The 12 Best Things To Do In The Lake District – Attractions, Sights & Tours

(Last Updated On: April 15, 2023)

The Lake District is a beautiful region of northwest England, situated in the heart of Cumbria.

It is a popular tourist destination due to its stunning glacial ribbon lakes, picturesque fell mountains and its important historical connections to literature.

This natural beauty was made even more famous following the publication of ‘Wordsworth’s Guide to the Lakes’ which inspired numerous poets and writers to come here in search of inspiration.

The spectacular landscape of the Lake District also provides opportunities for activities such as sailing, canoeing and climbing, as well as quieter pastimes like hiking and bird watching.

There’s lots to see and do in the Lake District, read on to find out some of my favourites!

Things To Do In The Lake District

1. Lake Windermere

Lake Windermere is a stunning natural jewel located in the Lake District National Park.

It’s the largest natural lake in the country and stretches an impressive 11 miles long and 1 mile wide.

Formed during the glacial period, Lake Windermere has provided holiday visitors with its picturesque beauty for over 170 years.

Visitors can jump onboard Windermere Lake cruises to explore the lake on water.

Or if you prefer to stay on land, there are many well-marked trails around the lake which make up some of Cumbria’s most scenic walking routes.

The crystal clear waters of Windermere are a haven for wildlife, with swans, geese and other waterfowl.

There are also several villages dotted around the lake including Ambleside, Bowness-on-Windermere and Hawkshead which are good to visit.

Most have plenty of traditional pubs, cafes, a tea room and restaurants where you can sample local delicacies as well as browse quaint shops selling souvenirs.

Address: Lake Windermere, Lake District National Park, UK

2. Muncaster Castle

Muncaster Castle and Gardens, plus Hawk and Owl Centre, is one of the best Lake District attractions and ideal for the whole family to enjoy.

Located in the heart of the Western Lake District, the castle was built in the later 13th century and has long been associated with kings and royalty.

Visitors can explore its many rooms and ancient artefacts including furniture from Tudor times as well as secret passageways and tunnels.

There is a printed tour guide and audio tour available for visitors.

Outside there are 77 acres of historic gardens to be explored, with lawns, woodlands, and cultivated areas, as well as play areas, a Hawk and Owl Centre and an Enchanted Trail for children.

Address: Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass CA18 1RQ, UK

3. Lowther Castle and Gardens

Lowther Castle and Gardens is a stunning Gothic ruin set amid 130 acres of ancient, romantic gardens.

Located in the beautiful Lake District National Park, the castle was built between 1806 and 1812.

The ruins provide a truly remarkable sight, dominated by the central tower which stands nearly 40 meters high.

Visitors to the site can explore a Garden-in-the-Ruins, an impressive Great Yew Avenue, winding paths around blooming flowerbeds and quirky follies, and a Western Terrace with stunning views of the Lake District.

There’s also a children’s play area, as well as an exhibition where visitors can learn more about Lowther’s fascinating history.

The gardens and castle ruins are open daily for visitors from 10am to 5pm in Summer and to 4pm in Winter.

Address: Lowther Castle and Gardens, Lowther, Penrith CA10 2HH

4. Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway

Established in 1973, the 3.2-mile-long rail route begins at Haverthwaite Station and passes through beautiful countryside before arriving at Lakeside Station.

Haverthwaite Station, built during the Victorian era, also has a Gift Shop, Engine Shed, Woodland Walk and Playground to explore.

Using a traditional steam train, the journey takes passengers to the southern tip of Lake Windermere where travellers can hop onto a boat for an idyllic cruise along the lake’s edge.

During their train ride, passengers can admire stunning views of surrounding hills, fells, and farmland while traveling through charming villages such as Far Sawrey and Newby Bridge.

Address: Haverthwaite Station Nr, Ulverston LA12 8AL

5. Lakes Aquarium

One of the most popular Lake District attractions, Lakes Aquarium is a captivating experience located on the southern end of England’s largest lake, Windermere.

Home to one of the largest collections of UK freshwater fish, visitors can explore displays showcasing a secret world full of aquatic wildlife and creatures living in and alongside the waters.

Visitors can walk through the incredible underwater tunnel, and see local wildlife from around the Lake District and more exotic species from around the world.

The beauty continues with freshwater fish from the estuary, as well as astonishing views of seawater inhabitants from around the coast such as rays and sharks.

The aquarium exhibits are designed to make each visit feel like an immersive experience providing education and entertainment at every turn.

Address: Lakes Aquarium, Lakeside, Ulverston LA12 8AS

6. Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s House

Hill Top is a historical cottage located in the countryside of England’s Lake District.

The house was bought by Beatrix Potter, the famous author of children’s books, in 1905, with the royalties from her first few books.

Beatrix had a deep love and affinity for this place, often visiting when she could for a few days at a time to sketch the house, garden, countryside and animals for her stories.

The 17th century stone cottage stood as an inspiration to Beatrix Potter and was where she wrote many of her beloved tales including characters such as Tom Kitten and Jemima Puddleduck.

In 1909 Beatrix purchased another farm opposite Hill Top which became her main base in the Lakeland area and then in 1913 she married William Heelis and moved to Castle Cottage.

The house stands today as testament to her work and although it’s been renovated over time to preserve its integrity, much of Potter’s influence still remains today.

From unique architectural features such as low ceilings in some rooms or original furniture dating back centuries that have been refurbished over time.

Visitors can go inside Hill Top to explore all of its secrets as well as visit the many gardens that make up this special place that inspired one of literature’s best-known authors.

Address: Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s House, Near Sawrey, Ambleside LA22 0LF

7. The World of Beatrix Potter

A great family attraction, The World of Beatrix Potter is located in the centre of Bowness-on-Windermere.

Visitors can explore a magical world where enchanting stories are brought to life, recreating the stunning Lake District countryside complete with sights, sounds and smells.

There’s chance to meet many of the famous characters including Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy-winkle and Jemima Puddle-Duck.

Open daily, the attraction also has a character-themed, family friendly café, gift shop and the Peter Rabbit Garden that offers a free tour

Address: The World of Beatrix Potter, Crag Brow, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere LA23 3BX

8. Grizedale Forest

Grizedale Forest is a stunning destination situated in the heart of the Lake District between Windermere and Coniston.

Nestled amongst lush greenery, towering trees, and dramatic mountain panoramas, this enchanting woodland is an ideal getaway for all nature lovers.

With plenty of activities to keep you entertained and the great outdoors to explore, there’s something for everyone.

Whether you prefer walking or cycling, there are plenty of trails to choose from; ranging from easy strolls through the woods to more challenging hikes up rocky terrain.

For those looking for a more daring adventure, GoApe offers a treetop experience with zip wires and swings throughout the forest canopy.

Aside from its incredible views and extensive network of outdoor activities, the Forest also provides visitors with a chance to explore its diverse wildlife.

Address: Grizedale Forest, Ulverston

9. Wordsworth Grasmere

Located south of Grasmere village, Wordsworth Grasmere is an extraordinary place that brings to life the legacy of one of the greatest English poets, William Wordsworth.

The stunning views, peaceful atmosphere and fascinating artefacts make this an unforgettable experience.

William Wordsworth arrived in Grasmere with his family and moved into Dove Cottage.

In this former home he wrote many of his most famous poems such as ‘I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud’ and ‘The Prelude’.

The sights, sounds and smells of Dove Cottage have been carefully restored to provide visitors with an authentic experience of William Wordsworth’s home environment – think wood panelled walls, rustic furniture, and cast iron fires!

Visitors can explore Dove Cottage, the Museum, Garden-Orchard, The Woodland and Gift Shop, there is also a Café that caters for most dietary requirements.

Address: Dove Cottage, Town End, Grasmere, Ambleside LA22 9SH

10. Coniston Water

Coniston Water is one of the most beautiful lakes of the Lake District measuring five miles long with a maximum depth of 184 feet.

The lake is an integral part of the natural beauty of Cumbria, providing a tranquil and picturesque area for exploration.

It has been an important part of this area’s history since its early ownership by Furness Abbey in the 13th and 14th centuries.

The lake was used to great effect for fishing as well as transporting slate and ore from mines in the Valley above Coniston village.

Coniston Water is located half a mile down from the village and you can hire boats and bikes to explore.

There are also several walks available around the area, ranging from easy paths to more challenging hikes up The Old Man itself.

Coniston Water is a paradise for nature lovers who wish to explore this corner of the Lake District.

Address: Coniston Water, Lake District

11. Rydal Mount & Gardens

Rydal Mount & Gardens is a tranquil and picturesque family home located in the heart of the English Lake District.

It was the last residence of William Wordsworth and he lived there from 1813 until his death in 1850, leaving behind a legacy that still remains today.

The house contains many of Wordsworth’s personal possessions, manuscripts, furniture and artworks, providing an insight into his life at Rydal Mount.

As an avid landscape gardener, Wordsworth designed the four acre garden which is full of rare shrubs, a 9th century Norse mound, daffodils, bluebells and rhododendrons that create a stunning display during certain times of year.

Open daily for visitors, tours of the house begin half hourly and have a guided part and then a self guided exploration of the house, there is also access to the gardens and tearooms.

Address: Rydal Mount & Gardens, Rydal Mount, Rydal, Ambleside LA22 9LU

12. Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

Located in a corner of St. Oswald’s Church in Grasmere, the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop has been serving up famous family treats since the mid-19th century.

As well as Gingerbread, the shop also produces rum butter, toffee, chocolates, Mint Cake, ginger beer and much more.

Address: Grasmere Gingerbread Shop, Church Cottage, Grasmere, Ambleside LA22 9SW


What activities can visitors do in the Lake District’s West Lakes area?

Some of the most popular things to do are Canoeing, Kayaking, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Rock Climbing, Mountain Biking, horse riding and exploring hiking trails.

Is there free parking in Lake District?

You can find a free car park in some parts of the Lake District but there is a charge for many car parks, especially in the most popular areas.

Is the Ullswater valley worth visiting?

The Ullswater valley has fresh air and stunning scenery, with craggy fells and cascading waterfalls, and is one of the Lake District’s best kept secrets.

Where is the Cockpit Stone Circle in the Lake District?

The Cockpit circular stone circle in the Lake District is located on Askham Fell above Ullswater, it’s 27 metres across, with larger stones set into its inner face.

How can you sail around Lake Windermere?

Windermere Lake cruises offer many different cruises ranging from 45 minutes to 3 hours.

Also a variety of boats can be hired on the lake including motor boats, rowing boats, canoes and kayaks.


  • Tamara M

    Hey there! My name is Tamara, welcome to my little world! I’m a 20-something-year-old from Toronto, Canada (though I’m rarely there) and I’m super passionate about exploring the world, photography, and cooking delicious plant-based recipes. I created this blog to share my favorite places, adventures, restaurants, accommodations, and travel tips with all of you and keep a bit of a travel diary for myself.

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