10 Reasons why Nottingham is the Best City for Students

I’ve lived in Nottingham my whole life (apart from six months spent in Birmingham but that’s a story for another time!) and even though I love to travel, I can’t picture myself calling anywhere else home.

There’s so many things that make Nottingham a great city and it’s an especially exciting place to live if you’re a student. Undergraduate or postgraduate, young or mature student, you’re guaranteed an incredible university experience in Nottingham.

Here’s my top ten reasons why Nottingham is the best city for students.

1. Two leading universities

The most important thing to consider when choosing a university destination is whether the university itself is a good fit for you. Nottingham has two universities with national reputations Russell group University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University, named the Guardian’s University of the Year 2019. Both universities attract tens of thousands of students every year and offer an extensive list of courses to study.

If you want to find out more information on either university, including entry requirements for specific courses, visit their websites.

2. Unbeatable nightlife

Nottingham’s nightlife is undoubtedly one of the top attractions for students. There’s hundreds of different bars in the city centre, including unique and quirky independents like seaside-inspired Penny Lane with its own games arcade and secret bars such as Hockley Arts Club and Boilermaker.

On the clubbing scene, it’s practically a rite of passage to visit the legendary Rock City (over 40 years of partying and going strong!) and no Nottingham university experience would be complete without a trip to student only nightclub Ocean.

If you prefer a quiet drink in a more laidback setting, Nottingham’s home to some brilliant pubs too like Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, rumoured to be the oldest pub in England. Cheers! 🍻

3. Exceptional food & drink

From Michelin star establishments and big chain favourites to independent businesses loved by locals, there’s something to suit every taste and budget in Nottingham. Head over to Annie’s Burger Shack for proper American burgers or grab a slice of award-winning pizza at Oscar & Rosie’s.

There’s also amazing variety for vegetarians and vegans, including dedicated vegan café Prickly Pear and plant-based restaurant No. Twelve, recently awarded ‘Best Vegan Restaurant in the UK’.

As with the nightlife, eating and drinking in Nottingham is all about the experience. At Neon Wolf you can sip a latte in a retired dodgem car, while The Blind Rabbit has gaming tables to challenge your mates.

4. Lots of green spaces

Nottingham may be a big and busy city but there’s plenty of nature spots to visit if you know where to go. In the city centre itself, there’s the Forest Recreation Ground where the historic Goosefair takes place every year. You’ll also find the Nottingham Arboretum nearby, which has over 800 trees and its own aviary.

If you hop on a bus, you can take a trip to Wollaton to visit Wayne Manor (a.k.a Elizabethan mansion Wollaton Hall and its 500-acre deer park) or hire a rowing boat at Highfields Park and Boating Lake, handily located within the University of Nottingham’s main campus.

5. Things to do

When it comes to downtime from studying, there’s no shortage of entertainment in Nottingham. For sports fans, Nottingham has famous football teams (two-time European cup winners Nottingham Forest and the oldest club in football history Notts County), Trent Bridge cricket ground and ice hockey giants Nottingham Panthers.

If your interests are more creative than sporty, there’s an assortment of theatres, art galleries and museums to visit. The Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall has a varied programme of musicals, opera and ballet happening throughout the year. There’s also Broadway, a national leader of independent cinema, and several live events venues, including the Motorpoint Arena and Nottingham’s home to Just the Tonic Comedy Club Metronome.

6. A city with community

Nottingham is a welcoming city with a real sense of community. While university societies can be a great way to meet new people, why not look beyond your campus for local groups and social opportunities? A personal favourite of mine is Nottingham Writers’ Studio, an organisation for aspiring writers that offers workshops and a mentorship programme to develop your skills. If you’re a theatre kid, there’s lots to get involved with at Nottingham Playhouse, such as the Young Critics Group and the Drawing & Art Club.

If you’re simply looking to hang out with fun people, Nottingham Sociables has more than 8000 members of all ages and backgrounds. The group organises a variety of activities every week, from city walks to meals out and karaoke nights.

7. Suburbs full of character

If you fancy a change of scenery from the city centre, Nottingham’s suburbs are just waiting to be explored and each area has its own distinct vibe and appeal.

Beeston is the most popular area outside the city centre for students. The recently opened Ark cinema complex has seen a wave of new bars and restaurants open in the local area this year, including my favourite brunch place The Pudding Pantry.

Sherwood has a quirky, shabby chic feel to it and is the best place in Nottingham to bag yourself a charity shop bargain. There’s also a number of cute cafes for coffee and cake with friends – Crimson Tree has the most instagrammable door in the whole city!

West Bridgford is the place to go if you’re looking for a more sophisticated evening at a slower pace than the city centre. The main high street offers a selection of cocktail bars and top rated restaurants, like family-run Italian La Storia.

8. Fantastic transport links

Nottingham is situated in the East Midlands, making it a very accessible location from both the north and south of England. It’s only a two hour train journey from London and the nearest airport is just a half an hour drive from the city centre. There’s also an excellent public transport system operating within the city, including regular buses and a convenient tram service.

9. Annual events calendar

There’s lots of annual events to look forward to in Nottingham. The Old Market Square is a focal point for seasonal attractions – in summer, it’s transformed into an inner city beach with sand, deck chairs and beach bar. At Christmastime there’s a festive market with gift stalls, food & drink stands and a pop-up ski lodge bar.

Other standout events that take place each year are Goosefair, Splendour festival, Hockley Hustle, Nottingham Pride, Riverside festival, Nottingham Poetry festival, Light Night and Nottingham Food & Drink festival.

10. A student-friendly city

Moving away from your family and friends to study at university can feel overwhelming, but you aren’t alone. Did you know the total number of students living in Nottingham at any time is more than 60,000? That’s more than 60,000 people sharing the university experience with you, who know exactly how scary and exciting it can be to suddenly find yourself living alone in a new city. Seize every opportunity to make friends ⁠— in halls, at lectures and on nights out in Freshers Week ⁠— and you won’t be alone for long.

If you’re looking for more insider info on life in Nottingham, check out my other blogs:

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