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Sheffield's stunning skyline can be seen from many different places
Sheffield's stunning skyline can be seen from many different places

Sheffield City Guide: Where to eat, drink, stay and shop in South Yorkshire’s cultural capital

Make the most of a weekend in this industrial-cool city

Kelly Pigram
Wednesday 28 November 2018 17:54
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Sheffield has a reputation as a student city with an industrial history, but in reality, it’s so much more than that. Over the past few years, a frankly ridiculous number of independent shops, cafés, bars and restaurants have opened up, and as a result, there’s something to do every night of the week: comedy shows, art exhibitions, pop-up restaurants and street food markets abound. The industrial history is still there, and it’s captivating to explore the older parts of town; but now, warehouses have turned into slick apartments, and industrial red-brick walls on every corner are covered with colourful street art.

Easily accessible by rail from most places in the UK, Sheffield is a lovely option for a weekend getaway – book a train, and start planning.

What to do

Explore the food and drink scene

Head to Peddler Market, a street food, design and drinks event that usually takes place on the first weekend of each month. It’s where you’ll find the best street food in the city, alongside live music and exhibitions from local artisans.

Cultural stop

Millennium Gallery is the city’s premier collection of art and design, plus it hosts a schedule of events, including evening yoga in the gallery and life drawing classes. There’s also a lot of Christmas craft for one-of-a-kind gifts; free entry.

Stroll through Sheffield Botanical Gardens

Weston Park, meanwhile, is Sheffield’s top museum, with a broad range of exhibitions exploring the city’s roots and its influence on politics, music and culture; free entry.

Walk

Stroll through town and stop by the beautiful Botanical Gardens, or walk a trail through leafy Endcliffe Park. Head down to the river and pass Kelham Island and the Krynkl shipping container development, which houses loads of independent businesses and startups. If you’re a real explorer, it’s only a short trip to Peak District National Park, where you can revel in the natural beauty of the Midlands.

Hang out on Abbeydale Road

This grungy part of town is loaded with things to do, but the highlights are Abbeydale Picture House (an old cinema that regularly hosts double features and vintage markets), Forge Bakehouse (an artisan bakery with award-winning sourdough, great brunches and baking classes) and Picture House Social (see where to drink).

Forge Bakehouse is an artisan bakery on Abbeydale

Where to stay

Sheffield is a relatively small city, so wherever you stay you’ll be in easy reach of wherever you need to go. Leopold Hotel is a nice option in the city centre – a boutique spot set in an old Victorian boys’ school, it’s a 10-minute walk from the station and a popular option with business travellers. Rooms are lovely and modern, and it has everything you need: reasonable prices, a 24-hour bar and a basic restaurant that’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Doubles from £75, room only.

For something more chic, Brocco on the Park is right by the picturesque Endcliffe Park (and the university, if that’s why you’re visiting). It’s pricey, and about a half-hour walk from the city centre, but it’s in a lovely spot with cafés, pubs and restaurants dotted around the area and lots to do. The rooms are pristine and Scandi-style, with leafy views that overlook the park. Doubles from £125, room only.

Chic digs at Brocco on the Park

Much cheaper is Russell Scott Hostels. It’s quite basic, but if you’re on a budget, it’s everything you need: walking distance to attractions, with kitchen and laundry facilities. Doubles from £40, room only.

If you’re travelling in a group, there are a few self-catered flats around the city available on Airbnb – The Millhouse, right by the Botanical Gardens, is a modern option; £95 a night, two double bedrooms.

Where to eat

Book a table at Jöro, a slick restaurant in a shipping container that was awarded Michelin’s Bib Gourmand (the company’s rating for more casual spots). The tagline is “a meal built of many small plates” but it’s much more relaxed (and less pretentious) than it sounds. Head chef Luke French blends hyper-seasonal, local produce with a love of junk food, creating smart, delicious small plates like celeriac slow-cooked in beef fat with Lincolnshire Poacher, gherkin and crispy onions.

Jöro is all about small plates

Head to Eve Kitchen for brunch, a whimsical spot famous for its handmade doughnuts, but also serving simple, seasonal breakfasts. It’s light and airy inside, offering great coffee and colourful plates often topped with edible flowers (such as the apple crumble French toast).

Elm is a neighbourhood restaurant open for lunch, dinner and snacks. It’s a homey space with exposed brick walls and cupboards of natural wine, which is owner Sam Binstead’s newest obsession (his other love is coffee; he owns the speciality brew shop Upshot on the other side of town). The food is simple, but lovely – flatbread pizzas at night, charcuterie and small plates throughout the day – and the wine is exquisite.

Eve Kitchen is known for its doughnuts

A few more options: Pom Kitchen, a vegetarian and vegan option with healthy salads and sandwiches; and Street Food Chef for cheap and delicious Mexican food.

Where to drink

There are loads of great places to drink in Sheffield – you can thank the city’s student population for that. A lovely option, particularly in summer, is Picture House Social, which has a colourful beer garden and serves creative cocktails and craft beer. A reasonably priced bottomless brunch is available on weekends for £20, which includes 90 minutes of bottomless lager, mimosas and prosecco, as well as two courses of cheerful Italian street food.

Head to Picture House Social for bottomless brunch

For caffeine, Steam Yard is the one: a speciality coffee spot with great drinks, a sunny courtyard and loads of baked goods like doughnuts, cronuts and ice cream sandwiches (toasties and bagels are made to order).

Birdhouse Tea Bar & Kitchen is an all-day speciality tea shop, café and bar, founded by a mother-daughter team. It specialises in loose-leaf tea, but also serves fab tea-infused cocktails at night, as well as coffee, matcha lattes and peppermint hot chocolates.

Just looking for a pint? There are pubs on every corner. A few local favourites are Kelham Island Brewery and The Riverside (the beer garden here is huge, and very busy on sunny days).

Steam Yard is a caffeine addict’s dream

Where to shop

Vintage stores line the streets, so spend a few hours hunting at Mooch Vintage, which is great if you don’t mind digging (there’s a huge selection of fur coats), Vulgar (a bright pink shop selling quirky, reworked clothes and accessories) and Cow (curated racks of trendy clothes).

La Biblioteka bookshop in the city centre is a lovely independent store for indie magazines, cookbooks and gifts such as homewares and ceramics. Events are often hosted in store, including magazine launches and reading nights, so keep an eye on the website’s cultural programme.

Go for a rummage at Mooch Vintage

The Devonshire Quarter in the city centre is packed with creative independent shops selling handmade clothing, paintings and indoor plants. Plantology is a local favourite, with whimsical greenery on every surface, but Syd & Mallory is also worth stopping at: a tiny store selling handmade clothes and accessories adorned with the owner’s cute graphic designs.

Architectural highlight

Take a walk around the Kelham Island Quarter, one of the city’s oldest industrial areas that has housed factories for over 900 years. It’s much more modern now, with colourful street art on almost every red-brick wall, minimal terrace houses and independent businesses like breweries setting up shop – but it’s still a captivating blend of old and new. Visit the Kelham Island Museum for a real hit of history.

Kelham Island Quarter, one of the city’s oldest industrial areas

Nuts and bolts

What currency do they use?

Pound sterling.

What language do they speak?

English.

How much should I tip?

Service charge is included at most restaurants. If not, 10-15 per cent is fine.

Public transport

East Midlands trains run a direct service from London to Sheffield, and buses in the city are reliable. Most places in the city are walking distance.

Best view

From any beer garden in the city.

Insider tip

Check opening times before you visit. Many businesses are closed on Sundays and Mondays.

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