you’re coming to Nottingham this September, you’re going to want to know where to go. Check out this list for the ultimate freshers’ guide to Nottingham.