Lincoln’s heritage goes back to the days of William the Conqueror, with Norman buildings, Gothic architecture and famous streets. Our guide to the best Lincoln tourist attractions gives you the lowdown on the finest that the city has to offer. There’s also stunning parks where you can immerse yourself in nature and see some of the country’s rarest wildlife species, plus one of the finest Elizabethan mansions in the UK, which has been in the same family since it was built.
Attractions in Lincoln
Historic buildings in Lincoln
The heritage of the city is intertwined with two buildings – Lincoln Cathedral and Lincoln Castle. Following the Battle of Hastings, both were built by William the Conqueror to fortify his position in the north of England. The cathedral is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the whole of Europe, while the castle is the only place in the world where you can see original copies of the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest.
Between them, they’re packed full of interesting tours and exhibits and are the city’s must-see places. If you’d like to find out more, we’ve put together a couple of pages dedicated to both Lincoln Cathedral and Lincoln Castle.
In the shadow of the cathedral, another place that’s worth a visit is Lincoln Medieval Bishop’s Palace. It was built in 1163 as a home for the Bishop of Lincoln, who at the time was the head of the largest diocese in medieval England. In line with his position in the Catholic Church, the Bishop’s Palace was a stunning example of Gothic architecture. Over the years, it fell into ruin, especially during the English Civil War when it was set on fire, but there are areas still standing today for you to explore. Plus, the Palace Garden is a delightful place to take a break from the bustling city centre.
If you’re walking to the Cathedral Quarter from the city centre, then you’ll likely make your way up Steep Hill – one of Lincoln’s famous historic streets. As the name suggests, it’s not exactly a walk in the park making your way up and down Steep Hill. It has a one in seven gradients (14%), so it’s a good job that it’s home to countless shops and cafés where you can catch your breath and indulge in a little retail therapy or a bite to eat.
The hill also has a handful of attractions of its own. The Mayor’s Chair is at the steepest point, where, many years ago, the Mayor of Lincoln installed a chair for weary travellers to take a breather. You won’t find the original chair there these days, but a row of benches have been installed in its place. Another one of Steep Hill’s attractions is Norman House. Dating back to the 12th century, it’s one of the oldest domestic houses in the whole of the UK – and it’s a great place to grab a brew, especially now that it’s a specialist tearoom.
Jew’s House is just off Steep Hill on The Strait. It’s famous for being one of only five surviving medieval Jewish houses in the country, with a heritage that dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Despite being such an old building, Jew’s House has always been occupied. Today, it’s a fine-dining restaurant and next door, Jews' Court is a beautiful shop selling antique books.
If you want to escape to the Lincolnshire countryside, Doddington Hall and Gardens is one of the best days out in the area and less than a 20-minute drive from our Lincoln (Canwick) hotel. You have the chance to look around a private Elizabethan mansion that’s never been sold. Ever since Doddington Hall was completed in 1600, it’s been a cherished family home that’s still lived in every day. With that in mind, it’s built up some incredible collections over the years, including furniture, paintings, weaponry and more, all begging to be explored.
Plus, the Elizabethan gardens surrounding the house are worth a visit in their own right. There’s also a farm shop, café, restaurant and home store, and the owners regularly put on concerts and exhibitions across the estate, so you really can spend the whole day there.
If the weather’s kind to you and you’ve got the opportunity to explore more of the outdoors, be sure to check out some of Lincoln’s beautiful parks. Hartsholme Country Park is less than a 15-minute drive from our Canwick hotel and consists of over 200 acres of lakes, a reservoir and woodlands where you can relax and unwind while wandering around its marked footpaths. You can learn more about the park’s local wildlife at the visitor centre, while there’s also a café where you can grab a coffee and maybe a slice of cake.
Whisby Natural World Centre is a little bit further away – but still less than a 20-minute journey from our Canwick hotel. It’s a stunning place to go for a walk, with more than six miles of footpaths allowing you to explore the stunning Whisby Nature Park and its array of lakes that are home to all kinds of rare and wonderful wildlife. Keen bird watchers and nature enthusiasts will be interested to know that, depending on the season, you can see goldcrests, sand martins, grebes and, if you’re lucky, nightingales.
Sincil Bank Stadium
Sincil Bank Stadium
Sincil Bank Stadium, or as local fans call it ‘Sinny Bank’, is the home ground of Lincoln City FC. They’ve been playing there since 1895, so it’s something of a sporting institution in the city, despite the fact that ‘The Imps’ have never made it to the top-flight of English football. Being so close to the city – one road away from the south-end of the High Street – it’s easy to get to if you want to watch some footy.