There are many beautiful towns and villages in the Lake District, but here are six of the finest. If you have time, we’d recommend them all, but if not, all the more reason to return!
The Lake District is one of the most sought after destinations in England. This English National Park, found in the county of Cumbria, is renowned for its breathtaking, rambling countryside that combines glacial lakes, rugged mountains and quintessentially English villages.
These Lake District villages can be the perfect spot to enjoy your scenic surroundings, immerse yourself in history or simply to enjoy a bite to eat. Although it is well known for its outdoorsy holidays and abundance of trails and campsites, you don’t need to be an avid walker or cycler to enjoy the Lakes!
The villages, tucked within the valleys, offer the perfect refuge for those who like to take their trips away at a slower pace. And if you don’t, then check out our article on the best adventurous things to do in the Lake District instead!
Each of these Lake District villages is filled with unique cafes, restaurants and boutiques that will enable you to relax and enjoy your day out. You’ll want a good camera to take pictures of the quaint streets, and in summer, or peak holidays, you’ll also want a bit of patience as the Lake District is one of the most popular places to visit in England.
Beautiful Towns and Villages in the Lake District
If you want to visit the best of the Lake District villages and towns, then take note of these great places to visit in the Lake District!
Fancy soaking up the local culture in the prettiest Lake District villages? These picturesque villages in the Lake District boast sprawling countryside views, water activities, museums, historical landmarks, and much more.
- Beautiful Towns and Villages in the Lake District
- 1. Hawkshead Village in the Lake District
- Lake District Map
- 2. Cartmel Village in the Lake District
- 3. Caldbeck Village in the Lake District
- 4. Bowness-on-Windermere Village in the Lake District
- 5. Grasmere Village in the Lake District
- 6. Kendal Village in the Lake District
- 7. Ravenglass in the Lake District
- 8. Seatoller in the Lake District
- 9. Coniston in the Lake District
- 10. Dent in the Lake District
- 11. Pooley Bridge in the Lake District
- 12. Rydal in the Lake District
- 13. Caldbeck in the Lake District
- 14. Windermere in the Lake District
- 15. Ambleside in the Lake District
- 16. Keswick in the Lake District
- 17. Penrith in the Lake District
- 18. Kirkby Lonsdale in the Lake District
- 19. Cockermouth in the Lake District
- 20. Grange-over-Sands in the Lake District
- Best villages in the Lake District
- What do you think are the prettiest Lake District villages and towns?
- Quick list of the prettiest Lake District villages
1. Hawkshead Village in the Lake District
Hawkshead is an incredible village located in the South Lakeland area. This market village is formed of a remarkable collection of cottages jumbled together amongst stone archways and cobbled streets.
Dating back to Norse times, Hawkshead is characterised by its flower-fronted whitewashed cottages, cobbled streets, medieval squares and historic courtyards. It’s one of the prettiest Lake District villages that offers a glimpse into the region’s past.
Hawkshead found its place on the map for its notable literary history as it was previously home to Beatrix Potter the famous author of Peter Rabbit. You can definitely see where her inspiration came from as you walk around the winding streets of beautiful Hawkshead village.
The high levels of tourism that overtake this Lake District town in the summer months means there’s a never ending choice of tea shops, inns and gift stores to explore. The Queens Head, a seventeen century, dog-friendly pub, is a structural marvel with impressive wooden beams supporting a low rise ceiling. This presents the perfect, cosy location to spend a winter afternoon in the Lake District enjoying a beer (or two!).
The Kings Arms is another notable place for a pint. Welcoming guests since the Elizabethan era, this hotel’s historic charm is not to be missed and is highly recommended if you intend to stay the night.
The Old Cobblers Café, Poppi Red and Ginny’s Teapot offer a great selection of homemade cakes to be washed down with rich coffee or traditional English tea. While the Boathouse Café, an award winning coffee shop, can offer you an incredible meal combined with stunning lake side views.
If you’re visiting the Lake District for a hiking trip, Hawkshead is an excellent jumping off point for exploring the Vale of Esthwaite.
Lake District Map
Here’s a map of the Lake District so you can get your bearings on this beautiful part of England.
2. Cartmel Village in the Lake District
Cartmel is on the southern edge of the Lake District. Home to an abundance of inns and gourmet restaurants, this village in the Lake District finds its fame from its racecourse and incredible sticky toffee pudding.
A foodies dream, Cartmel has something for every diner. The village shop is home to a wide range of artisan treasures. The well stocked deli contains everything from their famous pork pies to homemade quiche. Each shelf is adorned with an assortment of treats from jams to chutneys and sweets to chocolates.
The main reason to visit Cartmel’s village shop is the traditional sticky toffee pudding. Choosing to take moment to enjoy one of their many puddings alongside a cup of English tea is undeniably a perfect afternoon within the Lakes.
After a delicious cake and coffee from the village shop, it’s time to visit L’Enclume. This restaurant was opened in 2002 by Simon Rogan, a chef internationally renowned for his contribution to the farm to table movement. This two Michelin-starred restaurant can make a beautiful trip to the Lakes truly unforgettable.
Cartmel holds a diverse range of events throughout the year and it is definitely worth checking what might be taking place the week you choose to visit the lakes. The opportunity to watch the racing, equestrian and dog agility shows will add a unique twist to your stay.
Cartmel is so great in fact, we’ve rated it as one of the best villages in England, never mind just the villages of the Lake District.
Head over to the beautiful Lake District village of Cartmel if you want to take a trip back to medieval England. To make the most of the outdoors in Cartmel, consider hiking or horse-riding through the nearby fells. Morecambe Bay is just a stone’s throw away.
3. Caldbeck Village in the Lake District
This village can be found in the lesser visited area of the Lake District which is otherwise a tourist dense destination. Caldbeck allows you to enjoy the beauty of riverside walks and colourful village houses within an incredibly, historic setting. All without fighting the crowds that the Lakes are often notorious for!
This village is the perfect destination for walkers and cyclists seeking out unforgettable scenery. Home to a number of Bed and Breakfasts and Guest House accommodation all offering large breakfasts and packed lunches, this village is the ideal resting place on your walking or cycling holiday.
Click here for some great advice for what to pack for a day hike.
4. Bowness-on-Windermere Village in the Lake District
Surrounded by the undeniably beautiful Windermere Lake (great for paddle boarding in the Lake District), Bowness has become a hot spot for tourists. To accommodate this influx of visitors, Bowness-on-Windermere has everything you need for an enjoyable day in the Lake District. Due to its popularity, you’ll also find an extensive array of free parking to make sure your day runs smoothly.
Windermere is undoubtedly one of the busiest areas of the Lake District with an incredible amount of tourists flocking to visit its natural beauty and rightly so. There’s nothing quite like Lake Windermere with a backdrop of blue sky and a hint of summer warmth. If you can overlook the heavy footfall, Bowness is well worth a visit!
You’ll find a huge array of boutique stores and antique shops, art galleries, cafes and pubs. You can easily fill a whole afternoon wandering from store to store. Additionally, Bowness’ local port takes ferries across to Hawkshead. This would allow you the option to visit both of these unmissable villages in one trip.
Bowness-on-Windermere is a former fishing village that’s retained much of its Victorian-era charm. It’s also a must-visit town if you’re a fan of Beatrix Potter.
Along the main street in Bowness-on-Windermere, you’ll find boutique shops and antique stores that give a nod to the town’s heritage. You can peruse art galleries and take coffee breaks at cafés that offer views of the lake. To see the town from the lake, jump on the ferry and head over to Hawkshead, one of the Lake District’s prettiest villages.
Perhaps the most famous attraction in Bowness-on-Windermere is the World of Beatrix Potter, where you can dive into 3D scenes from stories such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit. You might also want to take the kids to places such as the Lakes Aquarium, the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, and Wray Castle – one of England’s most interesting castles.
READ MORE: The Best Spa Days in Windermere
5. Grasmere Village in the Lake District
Grasmere is one of the most visited areas of the Lake District due to its unrivalled lake side setting. It’s made up of an abundance of charming, quaint English cottages surrounded by walking trails in unforgettable settings.
William Wordsworth, the famous poet, resided in Grasmere for fourteen years until 1813. His home, Dove Cottage, can be found in perfectly preserved condition, for literary lovers everywhere to visit. William Wordsworth described Grasmere as ‘the loveliest spot that man hath ever found’.
Grasmere is one of the best days out in Cumbria for anyone interested in the great outdoors, with a touch of literature too.
Other highlights of Grasmere include Saint Oswald’s Church, the Grasmere Gingerbread Shop and the former village school that Wordsworth once attended. This is one of the prettiest spots to visit in the Lake District in winter.
On top of everything, Grasmere has its own lake, making it a wonderful Lake District village for outdoor strolls. It’s also one of the Lake District’s top spots for paddle boarding.
Check out our post on how to do a road trip in the Lake District to see how you can fit all of these in, in a day.
6. Kendal Village in the Lake District
The quaint market town of Kendal is located less than ten miles from the bustling Windermere. The scenic settling of grey stone buildings adorning the riverside is a must visit destination when visiting the Lake District.
You can spend the morning exploring Kendal’s castle and the local museum and Sizergh, a National Trust fourteenth century wonder. If you’re feeling adventurous, Kendal is also home to a large climbing centre. Although, this isn’t for the faint hearted.
Easily reachable on a day trip from Manchester, Kendal is one of the most famous towns in the Lake District, home to museums, quirky shops and historical landmarks set beside cobbled streets.
Besides attractions such as the Museum of Lakeland Life, the Parish Church and the Quaker Tapestry, Kendal is famous for being the birthplace of the delicious Kendal Mint Cake. The town’s highlight is the 13th-century ruins of Kendal Castle, which – from its location on top of Castle Hill – offers spectacular views of Kendal and its surrounds.
If you want to learn about the history of Kendal, visit the Kendal Museum, which is one of England’s oldest museums dating back to the late 18th century. If you fancy a unique day out in Cumbria, we suggest cycling from Kendal to Windermere.
7. Ravenglass in the Lake District
Established as a naval port for the Romans during the 2nd century CE, Ravenglass is a charming coastal hamlet with cobbled streets, surrounded by the rugged landscapes of the Lake District’s southwest.
Many people visit Ravenglass to ride the steam railway (Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway) that travels into the hills of the scenic Eskdale Valley. Ravenglass is also a popular starting point for hikers attempting to reach the summit of Scafell Pike, one of England’s highest mountains. If you’d prefer a hike without steep inclines, take a stroll around the nearby Wastwater glacial lake.
When the tide is out, Ravenglass boasts a few sandy stretches of shoreline. It’s an amazing place to watch the sunset.
8. Seatoller in the Lake District
Seatoller is a tiny hamlet of just a few historical buildings surrounded by verdant fells, pastureland and woodland.
While Seatoller may be lacking in indoor activities, it’s a mecca for hikers. For starters, it’s one of the best places to start your ascent to the peak of Scafell Pike, England’s tallest mountain. It’s also surrounded by natural vistas such as Castle Crag and the Borrowdale Valley.
For a heart-pumping climb through subterranean passageways, head to the nearby Honister Slate Mine. For a more leisurely stroll, follow the route along the River Derwent (one of England’s most interesting rivers) to the shores of Derwentwater.
9. Coniston in the Lake District
Iconic writers including Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransome and John Ruskin have all called Coniston home. Climb to the summit of the Old Man of Coniston to soak up the view, and you’ll understand why Coniston is widely considered to be one of the prettiest Lake District villages.
Highlights of Coniston include the Ruskin Museum and the Monk Coniston Estate, which is great for those who love England’s stately homes. We also enjoy soaking up the surrounds while cruising along Coniston Water.
When you need a break from sightseeing, you can fill up on delicious bites at a range of local cafés and restaurants. We recommend grabbing dinner at The Coniston Inn, which is also one of the village’s best places to stay.
10. Dent in the Lake District
Dent is one of the most beautiful Lake District villages nestled in the remote Dentdale valley. In this quaint village, you can admire colour-washed cottages that line the curved cobbled streets.
Dent was first established by Viking settlers during the 10th century. The church of Saint Andrew still has a range of 12th-century features including its original Norman arched doorway. In the village’s centre, you’ll see a pint fountain that commemorates Adam Sedgwick, considered by many to be the father of modern geology. Just outside the village, you’ll discover the 19th-century Dent Head Viaduct.
Another unique feature of Dent is its railway station, which is the highest station in mainland England. If you’re up for a long-distance hike, you can follow the Dales Way from Dent all the way to the Yorkshire Dales.
11. Pooley Bridge in the Lake District
Situated in the picturesque Eden Valley by the River Eamont, Pooley Bridge is a popular Lake District village with visitors who want to explore Ullswater.
As a busy village with tourists, Pooley Bridge is brimming with traditional pubs and cottage rentals. It provides easy access to the Kirkstone Pass, one of England’s great road trips. To try a slightly more traditional mode of transportation, embark on a pony ride through the surrounding fells.
12. Rydal in the Lake District
Rydal is yet another one of the prettiest Lake District villages that’s associated with the literary legend, William Wordsworth.
You can explore the rustic family home of William Wordsworth at the Rydal Mount & Gardens, where you’ll see manicured greenspaces, lake views and displays of the poet’s work.
When you fancy a hike, you can walk around Rydal Water, stopping at the partially flooded Rydal Cave along the way. You can discover the interior of this former quarry by crossing the stepping stones over the shallow lake. It’s a fantastic place to soak up the serenity of the region and discover one of the Lake District’s best caves.
13. Caldbeck in the Lake District
If you fancy a trip to one of the less crowded villages of the Lake District, pay a visit to the wonderful village of Caldbeck, known locally as ‘Back o’ Skiddaw’.
Caldbeck is locally adored for its colourful houses, riverside walks and mining heritage. Some of the village’s most charming attractions include St Kentigern’s Church and the duck-filled village pond. Just a short walk from Caldbeck is The Howk, a limestone gorge with an old bobbin mill and waterfalls.
Passing through Caldbeck is The Cumbria Way, which you can follow all the way to Skiddaw and Keswick. If long walks are your cup of tea, you might want to read about England’s most scenic National Trails.
14. Windermere in the Lake District
Windermere is another one of the Lake District’s prettiest towns near the region’s largest lake, with which the town shares its name.
For the most part, Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere have merged to become essentially the same town. Still, it’s worth taking a stroll over to Windermere for activities including lake cruises and sightseeing in nature.
Windermere is a good jumping off point for long walks around Lake Windermere. After your scenic hike, you might be interested in treating yourself to a well-deserved pampering at one of Windermere’s best day spas.
15. Ambleside in the Lake District
Set on the banks of Lake Windermere, Ambleside is one of the most popular towns in the Lake District with visitors. It’s also one of the Lake District’s best paddle boarding spots.
This historic market town is a maze of narrow winding roads lined with old farm buildings and quaint cottages. You’ll find many independent shops, traditional pubs and great places for an afternoon tea inside Ambleside’s Victorian stone buildings. Hire a motorboat or rowing boat to take in the view of Ambleside from the lake.
Some of the most famous attractions in Ambleside include the Stagshaw Gardens, the 70-feet Stock Ghyll Force waterfall and the historic Bridge House. For a glimpse into Ambleside’s heritage, browse the displays of books and archaeological artefacts at the Armitt Library & Museum Centre.
16. Keswick in the Lake District
Situated in between the tranquil Derwentwater lake and the towering mountain of Skiddaw (one of England’s highest mountains), Keswick boasts a centuries-old literary and arts scene. It’s served as inspiration for writers including William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.
In Keswick, you can shop for local paintings, pottery and crafts at an eclectic mix of shops as well as a 700-year-old Saturday market. Other highlights of Keswick include the Keswick Museum, the 19th-century St John’s Church and the beautiful Fawe Park.
Keswick is also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, home to lots of fell hiking trails, water sports activities and cycling routes. If you’re having a day out with your dog, you’re welcome to grab a bite to eat at the Dog & Gun pub.
17. Penrith in the Lake District
Penrith is located about midway between the Lake District National Park and the Eden Valley, two of the most picturesque locations to visit on a day out in Cumbria.
Some of our favourite things to see in Penrith include castle ruins, nearby stone circles and Lacy’s Cave, one of the Lake District’s best caves. We also love the quaint streets lined with characteristically red-roofed buildings.
While you’re here, you might want to visit the Lowther Castle & Gardens, especially if you’re a fan of stately homes in England.
18. Kirkby Lonsdale in the Lake District
Kirkby Londsdale is a paradise for hikers thanks to being on the doorstep of the Lake District, the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Forest of Bowland and the Yorkshire Dales.
Within the town itself, you can discover landmarks like the medieval Devil’s Bridge, Ruskin’s View and the historic market square. You’ll also find plenty of delicious restaurants and independent shops.
For something unique to do while visiting this town in the Lake District, head to The Vault, a museum that occupies a former bank.
19. Cockermouth in the Lake District
Cockermouth has won awards from many esteemed bodies due to its ‘splendid and precious’ looks and atmosphere. Take a stroll around this ‘Gem Town’, and you’ll see why it’s one of the best towns in the Lake District.
Legendary poet William Wordsworth grew up in Cockermouth; learn about his life by visiting the National Trust Wordsworth House and Garden. If you’re more interested in gastronomy than history, head to one of Cockermouth’s many amazing restaurants, or take a tour of Jennings Brewery.
20. Grange-over-Sands in the Lake District
If you fancy spending a few nights in a seaside town near the Lake District, reserve a hotel in Grange-over-Sands at the edge of Morecambe Bay.
Within the town, you’ll see plenty of buildings and relics that reflect the town’s past as a popular Edwardian holiday resort. The views of the sea are enchanting from the pretty promenade. When the weather is on your side, you can join guided tours across the sands of Morecambe Bay.
Nearby attractions include Holker Hall, the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the quaint village of Cartmel.
Best villages in the Lake District
But if you really want to experience the local culture, you simply need to visit some of the prettiest Lake District villages.
Postcard-perfect villages in the Lake District are characterised by cobbled streets, quaint cottages, independent shops and some of the region’s best hiking trails.
They may be small in size, but some of the best Lake District villages boast museums, centuries-old buildings and even secret caves in the Lake District too.
Hope this has clued you in to the best villages in the Lake District – and the most beautiful towns in the Lake District – and where to find them.
We’d recommend you take the Cumbrian Lake District villages slowly – don’t try to fit too much into one trip. Exploring the Lake District is all about taking things slow, and relaxing and processing the beauty that’s all around you.
What do you think are the prettiest Lake District villages and towns?
The prettiest Lake District villages boast centuries-old architecture, lakeside restaurants and pubs, museums, and – of course – easy access to some of the most awe-inspiring countryside vistas in England. We hope our favourite villages have given you a little inspiration for your next day out in Cumbria.
The Lake District might just be the most beautiful region in North England. With its rolling hills, lush valleys and staggering natural views, the Lake District is certainly one of England’s best National Parks.
And to top all that off, the Lake District is home to an abundance of postcard-perfect towns that are draped in history, beauty and nature. Whether you’re looking for the perfect base for a hiking trip or a buzzing hub of shopping, dining and sightseeing, at least one of the best towns in the Lake District is right up your street.
Of course, there are many more beautiful Lake District villages that could be added to this list. If there are any you think deserve a mention, let us know in the comments below.
Quick list of the prettiest Lake District villages
Fancy soaking up the local culture in the prettiest Lake District villages? These picturesque villages in the Lake District boast sprawling countryside views, water activities, museums, historical landmarks, and much more.
- 1. Hawkshead
- 2. Cartmel Village
- 3. Caldbeck Village
- 4. Bowness-on-Windermere Village
- 5. Grasmere Village
- 6. Kendal Village
- 7. Ravenglass
- 8. Seatoller
- 9. Coniston
- 10. Dent
- 11. Pooley Bridge
- 12. Rydal
- 13. Caldbeck
- 14. Windermere
- 15. Ambleside
- 16. Keswick
- 17. Penrith
- 18. Kirkby Lonsdale
- 19. Cockermouth
- 20. Grange-over-Sands
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