Best things to do in Windermere on your visit!
Are you ready for the very best things to do in Windermere, Lake District?
Windermere is home to England’s largest lake, sitting at a staggering 10.5 miles long, but it has a lot more to offer than just a lake to offer.
Windermere is located near the A591, a major road running through the Lake District that connects Kendal and Keswick, making it an ideal stop of any Lake District road trip. But where does the name Windermere come from? Well in 1841 the main railway station was built connecting areas of the Lakes, as well as having convenient lines to Manchester Airport – and is the main reason why the town was established.
It’s important to recognise that Windermere doesn’t actually lie on the lakeside itself – this is Bowness-on-Windermere. Confused? Well, both town’s are brilliant in their own right and are only a mile apart making them both easy to tick off the bucket list.
Let’s look at what’s included in this post;
- Best things to do in Windermere
- Best places to stay in Windermere
- Windermere restaurants
- Final thoughts
Top things to do in Windermere
Windermere and the surrounding area is arguably the most famous and popular area in the whole of the Lake District. There is a range of activities, attractions, places of interest and things to do around the lake, and on it! So I’ve created a list of the best things to do in Windermere to make your trip a jam-packed fun-filled adventure.
#1 Cruise on the Lake
Why not rent a rowboat or motorboat for an hour or two and explore Windermere Lake, whilst enjoying stunning views of the scenery. And don’t worry no boating experience is required, you’ll be given a full safety brief, as well as life jackets and there’s always the rescue boat on hand if you get into any difficulty. It’s the perfect activity for the whole family.
You can book a tour here.
#2 Hike up Orrest Head
If you’re after incredible 360-degree views overlooking Lake Windermere for little effort you’re in luck. Orrest Head starts about 100 meters from Windermere train station and takes you up through wooded paths and steps. Give yourself at least one hour to walk up and back down with some time at the top to appreciate the views – and don’t worry if you’re not the best map reader, this walk takes no navigation skills!
#3 Take a stroll around Holehird Gardens
Holehird Gardens is the home of the Lakeland Horticultural Society, 12 acres of volunteer-run stunning gardens, open every day of the year. Their visitor Information office is open daily from 10.00 to 16.00 from April to the end of October and can be found just off the main Windermere road. There isn’t an entrance fee but a recommended donation of £5, which is well worth it for the wonderful displays.
#4 Visit Brokehole on Windermere
Brockhole on Windermere offers activities to suit everyone, from toddlers to adventure seekers to those in search of an ultra-relaxing experience whilst enjoying their time in the Lake District.
Why not explore 30 acres of beautiful historic gardens and grounds? Or picnic by the lakeshore and enjoy secret beaches with the family? If the children are feeling more adventurous they can swing or bounce through ancient woodland on Treetop Trek and Treetop Nets. Down by the lakeshore, you can hire kayaks and rowing boats, enjoy or catch the cruise boat across the lake, depending on the season.
There’s also archery, bike hire and mini golf on offer during the season. Don’t forget to finish your day by taking in the stunning lake views offering stunning views towards the distant Langdale Pikes at the terrace café, while enjoying local ales and dishes. There’s also a well-stocked gift shop and ever-changing exhibition space to enjoy indoors. What more could you possibly want?!
#5 Lakeland Pony Trek
Why not try something a little bit different and take part in a pony trek through the picturesque landscape. There are lots of trecks to choose from varying in length and ability. So whether you’re an experienced rider or never even sat on a horse before, they’ll be something to suit your needs.
The staff are extremely friendly and knowledgeable about their horses and will make the right pony to you. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!
#6 Take a day trip to Ambleside
Ambleside is a scenic town located a short 30-minute drive from Windermere making it the ideal day trip destination. There’s plenty to see and do, especially if you’re wanting to explore the fells. My number one walk would have to be Loughrigg Fell, easy to find and follow with great views to watch the world go by. You can also check out the best things to do in Ambleside whilst you’re there!
#7 Swing your way around Go Ape
Located a 30-minute drive from Windermere this adventure playground is a great day out for both little ones and big kids too! Enjoy their epic Tree Top Adventure and feel on top of the world or get your adrenaline-fuelled action man thrill by taking on the 200 metres long Zip Line.
If you’d prefer to keep your feet on the ground, have a go at Go Ape Forest Segway and take your time as you explore Grizedale forest. And there’s also plenty for the littles ones to tackle. Let them loose on the Tree Top Junior Adventure or the Zip Trekking Adventure – a network of seven tandem zip lines. Sounds pretty awesome if you ask me!
#8 Marvel at the World of Beatrix Potter
This themed attraction in the nearby town Bowness on Windermere is a brilliant attraction for the whole family. Enjoy a brief film at the start of the expedition introducing you to Potter’s work and life, focusing on all her favourite characters through the magic of sound, scents and lights.
#9 Visit Wray Castle
Only a 20-minute drive from Windermere, Wray Castle is set amongst the shore of Lake Windermere and is a great day out for all the family. Take home some lovely gifts from the onsite shop, indulge in a sweet treat or savoury delight and enjoy the fun activities they have to offer. For the little ones, there’s a Peter Rabbit Adventure room, building blocks to create your magical castle and plenty of opportunities to play dress up – and yes they do have adult-sized costumes too!
#10 Take a walk from Fell Foot National Park
Enjoy an easy 1.6-mile walk through stunning greenery, beginning and ending at the Boathouse Cafe, which overlooks the Lake and sells a variety of hot and cold foods- the perfect place to relax and recharge. If you’re lucky enough to welcome a hot day why not join an open water swimming class or hire a canoe. You’re more than welcome to bring your kayak, paddleboard or inflatable dinghy too, so long as you can carry the equipment on foot from the car park. `
Best places to eat in Windermere
If you’re looking for a quirky coffee house in the heart of Windermere, selling hand made pizzas, hearty salads and some tasty wines, you need to visit The Smith. Just make sure you leave room for some pudding as they specialise in delicious cakes. They’re also dogged friendly – bonus!
The Crafty Baa
We just love this place to eat and visit every time we are up in the Lakes! The food and the staff are wonderful and the place is just so quirky and intimate! They even have live music on some nights of the week so make sure to check out their website. There’s a wide selection of drinks for you so enjoy, from tasty cocktails, to craft beers and classic wines.
Francine’s is a classically French restaurant with a British twist. Enjoy an array of fresh seafood, succulent meat dishes and vegetarian meals, which can be enjoyed in a rustic surrounding with a calm yet buzzing atmosphere. The staff are very attentive making is an ideal outing for a special occasion.
Best places to stay in Windermere
There’s plenty of cool places to stay in Winderemere, so here’s a list;
Brendan Chase (Approx £60 per night)
Located in a Victorian house in Windermere town centre this 3-star bed and breakfast serve local bacon, award-winning sausages and unlimited tea, coffee and toast at breakfast. Guests can park on the street outside and the train and bus station is a 5-minute walk away, making it super convenient for exploring the surrounding area if you don’t have a car. There’s also free WiFi throughout the property if you feel the need to contact the outside world or inside cosy up next to the wood-burning fire and relax with a tasty hot chocolate after a busy day hiking! Book a room here!
If you like quirky places to stay, you should check out the Quite Site Hobbit Holes!
OYO The Ravensworth (Approx £60 per night)
A stately home in a superb location, offering guests charming bedrooms that are kept spotlessly clean. Windermere Train Station is just a 5-minute walk away and free parking is available at the guest house. Walking and cycling routes are available locally, and stunning countryside walking routes surround the property. Book a room here!
Adam Place Guest House (Approx £70 per night)
This 19th-century house in Windermere offers locally sourced produce, which is served at breakfast, free on-street parking (which is a rare sight in Windermere) and a bright, award-winning garden for guests to enjoy. Lake Windermere and local amenities are within walking distance maybe it a 5-star location! Book a room here!
Merewood Country House Hotel (Approx £100)
This hotel ticked all our boxes and more! The location, the ambience, the staff and the food were all excellent – and to top it all it was very dog-friendly! The hotel is very quiet and peaceful, offering stunning views over the lake, making the ideal place for a relaxing weekend break away. Book a room here!
Cragwood Country House Hotel (Approx £150 per night)
Cragwood Country House Hotel lies on the shores of Lake Windermere, surrounded by acres of beautifully landscaped gardens which guests can enjoy. There’s also free onsite parking and WIFI, as well as a restaurant and bar onsite serving excellent cuisine. Book a room here!
Hillthwaite (Approx £120 per night)
A 5* hotel located in the heart of Windermere, Hillthwaite is the perfect hotel for a relaxing breakaway. The staff are extremely polite and very attentive giving a luxurious vibe. The hotel is the epitome of comfort, from the reception area to restaurant and rooms. The restaurant serves an array of tasty food presented beautifully. There’s also a pool area for guests to enjoy, which is an added bonus! A must if you’re in Windermere. Book a room here!
Don’t forget about the best Airbnb Lake District guide.
So there you have it, a complete guide to the best things to do in Windermere! We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Check out this Lake District activities post!