Lake District

Budget-Friendly: 11 Free Things to do in the Lake District

Budget-Friendly: 11 Free Things to do in the Lake District

Are you looking for an exciting holiday destination that doesn't break the bank? Look no further than the Lake District! With so many free and affordable activities available, there's something to please everyone - from peaceful walks through lush green valleys to museums showcasing the local area's rich history. With plenty of stunning mountain views and places to enjoy a picnic taking in the sights and sounds of the lakes, let us show you why the Lake District should be at the top of your travel list.

In this blog post we list:

  • The best places to visit for no charge at all
  • Show all places on an interactive map to help you locate each place easily.

The Lake District has many options for places to visit for free. You could check out local art at Thornthwaite Galleries whilst you have a slice of cake and a cup of tea, take a short boat ride to experience the history on Piel Island, or spend a few hours walking around the scenic Buttermere Lake. Click on each name to be taken straight to the blog post for that place.

Free things to do
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    Updated and correct as of 12/12/23.

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    Museums and Galleries

    The dock museum

    The Dock Museum

    Explore the unique history of Barrow-in-Furness with a visit to The Dock Museum! Nestled in an idyllic coastal setting, this three-floor Victorian Graving Dock is full of captivating displays that tell stories and secrets about the area. Discover exciting interactives, film shows and ship models as you wander around; then take your adventure outdoors onto landscaped waterfront walkways connected to the Cumbria Coastal Way where public works of art await along with a children's playground for hours of family fun - all free admission too!

    Thornthwaite Galleries

    Unearth a hidden treasure in the small village of Thornthwaite, just outside Keswick! After 50 years in business, Thornthwaite Gallery and Tea Room has been given new life with its fresh look. Enjoy an idyllic spot for tea or lunch served up among stunning artwork from local artists - watercolours, oils, photography, and pastels adorn the walls to create a truly unique environment amidst gorgeous scenery!

    J.B. Banks and Son

    Take a journey through history at J.B. Banks & Son Ironmongers! Established in 1836 this family-run hardware shop has been preserved as an homage to the past, with old-school photographs and antique garden tools from days gone by on display for free entry into their Heritage Museum. Marvel over one of only 200 Atco cars made –  a 1939 petrol engine trainer car for children - or explore some intriguing locks and keys adorning the staircase; everything from padlocks to police cell locks is available here! It's no wonder why this store stands proudly today having served generations since its inception thanks to present owners Vanessa Graham of the Jackson Family dynasty- they keep true traditions alive while continuing business specialising in hand tools and hardware!

    Penrith Museum

    Penrith Museum

    Visit the Penrith and Eden Museum to explore centuries of local history! The museum first opened its doors way back in 1883 and has been enjoyed by generations ever since. Nowadays visitors are welcome to discover fascinating artifacts like ancient archaeology pieces, works of art, and photography alongside natural history specimens depicting both Penrith itself and the area beyond that has helped shape this region over time.

    History and Culture

    Piel Castle

    Piel Island

    Escape to an island steeped in history and legend found just south of the Furness Peninsula. Piel Island may be small at only 50 acres, but it's big on adventure! Explore one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval castle ruins featuring an impressive keep, baileys and multiple walls still standing strong after centuries. Ramble among these ancient ruins or take a stroll along its pebbly coastline during low tide - accessible by boat alone - making this secret getaway even more special than before.

    Hardknott Roman Fort

    Hardknott Roman Fort stands high overlooking the mountainous pass that winds through Cumbria. Founded during Hadrian's rule in AD120-138, it was once a lonely outpost of the mighty Roman Empire. Today, this amazing site features impressive remaining structures like its headquarters building and commandant’s house – all steeped with ancient history! Visitors can also follow what remains of an earthwork road that was guarded by Hardknott for centuries!

    Walks and Nature Trails


    Cat Bells

    Cat Bells is an adventure enthusiast's dream, offering incomparable views of the picturesque Lake District. When you arrive at this rocky summit near Keswick and Borrowdale, prepare to be wowed by panoramic vistas including Skiddaw and Newlands Valley to the west. At only 3.7 miles long, it's a steep hike with plenty of rewards! Take your time exploring on clear days to enjoy every moment along this stunning nature trail – perfect for outdoor lovers looking for their next challenge.

    Buttermere Lake

    With its abundance of natural charm, Buttermere is the perfect escape for anyone looking to take in a stunning lake and mountainous landscape. From strolls around the crystal-clear waterside or more challenging hikes up Haystacks or Red Pike; this corner of the Lake District offers an unparalleled outdoor experience that continues to captivate visitors from near and far. Don't forget your camera - you'll want plenty of photos from the side of the lake and from the Victorian tunnel that is still used today!

    Loughrigg Fell

    Looking for an unforgettable short walk in the Lake District that offers incredible views? Look no further than Loughrigg Fell! Located just outside of Ambleside, this fell may be small in stature but its intricate topography provides sweeping panoramic vistas to all who pass. Follow along a 6-mile path and make your way around dramatic platforms like the airy Loughrigg Terrace before stopping by Rydal Cave - one of The Lakes' most picturesque attractions. This enjoyable yet challenging hike is arguably one of the best walks in the Lakes; with stunning scenery that awaits you with every step!

    Free Things to do in the Lake District

    Easedale Tarn

    Immerse yourself in an entirely different world with this stunning 6-mile hike beginning in Grasmere, taking you past picturesque lakeside views and waterfalls to reach the beautiful Easedale Tarn. Marvel at rolling farmland as well as stepped rocky paths that wind through the amphitheatre of fells - a breath taking experience!

    Hope Park

    Hope Park is an idyllic attraction situated in the scenic lakeside town of Keswick. What was once a resting spot for coach horses carrying weary passengers to local hotels, the park now serves as one of the town’s main attractions – incorporating landscaped gardens with wooded pathways overlooking the fells. Perfectly suited to family outings, it offers fun games such as pitch & putt and remote-controlled boats that will provide hours of entertainment!


    Use the map below to locate all the places mentioned to create your itinerary for your trip.

    Open Google Maps to see distance information between locations and directions on how to get to each place.

    Please note...

    All outdoor activities including walking involve a degree of risk. The walks are recommended due to the features of each forest but this may change over time and further research is required before undertaking any activity. The weather can also impact the surface and general conditions of each path so please keep yourself updated with the weather forecast before setting off to enjoy your walk!

    Other Blog Posts From the Lake District

    We write lots of blog posts from each area of free activities to do. Have a look at our blog posts from the Lake District by clicking the links below:


    Lake District Blogs


    Cycling Routes in the Lake District


    Forest Walks in the Lake District


    Local Delicacies from the Lake District

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