The 10 Best Places to Visit in The Lake District

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Written by our web team

12 min read | 10 May 2024

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of big city life, then a trip to England’s largest National Park, the Lake District is a must.

With countless beautiful lakes, dramatic mountains, pretty towns and villages, and quintessential English countryside, the Lake District is full of charm, nature, and memories just waiting to be made.

When planning your trip, making a list of what to do in the Lake District will be your top priority.

From the captivating Lake Windermere to stargazing in the valleys, here’s how to plan your perfect trip and discover what to do in the Lake District, and how to get there from London.

The best things to do in the Lake District

Photograph of Rydal Hall Waterfall in the autumn.
Loved by locals and visitors alike thanks to its wealth of natural beauty, attractions, and picturesque towns, you’ll never be short of places to go in the Lake District.

With so much to discover, it can be hard to decide what to do first. To help you get started, we’ve put together some of our top things to do in the area, so you can stop wondering what to do in the Lake District and start planning your adventure.

1. Track waterfalls

While the Lake District is best known for its impressive lakes, the area also has some amazing waterfalls that need to be seen to be believed.

Located just off the banks of Ullswater, Aira Force is a beautiful waterfall where rainwater runs from the fells into Aira Beck before cascading in one 65-foot stream over the falls.

Written about by famous poets such as Williams Wordsworth, this waterfall has been named one of the most romantic places in the Lake District. Watch the water thunder down and then explore the network of trails that weave their way from Ullswater Lakeshore to Gowbarrow Summit.

Scale Force is located close to the charming village of Buttermere and is regarded as one of the tallest waterfalls in the Lake District.

With a drop of over 170 feet, this stunning waterfall also has areas you can swim in if you’re brave enough to take a plunge in the cold water. It also has a lovely walk where you can see the whole natural spectacle.

Also in Buttermere is the dramatic Moss Force. This waterfall is easy to access from the road and is most impressive after rain as the water plunges 100 metres below.

If you’re staying in Ambleside, a visit to Stock Ghyll Force is a must. Enjoy a gentle stroll through the landscape and take a break as you watch the wide falls plummet through the valley.

2. Go stargazing

Thanks to the Lake District’s dark skies, stargazing is one of the top attractions in the area. Dark skies offer the opportunity to spot billions of twinkling stars and a range of nocturnal animals.

Here are some of the best places to go in the Lake District for stargazing.


The most remote lake in the Lake District, Ennerdale Water is also the most westerly of the lakes without a road running alongside it, which makes it a brilliant location for stargazing.

It’s close to Low Gillerthwaite Field Centre, an accredited Dark Sky Discovery Site, that holds free stargazing events a few times a year.

Friar’s Crag

Nestled on the shore of Derwentwater, Friar’s Cag looks straight into the ‘Jaws of Borrowdale,’ which means you’ll get treated to a mind-blowing panorama of stars over the peaks of the Borrowdale Valley.


Located above Ullswater, the night skies of Dockray have been the source of artistic and scientific inspiration for years. With the magnificent peaks acting as an impressive backdrop, you’ll gaze in wonder at the never-ending twinkling display.


Wasdale is home to England’s highest mountain, deepest lake, and smallest church. It also boasts some of the most spectacular night skies in the area.

Because of its location, you can enjoy a night of stargazing from the valley at the bottom. Or, if you’re feeling energetic, you can hike up the surrounding peaks to get an even more captivating view.

Take part in water activities

Wondering what to do in the Lake District if you’re an adrenaline junkie? The Lake District has no shortage of water activities, from sailing and windsurfing to canoeing and diving.

Here are some places to go in the Lake District to try your hand at water sports.

Kayaking and canoeing

There are plenty of options for kayaking and canoeing in the Lake District, but some of our favourite locations include Ullswater, Coniston Water, and Windermere. You can join a guided tour or go for a paddle by yourself.

Coppermines Canyon

Fancy showing off your adventurous side? Go on a bracing canoeing experience at Coppermines Canyon and slide, jump, and scramble down a natural gorge for a real adrenaline rush.

Wild swimming

With so many lakes to choose from, there is no shortage of opportunities for a spot of wild swimming in the Lake District.

Dedicated swimmers can take part in organised swims such as the Great North Swim. Or, you can enjoy a peaceful dip in lakes like Windermere, Wast Water, Buttermere, or Bassenthwaite.


The Lake District is famous for its diving scene. With the country’s deepest lakes and old quarries to explore, diving enthusiasts will be in heaven with the number of options available.

Some favourite lakes for diving include Coniston Water, Wast Water, Windermere, and Crummock Water.

4. Explore castles

Places to go in the Lake District expand further than lakes and waterfalls. The area is also known for its collection of majestic castles. History buffs will love the range of castles spanning medieval strongholds to mock gothic Victorian forts.

Enjoy discovering fascinating glimpses of history, go on a romantic stroll, and even take a picnic as you discover these castles:

  • Wray Castle: Positioned on the shores of Windermere, this castle was built in the 19th century by a Victorian surgeon.
  • Sizergh Castle: A medieval castle near Kendal, one that has been home to the Strickland family for more than 750 years.
  • Muncaster Castle: A reputedly haunted castle in Cumbria that offers enchanting views, a fairy trail, an adventure playground, and a maze.
  • Brougham Castle: Wander through the remains of 13th-century Brougham Castle in the beautiful setting on the banks of the River Eamon near Penrith and gaze out at the panoramic views.

5. Go on a walking trail

The Lake District comprises 912 square miles of lakes, coastlines, rivers, and mountains. It’s no wonder it is loved by walkers and hikers alike.

While there are plenty of places to go in the Lake District for experienced hikers, there are also lots of walks in the Lake District for all abilities.

Tarn Hows

This is a lovely, gentle walk where you’ll be treated to countless views and enchanting scenes. The reflective lake is surrounded by idyllic woodland, topped off by glimpses of rugged mountain peaks.

Crummock Water

A moderate walk that takes about four hours to complete. The atmospheric views of Crummock Water comprise of dark waters, pretty peaks, and a vegetated backdrop.

Loughrigg Fell Circular

A 12.1 circular trail near Ambleside, this trail is open all year and is stunning to visit anytime. You’ll enjoy amazing views as you make your way up to the summit, and encounter paths, stone steps, and paved roads.


Best visited from April to September, this 7.2 km trail near Keswick is a more challenging route.

Starting near Thirlmere Reservoir, the trail climbs up to the summit of the highest peak in the Helvellyn Range. It offers inspiring views of Red Tarn, Striding Edge, Swirral Edge, and the pretty villages of Patterdale and Glenridding.

The best places to go in the Lake District

Panorama image of Castlerigg Stone Circle with a blue sky and scattered white clouds
While the dramatic mountains, excellent walks, and breathtaking lakes are some of the main pulls of visiting this area, there are also plenty of attractions and places to go in the Lake District to make your trip even more memorable.

1. Scafell Pike

If you’re ready to test your hiking skills, grab your walking shoes and head to England’s highest point, Scafell Pike.

Standing at 978m, a climb to the top of this mountain is not for the faint-hearted, so being prepared is a must. Around 250,000 people climb Scafell Pike each year, and it’s easy to see why.

Ascending to the top offers jaw-dropping views over Wastwater to the west and the Langdale Pikes to the east. You’ll spot dramatic boulder fields, wide valleys, shimmering lakes, and epic vistas.

While it’s considered one of the toughest climbs in the Lake District, novice hikers can enjoy a more gentle ascent from the Borrowdale side of the mountain and Wasdale Head on the western side.

2. Keswick and Derwentwater

The pretty market town of Keswick is surrounded by picturesque mountains and Lake Derwentwater is just a 10-minute walk away. This impressive lake measures eight miles in total, and you can walk around it, taking in the spectacular views, or go on a lake cruise.

You can even combine the two and hop on and off the boat at the different landing stages.

Keswick is a town full of beauty and charm. With plenty of cafes, tearooms, restaurants, and shops, you’ll fall in love with the laid-back atmosphere.

If you plan your trip in May, you can enjoy the Keswick Mountain Festival. This popular annual event combines open water swims, live music, triathlons, and hill runs.

For more top attractions, check out Puzzling Place for a world of optical illusions, the Theatre by the Lake, and the famous Pencil Museum, which is genuinely more fun and interesting than it might sound.

3. Castlerigg Stone Circle

Looking for places to go in the Lake District to appeal to your mystical side? While there are stone circles across the UK, Castlerigg Stone Circle is known to be one of the oldest, and most beautiful.

Located in a flourishing meadow surrounded by intricate dry stone walls, Castlerigg Stone Circle is a prehistoric monument set within a ring of mountains. Standing on a natural plateau with a 360-degree view, it is composed of 38 free-standing stones, with some measuring three metres high.

Dating back to the Neolithic period, the purpose of the stone circle is unknown. Possible uses for the circle include a meeting point, a place for social gatherings, a site for religious ceremonies or rituals, or an astronomical observatory.

Whatever the purpose of the stone circle is, it’s one of the best places to go in the Lake District.

Take part in the tradition of the circle by seeing if you can count the number of standing stones and come up with the same number each time.

4. Lake Windermere

With a length of more than 10 miles and a width of just under a mile, Windermere is England’s largest lake and one of the best places to go in the Lake District.

Because it covers such a large area, you’ll find plenty of brilliant things to do around the lake and the village of Windermere itself.

Get to know the beauty of the lake by hopping on a cruise. Choose from circular trips, linear routes, and even an island cruise. If you’re keen to get your walking shoes on, then head out for a bracing walk around the lake.

There are lots of options for all abilities. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just want a gentle amble, you’ll find the ideal walk.

The towns and villages that surround Lake Windemere are charming to explore. Ambleside at the head of the lake is filled with quirky shops, a waterfall trail, and the delightful Bridge House.

There’s also the village of Windermere and sitting next to it the lovely town of Bowness-on-Windermere.

Fans of Beatrix Potter will love visiting The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness, where you can see her adorable characters brought to life. You can even pop into her former home at Hill Top, which is as idyllic as you’d imagine.

5. Honister Slate Mine

Something that’s a little bit different is the Honister Slate Mine. This is the last working mine in England and the producer of green slate extracted from Fleetwith Pike that dates back over 450 million years.

This award-winning attraction offers adventures and experiences in all weather and for all ages. From mine tours deep underground to full-on extreme challenges that will fulfill any adrenaline junkie.

Some of the more extreme activities include:

  • Via Ferrata Xtreme: Combines scrambling and climbing across Honister Crag
  • Climb the Mine: Explore the inside of the mine by scaling walls, climbing ladders, and scrambling through tunnels
  • The Infinity Bridge: Suspends you 1,000 feet above the valley offering spectacular views

There’s also a great gift shop to choose some souvenirs for your trip, and an excellent cafe to reward yourself after your adventure.

Travelling to the Lake District with Avanti

While the beauty of the Lake District is no secret, it’s hard to imagine quite how stunning it is unless you’ve experienced it for yourself.

If you’re ready to start planning your adventure and want to discover what to do in the Lake District, there are plenty of options with Avanti.

Travelling to the Lake District by train can often be the most budget-friendly and convenient option. Plus, you have the opportunity to relax and take in the views as you travel. If you are going from London, our trains stop at Oxenholme, Penrith, and Carlisle, to get you right to the heart of the Lake’s glorious countryside.

We’re here to make train travel as affordable and easy as possible. Browse our Railcards and Advanced Ticket booking to find the best ticket options. When you're done, check the Avanti West Coast Journey Planner to start planning your trip to the Lake District.

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