10 Things to Do in Bowness-on-Windermere


Bowness-on-Windermere is perhaps the best-loved town in the whole of the Lake District! With its position on Windermere, surrounded by mountain scenery and with plenty of activities on offer, it's no surprise that it's got such everlasting appeal.

If you're planning a visit, read on for 10 things to do in the town, and don't forget to book one of our holiday cottages in Bowness.

1. Boat trips

Boats on the lake at Bowness-on-WindermereWhen you’re sitting practically on top of England’s longest lake, you have to take full advantage of the water! And you’ve got plenty of options, too.

You might fancy a cruise, stopping off to see the sights around the 18-mile-long lake or even enjoying an evening meal onboard. Or why not hire a boat for yourself and create your own bespoke journey? You can hire luxury motor boats, kayaks, rowing boats or canoes. If you’re feeling really flush or planning a big event, you can also privately hire one of the lake cruisers!

2. The World of Beatrix Potter

The World of Beatrix Potter in BownessThe Lake District’s adopted daughter, Beatrix Potter, is known world-wide for her beautifully illustrated and imaginative children’s stories: Peter Rabbit, Squirrel Nutkin, Miss Tiggywinkle, Jeremy Fisher… You can dive further into the author’s imagination at The World of Beatrix Potter where you’ll meet the characters, learn about Beatrix’s writing journey, and even enjoy a delicious afternoon tea!

3. Eat out

Food in a full English breakfastWhether you’re looking for a filling brunch, a quick lunch, an extra-tasty dinner, or a quick and delicious snack, Bowness has plenty of options for eating out. From bistros to cafes and traditional pubs to modern restaurants, there’s something to suit all tastes. There’s a whole range of food, too: traditional Cumbrian recipes, pacific street food, fine dining… It’s all delicious!

4. Outdoor adventures

Outdoor adventures in the Lake DistrictIf you’re after a taste of adventure, then there are numerous outdoor adventure providers in Bowness and around Windermere. From guided kayak tours to paddle board yoga and from ghyll scrambling to climbing, there are a range of amazing, adrenaline-pumping activities for you to try.

5. Blackwell Arts & Crafts House

Blackwell Arts and Crafts HouseFor lovers of art and design, Blackwell is an absolute treat. Built in the Arts & Crafts style and designed by M.H. Baillie Scott, this Grade I listed building is a 20th-century gem.

Most of the original features still remain and gorgeous furniture and decorations are elegantly displayed inside, giving you a real feel for the era. There are also beautiful views of the lake and you can enjoy these while munching on something yummy from the café terrace!

6. Live music

Guitar playerA number of the restaurants and bars in Bowness-on-Windermere have live entertainment during the evenings and weekends. With a range of styles and artists, you’ll get to see both local performers and those from further afield.

Try The Easy Breeze, hidden on a cobbled street in the oldest part of the town: it’s an award-wining café and piano bar that’s decorated with quirky features including local slate and even parts of a 1967 Volvo! Or Baha is an exciting modern venue serving pacific street food and boasting not only live music events, but also a private karaoke pod and a party space!

7. A round of golf   

Partial to a bit of pitch and putt? Windermere Golf Course, established in 1891, is just outside Bowness. Although quite short in length, it offers interesting challenges and amazing views over the lake and surrounding fells.

Take a look at our guide to the golf courses of Cumbria.

8. Theatre and cinema

The Old Laundry Theatre in Bowness did actually start life as a laundry! It’s now a fantastic 270-seat cinema that hosts performances ranging from thought-provoking dramas to entertaining children’s shows. They also present comedy, film and music, and have welcomed an array of big stars such as Alan Carr and Victoria Wood.

If cinema is more to your taste, the Royalty Cinema is also in the heart of the town. The Art Deco-era building feels like a wonderful time capsule with its curtained screen and red velvet seats. It nonetheless has up-to-date features, boasts three screens, and shows both modern releases and films from the past.

9. Take a walk

Orrest Head near Windermere in the Lake DistrictYou can’t visit the Lake District without taking a walk in the stunning scenery! Whether you’re a fan of full-day mountain hikes or prefer relaxing strolls, there’s plenty on the doorstep. Why not set off along the lake on foot and catch a ferry back to town? Or you could head on up Orrest Head where the famous author Alfred Wainwright is said to have first fallen in love with the Lake District! Read our guide to the best walks from Bowness.

10. Relax on a spa day

Spa in the Lake DistrictWhat’s a holiday for if not relaxing? The Burnside Spa is in Bowness itself and offers a range of pampering opportunities to help you unwind. Think facials, wrap treatments, pedicures, aromatherapy... There’s a whole host of  treats in store! There are also plenty of other spas around the lake and nearby too, so you have plenty of options for your indulgence of choice!

Take a look at my guide to spas in Cumbria.


I hope that you’ve now got lots of ideas for your visit. If you haven’t booked your accommodation yet, don’t forget to see our wonderful self-catering cottages in Bowness-on-Windermere.

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