Our Lake District Travel Essentials lays out the essential information you need to help you plan your trip to one of the most popular destinations in North-West England. No matter how frequently you travel, some questions will always need answers: What’s the weather like? How can I get from Manchester Airport (MAN) to my hotel? What currency and type of plug do I need?

    We have all these answers plus other basic info about the best time to go, getting there, getting around, and a few useful travel tips. You’ll also learn about the most popular landmarks in the Lake District such as Castlerigg Stone Circle, Beatrix Potter’s home, and Ravenglass Roman Bath House. You’ll also learn about the most popular towns and villages in the Lake District such as Keswick, Hawkshead, Ambleside, and Bowness-on-Windermere. It’s all compiled in this Lake District Travel Essentials. After reading this short and easy-to-read guide, you will be a little more prepared to start your trip to the Lake District.

    1

    What are the main towns and villages in the Lake District?

    The Lake District is a beautiful natural and rural area in the northeast of England, 240 miles from London. Covering an area of 911 square miles, it’s home to a national park that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2017. The district has a population of about 500,000 inhabitants. It's a wild, mountainous region featuring forests and lakes. The most famous towns in the Lake District are Keswick, Hawkshead, Ambleside, and Bowness-on-Windermere.

    Keswick

    Keswick is a lively market town on the northwest shore of Derwentwater. It's filled with restaurants and shops, but its top attractions include a Victorian museum, Friars Crag, and St John Church.

    Hawkshead

    Hawkshead is a small village north of Esthwaite Water. This ancient township dates back to the Viking Age and is known as the home of William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.

    Ambleside

    Ambleside, north of Windermere, is home to Roman fort ruins and is a base for hiking and mountaineering. It also features steamboat tours and lively dining and shopping scenes.

    Bowness-on-Windermere

    Bowness-on-Windermere, on the east bank of its namesake lake, dates back to the 15th century and is famous for its boat tours and hiking trips. It also offers plenty of dining and shopping options.

    2

    When is the best time to travel to the Lake District?

    • The Lake District has an oceanic climate with cool winters and warm summers. Average temperatures range from 4°C in winter to 15°C in summer.
    • The Lake District is one of the wettest parts of England – wearing a raincoat may be required all year round. On average, it rains 17 days per month from October to January and 13 days per month from February to September. The slightly drier months are usually between April and July.
    • May–September is the warmest time of the year in the Lake District. July–August is the busiest period, yet the high season runs from April to October.
    • The best times to visit the Lake District are in spring (April–May) and autumn (September–October). Hotels won’t be as cheap as in the off-season, but these periods offer mild and drier weather and significantly lesser crowds.
    3

    Lake District basics

    • Plug type: G
    • Electricity: 220 - 240 V
    • Currency: Pound Sterling (£)
    • International dialling code: +44 (0)15394
    • Emergency telephone number: 999
    4

    How to get to my hotel in the Lake District?

    If you’re flying in from abroad, Manchester Airport is the closest international airport serving the Lake District. If you’re already in the UK, you can take a domestic flight to Carlisle Lake District Airport (CAX), which serves flights from London, Dublin, and Belfast.

    You can also get to the Lake District by car, train, or bus. It’s about a 6-hour drive from London.

    Manchester Airport (MAN)

    Manchester Airport is the primary airport serving the Lake District. The airport is located 80 miles from the Lakes. The average driving time from the airport to Lakeland is about 2 hours and 30 minutes.

    Free Wi-Fi is offered throughout the airport. The ground transportation options available are as follows:

    • There’s a train station right at the airport, conveniently accessible on foot, though it is quite a long walk from the terminal. From here you can catch a train at an affordable rate to Oxenholme. Once there, you can easily reach Kendal, Keswick, Windermere, and Penrith on a connecting train. The journey to Oxenholme takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
    • It takes between 3 and 5 hours to get to the Lake District by National Express coach. MAN offers direct bus services to Kendall, Keswick, Grasmere, and Ambleside. You’ll find a bus station in the same place as the train station.
    • Alamo, Sixt, and Budget are just a few of the car hire agencies available at Manchester Airport. A complimentary shuttle departs from each terminal every 10 minutes to get you to the Car Rental Village.
    • Taxis are available, but they’re a very expensive way to get to the Lake District.

    Getting to the Lake District by train

    You can get to the Lake District from anywhere in the UK by train. One of the country's main lines goes through the Lake District, with stops in Oxenholme, Penrith North Lakes, and Carlisle. From there, you can change trains and reach Windermere, Barrow-in-Furness, as well as Workington and other towns along the coast.

    The journey from London Euston Station to Oxenholme takes 3 hours, and costs, on average, double the price of a coach ride.

    Getting to the Lake District by coach

    Coach companies including National Express, FirstGroup, and Go-Ahead, among others, can take you to the Lake District from anywhere in the UK. Rates are affordable, and only the time spent onboard the bus can seem a bit inconvenient – expect a 12-hour journey from London to Oxenholme, with a bus change in Manchester.

    5

    How to get around the Lake District?

    Travel tips

    The Lake District is a large mountainous area, a national park, and a UNESCO World Heritage site covering an area of about 911 square miles. Part of Cumbria county, its main towns are Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside, and Bowness-on-Windermere.

    The Lake District is a famous hiking destination and walking is a popular way to explore your surroundings once you’re settled in the town/village of your choice. The national park is home to hiking trails for all levels.

    Riding on a bus is the best way for exploring this superbly picturesque area and getting between towns. You can also choose to drive around the Lake District by yourself in a rented car. Last but not least, you can get on board a steamer or launch boat to cruise on one of the Lake District’s largest lakes.

    Hiking in the Lake District

    The Lake District is a hiker's paradise. It hosts an impressive number of hiking trails up and around high summits, rolling hills, and inland freshwater seas. Scafell Pike – England’s tallest mountain – is among the main highlights for hikers. The routes are well signposted and with a detailed map, you’ll easily find your way. Hiring a guide can be a good, safer option.

    You’ll find a range of hikes for your skill and preference. Catbells is an easy 1-hour climb in the Western Fells while High Street is a mid-level 4-hour climb in the Far Eastern Fells. Scafell Pike is a more challenging 5-hour climb in the South-Western Fells.

    Travelling by bus in the Lake District

    The best way to discover the Lake District is by bus. The Stagecoach bus company operates all year round with a wide selection of routes throughout the region. From single trips to day tours to hop-on-hop-off buses, you can get almost anywhere by bus in Cumbria.

    Buses are also a good, affordable option for hikers to get to the trails of their choice. Check out Stagecoach’s website for further info regarding schedules, destinations, and prices.

    Hiring a car in the Lake District

    Renting a car is a good option if you want to explore the Lake District freely and at your own pace. It’s not the most recommended one price-wise, though. Car parks are pretty expensive in the national park to discourage too many cars using the narrow country roads.

    Note that foreigners are allowed to use their home country-issued driver’s license for up to 12 months in the UK. Car rental agencies are available in Kendall, Windermere, Keswick, and Penrith. There are about 15 Lake District scenic routes to explore.

    Cruising on the lakes

    Windermere, Ullswater, Coniston, and Derwentwater are the 4 lakes that can be explored aboard steamer or launch boats. Day tours, single cruises with multiple stops, and combination boat and bus tours are available. It’s a very cool, relaxing way to discover the magnificent landscapes of the Lake District.

    Cycling in the Lake District

    In summer, hiring a road bike, electric bike, or mountain bike is a pleasant way to explore the Lake District. You’ll need to be in good shape as the slopes are steep. You can ride along country lanes, designated cycleways, and horse trails.

    Check out companies such as Coniston Boating Centre (+44 (0)15394 41366), Windermere Lake Cruises (+44 (0)15394 43360), and Lake District Bikes (+44 (0)7887 731552) for info on cycling tours and bike rentals in the Lake District.

    6

    What are the main annual events in the Lake District?

    Kendal Calling

    • July
    • One of the largest music and arts festivals in the Lake District, featuring local and international rock, pop, and alt-rock bands performing on 10 stages.
    • Where: Lowther Deer Park, Cumbria

    Keswick Mountain Festival

    • May
    • A family-friendly sporting event at which you can participate in a 5-km trail run, a cycling race, and other outdoor activities. Enjoy live music, beer, and food in the evenings.
    • Where: Crow Park, Keswick

    Westmorland County Show

    • September
    • One of the most attended agricultural shows in the Lake District, where the kids can enjoy petting sheep and cattle while you enjoy tasting the local cuisine.
    • Where: Lane Farm, Crooklands
    7

    What are the main landmarks in the Lake District?

    Castlerigg Stone Circle

    A UNESCO World Heritage site dating back to the Neolithic period. The best time to visit is during the summer solstice, between June 20 and June 22.

    Ravenglass Roman Bath House

    Prominent remains of the Ravenglass Roman Fort established in 130 BC and one of the tallest surviving Roman structures in the UK, with walls almost 13 ft high.

    Hardknott Roman Fort

    Stunning views over the River Esk from a rocky promontory, with a rampart wall surrounding a headquarters building, camp prefect's house, and bathhouse built in AD 120.

    Beatrix Potter’s home

    The 17th-century farmhouse of the world-renowned author of children’s books, including The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Located in the village of Near Sawrey, it’s open for public tours.

    Start planning your trip

    Why book with Hotels.com?

    Keep exploring

    England

    United Kingdom

    COVID-19 Travel Alert

    Attractions and experiences recommended in our guides may be affected. Please check local guidance before you travel.

    Back to top

    Maps