Where to stay in the Lake District
What area fits your trip best?
1. Ambleside, Coniston & Grasmere
Best for? Explorers + History
Best time? All year round. Just drive wherever the weather looks best!
This town is on the North side of Lake Windermere and has a lot of bistros and independent shops to offer. Many say it has maintained a charm that other areas have lost. You will find both, a 21m high waterfall to explore, as well as 17th century old architecture. Just head to Stock Ghyll for a steep climb and the waterfall. Or go to the old Bridge House, which housed a family with 6 kids, to explore some traditional architecture.
Grasmere is often considered the “cutest village” when thinking about where to stay in the Lake District. It also has a lot of history, with churches going as far back as the 13th century. And if you’re looking for traditional snacks, head to the Gingerbread Shops run by 3rd generation descendants. Due to being slightly set back from the road, Grasmere is very central yet quieter than Ambleside. Which makes enjoying the lake views with afternoon tea even nicer. Head to the Faeryland Cafe for its enchanting outdoor tearoom!
You will find Coniston near the Southern part of the national park. You can either jump on the National Trust’s steam yacht, the Gondola or your own rental boat if you want to head out onto the lake for some exploring. When you’re tired from that, head over to the 400 year old Black Bull Inn for the perfect spot to relax.
2. Keswick & Threlkeld
Best for? Activities
Best time? Spring + Summer. A lot of things can be shut during autumn and winter.
If you’re looking for where to stay in the Lake District and have a more active stay in mind, this area might be just for you.
On the one hand you can go canyoning, rock climbing, mountain biking and even try out paragliding. But on the other hand, you will also find a lively market town with lots of fresh produce and local art to keep you busy when taking a day off from the action.
This area lacks the touristy vibe, yet offers lots of museums and art galleries for those rainy days. It also is rich in history, considering that Threlkelds history goes back over 800 years. The name is Norse for “The well of the thrall”.
3. Cartmel & South Coast
Best for? Foodies
Best time? Winter
Wait, Winter? Yes, Winter! What’s nicer than driving around snow covered peaks and finish the day off with delicious food by an open fire?
So, if you love your food and are looking for where to stay in the Lake District for the best choices, then you should seriously consider Cartmel and the South Coast.
This area gives you a quiet calm just outside the national park and close to the coastal town of Grange-over-Sands. If you’re a history geek, then you’ll also appreciate the 800 year old Cartmel Priory with its stained glass windows and many local legends.
In the quaint villages, you will find everything your foodie heart needs. From artisan bakeries and local produce to two Michelin star restaurants, you will have it all.
4. Borrowdale & Buttermere
Best for? Hikers
Best time? May + June for the clearest skies in the wettest place of England
If you’re looking where to stay in the Lake District for your hikes, then this is perfect for you. It’s only 30 minutes from Keswick but offers dramatic mountains and moody hikes. It’s also where you’ll find the corridor route up to Scafell Pike.
With no towns and only the odd hotels, it’s a remote yet stunning location. You’ll be right in the heart of hiking.
5. Elterwater & Langdale
Best for? Photographers
Best time? Spring + autumn for the photo vibes
If you’re looking for misty sunrises, shimmery peaks and mountain reflections, then you’ve found where to stay in the Lake District!
Elterwater is a little hamlet with great pubs that also offers lots of walks for you to soak in the views and enjoy the magical atmosphere.
6. Windermere & Bowness
Best for? Luxury + Watersports
Best time? Not summer, if you want to avoid the tourists
Our first recommendation? Find your own secluded cottage. Since this are has lots to offer, it can get quite busy.
Windermere and Bowness have a much gentler landscape, larger town and better facilities. You will find the best hotels in the Lake District. Grab a boat and go for a lake cruise or go on short walks with stunning views, like Orest Head or Gummers How. Whilst the traffic on the east side can be slightly annoying, it is still a great are where to stay in the Lake District.
7. Wasdale & Eskdale
Best for? Remote Escape
Best time? May – September for long days of hiking. Passes might shut in Winter.
You’ve had enough of touristy places, social media and are just looking for a an escape? Then the best place to stay in the Lake District is probably this remote valley. There are no towns, just the odd village and a few pubs. But you will be rewarded with the finest scenery. And getting there is half the fun! You need to drive over high passes with 30% gradients and hairpins. So be prepared for the challenge and the views.
Once arrived, you can go for lovely hikes and wild swims.