Things to do in Derby | Attractions

With a history dating back to the Roman invasion, Derby underwent a period of huge expansion during the Victorian era and has some seriously impressive buildings and parks dating back to the industrial revolution. The city also boasts modern venues such as Derby Arena, and a whole host of other attractions to visit.

Historic buildings

At 65 metres tall, Derby Cathedral’s tower – which dates back to the 16th century – can be seen from around the city and is a great way to find your bearings when you first arrive. The main body of the church is even older, having been constructed during the late 10th century. Officially given cathedral status in 1927, the building is well known for its bells, some of which are more than 500 years old and weigh almost a tonne. The bells play a different tune each day and can be heard at 9am, midday and 6pm. The Cathedral Centre includes a café, bookshop and exhibition space featuring works by local artists.

Derby Cathedral

Derby Cathedral

Spread over more than 300 acres of woodland, Elvaston Castle and country park is a great place for a day out. The house, which dates back to 1633, isn’t open to the public but the gardens are a hive of activity including horse riding, bird watching, walking and cycling and make the perfect place for a family picnic on a warm summer day.

Located 10 miles from our Derby South hotel is Calke Abbey, an Augustinian priory from the 12th century that’s now run by the National Trust. The house has largely been untouched since the 1880s, and is in a state of disrepair, a stark contrast to the landscaped park that includes several impressive gardens.

Elvaston Castle

Calke Abbey


Located on the edge of the Peak District and with glorious countryside surrounding the city on all four sides, Derby has more than 300 parks and public spaces, including Darley Park, a sprawling area that follows the Derwent River and is a five-minute drive from our City Centre (Cathedral Quarter) hotel. A great place for dog walking and running, the park is also home to the Darley Park Tea Rooms, a great spot to admire nature while snacking on some home-cooked cake. Plus, on weekends in the summer, you’ll hear the gentle sound of leather on willow at the cricket club – grab an ice cream or cold drink, sit back and relax.

Darley Park

The city’s most visited park, Markeaton Park is one of the most popular visitor attractions in the East Midlands and is two miles from our Derby North West hotel. Opened in the 18th century, the park has an impressive range of activities – from footgolf courses to pitch and putt and even a kids’ adventure playground, the park is packed full of things to do. And when you do need a well-deserved sit down, head to The Orangery Café and Craft Village for a cuppa and some quiet times before heading back out to explore the play centre, rowing boats and model railway.

Another green space slightly out of the city centre is Alvaston Park, just south of Pride Park. Spread over 85 acres, the park has a truly diverse range of activities including a BMX track, science garden and fishing lake. Once you’ve finished exploring the park, head to the Waterside Café which serves up breakfast, lunch and light bites as well as a range of drinks.

And last, but most definitely not least is Derby Arboretum Park, which was Britain’s first ever public park. Opened in 1840 as the UK’s first specifically designed urban park, The Arboretum has a brand new playground as well as several trees dating back to the 19th century.


One of the largest football stadiums in the Midlands, Pride Park is home to Derby County and has a capacity of 33,597 making it the 16th-largest ground in England. Opened in 1997, the stadium has hosted several international matches as well as gigs by Rod Stewart, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Located on an industrial park several miles out of town, there are several large car parks nearby available on match days. Our Derby East hotel is within walking distance at less than a mile away using Derwent Parade to cross the river, with several cafés, bars and restaurants en route including Frankie & Benny’s, while there also several fast-food outlets within the ground.

Derby County hit their peak in the 70s when they twice won the League and made it through to the European Cup semi-finals. Known colloquially as the Derby Rams, they were led to their first league title by Brian Clough before he headed to Leeds United and then fierce club rivals Nottingham Forest in 1975.

Of course, Derbyshire is also the home of Donington Park, one of the UK’s leading motorsport circuits. You can read all about the famous stadium in its dedicated guide.

Pride Park

Looking for a hotel in Derby?

Whether you want to sample Derby's vibrant nightlife, or explore some of the East Midland's top attractions, there are several well-located Derby hotels for you to choose from, all within a couple of miles of the city centre.