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Sheffield

Photo © Clarabell

Travel Guide Europe United Kingdom England Yorkshire and the Humber Sheffield

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Introduction

Lazing on the grass at Sheffield Town Hall Square

Lazing on the grass at Sheffield Town Hall Square

© All Rights Reserved GregW

Sheffield is the heart of South Yorkshire, nestled below Leeds and Manchester at the edge of the Peak District. A friendly city, and a good base from which to explore the surrounding countryside, Sheffield has a few attractions that merit a visit in its own right.

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Neighbourhoods

Most of the tourist attractions are found in the city centre. Neglected and rundown just 10 years ago, a massive redevelopment called Heart of the City has revitalised old buildings like the Victorian Town Hall and created some excellent open spaces like the Peace Garden.

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Sights and Activities

The Peak District National Park was Britain's first National Park, and takes in more than 1,400 kilometres square of varied landscape, including the southern end of the Pennine mountain range as well as some scenic farm land. Check out the Peak District National Park website for details.

The Town Hall is an impressive building built in the Victorian age. The front of the building has some nice bas relief carvings of miners, steel workers as well as academics, in honour of the working class, industrial heritage of Sheffield. Beside the town hall is the Peace Garden, a green space with fountains dedicated to world peace. The garden is popular with families on hot days, when children run through the fountain to cool off.

The Winter Garden, one of the largest temperate glasshouses in the UK has more than 2,500 plants from around the world. It is connected directly to the Millennium Galleries (home to permanent Ruskin and metalwork collections and touring collections) and the open space of Millennium Square.

From the Town Hall, a walk down Fargate, a pedestrian shopping street, you will find the Sheffield Cathedral, formally the Cathedral Church of St Peter and St Paul, parts of which date back to the 13th century, with different pieces being built right up until the modern day.

Sheffield Ski Village is the largest artificial outdoor ski run in Europe. Boasting a half-pipe and one-third of a mile of artificial alpine slopes, the ski village offers the opportunity to ski year-round.

With one of the larger stadium in the United Kingdom in addition to City Hall and the Sheffield Arena, there are a number of concerts that take place in Sheffield every year.

For more activities, check out Creative Sheffield.

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Events and Festivals

The World Snooker Championship is held annually at the Crucible Theatre in late April and early May, when snooker players from around the globe compete for the most prestigious prize in the snooker world. Tickets are £17 per session and available on-line.

Sports in Sheffield include two football teams with Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United, two rugby teams with the Sheffield Eagles and Sheffield Tigers rugby union and even a basketball team in the Sheffield Sharks basketball the 2009 champion Sheffield Steelers ice hockey team.

For other events, check out the Event Sheffield website.

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Weather

Winter Garden and Millennium Square, Sheffield

Winter Garden and Millennium Square, Sheffield

© All Rights Reserved GregW

The British climate can be unpredictable and changeable even within one day. Summer temperatures (June to August) very rarely climb higher than 35 °C, but winter temperatures (November to March) are rarely below freezing. Average summer temperatures are 20 °C, and winter averages are about 10 °C. The weather can sometimes be grey and foggy, particularly in November to March. Check out the weather at the BBC website.

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Getting There

By Plane

There are six airports within 65 miles (over 100 kilometres) of Sheffield, the closest being Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport. Other airports that can provide transport to Sheffield include Manchester International Airport (connected direct by train), East Midlands, Leeds Bradford International, Humberside International and Liverpool John Lennon Airport (connected direct by train).

By Train

Sheffield Midlands station is within the city centre, and has services to London, Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Doncaster and Leeds among many other destinations, with services provided by East Midlands Trains, Cross Country, TransPennine Express, and Northern Rail.

By Car

Sheffield sits beside the M1 motorway, one of the UK's primary north–south routes linking Sheffield with London, Leicester, Nottingham and Leeds. The M1's interchange with the M62, the main route from Manchester, Liverpool and Hull, is 15 miles north of Sheffield. The city centre is most easily reached from junction 33 of the M1, via the Sheffield Parkway dual-carriageway. A convenient park and ride tram stop (Nunnery Square) is located close to the city end of the Parkway and is well-signposted from the motorway.

Two scenic routes from Manchester, the Snake Pass (A57) and the Woodhead Pass (A628) make for breathtaking trips through the Peak District National Park. In the event of heavy snowfall in winter, the police close both routes to all traffic.

It is also possible to use the Peak District as the scenic route from Birmingham (via Lichfield and Ashbourne) or Stoke-on-Trent (via Leek and Longnor). Beware that the route becomes very busy over holiday periods, and can be treacherous during cold or snowy weather.

By Bus

Sheffield Interchange is the city's hub for local and national bus services, and is located two minutes' walk from Sheffield's railway station. National Express operate long distance coach services from all parts of the country, including a regular service from London (Victoria and Golders Green), as well as Bradford, Glasgow and London Stansted Airport which don't have direct trains to Sheffield.

The discount coach operator Megabus does not serve the city centre, but offers several services each day from London to Meadowhall Interchange. Meadowhall is 15 minutes away from the city centre by tram, or five minutes by an equally frequent train. Megabus departures may not be listed on departure screens at the Meadowhall Interchange: services generally depart from the same bay as National Express services.

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

The free of charge FreeBee service links popular city centre locations from Sheffield Interchange to the main city centre shopping areas, Sheffield Hallam University and Paternoster Row for the Sheffield Rail Station. The FreeBee bus service operates every seven minutes from 7:00am to 7:00pm weekdays and 8:00am to 7:00pm on Saturdays. Route information can be found at Travel South Yorkshire website.

There is a tram system called the Sheffield Supertram. Tickets are priced based on distance travelled, and purchased onboard from a conductor, who can provide change. If you are taking more than one ride in a day, it is often a good deal to purchase a Dayrider ticket for £3.00.

A number of bus operators run different routes in Sheffield. Check out the Travel South Yorkshire journey planner to find the best route.

By Foot

Sheffield's city centre is compact and within it, no two attractions are further apart than a 30 minute walk. The city centre has seen significant work done to prioritise pedestrian access, including extensive pedestrianisation, excellent links from the railway station to the city centre and a comprehensive map and signage system. Even outside the central area, Sheffield is pleasantly walkable, with both the Don Valley attractions (1-4 miles) and the Peak District (from 6 miles) being linked by walking routes from the city centre.

By Bike

Cycling in Sheffield can be an interesting experience. The city poses many challenges to safe and easy cycling: busy roads, an unfortunate dearth of dedicated cycle lanes and a hilly terrain are chief amongst these. The Supertram tracks, often embedded in the road surface, are also known to cause cycling accidents, so pay attention around these, especially in wet weather. Despite these setbacks, pedal power is a popular way of getting around. Sheffield is compact and densely-populated, meaning most parts of the city are within close distance. For those not bothered by steep climbs and swift descents, cycling Sheffield can be an exhilarating experience, and the constantly undulating terrain provides an ever-changing sequence of views and aspects. It's not for naught that stage two of the 2014 Tour de France ended in a gruelling series of climbs and descents through the streets of the Steel City!

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Eat

There are a number of places to eat in the city centre, many with excellent deals catering to the student population that lives in the city centre. The Devonshire Cat on Wellington Street has an excellent selection of burgers and a wide variety of beers and spirits.

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Drink

Sheffield City Hall

Sheffield City Hall

© All Rights Reserved GregW

Sheffield is a university town, so there are lots of places for good drinks. There are a number of bars along West Street and Division Street in the city centre. West Street Live, on West Street has nightly music from local bands, often for free, and a good selection of beer, wine and liquor.

Sheffield is well known for its large number of pubs (Public Houses). From dark and Victorian to sleek and modern; and from traditional real-ale haven to noisy standing-room-only bar, you can easily find a pub in Sheffield to suit your taste in beer, music and company. However, most city-centre pubs are more oriented towards fast drinking students and clubbers; on West Street in particular (linking the university with the city centre) you will find many pubs and bars which during the week become busy with students and younger customers. Finding quieter pubs in which to sample something other than the usual chain-pub lager requires delving a little deeper beneath the surface.

For the unimaginative, you'll find the usual Wetherspoons and All Bar One chain pubs, throughout the city centre serving cheap lager, hand-pulled ales and reasonably priced food in a smoke (and atmosphere) free environment.

Hybrid bar-pubs manage to maintain something of a pub atmosphere, and sell real ale at reasonable prices, while still pulling in the crowds. They are used as much by people who want a good range of beer at good prices, as by "yoofs" after a good night out. They are probably doing a good job of persuading at least some lager drinkers to switch to traditional ales.

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Work

Though Sheffield's past was largely based in the manufacturing sector, the emphasis has moved to services. A number of government offices and large businesses (Insight, Dixons Group and Freemans) operate their headquarters or regional centres in Sheffield. There are a large number of call centres in and around the city (e.g. Virgin Media & Ant Marketing).

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Learn

The Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield are the two major universities in town, both with campuses within the city centre.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés can be found in many cities and towns. All UK public libraries provide access, often branded as "People's Network", usually at no or little charge, though there is usually a time limit. Some hotels/hostels also offer internet access, including wifi, but most times at a cost. Using the internet on your personal phone can become expensive very quickly, with carriers charging 100's of times the local rate for data. To avoid these expensive roaming charges, you can hunt for wifi at a local cafe or hotel, or rent a mobile hotspot via several providers including DATAPiXY, and XCOM Global.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to the United Kingdom is: 44. To make an international call from the United Kingdom, the code is: 00

In case of emergency, call 999 or 112 from any phone. Such calls are free and will be answered by an emergency services operator who will ask you for your location, and the service(s) you need (police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain rescue). You can call this number from any mobile telephone as well, even if you do not have roaming.

Although the number is declining, you can still find payphones in many public areas, especially stations, airports etc. You can usually pay with cash and sometimes by creditcard or, for international calls, special phonecards are still available.

Mobile phones are heavily used. The main networks are T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and O2. 3G data services are available, usually priced per megabyte and coverage is usually very good in the UK, however it may lack in rural areas. Roaming on your personal phone plan can be expensive. To manage costs, consider purchasing a local UK SIM card for your phone. Several companies offer local SIM cards including Telestial, and CellularAbroad.

Post

The Royal Mail provides postal services in the United Kingdom. The Royal Mail's store fronts are called Post Office and offer services ranging from sending letters and packages to foreign currency exchange. Use the branch locator to find the nearest Post Office branch. There will be at least one post office in any town/city and there are quite often post offices in larger villages. It's common for a post office to be incorporated into a grocery store, where there will be a small counter located at the back of the store for dealing with post related matters. All post offices are marked with signs that say 'post office' in red lettering. Post boxes can be found at any post office and standalone large red post boxes on the streets or red boxes in the sides of public buildings.
For sending packages overseas, it might be a good idea to check prices and services with international companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 53.383055
  • Longitude: -1.464795

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