Looking for things to do in Keswick? Read on to discover the best Keswick attractions and everything this beautiful Lake District town has to offer!
Keswick is a small town in northwest England that forms part of the Lake District National Park. It sits on the shores of Derwentwater, a large lake just a ten-minute walk from the centre of town.
The Lake District is one of the UK’s premier destinations for hiking and other outdoor activities thanks to its beautiful scenery of lakes and mountains. In addition to the excellent hiking, there are plenty of other activities on offer such as boating, kayaking, canyoning, and mountain climbing.
Keswick itself is a thriving market town with a history dating back to the 13th Century and beyond. There is a weekly market with stalls selling fresh, local produce and the town is home to a large array of traditional British pubs and modern restaurants.
Getting to Keswick
By car: Keswick is a two-hour drive from Manchester and a five-and-a-half-hour drive from London. The quickest route is to take the M6 motorway and leave at junction 40 (Penrith). However, if you would like to take the scenic route via Windemere, opt instead for the A591.
By bus: To get to Keswick by bus/coach you will first need to travel to Penrith and then switch to a local bus (40 minutes).
- London to Penrith – 7h10m – £35.00
- Birmingham to Penrith – 4h5m – £31.00
- Manchester to Penrith – 2h45m – £21.0
By train: there are no direct trains to Keswick, so you will first need to get to Penrith and then take a local bus (40 minutes).
- London to Penrith – 3h5m – £30.00
- Birmingham to Penrith 2h20m – £21.00
- Manchester to Penrith – 1h32m – £33.00
By plane: Manchester is the closest large international airport to Keswick. From Manchester take the bus or train to Penrith (2 hours), and then a local bus to Keswick (40 minutes).
Best Places to Stay in Keswick
Budget: Denton House is a hostel located in the centre of Keswick and has dorm beds starting at £21.00. The hostel has a shared kitchen, garden, and barbecue area. This is an excellent budget option and a great way to meet other travellers if you are travelling alone. Book a stay at Denton House here.
Mid-range: The Derwentwater Hotel is just a seven-minute walk from the beach and two miles from the centre of Keswick. With rooms starting at as little as £105 for a double, this is a great mid-range option. The hotel is set within 18 acres of land with beautiful views and includes an onsite bar and restaurant. Book a stay at the Derwentwater Hotel here.
Luxury: Inn on the Square is situated on the market square in the centre of Keswick. The hotel blends a mixture of Scandinavian and Cumbrian design with light, airy rooms. The hotel has a chic lounge bar and steakhouse on site. Singles from £135.00 and doubles from £193.00 including breakfast. Book a stay at Inn on the Square here.
Camping: Keswick Camping and Caravanning Club is a great option for those who truly want to experience the outdoors. Perched on the shores of Derwentwater and with a mountainous backdrop, this beautiful campground offers pitches for tents, and motorhomes and even has luxury glamping pods. Book a spot at the camping and caravanning club here.
Top Things to do in Keswick
Keswick is one of my absolute favourite towns in the Lake District and one that I make sure to revisit every time I’m back in this region of the country.
1. Visit the Ancient Keswick Market
Keswick market has been running continuously for over 740 years making it one of the oldest in the world. The market includes over 60 stalls selling a range of local produce, freshly prepared food and drink and handicrafts.
Keswick’s Market was once voted the best outdoor market in the UK (2015) and operates every Saturday throughout the year and on Thursdays from late February until December.
Whether you are looking for gifts, something for the home or just want to try some local specialities, a visit to this age-old market is one the top things to do in Keswick!
2. Catch a Show at the Theatre by the Lake
The Theatre by the Lake is a modern, professional theatre on the shores of Derwentwater. It is open year-round and usually showcases three productions running throughout the summer. The theatre counts such luminaries as Dame Judi Dench as its patrons.
Past performances have included classic plays such as Romeo and Juliet, the Wizard of Oz, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Of Mice and Men and Around the World in 80 Days. So, whether you are after some Shakespeare or something a little more family-friendly you are sure to find a captivating performance to suit your tastes.
Theatre by the lake is one of the best things to do in Keswick for those looking for a little bit of culture to complement the beautiful scenery.
Check the website for current listings and to book tickets online.
3. Admire the views from Friar’s Crag
The scenic spot at Friar’s Crag is an easy, flat walk from town. From Lake Road head to the theatre and then along the lakeshore. The route includes some impressive mountain and lakeside views, with a few points of interest along the way.
You will pass by wooded islands, inlets and a large stone pillar. Once you arrive at Friar’s Crag the views down the lake towards Borrowdale are spectacular.
This is the easiest “hike” from the town, and although distinctly non-strenuous, yields some of the finest views close to the town! A trip to Friar’s Crag is definitely one of the top things to do around Keswick!
4. Walk a circuit of Derwentwater
For those looking for a more adventurous walk, one of the best things to do in Keswick is to circumnavigate the lake. This 10-mile hiking trail is relatively easy going thanks to the flat paths around the lake.
For those contemplating walking the whole thing, allow a whole day to hike around the lake and take in the incredible scenery. If you think 10-miles is a little over-ambitious, it is possible to hike sections of the path and return to Keswick by either bus or launch (ferry).
The route will take you through ancient woodland with a lakeside backdrop and mountains in the distance. There are lots of places to stop for a picnic and there are cafes and restaurants dotted along the route.
5. Take a boat trip out on the Lake
One of the best ways to experience the lake is to hire a boat to explore the multitude of islands, inlets and bays across Derwentwater. You can hire a rowing boat or a cabin-cruiser motorboat (no experience is necessary as full safety briefing is given).
The price for a rowing boat starts at £18 per hour for two people (max 7 adults).
The price for a motorboat starts at £38 per hour for two people (max 8 adults).
It is not possible to book in advance, so you just need to show up on the day. It is recommended to get there early during the school holidays.
If you don’t fancy going under your own steam, then you can take a cruise on the lake. Tickets start at £12.50 per adult for a 50-minute trip.
A great way to experience the area is to combine a hike with a boat trip. There are lots of routes across the lake with fares from just £2.50 one-way.
For more information and a full price list see the Keswick-Launch website.
6. Ascend Mount Skiddaw
At 3,054 feet (931 metres), Mount Skiddaw is the sixth highest mountain in England and dominates the skyline around Keswick and Derwentwater.
Skiddaw is an easy mountain to hike with no climbing skills or experience necessary. There is a well-worn path to the summit and the ascent should take around six to seven hours to complete from the centre of Keswick.
The Jenkin Hill path is the most popular route to the summit and it starts from the bridleway on Brundholme Road.
Although Skiddaw is not overly strenuous, a moderate level of fitness is required for the 10-mile hike. Ensure you have adequate gear with you for the trek.
In summer ensure you have plenty of water and sunscreen. In winter pack plenty of layers, pay attention to the weather forecast, and follow local advice.
7. Hike Catbells Fell
A fell is a mountain or hill traditionally used for grazing in the Lake District (so not too steep or rocky).
Catbells Fell is one of the most scenic around Keswick and there is an easy 3.5 mile / 3-hour hike to the top. The panoramic views of the town and lake are incredible and this walk is one of the top things to do around Keswick.
The trail starts at Hawes End Landing Stage on the opposite side of the lake from Keswick. With this in mind, the best way to get there is by launch (unless you are feeling adventurous and want to hike there, which would double the length and time of the walk).
A moderate level of fitness is required as there is a bit of scrambling near the summit, but overall it’s a relatively easy hike.
Be sure to stop at the Lingholm Kitchen afterward for one of hte best brunch/lunch spots in the entire Lake District.
8. Keswick Museum and Art Gallery
If you are looking for places to visit in Keswick when the weather is bad, then the museum and gallery is a great option. The museum houses a collection of over 20,000 exhibits including fine art, literature and photographs chronicling the town’s long history.
The museum is open daily from 10:00 to 16:00 and entry is £5 for adults and £3 for children under 15.
9. Keswick Leisure Pool
Another good place to visit in Keswick when the weather is dampening your hiking plans is the leisure pool which will open from 25th July 2022.
Best Things to do near Keswick
Keswick is a small town like many of the wonderful Lake District villages and towns, so if you are spending a long weekend up here, you may want to spend some time exploring the nearby area as well. These are the absolute best things to do near Keswick that you won’t want to miss.
10. Marvel at the Neolithic Castlerigg Stone Circle
Everybody knows about Stonehenge, but the neolithic standing stone circle at Castlerigg is arguably more impressive thanks to its incredible Lake District scenery and backdrop of Mount Skiddaw. The circle is thought to have been constructed around 5,000 years ago in 3,000 BC.
The site is only 1.5 miles east of Keswick so easily reachable on foot, by bicycle or by the 73A, 555 or X8 buses. The site is open during daylight hours and entry is free.
11. Visit the Wordsworth Museum
“I wandered lonely as a cloud…” It’s easy to see how poet William Wordsworth could conjure such verse from the dramatic surroundings of the Lake District. Discover all about this beloved poet at the Wordsworth Museum in nearby Grasmere, a twenty-minute drive from Keswick.
The museum is housed within the beautiful 17th Century Dove Cottage where Wordsworth lived with his sister between 1799 and 1808. The museum has just received a £6.5 million overhaul and in addition to some of his most famous manuscripts and displays, there are daily events.
For lovers of literature, history and architecture, the Wordsworth Museum is one of the best things to do near Keswick!
12. Take a tour of the Lakes Distillery
Home to some of the best water in the country, it seems only right that there should be a whisky distillery in the region.
The Lakes Distillery is housed in what was not so long ago, a disused dairy farm. The buildings are made of beautiful local stone and slate and have been restored in a way that honors the history of the buildings.
The tour of the distillery here isn’t just about how to make whisky (which is also an interesting part of the tour), it’s also about the importance of the water sources here in the lakes. The tour delves into the history of this region and the sources of the river Derwent and what makes it such a fantastic ingredient to start making whisky.
The tour ends with a tasting of several of their whiskies as well as their gin and vodka. You can then purchase some of their whisky in the distillery shop. I also highly recommend checking out the distillery’s cafe. They make a fantastic full English.
So, with some of the best scenery in the whole of the UK, a history dating back thousands of years, excellent hiking, lakeside activities and some great pubs, checking out the best things to do in Keswick is a must for any visitor to the Lake District.