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The 8 Best Towns in the Lake District 

The Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is renowned for its stunning landscapes, serene lakes, and majestic mountains. Among its greatest treasures are the charming towns and villages that dot the region, each offering unique attractions and experiences. 

Visitors can stroll through the historical streets of Keswick, explore the literary heritage of Grasmere, or enjoy the vibrant cultural scene in Bowness-on-Windermere. Each town has its own story to tell and a wealth of attractions to explore, offering a unique window into the heart of one of the most beautiful areas in the world.

In this post, we’ll delve into our top picks for the best towns to visit in the Lake District, highlighting all the things you can do and the distinctive experiences they provide. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or simply looking for a peaceful getaway, the towns in the Lake District promise unforgettable experiences. 

Historic Towns in the Lake District 

Keswick

Keswick, one of the best towns in the Lake District, is a treasure trove of history and charm. Nestled in the northern part of the region, it is home to much of the Lake District’s cultural and industrial heritage, boasting many famous attractions. 

The Keswick Museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the town’s past with its rich collection of local artefacts and stories. Venturing outside, another key attraction is the Castlerigg Stone Circle, one of Britain’s oldest and most atmospheric Neolithic sites, perfect for history enthusiasts. Apparently, it was created to be a hub for exchanging axes produced in the Lake District, although many astronomers will say it was designed for the purpose of stargazing. 

When visiting Keswick, don’t miss the Derwent Pencil Museum, where you can learn about the history of pencil-making and see the world’s first pencil. For a blend of entertainment and history, catch a performance at the Theatre by the Lake, set in a stunning lakeside location. With its rich history and engaging activities, Keswick stands out as one of the most interesting towns to visit in the Lake District.

Cockermouth

Cockermouth is undoubtedly one of the nicest places in the Lake District, renowned for its historical architecture and quaint charm. Every corner turned showcases beautiful Georgian buildings and cobbled streets, making it one of the most picturesque market towns in the Lake District.

Famously, Cockermouth is the birthplace of the celebrated poet William Wordsworth. His childhood home, Wordsworth House, is an unmissable attraction, offering a fascinating glimpse into 18th-century life. For those who appreciate a good ale, a highlight will be Jennings Brewery, where you can tour the historic brewery and sample some of its finest amber nectar. 

Exploring Cockermouth is a delight, with walking tours that take you through its historic streets and vibrant local markets offering an array of fresh produce and artisanal goods. Cockermouth’s blend of history, culture, and community spirit makes it a must-visit town in the Lake District.

Scenic Towns in the Lake District

Ambleside

Ambleside is often hailed as one of the most beautiful places in the Lake District, known for its picturesque setting and stunning views. Situated at the northern tip of Lake Windermere, it’s surrounded by rolling hills and lush greenery, providing a nature lover’s dream blend of natural beauty and charming architecture. 

If you’re wondering to what to see to make the most of your visit, then don’t miss Stock Ghyll Force, a captivating 70-foot waterfall that cascades through enchanting woodland. Another must-see is the quaint Bridge House, an iconic 17th-century building that stands over Stock Ghyll and is one of the most photographed buildings in the area.

For those looking to explore the water, boat trips on Lake Windermere provide a serene way to take in the breathtaking scenery. You can embark on a leisurely cruise, rent a kayak, or even take a paddleboard to experience the lake’s tranquillity up close. 

Whether you’re wandering through its charming streets, hiking nearby trails, or enjoying a calm boat ride, Ambleside’s scenic allure is undeniable, making it one of the best towns to visit in the Lake District.

Grasmere

Although not a town, Grasmere is perhaps one of the nicest places in the Lake District, celebrated for its idyllic charm and timeless beauty. Surrounded by verdant hills and serene waters, this quaint village’s allure lies in its peaceful atmosphere and picturesque landscapes.

To truly get a feel for the beauty of this little village, exploring Grasmere Lake is a must. It offers breathtaking views at every turn and is perfect for a leisurely stroll with a picnic. Dove Cottage, the former home of poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy is another great place to visit, offering a fascinating insight into his life and work. 

When exploring the village, visitors will be greeted by cobblestone streets, charming artisan shops, and the sweet aroma of the famous freshly baked Grasmere Gingerbread hanging in the air. You’ll find fantastic souvenirs in most shops selling handcrafted goods, like pottery, jewellery, and textiles, all crafted and sold by local artisans.

Whatever you choose to do, be it learning about poetic history, enjoying scenic walks, or browsing the high street, Grasmere’s perfect blend of natural beauty and cultural richness makes it one of the best villages in the Lake District.

Cultural Towns in the Lake District

Bowness-on-Windermere

Located on the shores of Lake Windermere, Bowness-on-Windermere is a cultural gem known for its vibrant atmosphere and is definitely one of the nicest towns in the Lake District. 

Perfect for all age groups, a highlight of any visit is The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, where fans of the beloved author can live out their fantasies and immerse themselves in the enchanting world of Peter Rabbit. Don’t just take our word for it – the attraction was listed in the top ten best family museums across Europe

Another cultural highlight is the Blackwell Arts & Crafts House, a stunning example of the Arts and Crafts movement that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Visitors to Blackwell House can admire its intricate woodwork, stained glass windows, and original furniture pieces crafted by leading artisans of the time.

Bowness-on-Windermere also hosts various cultural festivals throughout the year, celebrating everything from literature to local arts. Visitors can take part in arts and crafts workshops, which provide a hands-on experience with local traditions and techniques. The variety of cultural attractions and the bustling town atmosphere afford Bowness-on-Windermere a spot on the list of the best towns to visit in the Lake District. 

Hawkshead

Smaller than a town but brimming with just as much culture, Hawkshead is among the best villages in the Lake District. Loved by Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth, this cobbled village looks as though it’s straight out of a storybook, exuding a sense of timeless beauty and artistic significance.

A prominent attraction is the Hawkshead Courthouse. It’s a beautifully preserved building which allows you to explore the historic courtrooms inside and learn about local justice in centuries past. Nearby, St. Michael and All Angels Church, a beautiful medieval church that dates back to the 12th century, features stunning stained glass windows and intricate woodwork, perfect for design enthusiasts. The Old Grammar School, attended by William Wordsworth, is another highlight, offering insights into 16th-century education and its influence on the young poet’s early years.

For those interested in discovering the village’s history further, Hawkshead offers activities such as literary tours that delve into its connections with notable writers like Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. Visitors can also explore local crafts shops that dot the village, offering handmade goods that reflect the area’s artistic traditions. It is without a doubt one of the most interesting and prettiest villages in the Lake District.

Adventurous Towns in the Lake District

Windermere

Windermere is perhaps the most popular and one of the best towns to visit in the Lake District, offering a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers. It boasts an array of exciting activities set against the backdrop of stunning natural beauty.

The crown jewel is, of course, Lake Windermere, the largest natural lake in England. Here, visitors can make a splash by partaking in various water sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and sailing. For those who prefer to stay on land, the hike up Orrest Head provides a rewarding climb with panoramic views of the lake and surrounding fells.

Windermere’s vibrant outdoor offerings also include cycling routes, boat tours, and fishing spots. The town itself is well-equipped with outdoor gear shops and cosy cafes, making it easy to plan a day of adventure. Whether you’re navigating the waters or exploring the trails, Windermere promises a thrilling and picturesque experience for all outdoor lovers, earning it a spot on the list of the nicest places in the Lake District. 

Coniston

Coniston is one of the best towns to visit in the Lake District for those seeking adventure and natural beauty. Nestled beside the serene Coniston Water and under the shadow of The Old Man of Coniston, this town offers a perfect blend of thrilling outdoor activities and breathtaking landscapes.

Coniston Water, the third largest lake in the Lake District, is a hotspot for water sports and boat attractions. Watersport options include canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. If you’d prefer to explore the waters in a more relaxing manner, there are various cruises which set off from the Coniston Boating Centre. And for the history enthusiasts, why not hop aboard the rebuilt Victorian steam yacht gondola? 

If you’d rather keep your feet firmly on the ground, there are plenty of land-based adventures ready for you to embark on. The Old Man of Coniston, a prominent fell, offers challenging hikes with spectacular views from the summit. Coniston’s rocky crags and cliffs also make it an excellent spot for rock climbing and abseiling. 

The town itself provides a fantastic base with its welcoming pubs and gear shops. Whether you’re scaling heights or navigating waters, Coniston never fails to provide visitors with unforgettable experiences, making it one of the most adventurous towns in the Lake District.

Summary 

The best towns in the Lake District offer a diverse array of experiences, from the historical allure of Keswick to the serene beauty of Grasmere and the adventurous spirit of Windermere and Coniston. Each town provides its own unique charm and attractions, making the towns to visit in the Lake District truly special. 

Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or adventure seeker, there’s something for everyone. So, pack your bags, don your walking boots, and set out to explore these enchanting towns, each promising unforgettable experiences and a deeper appreciation for this stunning region. Your Lake District adventure awaits!

 

Tempted to explore the best towns in the Lake District? Leisure Resorts has plenty of luxury holiday homes, pods, and glamping tents in the heart of the Lake District at our award-winning Ullswater Heights Park.

Not only are our holiday homes a great base for exploring the best that the Lake District has to offer, but there is something for the whole family – even the four-legged ones – at Ullswater Heights. With a bar and restaurant, an adventure golf course, and even a brand-new spa (coming soon), you won’t want to leave!

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