15 Reasons to Discover Derby

By Visit Derby

Created January 1, 2023

Last updated July 5, 2023

Unlock the secrets of Derby with our captivating article highlighting 15 compelling reasons to discover this vibrant city. Immerse yourself in a world of rich history, cultural treasures, and captivating experiences that make Derby a must-visit destination. Explore the city's iconic landmarks, such as the Cathedral and Joseph Wright Gallery, showcasing its architectural and artistic wonders. Delve into its industrial heritage, including the Silk Mill and World Heritage Site, and marvel at the ingenuity of the past. Indulge in retail therapy at unique boutiques and Derbion, or embark on scenic trails and parks that invite you to connect with nature. With a thriving arts and entertainment scene, delectable dining options, and a warm and welcoming community, Derby promises a memorable experience for all. Discover the allure of Derby as you uncover these 15 reasons that make it a true gem. Start planning your Derby adventure today!

Discover The Museum of Making

Derby forms the southern gateway to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Designed and made by the people and industries of Derby, the Museum of Making was built on the site of the world's first factory and is truly unique and will be a must-visit destination for those in the East Midlands and beyond.

To enter the Museum, visitors will walk through the iconic 18th century Bakewell Gates (part of the original structure of the Silk Mill) to be greeted by an impressive Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine which will hang above visitors from the ceiling in the Civic Hall. This engine has already been dramatically winched into place as due to its size, and the impressive Civic Hall, a triple height glass atrium that forms the entrance to the new Museum is being constructed around it – a testament to the engineering strengths of the region. 

Image for Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill (UNESCO World Heritage Site)


Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Silk Mill Lane, Derby

Take a brewery tour and sample fantastic craft beer

Travel gurus at the Lonely Planet describe Derby as the "best place to drink real ale in the World" and the folks at CAMRA reckon there is more real ale choice in Derby than anywhere else. Hey, who are we to disagree? You can take a tour of Derby's original craft brewer by booking a Derby Brewing Company brewing tour. For further inspiration, why not read our list of The Best Ale Houses in England in Derby.

Image for Derby Brewing Co Brewery Tours


Derby Brewing Co Brewery Tours

Masons Place Business Park, Nottingham Road, Derby

Go to Withers Gin School

Visit Withers Gin School in Derby and hand-craft your own unique bottle of gin! Your experience will conclude with an additional taste of your very own gin with a choice of garnishes and tonics to compliment your recipe.

Image for Withers Gin School Gin Experience


Withers Gin School Gin Experience

Unit 7 Mansfield Road, Derby

Take a tour of England's oldest manufacturer of fine bone china

Bearing the Royal and Crown marks for the quality of their wares, Royal Crown Derby has been manufacturing fine bone china in the city since 1750. Kings and Queens have testified to the quality of the historic brand, which also provided the dinner service for First Class passengers on the Titanic. Take a tour of the factory and marvel at how RCD make everything from tableware to their signature collectable paperweights.

Image for Royal Crown Derby Museum and Archive Tours


Royal Crown Derby Museum and Archive Tours

194 Osmaston Road, Derby

Discover who were 'Made in Derby' in the city's Augmented Reality trail

Made in Derby is a trail of mosaic and cast iron plaques celebrating the the lives of people who have had a huge impact on the city and who have helped Derby to make its mark on the world. Each plaque can be brought to life via augmented reality, by using the "Made in Derby" app on your smart phone. Derby is the first city in Europe to utilise Augmented Reality and the famous names include trailblazers of sport, science, history and the arts including Florence Nightingale, Joseph Wright, Charles Rolls and Henry Royce, Lara Croft and Adam Peaty.

Image for Made in Derby


Made in Derby

Watch for Peregrine Falcons on the ancient stone tower of Derby Cathedral 

Adult peregrines can be seen on most days around the tower at Derby's Cathedral Green, or perched high up on the lettering of nearby Leonardo Hotel Derby. Even outside the March to June breeding season they are often visible on one of the Cathedral's webcams. Peregrine watch-points are usually run on Derby's Cathedral Green from mid-May to mid-June. 

Image for Derby Cathedral Tours


Derby Cathedral Tours

18-19 Iron Gate, Derby

Visit the tomb of formidable Elizabethan noble Bess of Hardwick

Bess of Hardwick was an icon of the Elizabethan period and one of the most powerful women in Europe. She is perhaps best known for the eponymous Hardwick Hall in the north of Derbyshire which Bess helped to build along with the famous house at Chatsworth. When she died in 1608, aged 81, Bess was described as being "one of the most richest and powerful women in the Kingdom" and was buried at All Saints Church in Derby (now Derby Cathedral) in a tomb designed by Bess herself.

Image for Derby Cathedral


Derby Cathedral

18-19 Iron Gate, Derby

Grab an All-American burger at Annie's Burger Shack

No visit to Derby is complete without a pitstop at Annie's Burger Shack - voted Best Burger Bar in England 2019 and winner of the Best International restaurant at the Derby Food & Drink Awards 2019. Annie's burgers reflect the traditional way they were made in the authentic American family restaurants; fresh and seasoned to the grill, combined with a modern and ethically inclusive twist. Annie is proud to offer all her original recipes and famous monthly themed burgers as either 100% Vegan, Veggie or Meaty. Yes that's right. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE!

Image for Annie's Burger Shack Derby


Annie's Burger Shack Derby

Friary Street, Derby

Visit stunning National Trust properties

From the heart of the country originates fascinating stories of extravagant spenders, ruthless entrepreneurs and the dramatic decline of country house retreats. The National Trust has invested time and money in restoring these works of art for generations to come, all spread across the 37,000 acres of land they protect in Derbyshire and the Peak District. For those wanting to indulge in life in the 16th, 18th and 19th century, come and discover the stories that Derby has to tell.

Image for Calke Abbey


Calke Abbey

Ticknall, Derbyshire

Image for Kedleston Hall


Kedleston Hall

near Quarndon, Derbyshire

Image for The Children's Country House at Sudbury


The Children's Country House at Sudbury

Sudbury, Ashbourne,

Image for Hardwick Hall


Hardwick Hall

Doe Lea, Chesterfield

Marvel at the world's largest collection of Joseph Wright paintings

Joseph Wright is one of the most famous artists of the Enlightenment era. Born in the city in 1734, Wright dedicated much of his work to illustrating man's relationship with science as the Industrial Revolution took shape and changed the world forever. His paintings are displayed in museums across the world, including London, New York and St Petersburg, but here in Derby there are more examples of his fine work than anywhere else. As well as artwork, you'll find a dedicated archaeology, nature, military and world collections gallery in addition to their regular temporary exhibition.

Image for The Museum and Art Gallery


The Museum and Art Gallery

The Strand, Derby

Stay at the historical Makeney Hall Hotel

Makeney Hall Hotel is a magnificent Victorian Country Mansion situated in the heart of Derbyshire, set in six acres of beautifully landscaped gardens with breathtaking views across the Amber Valley. Only eight miles from Derby and two miles from the flourishing market town of Belper, the hotel enjoys the most tranquil surroundings. Makeney Hall Hotel, has a long a history entrenched with the local towns of Belper and Milford, and the notable local family, the Strutt’s. A name with is still synonymous with the area today, with many local landmarks carrying the name, including the hotel's own ‘Strutt House Restaurant’.

Image for Makeney Hall Hotel


Makeney Hall Hotel

Makeney Road, Belper,

Try Gin, Whisky and Rum at the Peak District's first craft distillery

Established in 2016, White Peak Distillery is the first full-scale, craft distillery in the Peak District region. Founded by local couple, Max & Claire Vaughan. The Distillery is located in the former Johnson & Nephew Wire Works in Ambergate and celebrates the rich riverside and industrial landscape of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. The Distillery backs onto the ancient woodland of Shining Cliff, which is a site of special scientific interest. As well as being at a gateway to the Peak District the location offers access to some wonderful, local woodland walks, and to footpaths that follow the Cromford Canal to Cromford Mills.

Image for White Peak Distillery


White Peak Distillery

Derwent Wire Works, Matlock Road, Ambergate, Derbyshire

Stay the night in Florence Nightingale's ancestral home

Located north of Derby is Florence Nightingale's ancestral home at Lea Hurst in Derbyshire. The nursing icon was born in the Italian city which she is named after though few people know that she grew up in the picturesque countryside of Derbyshire. Stay in one of Florence's old rooms, discover the amazing history of the estate and take in the scenic views of the Derwent Valley. 

Image for Florence Nightingale Suites at Lea Hurst


Florence Nightingale Suites at Lea Hurst

Lea Shaw, Highpeak Junction,

Experience over 100 years of automobile and aviation history

Based in Derby since 1908, Rolls-Royce are one of the most prestigious and historic brands in world engineering. In Derby, Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust provide an authoritative yet entertaining view of the company's rich history through exciting exhibitions, as well as their fascinating archive of documentation, reports and photographs and other artefacts. The Trust also hold a programme of lectures over the year and publish a series of historic and technical books. Tours in Derby include a visit to the Rolls-Royce Heritage Centre, formerly 12 Shop of the Light Alloy Foundry on Osmaston Road, and the Learning and Development Centre in Sinfin. Each site offers an immersive exhibition for visitors to enjoy.

Image for Rolls-Royce Heritage Tours


Rolls-Royce Heritage Tours

Rolls-Royce Heritage Centre, Gate 5A, LDC, Wilmore Road , Derby

Traverse the scenic River Derwent on the all-new Derby River Boat

Soon, Derby river boat trips will commence on the River Derwent. The 45 minute cruise will depart the boarding platform next to Exeter Bridge and make its way north to Darley Abbey and back again. Learning about the river, the wildlife, Derby’s place in history and our exciting plans for its future via our on board audio commentary. There will also be activities and challenges for children of all ages. You will also be able to view the world’s first river plastic collection robot designed by Rolls-Royce trainees. Or simply sit back on the open air foredeck and enjoy the sun and sights of the Museum of Making, Darley Park and the Derwent Valley. There will be hot and cold drinks and light refreshments available on the onboard café.

Image for Derby Riverboat Trips


Derby Riverboat Trips

Opposite Silk Mill, Derby

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