The Lake District is an excellent destination if you’re looking for a stunning natural wonderland to explore. Located in northwest England, this region is known for its rugged mountains, sparkling lakes, and charming villages. From hiking and boating to camping, visiting historic landmarks and sampling local cuisine, there’s no shortage of things to see and do here. In this guide, we’ll highlight some of the best things to do in the Lake District, so you can make the most of your visit.
Getting to the Lake District
From air travel to trains, buses, and road trips, there are several convenient routes available to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.
By Air: Convenient Connections
The Lake District can be easily accessed by air, with the closest international airports being Glasgow and Manchester. These airports offer excellent connectivity to various destinations.
Upon arrival, you can seamlessly transfer to the Lake District using convenient train, coach, or bus services. For those travelling from Belfast, Dublin, or London Southend, the Carlisle Lake District Airport provides limited flight options to consider.
By Train: Scenic and Stress-free
Travelling to the Lake District by train is a popular choice, offering both comfort and scenic views. The well-connected West Coast Mainline runs from London to Glasgow and stops at Oxenholme station, just outside Kendal.
From Oxenholme, you can hop on a local train that takes you directly to Kendal, Windermere, or Staveley. If you prefer to explore other areas, Penrith and Carlisle serve as convenient transfer points, allowing you to catch local Stagecoach buses to popular destinations like Keswick and Windermere.
Manchester also offers direct train services to Windermere through the Northern Rail. Another delightful option is taking the Furness Line from Lancaster to Barrow-in-Furness, followed by a transfer to the Cumbrian Coast Line, which provides picturesque views as you venture towards Carlisle.
By Bus: Discover the Scenic Routes
Travelling to the Lake District by bus offers flexibility and the chance to soak in the region’s natural beauty. National Express operates coach services from multiple locations throughout the UK, including London and Manchester.
With direct service from London’s Victoria Coach Station to Windermere, you can embark on a hassle-free journey to your desired destination. Within Cumbria and the Lake District, Stagecoach operates an extensive bus network, ensuring easy access to the area’s most popular attractions.
From Lancaster to Kendal, Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere, and Keswick, Stagecoach buses cover key routes, providing convenient transportation options throughout the year. During the summer months, additional services are available to enhance your exploration experience.
By Road: Freedom to Explore
For those who crave freedom and flexibility, driving to the Lake District is a fantastic choice. The M6 motorway, stretching from the Midlands to the Scottish border, is the primary route to reach the region by car.
This scenic journey allows you to savour picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and captivating lakes along the way. Keep in mind that the roads can be narrow and winding in some areas, requiring caution and mindfulness of pedestrians, cyclists, and local wildlife.
While most car parks in the Lake District are paid, you’ll find ample options to safely park your vehicle, although it’s worth noting that peak season can lead to higher demand.
Best Time to Visit the Lake District
The best time to visit the Lake District depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to enjoy the outdoors, the spring and summer months are the best time to visit, as the weather is mild and the countryside is in full bloom. Autumn is also a beautiful time to visit, as the leaves change colour and the crowds thin out. If you’re a winter sports enthusiast, you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding in the Lake District from December to March.
Top Things to Do in the Lake District
Hiking in the Lake District
The Lake District is a hiker’s paradise, with over 3,100 kilometres of trails to explore. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, you’ll find a trail that suits your abilities. Some of the most popular hiking trails in the Lake District include the Catbells Ridge, Helvellyn, and Scafell Pike.
Boating on the Lakes
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of the Lake District is to take a boat tour on one of its many lakes. You can rent a boat or take a guided tour, and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Some of the most popular lakes for boating include Windermere, Coniston Water, and Ullswater.
Visiting Historic Castles and Houses
The Lake District is rich in history, with many historic castles and houses to explore. Some of the most notable landmarks include the 14th-century Muncaster Castle, the medieval Brougham Castle, and the grandiose Wray Castle, built in the 19th century. These castles and houses offer a glimpse into the region’s past and are a must-visit for history enthusiasts.
Exploring Local Villages and Towns
The Lake District is home to many picturesque villages and towns, each with its own unique charm. Ambleside, Bowness-on-Windermere, and Keswick are some of the most popular destinations, offering quaint shops, cafes, and pubs. The villages of Grasmere and Hawkshead are also worth a visit, with their charming cottages and cobbled streets.
Sampling Local Cuisine and Drinks
The Lake District is known for its delicious local cuisine, which includes traditional dishes such as Cumberland sausage, sticky toffee pudding, and Herdwick lamb. There are also many local breweries and distilleries to explore, offering a variety of beers, ales, and spirits. Be sure to try the local specialty, Damson gin, which is made from locally grown damson plums.
Visiting Museums and Art Galleries
The Lake District is home to many museums and art galleries, showcasing the region’s rich cultural heritage. The Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere is dedicated to the life and works of the famous poet William Wordsworth, who lived in the Lake District for much of his life. The Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead showcases the artwork and stories of the beloved children’s author. The Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendal is also worth a visit, with its impressive collection of contemporary and historical art.
Enjoying Outdoor Activities
In addition to hiking and boating, there are many other outdoor activities to enjoy in the Lake District. You can go mountain biking, rock climbing, or horseback riding, or try your hand at fishing or golfing. There are also many adventure sports companies that offer activities such as zip-lining, kayaking, and canyoning.
Relaxing in Spa and Wellness Centers
If you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, the Lake District has plenty of spa and wellness centers to choose from. You can indulge in a massage, facial, or other spa treatment, or relax in a hot tub or sauna. The region’s natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere make it the perfect place to unwind and rejuvenate.
Attending Festivals and Events
The Lake District is home to many festivals and events throughout the year, including the Keswick Mountain Festival, the Kendal Mountain Festival, and the Lakes Alive Festival. These events celebrate the region’s culture, history, and natural beauty and are a great way to experience the local community.
Going on Guided Tours
If you want to learn more about the Lake District’s history and culture, there are many guided tours available. You can take a guided walking tour of a local village or town, or explore the region’s natural wonders on a guided hike. There are also many food and drink tours available, showcasing the region’s delicious cuisine and beverages.
Where to Stay in the Lake District
There are many accommodation options in the Lake District, from cosy bed and breakfasts to luxury hotels and resorts. Some of the most popular areas to stay include Windermere, Ambleside, and Keswick. You can also rent a holiday cottage or stay at a campsite to get closer to nature.
See related: Top 6 Lake District camping destinations
The Lake District is a stunning natural wonderland that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a hiker, a history buff, a foodie, or a spa enthusiast, you’ll find plenty to see and do here. We hope this guide has helped you plan your visit and discover some of the best things to do in the Lake District.
- What is the best time of year to visit the Lake District? The Lake District is beautiful year-round, but the summer months of June through August tend to be the most popular. Spring and autumn are also great times to visit, as the crowds are smaller and the scenery is still stunning.
- What are some must-visit hiking trails in the Lake District? The Lake District is home to many beautiful hiking trails, but some of the most popular include the Old Man of Coniston, the Catbells Ridge, and the Helvellyn Ridge.
- Can you swim in the lakes in the Lake District? Yes, you can swim in many of the lakes in the Lake District, although some may be too cold for swimming year-round. Be sure to check for any safety warnings or guidelines before swimming.
- What is the best way to get around the Lake District? The best way to get around the Lake District is by car, as public transportation can be limited. However, there are also many guided tours and private transportation options available.
- Are there any famous writers associated with the Lake District? Yes, the Lake District has been home to many famous writers and poets, including William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Beatrix Potter.