10 of the best places to stay in Cumbria

Days out, Destinations

Posted by Courtney Kelly on 13th June 2022


This captivating region of the UK houses the Lake District in totality and therefore welcomes throngs of tourists every year. There are so many pretty towns in Cumbria, as well as more rural places to visit, that you’ll not be short of things to do whether you’re with your family, a group of friends or just your partner.

When deciding on the best places to visit in Cumbria, it helps if you establish what it is you want from your holiday. Is it fantastic food, the views of lakes and valleys, or maybe an insight into druidic history? All this and more can be found in our guide to the top places to stay in Cumbria.

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Derwentwater and Castlerigg Stone Circle in Keswick

Keswick - the best place to stay for family adventure

Not only is Keswick known as the adventure capital of the Lake District, but it is also an amazing Cumbrian destination for family excitement that isn’t so adrenaline fuelled. Visit the Outdoor Adventure Centre for all manner of exhilarating activities, including a high ropes course and a colourful indoor climbing wall.

Head to the Puzzling Place, an attraction based upon optical illusion which is sure to blow some tiny minds, or for a bit of history, try the Derwent Pencil Museum, home of the world's first pencil, and learn of its humble origins. If Mum and Dad need something for the grown-ups, why not visit Castlerigg Stone Circle, the Lakes Distillery or the Theatre by the Lake?


  • Outdoor Adventure Centre – take on ghyll scrambling, kayaking and archery to name just a few activities
  • The Puzzling Place – an all-weather interactive and fully immersive optical illusion experience
  • Castlerigg Stone Circle – with views of the Helvellyn range in the distance, this 5,000-year-old Neolithic landmark is one for Mum and Dad

Keswick cottages

Tom Gill waterfall, Cathedral Cave and the Old Man of Coniston

Coniston Water - the best place to stay for walks

At 5 miles long and 0.5 miles wide, you’re bound to find pleasurable hikes around this large body of water, making it a great Cumbrian destination for enthralling walks. There are levels of difficulty to suit all comers, with some of the walks having accessible paths, and the views you’ll take in of the fells and luscious valleys will stay with you a lifetime.

If you’re after a slightly more challenging walk, try the route to Tarn Hows which features the waterfalls and mountain lake of Tom Gill and also passes by a former residence of Beatrix Potter. For the less able or those with children, why not try a shoreline walk around Coniston Water? From the Boating Centre, there’s a Miles without Stiles route which is suitable for all on foot, or with wheelchairs and prams.


  • Old Man of Coniston – towering over the village at over 800 metres, this famous fell will reward you with sights of Blencathra and Scafell
  • Cathedral Cave – starting at the north of Coniston, this walk takes you into an underground cavern which will be exciting no matter your age
  • Coniston to Hawkshead – this walk not only takes in the edges of Tarn Hows, but it also means you get to explore the attractive village of Hawkshead

Coniston cottages

A sailboat on Lake Windermere

Windermere - the best place to stay for water sports

A tourist hotspot, it’s easy to see why holidaymakers see Windermere as one of the best places to visit in Cumbria. The lake, the largest in the district, is glorious, and nearby Bowness-on-Windermere is as family friendly as they come. But it’s often water pursuits that keep visitors coming back time after time.

Test your engineering skills and try building your own raft before heading out onto the water. Or if you’re eager to get out on the water immediately, undertake some sailing, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, water skiing or wakeboarding. And if being all the way out on the open water isn’t your cup of tea, why not mix your water and land-based activities and try some ghyll scrambling?


Windermere cottages

Sticky toffee pudding in CartmelPhoto credits: Cumbria Tourism

Cartmel - the best place to stay for foodies

When we say it’s great for foodies, what we mean is that Cartmel is a village in Cumbria that is especially good if you have a sweet tooth. Now known as the mecca for food lovers frequenting the North of England, Cartmel cannot be visited without trying the sticky toffee pudding the village is renowned for. The dessert is now sold all over the country but just as you’d go to Dublin to sample the best pint of Guinness, so too should you visit this lovely village to savour this exquisite sweet treat.

Not that Cartmel is all about puddings; the North West’s best restaurant also resides here. L’Enclume is currently the only restaurant in the UK outside of the South East of England to have three Michelin stars, and it’s also the kindest to your wallet – presently, the most inexpensive Michelin restaurant in the land.


  • Cartmel Village Shop – now celebrating 25 years of business, this shop is the home of the famous pudding but also has other delicious desserts in spades
  • L’Enclume – join Head Chef Simon Rogan and indulge your taste buds, or head to the sister restaurant, Rogan & Co
  • Stargazing – with such low light pollution, it’s not uncommon to see the Aurora Borealis on a visit

Cartmel cottages

Independent shops and market stalls in Kirkby LonsdalePhoto credits: Cumbria Tourism

Kirkby Lonsdale - the best place to stay for independent shopping

It’s not often that you find a UK town with no empty premises and 99% independent shops. Yet that is what you’ll find when you visit Kirkby Lonsdale. Because of this, you might think that the locals were aggrieved when they only received a runner-up placing at the Great British High Street Awards in 2016, but they just keep calm and carry on, knowing that there’s still a summit yet to be reached.

Park just outside the town and stroll in, doing the first bit of window shopping as you do. Both bargain hunters and big spenders will be in their element with fashion outlets, jewellery boutiques, vintage gift shops and food offerings all available. If you find yourself in need of a retail break, head out to Ruskin’s View, a vista that inspired an 1822 JMW Turner painting.


  • The Book Lounge – second-hand bookshop where you can enjoy a hot drink and a slice of cake whilst you read or browse
  • Bumblebee Gallery – showcasing unique artworks from over 70 artists from the North and all over the UK
  • Charter Market – held every Thursday, you can buy local produce, jewellery, plants and gifts

Kirkby Lonsdale cottages

The beach at AllonbyPhoto credits: Cumbria Tourism

Allonby - the best place to stay for beach lovers

On the north-west coast of Cumbria, you’ll find the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty housing the village of Allonby. On the southern end of the Solway Coast, this isolated gem boasts views of the mountains of Southern Scotland and has the Cumbria Coastal Way passing through it.

But it is the beach that keeps people coming back. Sea bathing is ever popular at this fine Cumbrian beach, with the water being both clean and safe. Why not grab a locally famous Twentymans ice cream and sit and watch the windsurfers pass by? The long stretch of sand is perfect for a relaxed beach stroll with a dog and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a pod of porpoises or some seals. If you’re looking for a seaside resort, you’re going to be disappointed but if you love sleepy getaways with big skies, you’re going to love it here.


  • Find some wildlife - between the village and the beach you can see the ponies roaming the green, grazing on the sea banks
  • Smuggler’s Route – starting in Maryport and passing through Allonby, this route encompasses Roman settlements and nature reserves
  • Lake District Coast Aquarium – if you didn’t see any fish in Allonby, head 5 miles south and savour the marine life in Maryport

Allonby cottages

Cycling in and around CockermouthPhoto credits: Cumbria Tourism

Cockermouth – the best place to stay for cycling

Cockermouth is an ancient market town located where the River Cocker and River Derwent come together. Whilst staying in the birthplace of William Wordsworth, you’ll be well placed to travel to some of the best lakes in the area or even admire some of the 18th-century architecture. But if you want to see the town and surrounding areas in all their glory, straddle your bike and see the sights in style.

The historic town trail will be short on a bike but worth it if you’re interested in the local history. The green circular trail follows the River Cocker for a time before heading through parks and memorial gardens. For adventures further afield, there are valleys to explore, including the nearby mountain biking trails at Whinlatter Forest. These four Forestry England-endorsed trails boast views of Bassenthwaite Lake and Keswick.


  • Thackthwaite Circuit – this pleasant 7-mile route enjoys lovely scenery along the Cocker and has pubs at either end
  • Lorton and back via Honister and Whinlatter – this longer route (27 miles) passes Derwentwater, Buttermere and Crummock Water in what is sure to be a trail for lake lovers
  • Cyclewise – hire road bikes, gravel bikes, e-bikes and kids bikes, as well as get repairs done

Cockermouth cottages

Incredible sunset in Arnside and Silverdale

Arnside and Silverdale – the best place to stay for beautiful and varied landscapes

Another Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Arnside and Silverdale could have been the best place for walks and wildlife too, but we chose it for its immense variety of topography. Visit the small, attractive beach at Silverdale in Morecambe Bay and then either head up to Arnside Knott for vast coastal views or stay close to the shoreline and visit the headland at Jenny Brown’s Point.

This impressive coastline is only one great component of this AONB. There’s ancient woodland to explore and meadows filled with enchanting orchids and other wildflowers. Time your visit right and witness the flutter of vibrant butterflies or just wander the 29 square miles of one of England’s finest landscapes.


  • The Bore – this aquatic phenomenon is a small tidal wave that is triggered when the rising tide causes the flow of the river to rapidly reverse – you can even kayak on the wave, which at times is said to be as fast as a galloping horse
  • Lakeland Wildlife Oasis – an all-weather attraction showcasing mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and more
  • Leighton Hall – an 800-year-old lived-in home, with extensive lawns, gardens, woodland walks and a maze for the children

Arnside and Silverdale cottages

Svalbard barnacle geese and an oyster catcher on the Solway Coast

Solway Coast – the best place to stay for wildlife

The Solway Coast AONB lies just off the southern coast of Scotland and is a haven for beautiful and rare wildlife. The Solway Dunes are a Site of Special Scientific Interest and contain unique habitats like that of the rare natterjack toad with its yellow eyes and golden strip on its back. The dunes are also home to a number of roosting birds such as oystercatchers, curlews, stonechats and the rare little tern. Also, look out for Svalbard barnacle geese on the salt marshes during the spring and summer – they fly over from Scotland to feed on the grasses.

Moving out into the water, there’s plenty of marine life to get excited about. In the estuary, you might spot wading birds or the odd porpoise chasing its lunch. And further out, towards Dubmill Point, you’ll find a Marine Conservation Zone which is an important area for the honeycomb worm reef. This reef, which is made from millions of worms (as well as tiny fragments of sand and shell), supports colonies of sponges, crabs, lobsters and anemones.


  • Nature Reserves – visit the Solway Wetlands Centre, Bowness Common and Campfield Marsh Reserves, Finglandrigg Wood Reserve and more
  • Discovery Centre - find out more about the Solway Coast Area of Outstanding National Beauty in the port town of Silloth
  • Burgh by Sands – a village of historical significance, King Edward I died here planning a battle against the Scots and a 12th-century church sits upon Hadrian’s Wall

Solway Coast cottages

Long Meg, Aira Force and Brougham Castle in PenrithPhoto credit: Cumbria Tourism (bottom left)

Penrith – the best place to stay for historical landmarks

Visit one of the most well-known and eye-catching stone circles in the north of England when stopping off in Penrith. Long Meg and her Daughters is an impressive Neolithic landmark comprising 69 stones that has the second-largest diameter of any stone circle in England. Long Meg herself stands over 3.5 metres tall and has mysterious symbols on her surface that date back to 1,500 BC.

Nearly 0.5 miles north of this large stone circle is one of the smallest of its kind in the country. Little Meg is made up of just 11 stones and is one of only three circles in Cumbria with geometric carvings on the stones. If the heavens open, head over to Lacy’s Caves, which were carved out by Colonel Samuel Lacy, who incidentally once tried to blow up Long Meg and her Daughters. These five chambers were sculpted out of the red sandstone cliffs by the River Eden and can be explored, but just mind yourself as the drop-off to the river can be quite steep.


  • Brougham Castle – once sketched by JMW Turner and explored by a young Wordsworth, this Cumbrian castle is a romantic spot for a meadow picnic
  • Ullswater – considered by some to be the most beautiful lake in England, hop on a steamer or try canoeing, paddleboarding and sailing
  • Aira Force – just outside of Penrith, next to Ullswater is this impressive and must-see waterfall

Penrith cottages

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.