Lincoln: The Magna Carta, charming shops and Gothic cathedrals

Wander the charmingly named Steep Hill, breathe in the magnificent Gothic cathedral. With Medieval streets brimming with history and captivating shops and cafes – expect to be charmed. 

2015 is the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta being signed and Lincoln has one of only four remaining copies. 

Here’s our guide to some of the best places for sightseeing, eating, drinking and shopping in Lincoln… 

Things to see and do in Lincoln

The Magna Carta is one of history’s most important documents. And Lincoln Castle has one of only four remaining copies.

What is the Magna Carta? Issued by King John in 1215, it laid down the rule that everyone – including royalty – was subject to the law

2015 is the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta being signed. And you will be able to see Lincoln’s copy in a new visitor centre built as part of the anniversary celebrations. Lincoln Castle Magna Carta Experience opens in April. See the ancient document beside its sister legislation the Charter of The Forest, and watch films about the Magna Carta on a vast curved, overhead screen.

Virgin Trains East Coast are providing additional services on some Saturdays to Lincoln. These are: 13 June, 25 July, 8 and 29 August and 24 and 31 October. You can check the times of these addtional services on our Timetable Alteration page here.


The awe-inspiring Lincoln Cathedral dominates the city’s skyline. At one time it was the world’s tallest building, and has featured in many films, most notably when it doubled for Westminster Abbey in The Da Vinci Code starring Tom Hanks.
Things to do at the cathedral:

  • The peregrines: Peregrine falcons live in the cathedral’s grounds each summer. Don’t miss their master-class in superfast acrobatic flying
  • Choral Evensong: Spend an evening listening to the cathedral choir performing evensong

The Collection is an exciting hands-on archaeology museum next to the Usher Gallery in the Cathedral Quarter. Get up close and personal with Lincolnshire’s earliest inhabitants and take the kids to the Play activity centre where they can have fun designing their own Roman shield or dressing up as medieval characters.

Events at The Collection this winter:

  • Medieval family fun day (17 February) Hear tales of monks, knights and princesses in bygone times
  • Posterngate (6 March) This rare opening of the underground Roman gate attraction showcases artefacts of local life more than 1,500 years ago

Many of Lincoln’s attractions will be open free of charge during the Discover Lincolnshire Weekend on 28-29 March.

Shopping in Lincoln

Lincoln has all the major high street shops and a fabulous collection of independent shops on charming cobbled streets.

Here are a few areas:  

High Street
:Lincoln’s long, bustling High Street is home to more than 300 shops and restaurants, including many of the major retailers such as House of Fraser, M&S, Laura Ashley and Primark. In the centre of High Street is the Waterside Shopping Centre. Here you’ll find the likes of Next, H&M, New Look and The Body Shop.

Bailgate: Loved by locals for its kooky ‘little village’ atmosphere. A wealth of gift shops, artisan food stores and trendy boutiques line the cobbled streets in this historic area of Lincoln’s Cathedral Quarter.

Steep Hill: A former winner of Britain’s Best Street, Steep Hill (it’s called that for a good reason) has a unique charm that makes Lincoln so appealing to visitors. Although it takes a bit of effort to get to the top, at least you can stop off for a breather at some of the delightful shops en route to the cathedral and castle. 

Food and drink in Lincoln

Lincoln has an abundance of cafes, restaurants and bars to suit all tastes and budgets.

A hearty lunch. Café Portico is a great place to stop off for lunch or afternoon coffee. In fact, one TripAdvisor reviewer rates it as the best place for lunch in Lincoln. Huge blackboards list the specials of the day and traditional Lincolnshire ingredients are given an Italian twist. The salads and cakes are legendary.

An intimate dinner. For dining with a view, you can’t do much better than the Electric Bar and Restaurant on the top floor of DoubleTree by Hilton overlooking Brayford Waterfront. It’s a stunning scene when the city is lit up at night. Enjoy a mai tai, Manhattan or mojito cocktail in the swanky bar, or savour baked goat’s cheese-cake, pan roast partridge and sticky ginger pudding in a restaurant that oozes sophistication.

Good pub grub. If it’s good hearty pub grub you’re after, look no further than the Green Dragon, a distinctive-looking 16th-century bar and grill by the River Witham. Its menu includes exotic meats you wouldn’t normally expect to find in a traditional English pub, including zebra, kangaroo, reindeer and wild boar.

Hidden Lincoln

Here are three places in Lincoln that you might not be aware of:

Harding House Gallery: Housed in a timbered 15th-century building on Steep Hill, this art studio showcases work by contemporary talent. Sculptures, ceramics, glass, landscapes, textiles, calligraphy – it’s got the lot.

Crust: Even though it’s on the High Street, you can easily miss this charming restaurant because you have to go upstairs to get to it. It has a cosy, old-fashioned feel. People love it because the home-cooked food is delicious, the service is friendly and it’s great value for money.

Top to Bottom: This Steep Hill treasure trove is packed full of elegant homeware and lovely gifts and accessories. If you’re looking for something special, you might just find it here.

Enjoy your trip to Lincoln.