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Sheffield, a hilly abomination or underrated wonder?

Updated: Aug 12, 2019

Other articles in "Living in the UK - Housing" Section

With two big universities, this traditionally industrialist town has slowly but surely changed its face, but is still highly polarised between the poorer boroughs and those catering to the student population. That means cheap eats, lots of pubs, bars and music, good charity shops where a bargain can be found, and lots of other attractions to keep you occupied. It’s a very leafy town, thanks to a post-industrialist council program which aiming to get rid of the smog which used to envelop the city. Only one obstacle in your way: THE HILLS!


It’s a city full of students which means two things: 1. Lots of good cheap-ish places; 2 lots of coffee shops. Sheffield is good proof that British working class industrial cities are no longer ruled by pubs, chippies and chicken shops. Efes in the city centre offers authentic Turkish cooking, in a relaxed (slightly old-fashioned) setting. It’s the kind of no frills, comforting, incredibly good cooking that you need when moving to a new place. Order their Iskender, I ate it once in 2010 and still remember the smell, the taste, the texture and the look! Cozy café and baked goods seekers will not be disappointed either with the likes of Forge Bakehouse and Okeh cafe. Fancy a New York style speakeasy that serves pizza instead? Sure thing. Picture House Social has got you. Mexican at Street Food Chef has been the student favourite for years, Patoo serves Thai in a classy surrounding… Need I go on for you to trust me that you can eat well in Sheffield without spending all of your money?


Photo by Carolina Faruolo courtesy of Tramlines

While Sheffield may not have the reputation of Glasgow or Bristol for its music scene, it surely should, and is a challenger when it comes to producing good music. The home of Arctic Monkeys (you can still go to the pub where they used to play) and the Pulp, has around 15 specialist record labels and a very independent non-careerist music scene. The Harley a pub, a burger joint, hotel and tea room close to the city centre has legendary status in the community and if you want to get in on a live music night expect to stand in queue. The Arctic Monkeys and XX had their early successes here. The Night Kitchen is one of the more popular night clubs and music venues housed in an old factory. Also check out Hope Works or the home-grown Tramlines festival. Music is not the only thing to do in this city. Doc/Fest, an international documentary and non-fiction festival runs every summer and attracts over 25,000 visitors, including talks and networking events around its film screenings. Our Favourite Places is a local initiative highlighting the events and attractions of Sheffield such as Comedy and Art, or Architectural gems, theatres, and outdoorsy beauty spots. City Museum’s are not too shabby either, the Graves Gallery hosted a Warhol exhibit a few years ago, and its permanent collection features such masters as Cezanne or Turner. If you’re interested in the history and heritage of the city Weston Park is a good starting point.


I like to call this town a “hilly abomination” spurned by memories of small teenage me wheeling a gigantic suitcase up and down its hills while running late for a train. This also means that cycling around the city can be more of an extreme sports activity than a casual cycle. On the other hand, it is easier to keep fit! You’re surrounded by seven hills yet want to see more hills? No problem, Peak District is just outside of the city, and actually a third of the city is in Peak District. You can easily take a bus for a day trip there. But what about the every day you ask? Well, the city has over 250 parks, woodlands and gardens, and the Botanical Gardens are a joy to walk around on any sunny day. In addition the Greenhouse is sure to keep you warm when it rains! The city has over 4 million trees, and it is a gigantic shame that street maintenance can only apparently be achieved by cutting down what makes Sheffield so special.

See how I can both praise a city and get political at the same time?