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Derby is a great place for a city break and and great base for exploring the wider area including the stunning Peak District and Derbyshire countryside and attractions. Take a look at our 15 Reasons to Discover Derby for some great ideas, although there are many more reasons to come and stay and explore our great city...
1. Discover The Museum of Making on the site of the world's first factory, part of the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site
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 (opening 2021) 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.
No trip to Derby would be complete without trying the city's signature snack, a Derby Pyclet. The same Derby Pyclets baked from the Monks family recipes from 1864 to the late 1980's and still baked in Derby by the Gibsons family 2016-2020. Pyclets are like crumpets with a twist and can be enjoyed with just about anything! Order on-line or look out for the new Pyclet Parlour opening soon.
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.
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.
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.
While discovering Derby, why not tour our fantastic Derby Cathedral. The tower is the second-tallest perpindicular church tower in England and those willing to give the 189 steps up are treated with spectacular views of the city. Not only is the tower one of the tallest in the country but it also houses the oldest ring of ten bells in the entire world!
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.
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!
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.
10. Marvel at the world's largest collection of Joseph Wright paintings at Derby Museum & Art Gallery
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.
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’.
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.
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.
14. Experience over 100 years of automobile and aviation history with one of the largest collections of engines on display in the world
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.
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.