The glassy water of Lake Windermere, framed by forested slopes and mist-shrouded peaks, is one of the most photographed landscapes of England’s UNESCO-listed Lake District National Park. Windermere is the country’s largest lake and is a popular destination for outdoor activities, including some of the region’s most scenic hikes.
The town of Windermere is a popular basecamp from which to explore the Lake District. Full-day tours from Windermere often visit regional highlights such as Buttermere Valley, Ullswater Lake, Rydal Water, and Grasmere Village. Alternately, you can experience stunning views by cruising across Lake Windermere aboard a traditional lake steamer, which brings you close to the lake’s 18 picturesque islands.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Pack warm clothing and an umbrella or raincoat even in summer—Lake District weather can be unpredictable, and it can get chilly out on the lake.
- Most passenger ferries and commercial cruises on Lake Windermere are wheelchair accessible.
- Windermere Lake boat tours leave from the Ambleside, Bowness, Brockhole, and Lakeside piers.
How to Get There
Windermere Lake is located in the southeast section of Lake District National Park, stretching from Ambleside in the north to Lakeside in the south. The town of Windermere is located on the northeast shore of the lake, and is reachable by bus and train from many of the surrounding villages. Manchester Airport is 90 minutes away by train and by road.
When to Get There
Summer is the most popular time to visit the Lake District, when Lake Windermere becomes a major hub for sailing and watersports, and the surrounding hiking trails are most accessible. It’s still possible to visit in winter—while the cold and rainy weather can make outdoor activities more challenging, the Lake District’s snow-capped peaks offer a spectacular backdrop for a lake cruise.
Things to See and Do Around Lake Windermere
Pay a visit to Wray Castle, ride the Lakeside and Haverthwaite steam train through the Leven Valley, visit Beatrix Potter's former home at Hill Top, or learn more about local wildlife at the Lakes Aquarium. Alternatively, head to the villages of Bowness-on-Windermere, Ambleside, or Windermere to browse through shops or enjoy lunch at a traditional English pub.