Sheffield's steel heritage may conjure up images of a drab industrial city, but this could not be further from the truth.
Sheffield remains proud of its steel industry and rightly so, but it is one of the greenest cities in the UK, with a wealth of parks, gardens and woodland areas which make it a very pleasant place to be.
Approximately a third of Sheffield is in the Peak District, making it the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding countryside. The city centre is surrounded by hills, so you can't go far without great views. Following a series of regeneration projects, the centre is resplendent with calm and tranquil spaces, aesthetically pleasing sculptures and quirky shopping districts. It is also home to world-class sporting and cultural facilities, making a city worth visiting.
Here are a few things not to miss:
1. The Peace Gardens and Winter Garden
This flowing outdoor-to-indoor space provides an oasis of tranquility in the middle of the city. The Winter Garden is the largest urban glasshouse and boasts a wide range of plants from all over the world. It is a pleasant space to wander through at any time of the year with its constant temperate atmosphere, while the Peace Gardens provide a place to relax outside, with fountains and cascades of water, meant to represent molten steel. Nearby cultural and seasonal markets are often held, giving the area a cosmopolitan feel.
2. Theatre and Film
Even if you don't make it in time for the World Snooker Championships, the Crucible is always worth a visit for its quality theatre programme. It is located in a central district, an easy walk from the restaurant district of Leopold Square. If independent and foreign cinema is more your thing, then head for the Showroom Cinema, near the station. The Showroom is also hosting the Sensoria festival, held in venues across the city, at the beginning of May. You can find full details here.
3. Ecclesall Road
From the glorious Botanic Gardens to a street lined with quality independent bars and restaurants, Ecclesall Road is a great place to go outside of the city centre. A great restaurant is Le Bistrot Pierre, part of a small Northern chain serving fabulous French food. It's perfect for anyone looking for quality dining, but also offers bargains with its Early Bird menu. Furthermore, anyone on a gluten-free diet will be in heaven here with a complete gluten-free menu available.
4. Winter Sports
Sheffield has the biggest dry-slope Ski Village in Europe and while it's not going to compete with ski destinations, it's a great place to practise and hone your skills all year round. If spectator sports are more your thing, then why not catch the Sheffield Steelers in action - Sheffield's Ice Hockey team? Ice hockey has to be one of the most exciting spectator sports and the Steelers always put on a good show!
5. Explore the Peak District
When you've had enough of city life, you can step straight out into the Peak District, with its stunning views and great walks. You don't have to go far - the Ladybower reservoir and the Upper Derwent Valley packs its fair share of fabulous countryside. Tt's also easy to go further afield, taking in sights such as Chatsworth House and the central Peak Distric town of Bakewell.
Whatever you do, if you're coming to the UK, don't believe the southerners if they tell you it's grim up north. Visit Sheffield and see for yourself!