Lake District holidays mean different things to different people. For some, the call of the great outdoors is too difficult to resist in England’s largest national park, while for others, the Lake District’s appeal lies firmly in its pretty towns and villages – each one boasting a charm of their own. From Ambleside to Windermere, you’ll find a generous helping of inspiration for your Lakeland holiday right here. Dive in to discover top picks for the best places to stay in the Lake District – and some of the fabulous things to see and do in each one.
Ambleside holiday lets
Perched at the head of Windermere, Ambleside grabs a regular spot among lists of the best places to stay in the Lake District. The town is known for the 70-foot Stock Ghyll Force waterfall, as well as its most photographed attraction, the National Trust’s 17th-century Bridge House. During the summer, horse-drawn carriages trundle from the town centre to historic Waterhead Pier, where regular boat excursions set off to explore the nooks and crannies of England’s largest natural lake. Holiday rentals here might mean Lake District cottages for 2 or rustic barn conversions on the outskirts of town.
Visit historic Cartmel
Not far from the southern tip of Lake Windermere, Cartmel is the perfect pick for history buffs, known as it is for the 12th-century Cartmel Priory. Elsewhere, the village’s main square houses a medley of traditional pubs and independent shops, including the Cartmel Village Store – something of a local institution courtesy of its famous sticky toffee pudding. On bank holidays in the spring and summer, the village hosts steeplechase meets on one of the country’s smallest and, arguably, prettiest courses.
Explore Wordsworth's Grasmere
Described by poet William Wordsworth as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found”, Grasmere boasts oodles of natural charm. Grasmere Water is the star of the show – a small lake where the right light reveals a reflection of Loughrigg Fell and the warmer months see wooden rowing boats gliding across its glassy surface. Holiday homes in Grasmere are within easy reach of the likes of Rydal and Bowness courtesy of regular buses, and if you’re up for a walk, the Grasmere Trail links Grasmere to Ambleside via the shores of Grasmere and Rydal Waters.
Windermere cottages with hot tubs
Sitting along the eastern shore of its namesake lake, Windermere consistently proves one of the best towns to stay in the Lake District – not least because of the delightful boat cruises that chug across the water pretty much all year round. Nearby, you can learn a little more about one of the area’s most famous writers at the whimsical World of Beatrix Potter Attraction. And should a splash of romance be on the cards, nothing says “I love you” quite like treating your other half to a weekend in a lakeside Windermere cottage with a hot tub.
A postcard-perfect market town in the northern Lake District, Keswick offers a quintessential Cumbrian experience. Visitors to the town often come for the market, held every Thursday and Saturday in the main square, though for outdoor enthusiasts, the appeal of Keswick holiday rentals often lies firmly with the town’s quaint museums, galleries and tea shops, along with its proximity to boating trips on Derwentwater. And should you be feeling super adventurous, you can try paragliding lessons in the hills that surround the town.
Holiday homes in Ulverston
The birthplace of comedian Stan Laurel and the starting point for the 70-mile Cumbrian Way footpath, Ulverston stands in the heart of the Furness Peninsula. Holiday cottages here bring with them an opportunity to visit the Lakes Glass Centre and the grand Coronation Hall theatre, as well as the only Laurel and Hardy museum in the world. And should you find yourself in the mood for a beach day during your Lake District holiday, you’ll find Ulverston holiday lets within a 20-minute drive of the beaches of Barrow-in-Furness’ Walney Island.