The Most Beautiful Lake District Villages You Need to Visit

The Lake District is one of the most spectacular areas of natural beauty in England.

Located within the county of Cumbria, the Lake District has been romanticised by poets and writers for centuries, and today is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the north of England.

Here you can find the largest lakes in England, as well as Scafell Pike, the tallest mountain in England. The Lake District is also home to a large number of charming villages and small hamlets, all of which are surrounded by serene landscapes in enviable locations.

To inspire your trip to the north of England, here are the most beautiful Lake District villages that you need to visit.

1. Kendal

Technically a town rather than a village, Kendal is not only the largest town in Cumbria, but it’s also the heart of the tourist industry in the Lake District.

It’s is a great base for exploring the entire Lake District, and it’s also known for its most famous creation, Kendal Mint Cake, a sugary high-energy snack that’s popular with hikers.

Kendal has a fascinating history as well as a wonderfully picturesque setting, and you can admire the old medieval castle and the ramshackle streets of this pleasant, market town.

Enjoy the sights of Kendal, as well as the local pubs and cafes when you need a break from hiking and outdoor activities in the Lake District.

2. Windermere

Made famous by romantic poets such as William Wordsworth in the 19th century, Windermere is one of the most famous and best villages in the Lake District.

Windermere is located on the banks of Lake Windermere – or at least, half a mile away from the water’s edge – which is the largest natural lake in England, and the crown jewel in the Lake District.

Windermere town is where tourism began in the Lake District – and in many ways, where tourism in the UK began too. You can even stay at the old Hotel Windermere, which opened up in the 1850s. The town is located on a raised, hilly area that offers superb views over Lake Windermere.

3. Bowness-on-Windermere

The twin town of Windermere, Bowness-on-Windermere is located on the lake itself, and has in recent years merged into its neighbour.

Bowness-on-Windermere is a beautifully rustic place, and very similar in look and feel to Windermere. From Bowness-on-Windermere you can enjoy the serene surroundings of the waterside or hike along the edge of the lake.

The town is best known as the starting point for boat trips across the lake. At the port you can hire a boat or join an excursion to sightsee on Lake Windermere or simply to find transport to the next village along the water.

4. Ambleside

One of the most beautiful Lake District villages, which is accessible by boat from Bowness-on-Windermere, is the village of Ambleside.

Ambleside is located at the far northern end of Lake Windermere, and there are year round ferry services connecting the village to Bowness-on-Windermere.

Ambleside is also a great starting point for lake cruises, and the picturesque Waterhead Pier is always a flurry of activity in the summer months.

There are lots of heritage-listed buildings to be found in Ambleside, including the unique Bridge House, an old home that’s precariously balanced over a centuries-old stone bridge.

There are a disproportionate number of pubs in Ambleside in comparison to the population, so make the most of it and enjoy the local ales and hearty Cumbrian food after a long day of sightseeing.

5. Hawkshead

To the south of the lake, one of the best villages in the Lake District to visit is Hawkshead.

This small village is actually a lovely collection of even smaller hamlets and is a wonderful example of a rural English parish.

The local church can trace its origins back to the 13th century, and the village has a rustic and rural outlook that seems unchanged in centuries.

Literary lovers won’t want to miss out on a trip to Hawkshead, because it’s here that the iconic Romanticist William Wordsworth was educated at the local school, and the surrounding area would prove to be an indelible source of inspiration for his poetry.

Beatrix Potter, writer of the famed children’s books The Tales of Peter Rabbit also lived in Hawkshead for a time, and she was also inspired by the beautiful surroundings.

6. Wasdale

Wasdale is a small parish and one of the most beautiful villages not just in the Lake District, but in any UK national park.

Wasdale is found in the Wasdale Valley, a spectacular and remote part of the Lake District that’s best known for being home to Wastwater, the deepest natural lake in England.

Wastwater is a glorious sight, as the lake is surrounded by tall hills and mountains, and Scafell Pike, the tallest mountain in England, is in the vicinity too.

The hamlet of Wasdale Head is found at the head of Wastwater Lake and sits in the shadow of Scafell Pike, making this not only a spectacular location but a famed destination in one of the most beautiful Lake District valleys.

For such a small hamlet, Wasdale Head is an incredibly fascinating place. This is where the sport of rock climbing had its early origins in England, and it continues to be an important rock-climbing destination. You can also find St Olaf’s Church, which claims to be the smallest church in England.

Wasdale Head is also known for one of its former villagers, Will Ritson, a local 19th-century pub landlord who was known for his tall tales, and for whom the World’s Biggest Liar competition is held every year in his honour.

7. Dent

Dent is located in South Lakeland, and is one of the most picturesque small villages in the Lake District. With a population of around 800 people, this is a quaint and charming place, and it’s found in a gorgeous Cumbrian location.

Dent is in the middle of Dentdale, an impressive valley that forms part of the wider Yorkshire Dales, an area of outstanding natural beauty. There are long-distance hiking routes that head through Dent and through the dales, and that connect this area to the lakes further north.

8. Coniston

Coniston is found in the south of the Lake District too, and is close to Coniston Water, one of the largest lakes in the national park.

This is one of the most rugged areas in the Lake District. From the village, you can hike out to Coniston Water and also to the Old Man of Coniston.

The Old Man of Coniston is a large fell, or hill, that rises to 800 metres in height, making it one of the tallest fells in the Lake District; in comparison, Scafell Pike, the tallest peak in England is 978 metres high. The nearby Swirl How fell is equally as tall too, rising to just over 800 metres. Both make for excellent day hikes, as they offer astounding views over the surrounding terrain.

Coniston Cottage

9. Keswick

The town of Keswick is an important destination in the north of the Lake District, and here you can find quirky museums and beautiful mountain scenery.

This has always been an important market town, and even today visitors flock here on market day to enjoy the local stalls and stands and to try local food and produce.

The town is also home to an unusual Pencil Museum, which is one of the only dedicated pencil museums in the world.

More than this though, Keswick is located in close proximity to Derwentwater, one of the most beautiful lakes in the Lake District. You can boat, kayak or canoe across the water, or climb the nearby peaks for wonderful views over the lake and the town.

There are pubs, hotels and cafes, and through the year many unique local events and festivals are held in Keswick, making this a hotspot for tourism in the Lake District.


Keswick landscape

10. Kentmere

Found close to the large and more famous town of Kendal, Kentmere is a small village at the centre of the spectacular Kentmere Valley, and one of the most beautiful places in the Lake District.

Not as popular as its neighbour, Kentmere is a great place to escape the crowds in summer and to revel in the glory of the countryside. With a population of fewer than 200 people, there’s plenty of space to go around.

The valley is beautiful to hike through, and the village and the surrounding parish have a fascinating history waiting to be uncovered by anyone looking to venture further afield in one of the Lake District valleys.

11. Seatoller

Seatoller is a small village that is found close to the well-known town of Keswick, in the northern part of the Lake District.

Just a few miles away from Derwentwater, a spectacular nearby lake, Seatoller is found at the eastern end of the Honister Pass.

This is one of the most beautiful passes in the region, and it links Seatoller with Gatesgarth, through dramatic mountain scenery.

12. Grasmere

Grasmere is one of the best villages in the Lake District, and it’s famous not just for its beauty, but for its most famous past resident.

The Romantic Poet William Wordsworth, who popularised the Lake District through his work in the Victorian era, lived for many years in the village, and his legacy is still keenly felt today. The village receives plenty of tourists, many of them revelling in the past works of Wordsworth and searching out the very English locations that he wrote about in his works.

Many other famous poets and writers, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas de Quincey and Sir Walter Scott have all lived or stayed in Grasmere too.

The surrounding area is often said to be one of the most beautiful parts of the Lake District and is the place to rent out a holiday cottage with the family or just for weekend getaway, plenty of which can be found at Independent Cottages. So, strap on your hiking boots and head out to explore in the footsteps of some of England’s most revered poets and writers for a trip to a village that’s both aesthetic and historic.

13. Cartmel

The historic village of Cartmel is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Lake District.

Known for its medieval era church and rustic buildings, this is quintessential Cumbria at its best.

Surrounded by lush green fields and verdant woodland, this is the countryside of North East England as it should be.

Enjoy the local pubs and small cafes, and revel in the relaxed pace of life out here in the Lake District, because Cartmel is one of the most underrated yet undeniably lovely villages to visit in the region.

14. Glenridding

Another beautiful Lake District village is Glenridding, which is found at the southern tip of Lake Ullswater.

This is another popular area, particularly in summertime, because Lake Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District area, and one of the largest in the country.

Glenridding itself is a charming place, and nearby you can find waterfalls, climb the fells, climb mountains or walk the hiking trails and enjoy some fantastic outdoor activities.

In Glenridding, you can find an array of accommodation too, from hostels and campsites to bed and breakfasts, making this a popular base if you’re looking to avoid the more well known tourist sites in the Lake District.


What’s the best way to travel to the Lake District?

The Lake District is in the heart of Cumbria in the north east of England. The nearest airports are Manchester or Glasgow, while there are frequent trains to Oxenholme, Penrith and Carlisle, where you can change to more local services.

Where can I stay in the Lake District?

The region is heavily reliant on tourism and, as such, there is a range of accommodation options. In summer you can camp, while all through the year there are bed and breakfasts, and small hotels available in most villages.

What’s the best time of year to visit the Lake District?

Undoubtedly the best time of year to visit the Lake District is in summer, when the sun is shining and the temperatures are fairly hot. This is also the busiest time, so consider spring or autumn when the weather is more unpredictable but the crowds are thinner.

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