The Lake District is one of the UK’s most beautiful regions and is not to be missed! You’re going to need a plan in place so you don’t skip any of the best parts of this English gem. Lucky for you, we’ve pulled together the ultimate Lake District 5 day itinerary for outdoor lovers and adventure seekers.
Getting to the Lake District is fairly easy. You can either drive yourself, take a train to Penrith, or hop aboard a bus to England’s largest National Park.
Choosing where to begin your adventure in The Lakes is the first hurdle. Lake Windermere is the most popular place for tourists, however, Lake Ullswater is another beautiful (and quieter) option. Regardless of where you stay in the Lake District, you’ll be surrounded by the incredible natural beauty that gave the Lake District UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Here is the best 5-day itinerary for the Lake District for anyone who wants to explore more and hop across the region. Take on board these ideas so you can get the most out of your visit!
Day 1 – Settle in and take in the views across Lake Windermere and Ambleside
The start of our ultimate Lake District 5 day itinerary starts at Windermere, one of the most popular tourist towns. Lake Windermere is the largest lake in the region and the town is an inspiration to many fairytales and folklore stories. This charming town has a gothic-inspired castle dating back to 1940 that looks as if it’s been taken right out of any storybook!
We recommend staying at The Samling Hotel; the luxurious rooms have spectacular views across the hills and lakes, a perfect base for exploring The Lake District. Once you’ve checked in, take a gentle stroll along Windermere’s western shore starting from the Ferry House. This is a well-maintained footpath and is a good introduction to the beauty of the region.
Depending on what time you arrive, you may have time to check out Ambleside, another wonderful place to go for a ramble and discover local history. While you’re here, you must visit Beatrix Potter’s farmhouse among the other historical landmarks.
Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top farmhouse is well maintained along with the lovely garden, giving inspiration to the iconic Peter Rabbit. Potter grew up in the Lake District and was passionate about preserving its natural beauty. Safe to say this goal has been achieved!
Day 2 – Jump in the water in Coniston and hike the Langdale Valley
Day 2 is here, so make sure you fuel up on breakfast before starting your day exploring more of the Lake District. Start your day with a splash – literally!
Coniston Water is one of the best places to try out some water sports in the Lakes. Choose between a romantic rowboat with your loved one, a historical steam gondola ride, or rent a paddle board for more of a workout. Nothing beats a beautiful crisp morning spent out on Coniston Water.
For lunch, head over to Brantwood on the east shore and enjoy a delicious spread at The Terrace Coffee House and Restaurant. The views from this terraced dining are breathtaking and inspiring!
You can then spend your afternoon exploring the hiking trails in the area. The Old Man of Coniston is a popular mountain peak to conquer. Follow trail markers to reach the misty top to be rewarded with picturesque views across the lakes. Along the route, you’ll see the industrial past of copper mine ruins.
If the weather isn’t in your favor, stay within Coniston village and visit the Ruskin Museum. This museum has curated the local history, from Stone Age fell-walkers, who made and traded stone axes, to the Jet Era when the 1950s speed ace Donald Campbell used Coniston Water as Bluebird K7’s race-track.
Day 3 – Go west to the coast of the Lake District National Park
Hit the road for a trip to the coast on day 3 while visiting England’s Lake District. The drive from Windermere will take you just over an hour. Ravenglass is a quaint town and the only coastal community in the Lake District.
Head straight to the harbor and take in the views across the wild Irish Sea. The sand dunes and the raw coastline is a good place to visit if you want a different perspective on Northern England.
Once you’ve filled your lungs up on the fresh sea air, head back into town and explore the haunted castle. Muncaster Castle has acres upon acres of pretty gardens and mysterious woods to explore. You can grab a bite to eat here, or head back to the harbor to dine at The Pennington Hotel.
While on the coast, you should hop aboard the historical Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. This stream train is a fantastic experience and a great way to see more of the coast. If you have a special occasion to celebrate, why not book an indulgent Cream Tea and Steam Experience on the railway.
Day 4 – Hike the trails of Keswick and Derwentwater
Keswick is one of the best Lake District towns. The drive from Windermere is about 30 mins and there are an endless amount of walking trails. So make sure you load up on calories to kick start your day.
We recommend you pack a picnic and choose a trail that suits you best. There are varying options available to match every fitness and experience level for any hiking lover:
- Friars Crag – an easy and wheelchair-accessible walk with stunning views across Derwent Water and the nearby mountains. There is also a car park and toilet facilities. Friars Crag is also an amazing place for stargazing under the night sky.
- Catbells Trail – located less than 10 km from Keswick, this trail takes two hours to complete. It’s a perfect choice for beginner to intermediate hikers who want to explore the area.
- Grisedale Pike – a hike for the serious walkers, this is an intermediate walk that can take up to four hours to complete. You’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Derwent and the famous Skiddaw along the walk.
Castlerigg Stone Circle, an English Heritage site, is only a short walk away from Keswick. This ancient monument is over 5,000 years old and promises stunning vistas across the surrounding mountains. Whinlatter Pass is also a great option for anyone traveling with kids. There is a Go Ape Course with a fun treetop rope challenge, suitable for the whole family!
On the way back to your hotel in Windermere, drive past Wordsworth Grasmere to load up on the Lake District history. This is the former home of the poet William Wordsworth, also known as Dove Cottage, now preserved in a museum with guided tours, gardens, and tea rooms.
Day 5 – Spend your last day at the picturesque Ullswater Lake
The final day of the ultimate Lake District 5 Day itinerary, so let’s make sure it’s one to remember! Load up on breakfast before checking out from the hotel and packing up the car. For your last road trip, we recommend you drive up to Ullswater, roughly a 30-minute journey.
Ullswater is one of the most stunning lakes in the Lake District with dramatic views in every direction, it’s guaranteed to steal your heart. There is a 20-mile circular walking route around the lake with a bus that you can hop on and off to help you round.
Other walking routes to explore:
- Aira Force – a National Trust property with a magnificent 21m (70ft) multiple waterfalls, viewing bridges above and below to get close to the thundering water safely, and a seasonal tea room.
- Helvellyn – the third largest peak in England. The eastern side has two sharp aretes leading off the summit to Striding and Swirral Edge. The knife-edged Striding Edge provides one of the best-known scrambles in the Lake District.
- Pooley Bridge to Gale Bay – an easy route around 1.1 miles in total
- Brothers Water – an easy route around 2.3 miles in total
Both Pooley Bridge and Glenridding are small villages at either end of Ullswater and offer independent boutique shopping. You’ll find everything from outdoor clothing to gifts and food, and a good selection of cafes and pubs to have your final meal in the Lake District.
Practical Tips For Your Lake District Itinerary
When you visit the Lake District, it’s important you prepare yourself with a rough itinerary and all the appropriate luggage you’ll need. There are so many great walks with wonderful views through the Lakes, so make sure you’re kitted out properly for the outdoor adventures.
If you are planning to take on some of the hikes through the Lake District, you’re going to need good quality and reliable walking boots. Trust us, it’s worth the extra cost!
You may need to pack thermal layers or waterproof jackets, depending on the season you plan your trip. The busy summer months may offer the best weather, but you might want to avoid the crowds and come to the Lake District in the off-season.
And finally, we highly recommend you find somewhere to stay with a hot tub! Ending each day with a relaxing soak and views across the Lake District is the best way to spend your vacation. What would you add to your own Lake District 5 day itinerary?