Blog post

What is there to do in Derby? - Things you can get up to in your spare time

Final Year BA (Hons) Journalism student, Johnathan Cowden, provides his advice on the best things to do in Derby

By Johnathan Cowden - 15 February 2023

Moving to a new city can be jarring; especially if you’re coming from another country. And once you arrive in your new city, you may find yourself a little bit bored. After all, you don’t know where anything is, or what you can do for fun in your spare time. It can be really important to find things to do though, for your mental health and just to unwind. 

Markeaton Park

Markeaton Park is a beautiful place to be. It’s the most visited park in Derby, receiving over a million visitors every year, and is located between the University’s Kedleston Road site and the Markeaton Site. Containing over 200 acres of land, including fields, woods, lakes, and even a craft village, the park is home to much wildlife and history, and is a lovely place to spend time either alone on a nice walk, or with friends.

Individual walking through Markeaton Park


The Derbion shopping centre is one of the biggest shopping centres in the East Midlands. Containing almost 200 services, there's a lot to do here! There are shops, like HMV, Next, Zara and H&M, as well as eateries like Five Guys, Wagamama, and Bear, and even a bowling alley, cinema, mini-golf, and Derby Theatre (owned by the University!). 

Nearby cities

If you fancy a change, Derby is a very well-connected city and is very well-positioned. It’s actually the most central city in England! Nearby are such interesting cities as Stoke-on-Trent, Sheffield, Leicester, Birmingham, and Nottingham. These places are easy to get to on the bus or train and make for a lovely day out with lots of things to do in each city.

Museums and Art Galleries

Derby is often cited as one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution, and there’s even a museum about it: The Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill. There’s more history to Derby though, as you can find at Pickford’s House, and Derby Museum and Art Gallery, which, as the name suggests, also contains an art gallery. Derby is an interesting place, and there are many more places that show this.

Individual in museum looking at historic paintings


Derby is absolutely full of restaurants, serving food from all around the world. From the Caribbean Turtle Bay to the Italian Nico’s, to the Greek Zorba, to the African Afrikana, to the Cosmo World Buffet, as well as many, many more, there’s no chance of you getting bored with the food, as there will always be a new dish to try.


There are many places to spend a night out in Derby. There are two Wetherspoons bars, as well as some older pubs, like the Grade II listed Ye Olde Dolphin Inn, which was built in the late 16th century, and The Friary, which was built in place of an old 13th century Dominican Friary. If clubs are more your style, Derby is also home to a branch of Revolution, Popworld, Mosh, and more.

Peak District

The Peak District was the first ever place to be designated a National Park in the UK, and it’s easy to see why. The Peak District, which is located mostly in Derbyshire, is made up of stunning mountains and hills and is a truly beautiful place that attracts millions of visitors per year. Kinder Scout is the highest point of the Peak District: it’s so high that on a clear day, you can see as far as Wales! It also hosts one of the highest waterfalls in England, the Kinder Downfall. 

People sitting and walking across a mountain at the Peak District


Derby is home to many cafés, from huge chains such as Costa and Café Nero to the quirky Book Café in the Cornmarket. These are lovely places to get your breakfast or just grab a coffee, as is Blends at the Kedleston Road site, which is also attached to Basecamp: a perfect place to get some studying done.

A Costa Coffee cup with people sitting in the background

A new city can be tough to deal with, but its also an opportunity. Absorbing parts of a new culture and learning about a new place is an amazing chance to grow as a person, as you’ll end up learning about things and meeting people that you’d never have had the chance to if you hadn’t made the decision to go there. As well as that though, there are a lot of ways to have fun in a new place, especially somewhere like Derby. 

About the author

Johnathan Cowden with a film camera

Johnathan Cowden
BA Journalism Student

Johnathan Cowden is a student from Stockport, Greater Manchester, pursuing a BA in Journalism and creating content as a Communications Ambassador. He can often be found in a radio studio or writing his next article or script in a café. He also loves reading non-fiction, listening to music and playing the bass guitar, and visiting the pub with his mates.