Lake District things to do

By David Atkinson, your Lake District expert

I write for Coast Magazine, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, .... Read more

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Windermere Lake Cruises

Price guide: Mid-range
#2/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Best for First-time visitors -
Expert overall rating:4.7 (out of 5)

The quintessential Lakes experience.

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#3/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Best for Fun -
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

If you climb just one peak, then make it Catbells.

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#4/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Best for Romance -
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

One of the most popular vintage steam railways in northern Britain.

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#6/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Best for Families -
Expert overall rating:4.6 (out of 5)

The best family day out in the West Lakes.

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#7/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Best for Watersports -
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

Idling by the gentle lake waters.

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Rheged Centre

Price guide: Mid-range
#9/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

The best way to beat those rainy-day blues.

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Ullswater Steamers

Price guide: Expensive
#10/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Best for Escapists -
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

Cruising the 'Dark Lake' for a taste of history.

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Hill Top

Price guide: Mid-range
#11/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

A time capsule glimpse into the life of Miss Potter.

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#12/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Expert overall rating:4.5 (out of 5)

The place for a full, family day out in the South Lakes.

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#14/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

The legend of Stan and Ollie lives on.

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Holker Hall & Gardens

Price guide: Expensive
#15/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

One of Britain's quintessential stately homes.

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Lakeland Motor Museum

Price guide: Mid-range
#16/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

Take the highway to motoring nostalgia.

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Lakes Aquarium

Price guide: Mid-range
#17/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Expert overall rating:4.4 (out of 5)

A visit to an underwater kingdom.

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#19/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Expert overall rating:4.3 (out of 5)

A walk on the wildlife side

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#22/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Expert overall rating:4.2 (out of 5)

Escape to the entanted forest.

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#24/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Expert overall rating:4.2 (out of 5)

A child-friendly, wet-weather attraction.

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River Kent walk

Price guide: Free
#27/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Expert overall rating:4.1 (out of 5)

Escape the crowds with a riverside stroll.

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#30/30
expert-rated things to do in Lake District
Expert overall rating:4.0 (out of 5)

Miss Potter's characters come alive.

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Showing 18 results
Set focus

First let’s talk strategy. The Lakes has a long season with some attractions opening up for February half term, then re-opening for Easter. Some remain active year round.

Therefore, plan a trip that avoids the worst excess of the high season if you can. Spring and autumn are great times to visit and much of the tourism infrastructure will be in full swing, yet you will avoid the traffic jams and long queues of mid summer. If you are there in August, think about getting to Dove Cottage mid afternoon, or at opening time, to avoid the coach parties swarming like locusts in the pre- or post-lunch slot.

Secondly, think practicalities. Most of the things to do are spread out across a large area, so you will need a car, or a very good grasp of the public transport network, if you’re planning to see several things. If you’re walking or lake cruising, you will find a car less necessary.

Finally, let’s think about variety. The huge number of things to do means you can combine several activities, for example a cruise on Coniston with a visit to to Brantwood, John Ruskin's home. A little bit of planning goes a long way.

But don’t rush it. Lots of places have a decent cafe to refuel, a souvenir shop to browse, maybe a playground for kids to burn off energy, or a reading room to swot up on historical facts. So don’t spend your time dashing between attractions. Simply pick one or two per day and take it easy.

How I’ve picked my things to do: 

There's something for everyone here, reflecting the diverse nature of the region: walkers, families, couples, retirees. The Lakes has something to offer whatever your age and interests.

So, I've picked out some must-see sights that any first-time visitor should see, so lots of the big-name museums and attractions. But I've also tried to add a few out-of-the-way places and hidden-gem finds that will appeal if you've been to the Lake District before.

Maybe I've missed out one of your favourites? Do let me know.

Set focus

There's something for everyone here, reflecting the diverse nature of the region: walkers, families, couples, retirees. The Lakes has something to offer whatever your age and interests.

So, I've picked out some must-see sights that any first-time visitor should see, so lots of the big-name museums and attractions. But I've also tried to add a few out-of-the-way places and hidden-gem finds that will appeal if you've been to the Lake District before.

Maybe I've missed out one of your favourites? Do let me know.