City Guide

Things to Do in Derby

Karis Nash  · Dec 7th 2023

Thinking of studying in Derby? Get to know the city a little better here.

Derby Cathedral in the distance and Derby river gardens

Derby is known for its rich history, ghost sightings, beautiful landscape and has been labelled as ‘the first city of beer’. If you’re thinking of studying or living here, or visiting, here’s everything you need to know.

Things to do in Derby


As of 2022, Derby’s population is approximately 266,481. Derby is home to the University of Derby, therefore the city has a large student population.


If you’re a student at the University of Derby you have the option of seven different award-winning accommodation halls. These halls of residence are run by the university itself. Some accommodations are exclusively for undergraduate, postgraduate or mature students. Each hall offers different types of rooms with alternative facilities such as rooms with en suites or studios. The student accommodation buildings are located close to the University campus and the city centre.

For undergraduate students the most affordable student accommodation is a standard room at Princess Alice Court costing from £115.36 a week. On the flip side, the most expensive is a studio room at Darley Bank, costing £167.72 a week. For postgraduates and mature students, Flamsteed Court is reserved. The least expensive room is an en suite in a two bedroom apartment at £150.15 per week. Alternatively, if you opt for an en suite in a one bedroom apartment, it will cost £180.81 each week.

In total, there are 14 student halls in Derby. So, if the accommodation choices provided by the university are not what you’re looking for then you have plenty of other options.

If you’d rather live off campus, you can rent private accommodation. The University operates with the housing organisation DASH Services - only advertising properties from accredited landlords. The amount you pay will depend on the type of accommodation you rent and how many people you share with. A shared house will typically cost you £80 per week. Some properties may include bills in the rent. Remember, as a student you are exempt from paying council tax, so, that's one less expense to worry about.

Things to do with family in Derby

Living Cost

Derby has been named one of the most affordable cities in the UK. For student renters, it has recently been ranked the eighth cheapest location, with an average costing of £628 a month.

Other expenses, such as food shopping, transportation and activities, averages similar to other cities in the surrounding areas. On average, a carton of milk will cost you 86p and for a loaf of bread it is around one pound. For an inexpensive restaurant the average meal price is £13.50, with a pint costing approximately £3.50.


Derby has great transport links within the city and out further to neighbouring cities. The bus service has been ranked sixth in the country by Campaign for Better Transport for its quality and uptake. The service is affordable, with an annual ticket offering unlimited travel for less than £1.40 per day. Moreover, buses arrive frequently, with a service to suburbs every ten minutes or so.

Derby also has a park and ride service which is ideal for those travelling by car who do not wish to drive into the city centre. For £3 per day you can park your car and take the bus into the centre. The cost is per car opposed to per person, so up to seven people can travel with one ticket.

The main railway station in the city is Derby Railway Station, operated by East Midlands Railway. The station offers direct routes to some of the UK’s biggest cities including London, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Sheffield. Across Derby there are also two smaller local stations in Peartree and Spondon.

If you prefer to pedal your way around a city, then Derby has numerous cycle lanes and cycling routes. On a bike, you can get to most places in the city within 30 minutes.

The closest airport to Derby is East Midlands airport. From the city centre it is roughly a 20 minute drive. Driving is the fastest and cheapest way to get to the airport, as by taking public transport you will have some changes and over a two hour journey. From East Midlands Airport you can fly to most places in Europe and further afield to the likes of New York and Jamaica.

From walking festivals to comedy shows - you’ll never be stuck thinking of what to do in Derby.


If you’re looking for an affordable night out then look no further. Derby is one of the best cities in the UK for drink prices. You can grab a pint for three quid or a G&T for just over two pounds. There are a vast array of places to go in Derby for a night out. Monday nights at Mosh Nightclub is student night - fingers crossed you have no 9am lectures on Tuesday.

If you’re looking for a delicious meal, then Derby has a selection of different local restaurant cuisines to choose from. The city also homes larger chains including Five Guys, Wagamamas and Zizzi - all of which offer takeaway services. Average price for an inexpensive meal in the city is ten to thirteen pounds, so, no need to feel guilty when going out to eat three times a week.

Looking for a unique attraction in Derby? One that is bound to give you the heebie-jeebies is Derby’s Ghost Walks. Derby is renowned for being one of the most haunted cities in the UK and has some spooky history. Trek around the city late at night listening to tales of murder and witchcraft.

Looking for something more lighthearted? Take a trip to The Hairy Dog, Derby’s alternative music venue. The small venue has held host to an array of alternative musical artists from the UK and further afield. If music isn’t really your thing, the city also offers after dinner roller skating and bowling. Perfect for group nights out or perhaps date night.

Things to do with kids in Derby


When it comes to doing your weekly shop, you have the choice of two supermarket superstores - Tescos and Asda. There are also a few smaller supermarket stores dotted around the city centre.

Derby has an INTU shopping centre offering over 200 stores, including River Island, Next and New Look. The shopping centre also has numerous restaurants such as Nansos, YO! Sushi and Pizza Express. If you’re looking for things to do, INTU Derby has an array of activities including bowling and adventure golf.

Another place to visit in Derby is the Cathedral Quarter. Here you can shop at unique stores, many of which are independent. Walking through the historical streets you will also find vibrant café’s, stunning galleries and market traders offering a range of local produce.

Local Sport

Derby County Football Club is the city's main sporting team. The club currently competes in the Championship, however after being relegated in April 2022 they will be competing in League One.

The city is also home to Derbyshire County Cricket Club. The team's home ground is the County Cricket Ground, also known as the Incora County Ground due to sponsorship. The club is one of eighteen first-class cricket clubs within England and Wales.

If rugby is your thing, the city is also home to Derby RFC, an english rugby union club. The club has four senior sides: a veterans team, ladies team, colts team and a full set of junior sides.

The city also has a semi-professional basketball team - The Derby Trailblazers. The team currently competes in the second tier of the British basketball system, NBL Division 1.

If you’re looking to get into sport, there are many activities in Derby( you can try your hand at. From Scuba Diving to Sunday morning park runs, Derby offers a variety of sports clubs who regularly meet.

For student renters, Derby has recently been ranked the eighth cheapest location.

Things to do

Who doesn’t love a summer weekend festival? Y Not Festival is an annual weekend music festival usually taking place on the last weekend of July. The festival takes place less than an hour away from Derby in Pikehall, Derbyshire. You can only buy weekend tickets to the festival, so make sure to get yourself a tent.

Derby is a city which doesn’t fall short of things to do during the year. From walking festivals to comedy shows - you’ll never be stuck thinking of what to do in Derby. If theatre is your passion, check out what’s on at Derby Theatre. They offer everything from plays to ballet.

There are an array of activities perfect for days out in Derby. Whether it's visiting the Derby Museum, doing some historic Derby sightseeing, or tackling an escape room with your mates - there's all sorts of things to do around Derby. Don’t forget the haunted places - perhaps it's best to visit these at night.

If you’re looking for some unusual place to visit near Derby, why not explore some caves from the Ice Age. Creswell Crags, around a 45 minute drive from the city centre, offers tours through these fascinating and extensive caves once home to neanderthals.

Job Prospects

If you’re looking for a career in car manufacturing then Derby has a lot to offer. Home to the largest Rolls Royce manufacturing site and Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK, there are great opportunities right on your doorstep.

Derby has great trainline links to larger cities, such as Nottingham, Sheffield, Birmingham and even London. So, your commute into a larger city with better career prospects would be simple.

If you are hoping to study at the University of Derby, then their graduate employability rate is impressive. 96% of recent graduates are in work or further study, with 76% in graduate level roles. There is tons of career support at the university to secure you your ideal graduate job.

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