The South Yorkshire city of Sheffield has long held its status as a city of national significance, changing to reflect the times we’ve lived through. Once a humble market town, Sheffield experienced a huge boom in size and economic stature during the industrial revolution. Dealing mainly in steel, this led to the appearance of its nickname, The Steel City.
The city’s reputation for steel production is still as famous as it ever was, even without the abundance of factories in town. Now the city has moved into the sphere of arts, exporting numerous successful musicians and artists over the last fifty years.
Along with its progressive outlook, this has firmly fixed Sheffield on the UK map, and it continues to attract thousands of visitors every year. Here are 15 things to do when visiting that iconic city of the north, Sheffield.
1. The Leadmill
There are few musical venues left in Britain with a more iconic status than Sheffield’s Leadmill. Since opening its doors in the early 1980s, a fair share of British artists have graced the stage here and have gone on to conquer the musical world. Playing in the venue seems to have become right of passage for any up and coming band wishing to make a name for themselves.
Along with seeing your next favourite band perform here, The Leadmill also plays host to stand up comedy nights, theatre predictions and cabaret nights. Visiting this legendary Leadmill music venue when you’re in the city is a must for any music fanatic.
2. Weston Park Museum
Sheffield’s largest museum, the Western Park Museum, is housed within one of the city’s many Grade II listed buildings. Opened in 1875, the Weston Park Museum is an in-depth look at everything Sheffield. From its archaeological past, its natural history and decorative art to its social history.
The museum’s wide variety of ever-changing exhibitions, open days and displays keep even the most experienced museum-goer interested. The neoclassical building’s architectural design alone is worth a visit, and it has become one of the city’s most revered and celebrated buildings for this reason alone.
Held up as one of the city’s most revered restaurants, Rafters is a true five-star dining experience for anyone with a taste for the finer things in life. Built on a reputation of fresh ingredients and a well-thought-out food and wine pairing menu, Rafters is seen as the Sheffield restaurant.
Although the bill maybe a little on the pricier side, choosing to dine at Rafters when you’re visiting the city will add a good dose of excitement to your trip. Nestled on the western, almost suburban, area of the city, Rafters has an air of finesse you will struggle to find elsewhere.
4. The Crucible
Arguably as famous as the city itself, The Crucible Theatre has long been an institution recognized by the entire nation’s theatre-going community and fans of the game of snooker.
Opened in the early ‘70s, the theatre has seen decades of iconic performances and famous actors walk the boards here. Catch a show at The Crucible, and you’ll join a long list of theatre audiences to enjoy the novelty of a unique crucible theatre space.
In modern times The Crucible has become the venue for the World Snooker Championship. Visit during the Springtime to catch a few frames of snooker at this iconic Sheffield venue.
5. Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife and Falconry Centre
Located only half an hour’s drive east from the city centre, Sheffield’s Tropical Butterfly House, Wildlife and Falconry Centre is an epicentre for nature. Escaping the concrete and steel of the city and exchanging it for the green and pleasant land that surrounds the centre will provide that breathe of fresh air that you’ve been looking for.
The centre houses a huge variety of butterflies, fantastic birds of prey and a myriad of other animals and creatures to get up, close and personal to. A visit here is perfect for the little ones, providing them with exciting entertainment, hands-on experiences with animals and a quick education of the natural world.
6. The Gardeners Rest
The Gardeners Rest allows visitors to experience a traditional Yorkshire pub with a difference. Owned and shared by community members, the Gardeners Rest has the wider community at its very heart, though they won’t shy away from welcoming the odd out-of-towner either.
Serving up the local Sheffield tipple and many modern drinks, you will definitely feel at home amongst the traditional decor and friendly natured locals. The Gardeners Rest also plays host to a range of art and music events, so keep an eye out for their show listings and kill two birds with one stone.
7. Graves Gallery
Perched above Sheffield’s central library building is one of the city’s most celebrated art galleries. Graves Gallery is home to a vast number of paintings and sculptures, many of which cross over several genres and time scales. With zero entrances fees, visitors can catch a glimpse of a Picasso, hung next to Victorian nudes and modern art from the 21st century.
Located in the city centre, the peace and quiet you encounter once inside the Graves Gallery is a stark contrast to the busy city below. If you wish to escape the rush of inner-city Sheffield for an hour or two, then a visit to Graves Gallery is worth it.
8.The Indie Arcade
The Indie Arcade is vintage shop heaven for anyone with a quirky and unique taste for clothes, memorabilia, vinyl and much much more. Based in an unassuming warehouse, the Indie Arcade is an Aladdin’s cave of items that cover decades of British culture. Find ‘60s clothing mixed in with early ‘90s video games and ‘70s furniture with ‘80s football memorabilia.
The onsite cafe provides a spot of refreshment after an hour or two of rummaging through this treasure trove of vintage items. This makes a fantastic detour for lovers of all things kitsch.
9. Sheffield Botanical Gardens
Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens occupy an idyllic space of over twenty acres and sit about a mile outside of the city centre. Designed in the 19th century, the Victorian glasshouse and surrounding gardens are home to over 5,000 species of flowers and plants. This horticulturalists dream is the perfect place to unwind after a day exploring the city.
The gardens also put on a variety of musical, art and open theatre events across the spring and summer months. Keep an eye out on their calendar for these fun and entertaining days out for everyone.
10. Sheffield Cathedral
One of the city’s only Grade I building’s, Sheffield Cathedral’s historical significance can not be underestimated. Construction on the cathedral began in the 13th-century and took several hundred years to be completed. Take a guided tour of the cathedral and experience the awe-inspiring views from both the inside and out.
Observe the range of stain glass artworks that adorn the cathedral and spot the York and Lancaster Regiment swords that are displayed in the cathedral’s St George Chapel. Still an active place of worship, Sheffield Cathedral has lost none of its religious potency, and this can be felt throughout the building.
11. Moor Market
Often seen as the Borough Market of the North, Moor Market is a must-visit for anyone in the city of Sheffield. Home to around 100 independent stalls, you’ll find stalls selling food, wine, furniture, clothes, jewellery and much more.
With family butchers, artisan bakers and fishmongers amongst the many stalls, there is an authenticity here that is often missing from modern city markets. You a sure to find a unique treat for lunch or an early dinner at the Moor Market.
12. Winter Garden
The Sheffield Winter Garden is the largest urban glasshouse found anywhere in Europe and is one of the biggest to be built in the UK over the past one hundred years. Constructed as part of the Heart of the City Project, which was set in place to improve the city centre, the Winter Garden has become one of Sheffield’s most iconic spots.
Housing over 2,500 species of plants, the Winter Garden glasshouse is a must-see for any lovers of plants and gardening. With free admission and a jaw-dropping view from in and outside the glasshouse, a visit here is always worth it.
13. Millennium Gallery
Also constructed as part of the Heart of the City Project, the Millenium Gallery is one of the most modern and forward-thinking institutions to be found in the city in decades. Listed as the 15th most-visited free attraction in the country by Visit England, it is clear to see why it has become so popular.
There are a number of permanent collections at the gallery, including the famous Ruskin Collection. This is a display of watercolours, drawings, prints, plaster casts, minerals, illustrated books, manuscripts and coins taken from Victorian art critic John Ruskin.
14. Bramall Lane
Home to one of the city’s most successful clubs, Sheffield United, a visit to Bramall Lane is an exciting day out for any fan of the beautiful game. Taking a tour of this iconic Sheffield football club includes a look at the backroom staff’s routines, a delve inside the trophy cabinet and even a chance to sit out in one of the home teams dugouts – a treat for any fan of The Blades.
After a tour of the ground, why not unwind in the stadium’s bar and restaurant which makes for a perfect end to a fantastic footballing day out.
15. Peak District National Park
With a third of the city of Sheffield located inside the Peak District National Park boundaries, the natural bounty of the park can be accessed with ease. Take a day trip from the city into the great expanse of Peak District National Park and enjoy all it has to offer.
The park is the perfect environment for hillwalking and hiking, with thousands of miles worth of trails peppering the landscape. Visitors can also stay the night and set up camp at one the many sites dotted around the park. Using Sheffield as a base makes exploring the Peak District a breeze.