The Lake District is a huge area in North West England, 900sqm in fact, but can you see enough on a Lake District day trip to make the day out worthwhile? Yes, absolutely!
With 1 day in the Lake District, you certainly won’t be able to see everything! But, you’ll be able to see a good portion of the best places to visit in the Lake District and get a good feel for this beautiful part of the UK!
Using my Lake District itinerary below you’ll have time to see mountains, lakes, and pretty English towns. Eat some delicious local food, drive some of the best roads in England and see a waterfall or two, doesn’t sound bad for a day trip to the Lakes right??
Lake District Day Trip
Is it possible to visit the Lake District on a Day Trip?
Yes! But this really depends on where you are travelling from in the UK.
If you are going to do a Lake District day trip from Manchester or Lake District day trip from Liverpool or surrounding places in the North like Leeds, Chester or Nottingham for example, then yes, you can definitely make a full day trip to the Lake District and see a lot by yourself if you leave early and give yourself a full day.
If you don’t have a car or don’t want to go alone, you can do a day tour from Manchester like this.
Lake District day trip from London
If you want to do a Lake District day trip from London then I would suggest looking into Lake District tours from London like this because the drive from London to the Lake District is 5-6 hours meaning it is not possible to go there and back in one day and see enough of the Lakes.
However, if you get a very early train from London to the Lake District which takes less time at 3.5 hours. You can hire a car, then it will be more possible, but you will be in for a long day, that’s for sure!
Here are some Lake District tours if you want to see the area with a guide and if you don’t have transport:
From Liverpool: Lake District Sightseeing Day Trip
From Manchester: Lake District Sightseeing Day Trip
From Chester: Lake District Full Day Guided Sightseeing Tour
From London: Lake District Tour with Cream Tea & Cruise
From Lake District: Ten Lakes Full Day Tour
How to get around the Lake District?
When I first visited the Lake District, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the towns, villages and country roads in the Lake District are connected by public transport.
However, driving yourself around the Lake District is definitely preferable, especially on a Lake District day trip and in this 1 day Lake District itinerary I am going to assume you have a car!
Lake District Day Tours
If you prefer to have a guided tour around the Lake District then check out these one day Lake District tours. I did a 3 day Lake District Tour with Rabbies Tours like this and I saw so so much so I know you’ll see a lot on a Lake District day tour too!
Here are some good Lake District Day Tours including Lake District Day Tours from London!
Lake District Day Trip
The Lake District is a huge area and there is no way you will see all of the best places to go in the Lake District in one day so it is best to pick an area and explore it well.
It’s also best to pick a Lake District route with short drives between stops rather than driving from each side of the Lake District.
For this Lake District day trip itinerary, I suggest you stay in the North as there are so many iconic places to visit here such as Keswick, Lake Windermere and Honister Pass. You will not be disappointed, or too tired at the end of the day!
Ok, you may be a little tired but it will be worth it!
Day Trip Map
Here is a map of the Lake District with all of the places I have recommended below in my Lake District itinerary!
Lake District Itinerary
If you are coming from the South and entering the Lake District from the South then I suggest driving in through Kendal and then stopping at Lake Windermere because it is the most popular and well-known place in the Lake District so you have to see it on this Lake District day trip!
Stop at either Bowness on Windermere or Ambleside, both of these are popular towns on the shore of Lake Windermere.
Park up and have a walk around the edge of the Lake and pop into the small town. You’ll find plenty of cafes and takeaway cafes here for food and drink to give you some energy to start your day in the Lake District.
Taking a boat trip out onto Lake Windermere is one of the top things to do in Windermere, they run for approximately 60-90 minutes so if you feel like you have time and there is a boat leaving soon then I definitely recommend it.
If you fancy a walk and to see a viewpoint overlooking Lake Windermere then a popular walk to do is Orrest Head Walk from Windermere.
Related Post for more easy walks in the Lake District you can do with 1 day in the Lake District: 10 Easy Lake District Walks!
Keswick & Derwentwater
From Lake Windermere, drive North up to Keswick. Although you don’t want to spend all of the time in your car on this Lake District one day trip, driving is also part of the fun because the views are consistently incredible.
On the way to Keswick from Lake Windermere up the A591 you’ll drive past a couple of Lakes including Grasmere Lake and Thirlmere Lake, if you keep a lookout then there are places to stop on the side of the road for some quick photos.
If you’re into the mysteries of British Stone Circles like Stonehenge, on the way into Keswick detour slightly and head to Castlerigg Stone Circle and try to work out its history.
Keswick is a typical market town in the Lake District and I suggest visiting here on your Lake District 1 day itinerary because once you are parked up in Keswick town you can easily walk to Derwentwater in 10 minutes so this stop enables you to see 2 of the best places in the Lake District in one stop!
Keswick is full of outdoor shops, one of the top things to do in Keswick is to visit the pencil museum if that’s your kind of thing. You’ll also see a lot of fudge and chocolate shops in Keswick including Roly’s Fudge Pantry which makes incredible Fudge!
It’s a 10-minute walk from Keswick town centre to the shores of Derwentwater, you can have a walk around some of the lakes or take a 50-minute boat ride out on the lake and you will have ticked another of the famous Lake District Lakes off of your list on this day trip!
When you leave Keswick, drive towards Honister on the Honister Pass. This road will take you along the side of Derwentwater so if you didn’t have enough time to visit it before, at least you can drive past it and appreciate its full beauty!
The B5289, which is also Honister Pass, is one of the best roads in the Lake District. It connects Keswick with Buttermere Valley and beyond. It’s one of Cumbria’s highest passes and is famous because of the steep valleys on either side.
For the best part of Honister Pass, I recommend driving all the way to Buttermere from Keswick where you’ll also get to see the beauty of Buttermere Lake on the way, and then turning around and driving back to Honister Slate Mine, another top place I recommend visiting on this Lake District 1 day itinerary!
The road is sharp and steep in many places and just fits 2 cars side by side so be careful when you drive.
Honister Slate Mine
Honister Sale Mine is a great place to end your Lake District day trip I think because there are few things to do in Honister depending on what you like and how you feel.
Honister Slate Mine offers a beautiful view down Honister Pass and it has a small museum, cafe and shop where you can buy some slate goods to take home. It’s also easy to park up in and costs £5.00.
There are also many Honister Mine activities on offer such as an Underground Tour and Via Ferrata. You may need to book these in advance, especially in the high season. Have a look at their website here.
If you want to do some walking on this day trip to the Lake District before you leave, from Honister Slate Mine car park you can walk up the side of the mountain. It is a steep walk but not too bad and at the top, you’ll see slate that is still being mined and have a flat peak you can walk along.
Another walk I recommend is up to Dale Head.
Dale Head Walk
The Dale Head Walk is 1 mile up and 1 mile down from Honister Slate Mine but it is a steep walk so it will take at least 40 minutes each way. On the walk up you’ll see views of Scafell pike, England’s tallest mountain behind you as well as lots more peaks that make up the Lake District.
At the top of Dale Head, you’ll be treated to an amazing view of the untouched valley below and can continue onto some more viewpoints if you have time.
Here’s my full post on How to do Dale Head Walk from Honister!
This 1 day Lake District itinerary will pretty much fill your day, but remember there are so many more places in the Lake District and this area should be enjoyed at a slow pace too, so even if you end up spending all day around Windermere or Derwent Water and not gone anywhere else, you have still made the most of your day trip to the Lakes!
And for more ideas of where to go in the Lake District, check out my guide on Easy Lake District Walks!