There are so many gorgeous national parks in the UK to visit; with the Lake District being one of my favourites! Consisting of around sixteen lakes, there’s a heap of the best things to do in the Lake District that is dotted all across the region.
Honestly, if you’re the kind of traveller that want’s to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, then you’re gonna love the Lake District. It’s one of those timeless (and protected) places that so beautiful to visit.
Now, I wanted to also say that the Lake District is one of the most relaxing places to visit, too. That being said, it can be anything you want it to to be. For instance, if you want to spend your whole time hiking the hundreds of trails, climbing the fells or setting sail on the lakes, there’s honestly something for every kind of nature lover.
Plus, you’ve got a shed load of history and some gorgeous little villages to explore, too.
This is exactly why I always say to spend more than a day in the Lake District. You kinda need to just fall into the vibe and the more relaxed region; especially if you want to see some of the best things to do ion the Lake District.
After all, no one want’s to be in a national park and be on the go 24/7. Take some time to lean into the chilled-out nature and find lots of yummy places to eat, too. Well, this is what we did and we loved it!
Anyway, totally rambling but I wanted to show you some of my total favourite and best things to do in the Lake District when you visit. Have the best time.
The historic village of Ambleside is a tiny little town that’s got a whole quaint charm about itself. Perched on the shores of Lake Windermere, Ambleside is a great little spot to wander for an afternoon exploring; especially if you want to explore more of the region’s towns.
Once here, make sure to see the 17th Century Bridge house that has survived for hundreds of years. Oh, be sure to pop over and explore the Roman Fort and Rydal Mount & Gardens that is only a few kilometres away from the town centre itself.
Plus, stop off at The Fulling Mill for a proper pub lunch, after all, it’s only a stone’s throw away from the Bridge House itself.
2.) Ullswater Lake
Ullswater is probably one of my favourite lakes in the Lake District. You see, it’s one of the largest, but still has far fewer visitors than Windermere (which is the most popular).
Once here, make sure to check into Another Place: The Lake, too. We stayed for four-days and totally loved it.
After you’ve dropped off your bags, head out onto Ullswater Lake for some paddleboarding. It’s a great way to see the lake and beautiful on a windless day.
Though, if you don’t fancy popping a wet suit on, head out onto the historic Ullswater Steamer that has run for well over 100 years.
It’s an old industrial steamer that you can now tour the lake and hop off at different areas. It’s totally kitsch and easily one of the best things to do in the Lake District.
Finally, after getting off the steamer (at Howtown) take a ramble to the St Peter’s Church that’s perched all on its own in the countryside.
It’ll take around 25-minutes to walk here and you’ll be able to continue your ramble to the very top of Hallin Fell and see the views all over the Lake District.
We loved it.
3.) Helm Crag
If you’re already in Grasmere, you should definitely take a ramble to the top of Helm Crag. It’s easily one of the best things to do in the Lake District for views and it’s not the most challenging of hikes (about 4km from the centre of Grasmere). Yes, you might find some pretty steep bits; but as long as you wear gripped shoes, you’ll be fine.
Once at the tops, you’ll get to see the famed Howitzer, too. Just don’t try to scale this ‘true summit’ in wet/cold or icy conditions and only attempt this part if you’re an experienced hiker and have the necessary safety equipment.
Afterwards, pop over to Dove Cottage (near Grasmere), which is the former home of William Wordsworth. In the summer months, you can wander around and head inside to explore more about his world-renowned author and his home. It’s a great little spot to visit; especially if you think the hike is a little too hard to conquer.
The historic market town of Kendal sits right on the fringes of the Lake District and will likely be your first stop if you arrive in the region by train.
Some people sometimes forget to stop off in Kendall itself but it’s well worth a little gander if you’re already in the area.
Once here, make sure to stop off at the Kendal Museum and explore the areas rich history. Plus, head over to the ruins of Kendal Castle that has stood for many centuries in this area.
Oh, and be sure to stop off at the 1657 Chocolate House that has some of the tastiest chocolates that are made right within the town. It really is one of the best things to do in the Lake District before you leave on the train.
5.) Buttermere and Crummock Water
It was said, that up until the last Ice Age, Buttermere and Crummock Water was one huge lake within the Lake District. That being said, since the ice and glaciers carved through this region, it cut the lake in two, creating Buttermere and Crummock Water.
Once here, stop off at the Lone Tree viewpoint (in Buttermere, see Google Maps point, here) and ramble around this incredible area.
Also, if you’re looking for a more technical hike, pop up to Mellbreak and see the views across this ancient glacial region. It’s one of the best things to do in the Lake District if you love a good hike.
6.) Blea Tarn
It might be a relatively small lake in the Lake District, but one totally serene and unspoilt place to explore. Perched just shy of Ambleside (about 4km) it’s easily one of the best things to do in the Lake District if you’re wanting some time away from the crowds.
You see, in the peak of summer (especially during holidays) some of the lakes can get quite busy. That being said, this one is much quieter and relatively off the beaten track for some visitors.
Better still, if you’re not hiking, you can easily get here by car. Stop off at the Blea Tarn parking area and stroll the 2-3 minutes to the tarn itself.
That being said, if you want to ramble for a little longer, stick to the trails and explore Loughrigg Terrace, too. The whole region is a stunner.
7.) Loughrigg Tarn
If it’s the smaller bodies of water you’re after, then (just like Blea Tarn) Loughrigg Tarn is one spot to visit. Again, just shy of Ambleside (near Skelwith Bridge) it’s a totally gorgeous pit stop to visit whilst exploring the region by car or foot.
Afterwards, stop by Chesters By The River for some tasty afternoon treats. They serve up some of the tastiest cakes (and tea) which are a great energy boost after strolling around the region, even after exploring the likes of Rydal Cave (which is not too far away).
Easily one of the best things to do in the Lake District, Windermere is probably the most famous glacial lake in all of the UK. You see, this ancient ribbon lake was carved many thousands of years ago into the dramatic beauty it is today.
Now, this does mean that Windermere does get a fair few visitors but if you avoid public holidays you should be fine. One here, take a boat out onto Lake Windermere itself and explore the largest lake in the region.
For a tasty bite, pop into The Boathouse in Storrs (on the banks of Lake Windermere), which serve up a mighty Sunday roasts.
Oh, and make sure to stop off at National Trust’s Wray Castle that’s right on the banks of Windermere itself.
Plus, after exploring Windermere itself, head on over to the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway that’s about 4km from the southern tip of Windermere.
It’s totally family-friendly and you’ll get to ride on the carriages, too.
9.) Derwent Water
If you’ve decided to stay around the Keswick area of the Lake District, make sure to explore more of Derwentwater Lake that’s totally gorgeous to see.
It’s especially easy to visit when you’re already exploring the more northerly regions of the Lake District and well worth a gander.
Once here, make sure to see the views from the aptly named ‘Suprise View‘ which is accessible by foot or by car and parking in the National Trust car park.
Also, check-in with Keswick Extreme who organise some epic days exploring the area, too. Their Ghyll Scrambling and White Water Tubing is so much fun. Just make sure to book in advance and before you arrive. It really is one of the best things to do in the Lake District if you love an adventure.
Hawkshead is a tiny little village that’s really easy to visit when in Windermere (near Esthwaite Water).
Once here, make sure to wander around this quaint little place and stop off at the Beatrix Potter Gallery and the cosy The Fitzwilliam Gallery, too. Afterwards, pop into the Sun Inn for a proper pub lunch and a pint (if you’re not driving).
Also, if you’re looking to stay nearby, check into, the 16th Century, Walker Ground Manor that’s a quaint little B&B with lots of charm. From here, you’ll be able to head on some day hikes to see the Old Man of Coniston and Moor Top.
11.) Catstye Cam
hiking around Catstye Cam is easily one of the best things to do in the Lake District if you love rambling. You see, there are some incredible views from this fell and it’s a totally stunning region that you kinda want to explore by foot.
The whole region around Helvellyn is stunning for hiking; though it’s not suited for less experienced hikers and can be challenging at times. Park up at Swirls car park and spend a day exploring this stunning area.
Though, as I keep mentioning, don’t try this unless you’re an experienced hiker. It is tough, even in the easiest of parts. After all, no one likes a careless hiker.
12.) Lowther Castle
The Lowther Castle ruins are some of the most impressive in all of the UK! Honestly, it’s stunning and one of the best things to do in the Lake District if you want to explore the region’s human history.
Up until the 20th Century, the same family actually lived on this site for almost 1,000 years! This makes it a really special place to explore, especially with all the history within the grounds. Plus, if you visit during the festive period, they have a heap of market stalls within the quadrangle that is totally kitsch and pretty special.
Oh yeah, the Gardens are totally stunning, too and well worth exploring when on the estate.
13.) Castlerigg Stone Circle
Relatively close to Keswick, the Castlerigg Stone Circle that was constructed in the megalithic Period; many thousands of years ago! In lots of ways, this is just like the Lake District’s mini Stonehenge and is well worth a visit once you’re here.
It might be a shortstop (around 20-minutes) but it’s well worth seeing as part of a wider trip around the Lake District.