Ksenia standing outside just outside Eastgate with the Eastgate Clock in the background.

Cities Near the Lake District You Should Visit in 2024 

Are you wondering which cities near the Lake District you can easily visit on your next trip? This guide has got you covered. 

The Lake District is famous for its stunning landscapes, which include tranquil lakes, dramatic hills, a rugged coastline, and lush woodland. It’s undoubtedly one of the most scenic parts of England. 

Additionally, the national park is within easy driving distance of many exciting cities in the north of England. You can easily plan a visit to one of these cities during your trip. 

Living in Manchester, I might be biased, but I highly recommend a visit to this rapidly evolving city. However, there are many other cities near the Lake District that are also worth exploring. 

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11 Cities Near the Lake District

For the purposes of this article, I’ve included only cities within a two-hour drive of the Lake District. This distance makes them manageable even for a day trip. 

Keep in mind that your actual travel time may be affected by traffic, so please consider the provided times as indicative only. 

Carlisle

Travel Time: 30-minute drive away from the Lake District

Carlisle, one of the cities closest to the Lake District and within striking distance of the Scottish border, often gets overlooked in favour of more popular destinations in the area. However, it certainly merits a visit while exploring the region. 

Carlisle boasts a rich history and offers a variety of notable attractions, from the imposing Carlisle Castle and the historic Carlisle Cathedral to quality museums and nearby nature reserves. 

Moreover, Carlisle provides access to the most iconic historic site in the area: Hadrian’s Wall. This ancient UNESCO World Heritage Site, built by Roman Emperor Hadrian, was designed to protect the Roman Empire’s frontiers from the Scots. 

While walking the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall takes about a week, visitors can also choose to explore individual sections. 

From Carlisle, a 30-minute drive will take you to Birdoswald Fort, one of the best-preserved forts along the wall. There, you can delve into the history of the Wall and learn about the people who built it. 

Lancaster

Travel Time: 30-minute drive away from the Lake District

Ksenia standing in front of the Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park
Ashton Memorial in Lancaster

Another city within easy reach of the Lake District is Lancaster. Located south of the national park, this compact city will delight history lovers with its thousands of years’ worth of heritage. 

From the impressive Lancaster Castle to local history museums to heritage pubs, this charming city offers a variety of great activities. There is also plenty of beautiful countryside within easy distance of the historic city centre, perfect for walking and cycling. 

You might not travel to see Lancaster exclusively, but it does make a worthwhile stopover on the way to or from the Lake District. If you’d like to know more about what this city offers, check out this guide to the best things to do in Lancaster.

Preston

Travel Time: 50-minute drive away from the Lake District 

Although Preston in Lancashire might not be a major tourist destination, it offers a number of interesting attractions and activities. 

Preston is home to several historic sites and museums, with the Harris Museum being the most notable. Currently closed for renovation, it will soon reopen to offer visitors varied collections that cover art, fashion, ceramics, and natural history, among other subjects. 

The city also acts as a gateway to the picturesque Lancashire countryside. If you are after some outdoor adventures, Beacon Fell Country Park and Brockholes are both great for walking. Alternatively, you can enjoy the countryside views from the comfort of a vintage train on the Ribble Steam Railway. 

Manchester

Travel Time: 1 hour 20-minute drive away from the Lake District

Combine a trip to the Lake District with a visit to Manchester, one of the UK’s most rapidly evolving cities. Known as the northern powerhouse, Manchester is moving beyond its industrial roots and transforming into a modern economic and cultural centre. 

While the city is famous for its two football teams, there’s plenty to enjoy for those with little interest in sports. Explore Manchester’s museums and art galleries, immerse yourself in its vibrant nightlife and music scene, and indulge in its many restaurants and cafes. 

The city also boasts a strong independent shopping scene, where you can find everything from vintage clothing and unique jewellery to homeware, vinyl records, and more. 

If you’d like to learn how to maximize your time in this city, check out this guide to the perfect weekend in Manchester

Liverpool

Travel Time: 1 hour 30-minute drive away from the Lake District 

Liverpool’s historic architecture

Another great city near the Lake District is Liverpool, a popular destination for fans of the Beatles, as this is where the Fab Four were born, raised, and began their music careers. 

You can reconnect with the band at many sites, including the Beatles Story Museum, the legendary Cavern Club, and even some of the members’ childhood homes. However, Liverpool offers much more than its famous music heritage. 

The city boasts world-class museums and art galleries, including a local outpost of Tate, beautiful historic architecture, and a burgeoning dining scene. My personal favourite spot in the city is the Baltic Triangle, where you’ll find an excellent street food hall, vintage markets, indie bars, and vibrant street art. 

For tips on how to spend a weekend in Liverpool, check out this guide to plan the perfect visit to the city.  

Chester

Travel Time: 1 hour 40-minute drive away from the Lake District

Chester Rows shopping galleries - one of the city's most famous architectural features.
Chester Rows

Charming Chester is one of my personal favourites in northwest England. Though compact, it boasts a rich history and a wealth of attractions. 

Founded by the Romans over 2,000 years ago, Chester still showcases their legacy through the impressive city walls, the largest Roman amphitheatre in Britain, and the elegant Roman gardens. 

The city is also home to medieval sites, including the majestic Chester Cathedral and the iconic Chester Rows—historic two-tiered galleries that house shops, bars, and eateries. 

Chester can be a great stopover on your way to the Lake District. This itinerary for one day in Chester will help you make the most of your visit. 

Durham

Travel Time: 1 hour 30-minute drive away from the Lake District

Located in the northeast of England, Durham is another great historic city near the Lake District. The city is renowned for its impressive 11th-century cathedral and castle, which together form the Durham UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

However, Durham’s offerings extend beyond these landmarks. It boasts several museums, historic houses, and beautiful gardens. The city’s charm has also attracted many filmmakers, and today visitors can recognise locations featured in films and series like Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, and Victoria. 

Surrounded by beautiful landscapes, Durham offers the perfect opportunity to combine sightseeing with outdoor activities such as hiking or cycling along the various available routes, including riverbank, coastal, and woodland trails. 

Newcastle upon Tyne

Travel Time: 1 hour 40-minute drive away from the Lake District

Newcastle is renowned for its seven bridges and vibrant nightlife. However, the city offers much more than just its lively pubs and clubs. 

Newcastle boasts contemporary art galleries, including the impressive Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, as well as museums, markets, and the historic Newcastle Castle. It also serves as a gateway to beautiful beaches and scenic walking trails. 

Also, along with Carlisle, the city is an excellent base for visiting Hadrian’s Wall. You can begin your explorations at nearby Segedunum and Chesters Roman Forts. 

Bradford

Travel Time: 1 hour 40-minute drive away from the Lake District

Bradford, while not a major tourist destination, has a somewhat mixed reputation. However, the city is actively working to redefine itself as a hub of rich culture and heritage, with a clear focus on the future. 

Bradford has been named the UK City of Culture for 2025, which means the city will soon buzz with an array of shows, exhibitions, and other arts events. This designation is expected to provide a much-needed boost to the area. 

In addition to future events, Bradford is already home to established cultural and heritage sites, including several museums, art galleries, and stately homes. The city also boasts a vibrant live music and theatre scene. 

Leeds

Travel Time: 1 hour 45-minute drive away from the Lake District

The exterior of Kirkgate Market
Kirkgate Market in Leeds

If you’d like to combine your trip to the Lakes with some excellent shopping, consider a stopover in Leeds. Once a former industrial powerhouse, it has now transformed into an educational and cultural centre of northern England. 

One of the most iconic attractions in Leeds is its historic shopping arcades. My personal favourite is the Victoria Quarter, where the interiors are simply stunning. It hosts some of the more high-end brands, but if you’re not interested in shopping, visiting just to admire the architecture is well worth it. 

I also highly recommend visiting the historic Kirkgate Market, one of the largest indoor markets still in operation in Europe. It’s home to some of the best local produce and a selection of street food stalls, making it a great spot for lunch. 

This one-day itinerary in Leeds will help you plan an unforgettable day in this great city. 

York

Travel Time: 2-hour drive away from the Lake District

York is a historic gem, and its relative proximity to the Lake District makes it possible to visit both in one trip. This Yorkshire city is a popular place to visit and with good reason. 

York’s early history was shaped by the Romans, Vikings, and Normans, and their legacy is still evident in many of the city’s historic sites. The city also boasts authentic medieval architecture, with the Shambles being one of its most enchanting streets. 

The city is home to many excellent museums and attractions. At the Jorvik Centre, you can learn about the local Viking community, while York’s Chocolate Story showcases the city’s significant influence on the chocolate industry. 

If you’d like to learn more about the city, check out this article on the best things to do in York

Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve found this list of cities near the Lake District helpful. The national park is conveniently located near many other great places worth visiting; the hardest part is choosing which one to explore. 

If you’re in search of more city break inspiration, check out this guide to must-visit cities in the UK

FAQs: Cities Near the Lake District

Is the Lake District near the Peak District?

Yes, the Lake District and the Peak District national parks are located relatively close to each other. It takes about an hour and a half to drive between them. Some people choose to visit both parks in one trip. 

Is Manchester close to the Lake District? 

Yes, Manchester is close to the Lake District. It takes about an hour and 20 minutes to reach the national park from the northern city. Keep in mind, however, that it may take longer to reach specific locations within the park. Check your specific route to get more precise timings. 

Which airports are closest to the Lake District?

The closest airports to the Lake District are Manchester Airport, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, and Newcastle International Airport. Of these, Manchester Airport is the largest, offering a wide selection of destinations both within the UK and internationally. 

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