Coming to a new city can be daunting – whether for university or to start a new job you will need to learn what’s the cheapest or quickest way to get around. As a third-year student, I feel that I have just about figured out how to navigate this city and can share some tips on how to make the most out of your time here!
Best way to buy tickets
Nottingham has a great public transport network to help you get where you need to go. Your best ticket to travel around the city by bus or tram is a student Robin Hood card, just swipe and go!
However if you only use one route or public transport operator it can be more cost effective to buy a season ticket with whichever of the main operators you use, Nottingham City Transport (NCT), NET Tram or trentbarton.
Best bus routes for students
If you’re a student at UoN you’ll soon learn about the Orange line. The 34 goes right through the heart of University Park campus, then onto Jubilee Campus, Lenton and then into town. The route through student areas makes it very popular, and a great way to get around Nottingham.
The 36 and 36U bus routes go from Beeston, past the UoN, through Lenton and then into town. Making it a handy route if you live in Beeston.
The University of Nottingham also offer a free hopper buses from University Park campus to all of the other UON campuses, making getting from campus to campus cheap and easy.
Nottingham Trent University City and Clifton Campuses are connected by the NCT Navy 4 bus route. If you’re studying at Brackenhurst Campus you can hop on the Lilac 26 from King Street just off Old Market Square.
Trams are a great way to get around the city and run every 7 mins for most of the day. There is a tram stop at NTU outside the Boots Library – perfect for those long study days. For UoN you can hop off at either the University of Nottingham stop or University Boulevard and enjoy a short scenic walk through Highfields park up to campus.
Cycling is a healthy, cheap and green way to get around Nottingham – what’s not to love?
There are lots of dedicated cycle lanes and routes around Nottingham which make cycling easier and safer, making it a great way to get to Uni or to town. The Western Cycle corridor is a two way segregated cycle path that connects the main UoN campus with the city centre – so you can pedal into town without competing with traffic.
Unsure whether cycling is for you? You can hire a bike and give it a go – to see if you could get fit and save money while travelling around the city – more info here.
Whether it’s to go home, or explore a nearby city, Nottingham Station is the busiest in the East Midlands with great connections to the country. There are frequent trains to London, Leicester, Derby and Birmingham. Don’t forget – if you’re under 25 then a 16-25 railcard will save a third on most journeys.
One of the best things about Nottingham is how compact the city centre is, so you’re never too far from where you want to be. If you’re travelling a little further maybe consider, as I often do, walking one leg of your journey (normally the downhill part!), to get more steps in. Walking is great exercise and can be good to get a break from studying or working.
Covid has meant a lot of people won’t have ventured into the city centre as much as they would have done under normal circumstances. I recommend the Look Up Trail, a free scavenger hunt with clues to find and challenges to complete along the way. Turn it into a day out with a pub or coffee shop stop along the way!
Nottingham is one city in the country taking part in an e-scooter trial. E-scooters are becoming increasingly more popular among students as a cheap, quick and eco-friendly way to get around the city. Make sure you ride with care, and keep off the pavements to ensure the safety for yourself and others, check out these 10 safety tips for e-scooters if you’re unsure how and where you should ride.
When you’re in a new and unfamiliar city a good rule for safe travel is to plan your route in advance. This will help you to catch your bearings, learn where you need to go and give you reassurance if travelling alone, at night or are prone to getting lost!
There are loads of journey planning tools about, you’re probably familiar with Google Maps, but it’s useful to know that the NCT app also includes real time information so will let you know if your bus is running late.
Getting home at night
Concerns to safety are more prominent at night, one of the main tips I’ve learnt is that if possible, to try and travel with a group if possible, whether that be walking, in a taxi or on public transport. Nottinghamshire Police suggest ‘whether catching a bus, taxi or train, or when you’re in the car, you are safest where there are other people and where it is well lit.’
Most operators run a night service, these are typically one and hour so make sure you know when the last bus home is if you’re heading on a night out.
NCT – the N34 runs along the edge of UoN Jubilee and University Park Campuses, and the N4 runs to NTU Clifton campus.
The Tram – last tram services stop at around midnight.
trentbarton – runs various night buses to outer suburbs and the wider county.
If getting a taxi make sure you get in a licenced cab. Nottingham City Council’s black hackney cabs can be hailed on street, at a taxi rank or booked via the FreeNow app. It is illegal for a hackney cab to refuse your journey – no matter how short, and rates are set on the meter by the council so you won’t overpay.
Private hire vehicles MUST be booked it advance, and cannot wait at ranks or be hailed on street. If you get in a private hire without prior booking you won’t be insured!
Both universities have a safer agreements with local taxi companies so you can home in an emergency, even if you’ve run out of money. Just call the relevant company, book a cab via the emergency scheme, the driver will take note of your student card number and check your id, you get home safe and pay at the SU the next day.
Make sure you know what to do in an emergency
If you’re unsure of how to get home, speak to a member of staff where you’re at for help – most nightclubs in Nottingham have staff and volunteers especially for this!
Nottingham’s transport is looking to the future
From my experience, transport in Nottingham is very good, and always getting better. It’s a small city so walking is a really great option, but if you’re travelling further the bus and tram networks have you covered. It’s also pretty green too, including electric trams powered by renewable energy, electric and biogas buses as well as major investment in cycling and walking around the city.