By Darren Griffiths

8 Best Lake District Towns and Villages to Stay

8th March 2023

The Lake District, or The Lakes as it is often referred to as comprises of some of the most wonderful scenic spots to be found anywhere in England. This picturesque countryside is full of accommodation to suit every type of budget, ranging from a classic selection of hotels to rustic campsites on the shores of the lakes.

Apart from the many quaint villages and hamlets, there are plenty of other sheltered places to choose from to make your stay in the Lakes a memorable one.

Here we list the best Lake District towns and villages to stay.

Related reading:
Check out the ultimate list of Things to do in the Lake District!
Or get active and find the Best Lake District Walks – Easy to Advanced Hikes
Find out The Best Time to Visit The Lake District – Month by Month

Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere


Holidaymakers have been flocking to these twin towns from as early as 1847 when the first steam engine was known to have pulled in at this lovely destination station. Each town enjoys its own distinct character with Windermere lying uphill being the quieter of the two.

The bustling town of Bowness lies one and a half miles away along the coast and is more popular with tourists. 

Bowness has everything that a tourist may want, of any good holiday retreat. From housing some of the best Lake District nightlife to an array of shopping outlets, visitors throng to this place in huge numbers. Especially during the summer season to partake in the various activities on offer.

Entertainment includes pleasure cruises in ancient vessels, dating back to the thirties as well as in modern cruisers around the lake area or even beyond till Ambleside.

(Best place to stay The Ryebeck)

Related reading: 
15 Best Things To Do In Windermere
Best Hotels to Stay in Windermere



This typical Victorian town makes a great stopover point for exploring the hills and the other lakes of the Lake District. Ambleside, once a favourite of poets Wordsworth and Coleridge, offers a unique selection of amusement activities from water sports to a plethora of cafés restaurants and pubs, all within a small area.

Both residents and visitors are treated to a wide variety of entertaining programs during the evenings, from cinema, restaurants and a jazz bar to go with the traditional Victorian hospitality. The famous Stagshaw Gardens, come alive in a burst of colour from spring to summer.

Related reading: 
15 Best Things to do in Ambleside
10 Best Hotels in Ambleside



Despite being in close vicinity of Windermere, Troutbeck is not as crowded a holiday destination as the others. Having said that, it has its fair share of admirers who come here to hike and explore the popular Ullswater and Kirkstone areas.

Enjoying a conservation status, Troutbeck is one of the best Lake District towns for climbers and Mickledore walking holidays, for those who strive to conquer the Striding Edge ridge located on top of mount Helvellyn.

Troutbeck is a peaceful and well-preserved village, with just a small few numbers of pubs and a selection of guesthouses and campsites to stay in.

Walking options around the village are said to be some of the best in North West of England.

(Best place to stay Miller Howe on the Lake)

Related reading:
15 Best Things to do in Troutbeck
10 Best Hotels in Troutbeck



This small country town serves as the perfect base for those wishing to explore the Northern Lakes. Literally meaning ‘cheese farm’ Keswick lies on the placid Derwentwater and has everything for those seeking an outdoor vacation.

While accommodation ranges from luxury hotels to campsites, Keswick offers the highest shopping selection of outdoor equipment and clothing so is one of the best Lake District towns for a bit of adventure retail therapy. 

The three high peaks of Helvellyn, Skiddaw and Scafell are close by and can be easily accessed by a number of forest paths and lakeside trails.

The Derwentwater is perfect for sailing, boating, windsurfing and other water-based sports. The path along the lake is good for cycling with a few stopovers offering coffee and homemade ice cream on the way.

(Best place to stay The Leathes Head)

Related reading: 
15 Best Things to do in Keswick
10 Best Hotels in Keswick

Grasmere and Rydal Water


These two lakes dotted with islands are situated on the road from Ambleside to Keswick and also bear strong Wordsworth connections.

The lakeside stroll along the ominous sounding Coffin Trail is the most popular here. It starts from the back of Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage and ends at the Grasmere starting point.

The pretty village of Grasmere is also the starting base for the steep but rewarding hike up to Helm Crag. Locally referred to as the Lion and the Lamb, the views from the top are said to be mesmerising, to say the least. 

( Best place to stay Moss Grove Organic)

Related reading:
15 Best Things to Do in Grasmere
10 Best Hotels in Grasmere



Both intimidating and difficult to reach, a visit to Wastwater is full of stunning natural views that can exhilarate the senses.

It might be one of the best Lake District towns to stay but the only way to approach Wastwater is along the coastal road which lies to the west of the National Park, with three of the tallest mountain peaks of England namely, Scafell Pike, Scafell and Great Gable towering in the background.

The southeastern part of Wastwater, showcases the stunning Gray Screes Falls, cascading down from a heady height of 1700 feet. Incidentally, Wastwater is said to be the deepest lake in England and the valley views are equally incredible.

Related reading – Check out our full guide to Wastwater



This quaint English village, located far removed from others, is full of winding paths lined with small cafés on either side. Established in the twelfth century, Hawkshead is just the place for those looking for exploring a medieval Cumbrian village, making it one of the best Lake District towns for showcasing some of the finest local architecture.

This ancient town is the same as it was in the Norse times with archways and squares of Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter fame.

Less than three miles away is the Grizedale Forest, known for its excellent biking and walking trails.

(Best place to stay Hazel Bank Hotel)

Related reading  – 15 Best Things to do in Hawkshead



This pretty coastal hamlet within the Lake District National Park is situated on the estuary of three rivers, Esk, Mite and the Irt. A major attraction for the tourists here is the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway line, which at one time was used to bring iron ore, granite and copper from the Boot mines, eight miles away.

Muncaster Castle lies just a mile further away and is known for its splendid and well-kept gardens. The adjacent Drigg Dunes nature reserve is a paradise for birdwatchers, who assemble here to see one of the largest colony of black-headed gulls to be found in Europe.

Related Reading – 15 Best Things to do in Ravenglass

A final Lake District Tip

These best Lake District towns are extremely popular places to spend a vacation all around the year. The Lake District’s superb patchwork of lakes, valleys and green countryside, protected carefully since 1951, is one of the best places in England to enjoy the outdoors.

One word of advice: try to avoid the best Lake District towns during summer. Not only are the prices high, but the traffic is also terrible and so are the crowds. Best to visit in the lean months of April and May or September and October when the weather is more or less settled and woods full of colour. 

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There are plenty of beautiful places to choose from to make your memorable stay in the Lakes. Here we list the best Lake District towns and villages.

There are plenty of beautiful places to choose from to make your memorable stay in the Lakes. Here we list the best Lake District towns and villages.