Keswick is one of the best places to visit in the Lake District. Surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery, sitting on the shores of Derwentwater, and with plenty on offer in the town itself, it’s hard to know where to start. We’re here to let you know all the things you should definitely do on your first ever trip to Keswick. And chances are, it won’t be your last!
For more tips and suggestions, get in touch for advice from our team of local people. Or browse our many wonderful holiday cottages in Keswick.
1. Go walking
You’re in the Lake District, so this is an obvious one – and for good reason! Keswick really has walks for everyone. The short, flat walk to Friar’s Crag is good for wheelchairs and prams, Latrigg offers an easy mountain walk with big views over the town, and Skiddaw and Blencathra provide something a bit more challenging! You can also find plenty of good quality walking kit from local shops, including boots, walking poles, and waterproofs. Try The Keswick Boot Co. or George Fisher for supplies.
Pick your perfect route from our Keswick walking guides.
2. Explore Derwentwater
One of Keswick’s biggest draws is its fabulous position on the lake of Derwentwater. This is a veritable playground that you can explore in, on or around the water. The Keswick Launch regularly cruises the lake, allowing you to either do a full lap or stop off at the various jetties and explore further afield. Alternatively, why not hire (or bring) your own boat and set out yourself? Rowing boats, kayaks, canoes and paddleboards are available for hire around the lake. Or you can even try a spot of wild swimming!
Of course, you may just prefer to stay on solid ground with a walk around the shores of the lake or a relaxing afternoon picnicking on one of the pebbly beaches.
3. Sample the food and drink
Whether for your evening meal, a tasty brunch, or a refreshing drink after a day on the fells, Keswick has all the bases covered when it comes to food and drink. There are lots of pubs in the town – many of them dog-friendly – serving meals made from Cumbrian produce and local brews. Restaurants range from cheap and cheerful fish ‘n’ chips to international taste sensations and gourmet meals. Or perhaps you just need a tasty lunchtime snack or a sweet treat from one of the cafés?
Read our guide to eating out in Keswick.
4. Castlerigg Stone Circle
Standing above the town is the mysterious Castlerigg Stone Circle. This grandparent of stone circles – it’s one of the oldest in Britain – was built in 3,000BC. It also has the best views with its dramatic 360-degree backdrop of mountains including Helvellyn and Blencathra. Whether you come for the panorama or the magic, Castlerigg is a must-see for anyone visiting Keswick for the first time (or indeed, the second or third!). It’s endlessly fascinating and breathtakingly beautiful. If you visit during the right time, you may even be able to witness – or take part in – a pagan solstice celebration.
5. See a show
Whether on the silver screen or live performance, catching a show or film is a great way to spend an evening. The Theatre by the Lake stands magnificently on Derwentwater and has a range of shows in its studio theatre and spacious auditorium. From musicals and Shakespeare to new work and fascinating talks, there’s something for everyone.
Keswick also boasts a fantastic, family-run Art Deco cinema, the Alhambra, which is one of the few cinemas in the country that has been in continuous operation for over 100 years. It shows a good mix of modern blockbusters, independent films, and classics in the beautifully restored building. It’s also home to the annual Keswick Film Festival.
The Alhambra and Theatre by the Lake are both offering virtual screenings during the Covid-19 pandemic.
6. Keswick museums
Keswick has a fascinating history. From its Neolithic origins to dependence on farming and industry, all the way to present-day tourism, the museums in Keswick offer a fascinating insight into the life and times of Keswick across the years. Keswick Museum & Art Gallery sits between Lower and Upper Fitz Park and has regular exhibitions as well as permanent collections that range from geology and natural history to tourism and fine art. The quirky Pencil Museum is also not to be missed. It delves more specifically into the history of graphite mining, the first-ever graphite pencils, and the writing implement’s undercover mission in World War Two. This is also a great place for any artists with its excellent collection of art supplies for sale.
For something a little different that the kids and young at heart will love, head to the Puzzling Place, which has all sorts of unusual illusions including an anti-gravity room and the Ames Room, where you seem to grow and shrink!
Keswick is well stocked with lots of shops. As well as the outdoor shops - with kit for everything from winter climbing and paragliding to kayaking and wild swimming - there are lots of independents to be found too. Take a look at Packhorse Court for The Cheese Delicatessen, toy shop and interiors. The main pedestrianised street, and those just off it, have lots of unique gift shops, art galleries, sweet shops, and clothes stores, as well as convenience stores and local supermarkets. There’s even a twice-weekly market selling fresh meat and veg, gifts, baked goods, and flowers. Keswick is the perfect blend of high-street favourites and local boutiques!
8. Outdoor adventure activities
If you’re after a bit of adventure, then Keswick is the place to go! The fells, lake, rivers, and crags offer almost every outdoor activity under the sun. Ghyll scrambling and canyoning see you slipping and sliding down rivers and gorges; you can go climbing or bouldering at one of two climbing walls or on nearby crags, or try something a bit different with hydrospeeding on the river. There are plenty of outdoor adventure providers near Keswick too.
No one who has been to Keswick can think of it without considering the amazing scenery that makes up the Borrowdale Valley. To the south of Derwentwater, the landscape stretches towards the ‘Jaws of Borrowdale’, inviting walkers to tie up the laces on their boots and get exploring. Riverside strolls, mountain passes, and hermit caves await, as well as pretty hamlets and craggy scenery. You can take a boat from Keswick, drive, or walk into the valley. There are also restaurants, cafes and even a spa to enjoy if you want something a bit different!
Read our guide to Borrowdale.
Holidays in Keswick
There’s lots to fit in during your first visit to Keswick, and we’re sure you’ll be tempted to return time and time again. To find your perfect self-catering cottage in Keswick, see our cottage search.
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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.