Enter Lincoln through its historic city gates and you're met by maze-like medieval streets, a 12th-century cathedral, and Tudor townhouses. But alongside the River Witham, you'll find another, more modern side of town. The Brayford Waterfront development offers shopping and dining in an old inland harbour, and the university campus, just a stone's throw from Lincoln Central station, supplies yet more 21st-century buzz. Welcome to an ancient city with a modern heart...
Art critic John Ruskin described Lincoln Cathedral as 'out and out our most precious piece of architecture'. He was not exaggerating. It is a supreme feat of workmanship, and the spire has acted as a landmark for visitors for literally hundreds of years. Such is the cathedral's opulence that it was used as a stand-in for Westminster Abbey in the film of The Da Vinci Code.
Next stop, Lincoln Castle. Here you'll find one of only four original copies of the Magna Carta. There's also an old prison, now a museum, in the castle grounds with a recreation of the grisly Victorian cells of yesteryear. Don't get locked in! Back in the present day, make the trek up the aptly named Steep Hill, where you'll find all manner of quirky little independent tearooms and shops, including a jeweller whose equipment is powered by a wind turbine.
There's also the Wiz Chocolate Factory for younger travellers - or grown-up ones with a sweet tooth. At the top of the hill, you'll find Castle Square, a historic open space that hosts occasional farmers' markets. From there, head east past the cathedral to the medieval Bishop's Palace, whose fascinating ruins are complemented by the peaceful Heritage Garden.