Carlisle city view

11 Best Places to Visit in North West England

North West England is known for its iconic cities, outstanding nature, museums rich in history and art, and sports culture. The region has something for everyone, and it won’t disappoint you.

Not only will you find popular cities such as Liverpool and Manchester, but other hidden gem destinations like Kendal and Wycoller too.

In this blog, you’ll find unmissable places to visit in North West England to add to your bucket list. 

Places to visit in North West England

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Best Places to Visit in North West England

Blackpool

Blackpool view

By Kerry Hanson of Adrenaline Junkiez

One of the best places to visit in North West England is the popular seaside town of Blackpool. Not only is Blackpool fun to visit in summer, when the weather is good and the beaches, streets and arcades are full of happy tourists.

But this vibrant coastal town is also great to visit in winter when the streets are alive with the infamous Blackpool illuminations.

If you’re not familiar with the illuminations, this is when various colourful festival lights brighten up the town. Some of them are traditional-looking Christmas lights, whereas others are quintessentially British and depict old soap opera shows and things of the past.

While the town is popular with stag and hen do’s, it also makes a fantastic and affordable day out for the family. If you’re looking for things to do, you can grab day passes that provide access to all the main attractions.

Climb to the top of the Blackpool tower and walk across the glass floor as you admire the views. Enjoy the thrill rides at the Pleasure Beach Theme Park. Visit the aquarium, dungeon or Madame Tussauds, or simply just enjoy traditional fish and chips by the seafront.

The nearest city is Liverpool which is approximately 55 miles away. However, Blackpool is well-positioned for trains and coach services from across the UK and it makes a great weekend away or day trip.

Bolton

Bolton town hall
By Kat of Biker Girl Life

Bolton is a fascinating place to visit. If you enjoy cultural history, you’ll love seeing the old mills and dye works– it used to be the largest centre of cotton spinning in the entire world.

If you enjoy historical buildings, don’t miss the Hall I’ th’ Wood Museum which even has old spinning wheels. 

However, the city has a lot more to it than just factories and mills and they’ve worked hard to modernise their image in recent years, although there are still plenty of historic buildings to enjoy around the city centre, including the imposing town hall. 

One of the most popular attractions is the Bolton Steam Museum, which is run by passionate volunteers who are more than happy to share their knowledge and how steam was so important to the area. Bolton Market is always worth a visit – full of colour and life and plenty of things to buy.

Younger kids will love a visit to the Smithills Farm, with an inflatable plan area and tractor rides. It’s also possible to feed the lambs and other young animals if the time of year is right.

For some fresh air, Jumbles country park sits around a pretty reservoir just on the outskirts of Bolton and is a great place to enjoy a walk or picnic on a sunny day. There is plenty of space and different trails to enjoy, plus toilets and a cafe overlooking the water. 

For a fun night out, head to the Northern Monkey Bar– a microbrewery that serves their own beers plus others from the local area and wider UK. Often you can find live music and there’s always a good atmosphere. 

Bowness-on-Windermere

boats lake district

By Angela of Where Angie Wanders

Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District is a beautiful location in the North-West of England and a lovely place to stay for a few days if you do a British road trip from England to the Scottish Highlands.

Bowness is a popular haunt for tourists from the UK and abroad due to its varied outdoor activities including hiking, walking, wild-swimming and, of course, its stunning lakeside setting.

The top attraction in Bowness is to take a cruise on Lake Windermere from the Bowness pier to the sleepy village of Ambleside. 

Visitors can then disembark and enjoy a 4km walk on the opposite side of the lake back to Bowness taking in sites such as Wray Castle and Claife viewing station. Slightly further afield is Hilltop, the home of author Beatrix Potter, and a lovely place to explore.

Bowness village is charming with typical cobbled streets and higgledy-piggledy cottages that are synonymous with the area.

However, there isn’t a shortage of modern restaurants, bars and hotels and one of my favourites was Baha Restaurant offering mouth-watering Pacific street food. If you are looking for somewhere more traditional then visit the oldest pub in Bowness called The Hole in t’ Wall.

To reach Bowness follow directions from the M6 and you will continue your journey through some of England’s most sensational mountain and lake landscapes.

Carlisle 

Abbey street cathedral in Carlisle

By Emma of Forever Lost In Travel

Just a few miles from Scotland and right at the edge of the Lake District National Park is the historic city of Carlisle. Dating back to Roman times, Carlisle has almost 2000 years of history – much of which can still be seen around the city today.

One thing you can’t miss on a trip to Carlisle is the 900-year-old defensive castle complete with moat, dungeon and more than its fair share of ghosts.

Carlisle Cathedral, although one of the smallest in England, is beyond beautiful and has both one of the most exquisitely decorated stained glass windows, and a uniquely painted ceiling.

The UNESCO world heritage site Hadrian’s Wall once ran through the city and can be visited just a few miles away. Feeling adventurous? Hike the 84-mile long Hadrian’s Wall Path from coast to coast or walk a part of it along the river Eden in Carlisle.

Carlisle also has plenty of shopping and interesting buildings to be found all over the city. And when you’re ready to relax, try an afternoon tea at one of the city’s top cafes.

My personal favourite is Cakes & Ale in Long Lane, near Carlisle Cathedral. They even have a secret hidden garden, the perfect oasis to enjoy your tasty treats.

Carlisle is one of the unusual places to visit in North West England.

Chester

Chester city view

By Sarah of In Search of Sarah

A charming place to visit in North West England is Chester. Located an hour outside of Manchester by car, or forty minutes from Manchester Airport or Liverpool Airport, Chester makes for a great day visit and is rich with history and Medieval timbered buildings. The city was founded in 70 AD and is filled with ancient Roman charm. 

From parks, open spaces, and river walks with beautiful views, to the enchanting Roman Gardens, museums, shopping and more, Chester is one of the best places to visit in North West England.

One of the most notable features of Chester is the city walls which extend three kilometres around the city and offer unique views of the historic architecture and insight into a bygone era.

These city walls are the oldest, longest, and most complete in all of Britain and are over 2000 years old! The Chester Cathedral is another must-visit that was built over a period of 500 years.

The iconic Eastgate clock was built in 1899 and sits atop the luxurious Grosvenor Hotel at the original entrance to the Roman fortress.

There are numerous wonderful cafes and pubs to visit in the city centre, like the Sticky Walnuth y p h a, known for its plant-based dishes, or The Brewery Tap for seasonal creations plus local ales and ciders.

You’ll fall in love with this enchanting city. With its breathtaking scenery and incredible architecture and history, Chester is worth visiting no doubt. 

Kendal

Kendal town in England

By Hannah of Get Lost Travel Blog

Kendal in Cumbria is the southern gateway to the Lake District. It is a charming town that has a surprising number of things to see. Don’t just drive through, make sure you spend a day exploring Kendal!

If you are heading to Kendal by car, your first stop should be Low Sizergh Barn. This pretty farm shop is a great place to grab local treats for your visit. You can pick up a delicious selection of pastries, cakes, pies and more for a picnic.

Once in Kendal town centre, head to Brewery Arts Centre. It is an ingenious regeneration of an old brewery, now Kendal’s culture hub. It boasts a cinema, theatre, restaurant, bar, café and exhibition space.

For the best views, take a short walk to Kendal Castle. Perched on top of a hill overlooking the town, it is the perfect spot to admire sweeping views. While there, explore the ruins and download the free audio tour to learn more. It is the perfect place for your picnic!

A hidden gem in Kendal that you shouldn’t miss is the Quaker Tapestry. This collection at the Kendal Meeting House consists of 77 embroidered panels. It took 15 years to make, by 4,000 people from 15 countries. As well as the tapestry, there are numerous interesting displays and videos.

For the most adventurous, go on one of the best cycle routes in the UK and the Lake District. This cycling route takes you from Kendal to the town of Windermere.

Whether you are visiting Kendal on a day trip or popping in on your way to the Lake District, this is just a small flavour of the many things to do in Kendal.

Keswick

Keswick-Derwentwater

By Debbie of Grand Adventure Story

Keswick, on the shores of Derwentwater, is a perfect base from which to explore the Lake District.

The town itself has a picturesque market square, a large park boasting beautiful views of surrounding peaks and the lake, a theatre and outdoor adventure shops on every corner.

It’s very easy to while away a few hours pottering through town, walking along the lakeshore, or watching the rushing waters of the River Greta. Consider renting a boat to row on Derwentwater or take a ride on the ferry from the jetty near the Theatre on the Lake.

Keswick is perfectly positioned to enjoy some of the Lake District’s most popular hikes, including reaching the peaks of Skiddaw and Cat Bells.

A short drive away is Whinlatter Forest, a mountain biker’s paradise. If you’re looking to keep active and dry (this is the Lakes after all) look no further than booking in a session at Keswick Climbing Wall. This was a welcome break from the weather on our very wet autumn weekend in the Lake District with kids.

All of that outdoor adventuring works up an appetite, and luckily Keswick is well-provisioned to fulfil your appetite! Post-walk pasties, tasty tapas or treat yourself to the best burgers this side of the Atlantic at The Round on Market Square.

Lancaster

Lancaster city view

By Kat of Wandering Bird

One of the best places to visit in North West England is the beautiful Cathedral city of Lancaster. This is one of England’s Heritage cities and blends both the past and the present seamlessly. Even better, it’s easily reached from the M6 motorway so can be visited for a day on your way to the Lakes or Scotland

As well as visiting the famous Cathedral, there’s plenty to do in the area. Lancaster Castle is a medieval castle from the 11th Century- and is still remarkably intact and you can see beautifully decorated courtrooms and dark and very imposing jail cells.

It is here that some famous trials were held, including that of the Pendle Witches– they say they still haunt the castle.

There are plenty of museums in Lancaster, including the maritime museum, but if you can take a trip just outside the city and enjoy a visit to the fabulous Williamson Park.

Here, you can enjoy 54 acres of woodland and parkland, with views across the city down to the coast and Morecombe Bay. Be sure to stop at the Butterfly House to marvel at the butterflies and visit the mini zoo with the meerkats and other small animals.

Lancaster runs a park and ride scheme which is a great idea if you’re not staying in the city centre- if you’re motorhoming in the UK then there are spaces for you too.

Manchester

By Cristina of My Little World of Travelling

Manchester is the biggest city in North West England, and it’s well-known for its rich industrial heritage. At a glance, you can appreciate the industrial buildings in the city. 

Manchester is also very artistic and quirky – street art in old buildings, vintage shops, cool cafes, art galleries and museums you must visit during your trip to Manchester. 

Start your day by visiting the Northern Quarter to find impressive street art and enjoy a coffee or tea at some of the best cafes in Manchester.

Then head to Manchester Art Gallery and The John Rylands Research Institute and Library to discover outstanding pieces of art and architecture. The library is also a must-see attraction for any photography lover.

If you prefer to learn about the industrial heritage, visit Science and Industry Museum.

If you happen to visit Manchester in late November or December, you’ll love Manchester Christmas Market, one of the best Christmas Markets in England. 

Liverpool

Liverpool dock view

By Mark from Wyld Family Travel​

Liverpool is a city that has awakened from its industrial slumber over the last decade with fresh money from the EU development fund. 

Today you will find a modern city that really comes alive along its waterfront to the Mersey with museums, attractions, shopping and food all located in this area. The Tate Museum, The Beatles Experience and the Merseyside Maritime Museum just to name a few. 

While at the waterfront you should not miss catching the famous ferry across the Mersey.

Opposite the Albert Dock, you will find the Liverpool One shopping centre and entertainment area. There are over 170 shops featuring Sketchers, Apple, Victoria’s Secret, Lego and Disney for families visiting Liverpool and 3000 car parking places. No visit is complete for football fans without a visit to Anfield, the home of Liverpool F.C

There are plenty of restaurants and food vans at Albert Dock selling traditional fish n chips etc while the Maray is located in 3 different sites across the city of Liverpool.

Maray opened its first location summer of 2014 in Bond St Liverpool with the goal to bring a piece of Paris’ 4th arrondissement to Liverpool. With Liverpool’s location close to Manchester, North Wales and Blackpool it makes an ideal destination and base for a holiday. 

Wycoller

Wycoller Hall

By Helen of Helen on her Holidays

Wycoller is a tiny hamlet, right on Lancashire’s border with Yorkshire, but despite its small size, it’s a truly magical place and a hidden gem in North West England!

Wycoller sits on the Wycoller Beck, which is fed by water running off the moors above the village. On one side of the river are the lovely old stone houses, which are still lived in and much sought-after, as well as a cute tea room and craft centre. On the other, linked to the village by a ford and three historic bridges, is Wycoller Hall.

The hall dates back to the 16th century and although it’s an atmospheric ruin these days, it’s easy to see how grand it would have been. Much of the grandeur was added in the 19th century, when the last resident Henry Owen Cunliffe remodelled it to attract a wife, running up large debts in the process.

When Cunliffe died in 1818, the estate was broken up. Charlotte Brontë, who lived just over the hill in Haworth, knew Wycoller well and used the decaying Wycoller Hall as the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in her 1847 novel Jane Eyre.

There are lots of lovely walks around Wycoller country park, but the one you shouldn’t miss is up to the Atom Panopticon, a large piece of contemporary sculpture that sits on top of the hill above the village. The Atom looks a little like an alien spaceship; there are incredible views through its circular windows.

Wycoller is best visited by car; the nearest town is Colne.


Have you ever been to any of these places in North West England? Let me know in the comments!

If you have any questions about things to do in North West England, you can reach me at cristina[at]mylittleworldoftravelling.com or Instagram.

Safe adventures,

Cristina x

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Top things to check before visiting North West England

  • If you’re flying to Manchester (MAN) or Liverpool airport (LPL), have a look at Skyscanner for the best flight prices.
  • Are you looking for the best accommodation in North West England? Check out Booking.com
  • Rent a car to travel with ease around North West England.
  • Don’t forget to get travel insurance for your trip. This is a must!

Frequently Asked Questions about Visiting North West England

What is the North West of England famous for?

It’s well-known for its diverse landscapes, cultural heritage and history.

In the North West of England, you’ll also find one of the most beautiful National Parks in the country: the Lake District located in the county of Cumbria.

What areas are classed as the North West of England?

The North West of England includes the following counties: Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside.

Is North West England worth visiting?

Absolutely! The region has incredible activities for all ages and likes – from interactive museums and stunning historical monuments to beautiful natural landscapes and sports activities. You’ll be impressed by this part of England.

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12 Comments

  1. Your posts always transport me! North West England looks simply lovely. I’d especially love to visit Carlisle!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Thank you, I am glad you discover new places on my blog.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      I am happy to hear you enjoyed it

  2. Chester looks like you have stepped back in time… how beautiful. Thanks for all these great ideas

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Absolutely! Chester is a gem.

  3. North West England definitely looks like it is worth visiting. That photo of Chester really stuck out to me and it looks like such a great place to wander around. Wycoller looks so adorable too, and I love small English towns! Definitely a great list for a road trip!

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Chester impressed me a lot. I wasn’t expecting it to be so beautiful and charming.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      You are welcome, Shelly 🙂

  4. So many good spots to visit. I would love to go to Manchester. I’ve seen a cooking competition on TV there and it looks like an amazing place with lots to offer.

    1. Cristina Reina says:

      Yes, there are a lot of places to explore in the North West of England. What I love the most about Manchester is its Christmas Market.

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