10 of the best places to stay in the Lake District

Posted by Ruth on 28th July 2020

The Lake District is blessed with some beautiful places to stay, where you can wake up to breathtaking waterside views and spend your days exploring the incredible mountain scenery. But with so much natural beauty on offer, it can be hard to decide where to base yourself on a Lake District holiday.

We’ve rounded up our 10 favourite places to stay in the Lake District, so whether you’re dreaming of taking on epic mountain walks, sampling delicious food and drink or making memories with the whole family, you can find the perfect place for your next Lake District holiday.

And if you’d rather skip straight to our collection of beautiful Lake District holiday cottages, just click the button below.

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Buttermere – best for walkers

The verdant green hills around the lovely village of Buttermere are heaven for walkers, with both low-level walks and famous mountain ranges on offer for visitors to tackle. Walk to the highest waterfall in the Lake District – Scale Force – which has a drop of 170 feet, or take on the surrounding mountain ranges including the Buttermere Round.

Not only are there plenty of routes to enjoy, but Buttermere can also be described as the spiritual home of walkers too. The village’s small church, St James, has a memorial to Alfred Wainwright who created the Coast to Coast long-distance footpath. You can see his favourite mountain, Haystacks, from the church.

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Ravenglass – best for history

Ravenglass is a beautiful coastal hamlet which was, in the 2nd century, a Roman naval base called Glannoventa; its fascinating history makes it a must-visit for those who like delving into the past. You can still see remains of the Ravenglass Roman Bath House, also known as Walls Castle – today, it’s one of the largest surviving Roman structures in England and well worth a visit.

You can learn about more modern history with a ride on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, which was once used to transport iron ore, granite and copper ore from nearby mines, or head out of Ravenglass to visit the imposing 13th-century Muncaster Castle.

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Hawkshead – best for literary fans

This idyllic village has some impressive literary connections which bibliophiles will love to explore on a Lake District holiday. Hawkshead’s most famous ‘son’ is Wordsworth, who attended Hawkshead Grammar School – much of the village is described in his poetry. Esthwaite Water, close to the village, was mentioned in many of Wordsworth's poems too.

Hawkshead is also famous for its connections to Beatrix Potter. The author’s residence, Hill Top, is 2 miles outside Hawkshead and can today be visited by the public. Potter’s husband had his offices in Hawkshead, and the building now houses the Beatrix Potter Gallery. You’ll discover Hawkshead features in much of her work.

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Coniston – best for scenery

Coniston is one of the most popular destinations in the Lake District and for good reason – it’s home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the National Park. Around half a mile from the village of Coniston is Coniston Water, a picturesque, 5-mile long lake that can be explored by hiring boats from the nearby boating centre.

Coniston Water is towered over by the Old Man of Coniston, an 800-metre-high fell offering breathtaking views across to the Isle of Man from the top. The village is also surrounded by the Coniston Fells which add to the stunning scenery and offer plenty of walking routes too.

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Pooley Bridge

Pooley Bridge – best for taking to the water

Pooley Bridge is a lovely little village at the northern end of Lake Ullswater, on the banks of the River Eamont. It’s best known for the Ullswater Steamers which run from the quay across the placid lake – take a trip on board to view the incredible scenery of the water and the surrounding mountains from a new perspective, including Helvellyn, the highest peak in the National Park.

You can also enjoy the waterside views while keeping your feet firmly on dry land by taking a walk over the 16th-century bridge which crosses the beautiful Eamont – the bridge that gives the village its name.

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Cartmel – best for foodies

The Lake District is home to some of the best food in the UK, but if you are looking for just one place to stay to experience a taste, we’d recommend Cartmel. The village is famous for being home of the Lake District’s most popular foodie export – the indulgent sticky toffee pudding. Try it for yourself at Cartmel Village Shop.

For more local food, head to Unsworth’s Yard where you can sample the finest Lakes produce at Cartmel Cheeses, Unsworth’s Yard Brewery and Hot Wines, as well as a food market on the third Friday of the month. And if you really want to treat yourself, book a table at L’Enclume – the two-Michelin-starred restaurant in the village.

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Cockermouth – best for culture

Away from the hustle and bustle of more well-known Lake District destinations, you’ll find Cockermouth. It’s a pretty market town just outside the National Park boundary and is famous as the birthplace of William Wordsworth. If it’s culture you’re seeking, this is a brilliant place to visit, combining history, industry and the arts.

Noteworthy attractions include the Kirkgate Centre where you can watch some live theatre and music, Jennings Brewery, where you can take a tour to learn about the process of making beer, and the Town Trail which takes you on a journey to discover more about the town’s history. There are also a delightful array of independent shops if you’re in need of a spot of retail therapy.

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Grasmere – best for couples

Grasmere is a beautiful lakeside village with a strong association with poets of the English Romantic period, making it a brilliant destination for a couples’ break in the Lake District. Home of both Wordsworth and Coleridge in the 19th century, the village has lots of beautiful walks, including along the bank of the River Rothay to visit Wordsworth’s grave at St Oswald’s Church, and in the tranquil Wordsworth Daffodil Garden too.

Other romantic activities include tasting some famous gingerbread, taking a rowing boat across Grasmere Lake, or hiking Helm Crag – also known as ‘the Lion and the Lamb’.

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Kendal – best for variety

If you’re looking for an all-round, crowd-pleasing destination for your next Lake District holiday, we’d recommend Kendal. There is something to please every visitor, no matter what you’re interested in – from learning about local history at the Museum of Lakeland Life and Kendal Museum to tackling the craggy heights with Lakeland Climbing Centre.

Kids will adore a day out at Lakeland Maze Farm Park, while the Brewery Arts Centre is a great place to visit for an evening’s entertainment. And, of course, no visit is complete without sampling the village’s most famous export – the sugary Kendal Mint Cake which will power you up any Lake District hill!

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Bowness-on-Windermere – best for families

Whether you’re visiting with tiny tots or teenagers, Bowness-on-Windermere is a brilliant family destination in the Lake District. Little ones will be enchanted with a visit to The World of Beatrix Potter attraction, where all their favourite characters from the famous stories come to life. Or take a gentle cruise across Lake Windermere, taking in the stunning mountain scenery and spotting wildlife.

Older kids will love the range of activities on offer at Brockhole, the Lake District Visitor Centre, including kayak tours, archery, mini golf and a treetop trek. Or book yourselves into Macdonald Old England for a day of pampering in the spa.

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View our top 10 places to stay in the Lake District on a map

Need more inspiration?

If you’ve found your dream Lake District destination and you’re wondering what else you can get up to on your holiday to this inspiring national park, take a look at these Lake District holiday guides:

We have a wide range of beautiful cottages all across the National Park, so you can find the perfect setting for your next adventure in the Lake District. Take a look at our full collection below.

Escape to the Lake District

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.