A lake surrounded by hills in Cumbria

The Best Places to Visit in Cumbria

Discover some of the best places to visit in Cumbria. The county is blessed with beautiful landscapes including the Lake District National Park, the Eden Valley and the Solway Coast. Meanwhile, the stunning North Pennines and the Scottish Borders are also within reach

Along with natural beauty, there are many heritage sites and historic landmarks to discover from ancient castles to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall.

Add to that a host of traditional market towns, incredible opportunities for hiking and cycling, and plenty of interesting things to do in Cumbria and there is something to suit everyone, from history-loving couples to families that love outdoor pursuits.

Stained Glass Window at Carlisle Cathedral in Cumbria


The city of Carlisle sits near the border with Scotland and is one of the best places to visit in Cumbria for history. It is also a great base for exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall. As the northern frontier of the Roman Empire, Hadrian’s Wall stretches for 73 miles from coast to coast.

One of the best-preserved parts of the wall is Birdoswald Fort, about 16 miles from Carlisle. Here, you can learn more about Roman history, as well as admire stunning views over the Irthing Valley over to the Lake District Fells.

The Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail (84 miles in its entirety), that follows the wall, is hugely popular with hikers. Meanwhile, cyclists can ride alongside sections of the wall on Hadrian’s Cycleway.

However, there is much more to Carlisle’s history than the Romans. Visit Tullie House museum and art gallery, the medieval Carlisle Castle, the 900-year-old cathedral with its beautiful stained glass, and Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life.

As with any city, there are plenty of shopping opportunities too, from the Victorian Market Hall for local produce to The Lanes Shopping Centre for high street brands. However, for live entertainment The Sands Centre hosts a programme of theatre productions, music performances and comedy shows throughout the year.

View over the Sea And Coast Of The Solway Coast in Cumbria

Solway Coast

Easily accessible from places like Carlisle, the Solway Coast is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Cumbria near the border with Scotland. It runs from Rockcliffe in the north to Maryport in the south, covers just over 100 square kilometres and incorporates 59 kilometres of shoreline. Pretty, historic villages in the area include Silloth, Beaumont and Burgh by Sands.

The area is known for its cliffs, dunes and the variety of landscapes and wildlife habitats. As a haven for migratory waders and waterfowl, with something to spot throughout the year, it has a special draw for birdwatchers. There’s also an abundance of wildflower species and wildflower walks are popular in spring and summer with guided tour information is available at the Discovery Centre in Silloth.

With a blissfully remote feel, the Solway Coast attracts people in search of peace, nature and panoramic seascapes. It is popular with walkers with the Cumbria Coastal Way follows the foreshore, while there are family-friendly circular trails to enjoy too. Meanwhile, cyclists can enjoy routes including the Cumbria Cycle Way. Water sports including windsurfing are also popular.

Weir On The River Kent In Kendal In Cumbria


The market town of Kendal is often referred to as the Gateway to the Lake District as it is only about a mile from the boundary of the national park. Kendal is a vibrant town with plenty to see and do in its own right. A host of artisan shops offer everything from locally made breads and beers, plus there’s a weekly market. However, sampling the famous Kendal Mint Cake is definitely a must.

There are winding streets and cobbled courtyards to discover, all branching off the main street, as well as a range of interesting historic buildings from houses built in the 1600s to places like Abbot Hall Museum. Set in a beautiful Grade I-listed Georgian former home on the banks of the River Kent, the museum is a fantastic gallery space for fine art from the 18th century to the present day.

For entertainment including cinema, live music and theatre, head to Brewery Arts that offers a full programme of events, as well as workshops such as arts and crafts.

Just outside of town are the ruins of the 13th-century Kendal Castle. From this elevated position there are wonderful views back down to the town and across the surrounding countryside.

Town Of Penrith In Cumbria With Hills In Background


Penrith is an historic market town in the heart of Cumbria which is sometimes nicknamed the ‘old red town’ because of all the sandstone buildings. Penrith is also the main shopping and social hub of the Eden Valley. Cobbled streets in the town centre are home to an array of independent shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants with plenty of personality.

Amongst the town’s landmarks are Penrith Castle, believed to have been constructed in the late 14th century, and Penrith Beacon. The beacon sits on top of Beacon Hill and is where beacons have been lit as a warning in times of emergency since Henry VIII’s reign. From this vantage point there are incredible views across the Eden Valley to the Lakeland fells, the Solway Firth and the hills of Scotland.

There are some great walks in the area including town trails and in the nearby Thacka Beck nature reserve, while Penrith is also a designated cycling hub. So, if you prefer two wheels, you will find a host of amenities and facilities for cyclists, as well as routes that pass through the town.

The River Eden In Summer In The Town Of Appleby In Cumbria


Appleby, or if you prefer, Appleby-in-Westmorland, is a traditional market town with lots of old-world charm in Cumbria’s Eden Valley. It has a thriving market, many independent shops and numerous places to eat. In August, the popular Appleby Show is one of the best places to visit in Cumbria for a glimpse into local, rural life and is perfect for picking up goodies like locally made cheeses and beer.

Peaceful riverside walks can be enjoyed not far from the town centre, but if you’re feeling more energetic and like golf there’s a course nearby. Otherwise, attractions include Appleby Castle, which is part of the long-distance Lady Anne Way walk, while Lowther Castle is particularly popular with families, thanks to its outdoor play area.

The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty sits directly east of Appleby, while the Lake District is also within easy reach.

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