10 Best Things To Do In Carlisle, England

best things to do in carlisle uk
| 6 min read

Carlisle, situated in the picturesque county of Cumbria, has a plethora of scenic sights, archaic architecture and a whole wealth of restaurants. This historic city will provide you with an exciting and informative trip and will allow you to immerse yourself in culture and creativity.

Known to many as the ‘Great Border City’, Carlisle is now the predominant cultural, industrial and commercial centre for North Cumbria. Its historic nature can be seen through the likes of its many museums and heritage centres, as well as Carlisle Castle, itself. Home to the main campuses of the University of Cumbria, it’s certainly not lacking in culture or education. There’s an abundance of things to see and do in Cumbria, so you can rest assured that your time here will be well-spent.

1. Admire the fortress that is Carlisle Castle

Carlisle Castle 03
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Neil Boothman used under CC BY 2.0

Potentially one of the things that Carlisle is most well-known for, is the ancient Carlisle Castle. Situated near the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall, the castle has dominated the city for over 900 years. After withstanding a plethora of sieges, housing a number of valuable prisoners and being known as the home to the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, it’s no secret that this fortress has many stories to tell.

The Castle, which is predominantly made of grey and red sandstone, sits proudly on rising ground at the northern end of the city. The tower is the castle’s most dominant feature, and from here you can see the views of the surrounding area. Pay a small fee of less than 7 GBP (9.15 USD) and you could be enjoying a whole host of intriguing artefacts and history.

Discover the castle’s ancient past in the enthralling family-friendly exhibitions and explore the medieval castle rooms to gain a better understanding of the way the castle used to be. Within the castle itself, you can immerse yourself in all it has to offer, discover the castle’s rich and turbulent past with a number of exhibitions, visit the turret in which Mary, Queen of Scots was held captive and ponder the mysterious prisoner carvings of the castle’s keep.

Carlisle Castle

Opening times: 10am - 6pm, Monday to Sunday.

Website: Carlisle Castle

2. Enjoy the religious architecture of Carlisle Cathedral

Carlisle Cathedral Exterior, Cumbria, UK - Diliff
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Diliff used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Carlisle Cathedral is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Carlisle, and while it may be the second smallest cathedral in England, it still has an air of impressiveness to it. The cathedral, which has stood on the border of Scotland for nearly 900 years, is considered to be one of the jewels of the north of England.

This medieval structure offers worship every day of the year and attracts visitors of all traditions and faiths. The cathedral has a lively story to tell, after withstanding almost nine centuries of war, religion and peace. Entrance to this wonderful structure is free, with a suggested donation of 5 GBP (6.60 USD).

You can bask in this fine cathedral’s architecture and thoroughly enjoy what it has to offer while learning some of the ways that it is used for worship. It’s a highly recommended visit to take part in, both for religious and non-religious visitors.

Carlisle Cathedral

Opening times: 7.30am - 6.15pm, Monday to Saturday. 7.30am - 5.00pm, Sunday.

Website: Carlisle Cathedral

3. Reflect on World War II at the Solway Aviation Museum

Solway Aviation Museum, Carlisle Airport, Cumbria
Source: Photo by user Simon Ledingham used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Solway Aviation Museum is based at Carlisle Airport and is home to a wide selection of aircraft, aviation artefacts and a number of displays depicting Britain’s renowned aircraft designs. This museum is the perfect cultural excursion for those interested in learning more about Britain’s aviation heritage and everything that encompasses the dawn of the aircraft age.

Travel back in time and take the nostalgic route back to what it was like in wartime Cumberland and experience the preserved heritage of those that served in World War II. The Solway Aviation Museum is home to a collection of aircraft, aviation artefacts and displays, reflecting Britain’s position as a world leader in aircraft design and innovation at the dawn of the jet age. Admire the craftsmanship behind everything aircraft related here and peruse the displays that the museum has to offer.

Admission is priced at just 6 GBP (7.93 USD) per adult and, considering the experience you will get here, that seems like a small price to pay.

Solway Aviation Museum

Opening times: 10.30am - 5.00pm every weekend from 31 March to 29 October 2017.

Website: Solway Aviation Museum

4. Take a walk along Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall west of Housesteads 4
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Steven Fruitsmaak used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

This unique monument is truly a remarkable experience to enjoy. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hadrian’s Wall has been through its fair share of drama. Dating back to the year 122 AD, it was built by a mass of 15,000 men in less than six years, and it’s truly a sight to behold, both from a distance and from up close.

The wall is punctuated by mile-castles, barracks and forts, providing an intense and diverse landscape, that can be admired by many adventurers. Take in this must-see monument and explore a plethora of bath houses, galleries and museums, along the way.

Hadrian's Wall

Website: Hadrian's Wall

5. Expand your cultural knowledge at Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery

Tullie House museum - geograph.org.uk - 1003053
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Raymond Knapman used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Regarded as one of the top places in Carlisle to visit, Tullie House is home to many historic collections, as well as contemporary art and culture. Located near the border of both England and Scotland, Tullie House Museum is sure to impress, with its combination of history, nature and art.

Inspiring visitors for more than 120 years, this is definitely no ordinary museum and art gallery, and it can be assured that it will provide the most art-adoring lovers with a sense of culture and creativity.

Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery

Opening times: 10am- 5pm, Monday to Saturday. 11am- 5pm, Sunday

Website: Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery

6. Enjoy a gourmet burger at the Thin White Duke Bar

Posted by Thin White Duke on Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Full of an abundance of delicious food and drink, the Thin White Duke Bar and Kitchen is second to none at providing excellent service and exceptional food. Tuck into a succulent burger, after a day of exploring and unwind for the evening, with your choice of the finest cocktails, gins and wines.

Thin White Duke Bar

Opening times: 11.45 am until late, Monday to Sunday.

Website: Think White Duke Bar & Kitchen

7. Investigate the Guildhall Museum

Guildhall Carlisle 09
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Chemical Engineer used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Step back in time with this lovely historic building, believed to date back to the late 14th century - visitors can enjoy all of its wonderful structure and learn many things along the way. The Guildhall building is one of the oldest buildings in the city and is listed as a Grade 1 Ancient Monument, so it’s clear to see why this is a popular attraction for many tourists.

While it has been extensively renovated over time, it still exudes its original charm and is the perfect way to spend a lazy morning or afternoon in Carlisle. You can enjoy this museum completely free of charge and the well-cared-for building is a great place to start your adventure, in Carlisle.

Guildhall Museum

Opening Times: 12pm- 4.30pm on Thursdays, from 4th May until 31st August.

Website: Guildhall Museum

8. Wander through the wildlife at Watchtree Nature Reserve

Posted by Watchtree Nature Reserve on Monday, 28 November 2016

Featuring an abundance of flowery meadows, heaps of hedgerow and plenty of habitats, Watchtree Nature Reserve is a 205-acre (83-hectare) haven, for all the family. You can gaze upon the wondrous wildlife, including the protected Great Crested Newt, copious amounts of Brown Hares and a bountiful collection of butterflies, moths, birds and dragonflies.

The nature reserve is truly a wonderful place to spend the day in Carlisle, and the whole family will thoroughly enjoy perusing everything that it has to offer.

Watchtree Nature Reserve

Opening Times: 9am- 5pm, every day throughout the summer. 9am- 5pm, everyday throughout winter.

Website: Watchtree Nature Reserve

9. Admire A World In Miniature Museum

Miniatures Museum of Taiwan
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mkckim used under CC BY-SA 3.0

This truly remarkable museum will have you gazing in wonder at one of the world’s top three collections of quality miniatures, from tiny antique furniture to everyday items at the most unimaginable sizes, you’ll be rubbing your eyes in bewilderment! Everything in the museum has been curated with extensive skill and craftsmanship and is sure to delight visitors of all sizes!

You won’t be able to get enough of the true wonders that this enticing museum has to offer, and it really is one for all the family! Admission charges are only 2.50 GBP (3.30 USD) per adult and 1 GBP (1.32 USD) per child, so you really can’t afford to miss out!

A World In Miniature Museum

Opening Times: 10am - 5pm, Monday to Saturday. 10.30am - 3.30pm, Sunday.

Website: A World In Miniature

10. Have a wacky day out at Walby Park Farm

Posted by Walby Farm Park on Monday, 15 March 2010

Cumbria’s award-winning attraction is the ideal place for kids and adults, alike. Spend the day feeding the lambs, embark on a nature trail and meet the cutest guinea pigs! There’s a full day of fun to be had at Walby Park Farm, with entry priced between 6 GBP (7.93 USD) and 8.95 GBP (11.83 USD), it’s truly money well spent when you can spend the whole day basking in the blissfulness that is Walby Park Farm.

Walby Park Farm

Opening Times: 10am- 6pm, everyday.

Website: Walby Park Farm

Explore the sights in Carlisle

Carlisle has so many wonderful things to see and do, you’ll be spoiled for choice as to what to do first! Make sure you indulge in the delicious food, as well as see everything that this beautiful city has to offer!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Hi! My name is Chloe and I'm a passionate writer about everything from beauty products to travelling! I run my own lifestyle blog which is full of life hacks, relationship anecdotes and travel...Read more

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