Things to do in Windermere

You’re visiting the gorgeous Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and want to know what are the things to do in Windermere. Windermere is the largest natural lake in England and the perfect place to visit for a long weekend. Located in Cumbria, there are plenty of Windermere attractions to keep you and your family busy. Whether you wish to enjoy Windermere lake cruises or want to visit formal gardens that look stunning, there’a plenty of things to do and see.

Windermere is a well-known holiday destination in the UK and one of the most popular places to visit. Summer comes, many families will head North to visit this small town on the east shore of Windermere lake. Visit the famed Beatrix Potter gallery, admire the most incredible scenery from Orrest Head and enjoy one of the several National Trust property in the area.

We strongly recommend booking a full-day tour to visit all the ten lakes in the Lake District.

Whether you wish to stay for a weekend or a week, here are the best things to do in Windermere.

Windermere lake

Perhaps the most exciting thing to do in Windermere is to head to the lakeside and walk around for hours on end. Windermere lake is a glacial lake with 18 islands. It features lovely views and so many epic points to stop for a picnic.

It’s the ideal destination for families with kids or couples who want to enjoy a romantic moment on the shores. On the east shore, you’ll have all the facilities thanks to Windermere town. On the west shore, just a short ferry ride away, you’ll have several green tails awaiting to be explored.

The Windermere lake is perfect for soft adventure lovers who would like to enjoy a long walk in nature. Enjoy the lush green fields and the tidy paths. Plenty of lower shores to dip your feet in the lake.

The lake district Lake Windermere with two sailboats on it

Windermere lake cruises

Visiting the Lake District is all about being on the lake, one way or another. If water sports are not your thing, take a Windermere lake cruise. Enjoy a spectacular voyage with lovely views of mountain scenery, secluded bays and the many wooded islands.

Opt in for your favourite cruise, although we recommend taking a round trip non landing lake cruise. This way you’ll see the scenery from the lake. Learn about the history, nearby attractions and points of interest surrounding Windermere. Most cruises start from Bowness on Windermere or Ambleside.

Alternatively, book a private sailing experience on Lake Windermere.

Take a cruise on Lake Windermere Lake District

Orrest Head

If you want to admire Windermere from above then this is the perfect activity for you. You will need good walking shoes for this activity and your camera is a must.

You’ll start from the trail from the heart of Windermere, then have the option to go up an easy or difficult trail. The easy trail is wheelchair-friendly. The difficult trail is a bit shorter and more strenuous.

It will take around 20-40 minutes to get to the top and once you are there, the most stunning scenery will reveal itself. The gorgeous Windermere lake with boats and sails on it, the tall hills and mountains in the background as the most perfect backdrop for your pictures.

There are benches at the top so you can either picnic or just take a moment to take it all in. A must see when visiting the Lake District and Windermere.

Views from Orrest Head

The world of Beatrix Potter

An enchanting Lake district attraction where you’ll learn the story of Miss Beatrix Potter and her children’s tales, including the famed Peter Rabbit. Beatrix potter played an important role in the conservation of Lakeland and this attraction will tell you all about it.

It takes around 45 minutes to take a self-guided tour. Allocate some extra time to visit the gift shop and the café.

The world of Beatrix Potter is suitable for adults, but it’s best for families where the magical world of all 23 tales are brought to life with sights, sounds and smell. Many come here to see Peter Rabbit.

Book your tickets for the attraction here.

The beautiful garden at Neatrix Potter windermere

Fell Foot park

Fell Foot Park is a fantastic family friendly location ideal for people to come and play, explore and relax. It’s the perfect place for gentle walks and picnics with easy access to the lake.

Many come to this location to hire a row boat, kayak or paddleboard and get started with the summer water sports.

Stroll around Fell Foot park and learn about its gothic boathouses, the modern Active Base and the 18th-century pleasure ground including a Pinetum, garden and native flower meadows.

Important note: Pre-booking your ticket for Fell Foot will come into effect from Monday, 2. This is a National Trust property, so members can enjoy it and park here for free.

Fell Foot park in Windermere

Wray Castle

A fantastic thing to do in Windermere is to visit the gorgeous gothic revival Wray castle. Wray Castle features acres of paths, lakeshore and parkland. Enjoy the beauty of the estate, then step into the Dining Room and discover the photographs of Rupert Potter.

Wray Castle was created between 1840 – 1860 by a wealthy couple as a city retreat. The castle belongs to the National Trust and is one of the top attractions close to Windermere.

Wray Castle windermere

Lakeland motor museum

If you are a car lover then this attraction is for you. See the impressive collection of over 30,000 exhibits including 140 classic cars and motorbikes.

This is not just about the cars though, it’s a fantastic museum with stories and recreated scenes. Learn about the historic Blue Mill, and Gunpowder factories, then see period shop displays, as well as a 1920s garage and 1950s cafe. Check out the prices and times for the museum.

Lakeland motor museum

Windermere jetty museum

Another fantastic attraction to visit in Windermere is the jetty museum, an award winning visitor destination, ideal for families who love boats.

Immerse yourself in an program of exhibitions, activities and creative workshops. For a small extra fee, enjoy a ride on the lake in one of the beautiful restored heritage boats.

See the stories behind motorboats, steam launches and sailing yachts and learn about the tradition of building them.

For prices and entry times, visit the official Jetty Museum site. Alternatively, take a private sailing experience on the lake Windermere to sit back, relax, and enjoy the spectacular scenery along the way.

Windermere jetty museum

The Dove cottage

The Dove cottage also known as the Wordsworth Grasmere, is a house best known as the former house of the poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy Wordsworth.

Take a guided tour of the Dover Cottage to see what it would have been like for the family to live there. Be impressed by the creative atmosphere of the attraction and explore the gardens.

See the Grasmere journal, the Rydal journal, narratives and accounts of travels as well as many letters. There will be plenty to learn and read about.

The Dove Cottage Cumbria Windermere


Blackwell is a large house in the Lake District designed by Baillie Scott. Originally, the house of Sir Edward Holt, a wealthy Manchester brewer. You’ve probably heard or even drank a Joseph Holt beer, founded in 1849 and remained in the same family for six generations.

It’s located near Bowness on Windermere, just a few minutes away from the Windermere village. Blackwell has survived with almost all its original decorative features intact.

It’s currently a Grade I listed building and a must-see during your trip to Windermere.

Sometimes the Blackwell is affectionately called the Arts and Crafts house because it’s designed in the Arts & Craft style, a movement that developed earliest and most fully in the British Isles.

The Blackwell house in Windermere

Hill Top

Another fantastic must-see attraction is the gorgeous Hill Top farmhouse, which belonged to Beatrix Potter. This is a 17th century property under the protection of the National Trust.

Beatrix Potter purchased this farm in 1905 with the profits from her books. She extended it, furnished it with antiques and looked after it.

See all her belongings and get the sense of the writer’s personality right away. After she married William Heelis and moved to Castle Cottage, she continued to use her farmhouse as an inspiration for her work.

To guarantee your ticket, book your afternoon all-Inclusive tour with a guide.

Hill Top House in Windermere

Holehird Gardens

A glorious thing to see in Windermere is to visit the Holehird Gardens, a stunning display of flowers to brighten your day.

The gardens are open year around and every season offers something different. Spring is of course very colourful with daffodils, muscari, tulips, alliums and martagon lilies.

Interesting fact: In 1945 it became too expensive to maintain the garden. In 1969 the Lakeland Horticultural Society was formed and began to rescue the derelict garden.

The entry is by donation, with a suggested minimum donation of £5 per adult. Free parking can be found outside the Walled Garden by following the signs from the entrance gates.

Holehird Gardens Windermere Cumbria

Claife Viewing Station

Heading to the west shore of Windermere? You must visit the Claife viewing station, an 18th century tourist attraction that allows you to enjoy stunning views of the lake and surrounding areas.

From the viewing station, set out on a 4-mile shore track towards the Wray Castle.

Did you know: The Claife viewing station was built in the 1790s as a viewing point for visitors.

Claife Viewing Station windermere

Windermere Canoe and Kayak

Rent a canoe or kayak to explore the lake on a sunny day. There are several companies dotted all around the lake shores where you can rent your gear for the day.

If it’s your first time on the water, the staff will provide you with lots of helpful information. Renting a kayaking for a couple of hours will enable you to hop on and off some islands and explore the shores.

Paddleboarding on the Lake Windermere

Grizedale Forest

Calling all adventure lovers who enjoy long hikes. One of the best things to do in Windermere is to take advantage of the many trails in the Grizedale forest.

Admire those breathtaking views on all the 10 walking trails. There are also 9 cycle trails for mountain bike enthusiasts. Going with kids? Visit the Go Ape course to swing among the trees and take many cute photos with the unique sculptures all around the forest.

There’s an adventure playground for kids as well as an art exhibition. Entry to the forest is free but there are some car park charges applicable on site.

Hike in the forest in windermere Lake District

Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway

Travel back in time and climb aboard the trains at the Haverthwaite Station. You’ll enjoy stunning views from the carriage up to Lakeside. If you wish, you can continue your journey towards the Bowness or Ambleside on a steamer.

Once you are back, stop at the Haverthwaite Station tearoom to enjoy a delightful afternoon tea or a nice lunch with your loved ones.

Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway

Lakes Aquarium

Another fantastic thing to do in Windermere is to head to the Lakes Aquarium with freshwater fish, marine life, as well as an underwater otter tunnel and stingrays.

It’s a relatively small aquarium and will take you around 30 minutes to see it all. It’s a calm place to learn more about the local marine life.

The aquarium is at the Lakeside Pier, where you can arrive by boat from Waterhead or Bowness, or you could come on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway.


An excellent place to visit for people of all ages and backgrounds. Head to the adventure playground to have lots of fun with your kids.

The place is very well maintained and looked after. There are gardens with lovely access to the water. It’s fantastic for picnics with family and friends, and along the way you’ll find small food stalls.

There are some adventure-focused activities like zip lining or archery.

Of course, don’t forget to check the Brockhole house, built at the end of the 19th century.

Brockhole Lake Windermere

Food and souvenirs

After so much fresh air, it’s about time to sit down to enjoy delicious food and snacks. As previously mentioned, you can bring your own picnic so you can enjoy a perfectly splendid afternoon by Windermere lake with your family.

Alternatively, head to Bowness on Windermere or Windermere village and sit down in one of the many restaurants to enjoy a delicious lunch.

For a great snack, head to the Little Ice Cream Shop which sells the biggest ice cream scoops ever. There are lots of art galleries and small indie shops along the main streets to purchase the perfect English souvenir for your loved ones.

Little ice cream shop in Windermere

The Lake District and its splendid Windermere, exhibit extraordinary beauty and harmony. To enjoy it all worry free, we recommend booking a full day of lake exploration. As you can see there’s so much to do and see in Windermere, it’s understandable why so many visitors return to this stunning location every year. All the Windermere attractions are great for adults and kids alike, and tailored for outdoor lovers.

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Cory from You Could Travel entering Senso-ji in Tokyo, Japan

Cory Varga – Cory is a published travel writer and award-winning photographer. She travels full time with her husband and is passionate about creating in-depth travel guides. Cory published her first book on Japanese customs and manners because she’s obsessed with everything Japan. She has visited hundreds of destinations and has lived in 7 different countries. Cory is multilingual and an alumna from The University of Manchester.


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