Grand Tour Visit Ideas

Derby and Nottingham are both vibrant city destinations ideal for a short break. The Grand Tour is the perfect excuse to explore these cities in the heart of the Midlands, while enjoying stunning art experiences. Use these pages to plan your overnight stay.

City itinerary

What to see:


Plan a visit to Derby Museum and Art Gallery, home of the Joseph Wright Institute. In Wright Revealed, see The Colosseum, by Moonlight, a newly discovered work believed to be by Wright, as it goes on show for the first time in 200 years. Witness the detective work needed to restore it, then compare it with its companion painting, The Colosseum, by Daylight (1789), inspired by Wright’s own Grand Tour plus other stunning works (4 July – 6 September 2015). FREE entry.

For more inspiration on things to see and do in the city of Derby please visit the Visit Peak District & Derbyshire website. 


Just 30 minutes down the road from Derby is Nottingham where you can view an exciting collaboration between Pablo Bronstein and Chatsworth at Nottingham Contemporary art gallery. See 70 precious items from Chatsworth’s prestigious Devonshire Collection in an entirely new light, as part of the largest loan from Chatsworth in 30 years (4 July – 20 September 2015). FREE entry.

For more inspiration on things to see and do in the city of Nottingham please visit Experience Nottinghamshire’s website.

Where to eat:

You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out in Derby and Nottingham, both cities are acclaimed for their cafe culture and fantastic restaurants. In Derby, try the Coffee House at Derby Museum and the QUAD Cafe for great light lunches and coffee, or try international cuisine at restaurants such as Iberico and Anoki.

In Nottingham, visit The Larder on Goosegate or Hart’s for British fine dining and afternoon tea or try one of the 32 burgers on offer at Annie’s Burger Shack, just around the corner from Nottingham Contemporary. The cafe bar on site at Nottingham Contemporary is also highly recommended.


  • See amazing items from Chatsworth’s art collection chosen by Pablo Bronstein at one of the UK’s leading art spaces: Nottingham Contemporary
  • Visit Paul Smith’s flagship store, Willoughby House, in Nottingham
  • Treat yourself with a stylish stay at Harts Hotel in Nottingham or the beautiful Cathedral Quarter hotel in Derby
  • Book a factory tour at John Smedley, the renowned British knitwear innovators. Or visit their original factory shop at Lea Mills.

Food and Drink

  • Join The Grand Feast at the School of Artisan Food with food historian Ivan Day.
  • Enjoy Michelin dining at Sat Bains Restaurant with Rooms in Nottingham or Baslow Hall near Chatsworth in Derbyshire
  • Sample produce made on the Welbeck Estate including Stichelton Cheese
  • Enjoy Bib Gourmand fusion cuisine at Iberico World Tapas, located beneath a former county gaol
  • Visit the oldest pub in England in a cave beneath Nottingham Castle.
  • Sample local produce such as the Derby Pyclet, Bakewell Pudding, Stilton Cheese and Bramley Apples.


  • Stay at the award-winning Browns B&B on the Welbeck Estate or The Ulvers B&B located in the village of Cuckney or book a night at Ye Olde Bell Hotel at Barnby Moor near the Welbeck Estate, a 17th Century coaching inn turned luxury hotel.
  • Join an exclusive State Room tour of Welbeck Abbey (during August only) – and see inside one of England’s most beautiful private homes.
  • Dine at The Larder on Goosegate in Nottingham, a Grade II heritage building which was home to the first-ever Boots the chemist.
  • Explore the caves beneath Nottingham, dating back to medieval times.
  • Enjoy the splendour of Chatsworth – from the magnificent Painted Hall, to the family-used chapel, regal State Rooms and beautiful Sculpture Gallery.
  • Visit the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, a series of historic mill complexes, including some of the world’s first ‘modern’ factories.


  • Visit the new National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham’s Creative Quarter
  • Enjoy exciting contemporary theatre at Nottingham Playhouse or Derby Theatre.
  • Reflect on Anish Kapoor’s impressive Sky Mirror outdoor sculpture in Nottingham.
  • Nottingham is a music city – catch up and coming indie bands at The Bodega, rock out at Rock City, or pay a visit to the new Rough Trade store.

The Great Outdoors

  • Explore the amazing Creswell Crags – where you’ll see Ice Age art in the limestone caves.
  • Stay in a luxury cabin (complete with fireplace and outdoor hot tub) within the most famous forest of all – Sherwood!
  • Enjoy a leisurely walk near Chatsworth House, taking in Stand Wood, the Emperor Lake, Aqueduct and the Brownhill Oak.
  • Cycle the 8.5-mile Monsal Trail along the former line of the Midland Railway through the scenic Peak District.

Our other top tips on things to do:

  • While in Derby, visit Derby QUAD to see immersive installations by Benedict Drew, part of the Grand Tour fringe programme. Enjoy elements of baroque in an eclectic mix of video, sculpture, music and digital media as Drew explores the concept of the ‘mystical experience’ relating to modern perceptions of The Enlightenment (27 June – 6 September). FREE entry.
  • On 25 & 26 July Nottingham Castle will host Grand Tour Art Walks with Alison Lloyd, offering a new perspective on this iconic heritage site.
  • Visit the Galleries of Justice Museum for the Reimagining Prison Reform exhibition, part of the Grand Tour Fringe programme (4 July – 27 September).
  • Try a recently-revived local speciality at the Derby Pyclet Company in Derby’s glorious Victorian Market Hall.
  • Did you know Sir Paul Smith started his fashion business in Nottingham? Visit his original store on Byard Lane or his beautiful flagship store on Middle Pavement.