Things to do in Buxton and Derbyshire

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor

Buxton – or Aquae Arnemetiae, as it was once known – is one of Britain’s only two Roman bath towns, famous throughout history for the curative properties of its mineral-rich spring water, which rises from 5,000 feet below ground at a steady 27 degrees. It was remodelled during the late 18th century as a fashionable wellness resort to rival Bath, attracting wealthy visitors from across the country and leaving a fine legacy of grand Georgian and Victorian architecture in its wake. Yet, it was also here that many of the ‘sick poor’ of Industrial Manchester were brought to be treated – and Buxton has always remained true to its friendly, down-to-earth, quarry-town roots.

Today, it would be fair to say that the capital of the Peaks is undergoing something of a second revival. A number of major National Lottery Heritage Fund projects have led to the restoration and reopening of its finest buildings, and the launch of a luxury thermal spa in the historic Crescent building has attracted widespread excitement. The renowned Buxton International Festival has long positioned the town firmly on the UK’s cultural map. Additionally, the magnificent Buxton Opera House, designed by celebrated theatre architect Frank Matcham, and neighbouring Pavilion Arts Centre offer an impressive year-round programme of film screenings and live performance.

With a thriving community of local independent businesses, Buxton offers plenty in the way of good food, drink, shopping, and general mooching. Cavendish Arcade, with its eclectic mix of boutiques and cafes, and Buxton Pudding Emporium are among our favourites.

Located in the heart of the UK’s oldest national park, and with both Chatsworth and Haddon Hall on its doorstep, this is a great base for exploring the rest of Derbyshire too. Check out some of our favourite country pubs and rural retreats, as well as Britain’s highest whisky distillery, or enjoy panoramic views over the hills and a two-millennia-old show cave within easy walking distance of the town centre. With trains running every hour from Manchester Piccadilly and the station conveniently positioned just a short stroll away from nearly all of our recommendations, Buxton is the perfect getaway for those wishing to escape the big city.

Our top picks

Ensana Buxton Crescent Health Spa Hotel

Ensana Buxton Crescent Health Spa Hotel, The Crescent, SK17 6BH, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6BH - Visit now

The long-anticipated opening of the Crescent Health Spa Hotel signals a new chapter in Buxton’s history as a leading wellness resort.

Ensana Buxton Crescent Health Spa Hotel
Courtesy of Buxton Crescent Spa

Buxton Opera House

Buxton Opera House, Water Street, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6XN - Visit now

Buxton’s iconic Frank Matcham-designed Opera House puts the glamour back into theatre going, whilst presenting 450 performances each year.

Poole’s Cavern & Buxton Country Park

Poole’s Cavern & Buxton Country Park, Poole's Cavern Visitor Centre, Green Lane, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 9DH - Visit now

This vast, two-million-year-old limestone formation is one of the finest ‘show caves’ in England and has been attracting visitors to Buxton since the 1500s.

Poole's Cavern & Buxton Country Park
Courtesy of Poole's Cavern & Country Park

The Cavendish Arcade in Buxton

The Cavendish Arcade in Buxton, Terrace Rd, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6BQ - Visit now

A boutique shopping hall in the centre of Buxton with plenty of local indies, housed in former Victorian thermal baths.

The Cavendish Arcade in Buxton
Courtesy of Cavendish Arcade

The Buxton Pudding Emporium in Buxton

The Buxton Pudding Emporium in Buxton, The Square, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6AZ - Visit now

While Bakewell is famous for its tart, Buxton is building a firm reputation in the baked-goods department for its delicious sticky-gooey pud.

The Buxton Pudding Emporium in Buxton
Courtesy of Buxton Pudding Emporium

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