Things to do in Carlisle

Huddled at the edge of the venerable Lake District National Park and almost within touching distance of the Scottish border, it would be easy to pass over Carlisle for its more famous neighbours. And yet you’ll find the distinguished charm of a city that relies on its local community and its proximity to some of the country’s most marked history. When it comes to what to do in Carlisle, you won’t be left disappointed, with fascinating looks into its past, the finest, freshest local produce at its markets, activities that give the incredible scenery centre stage, and stadiums which host the oldest race in the world. Factor in all the wonderful restaurants, bars, pubs, attractions and hotels in Carlisle and you have a city that has plenty to boast about.

Walking trails

Within touching distance of one of England’s best-loved, the indomitable Lake District, there are plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs, whether summiting a peak, tracing Hadrian’s Wall or discovering the history of Carlisle on a city walking tour.


Have a rummage through our picks of the best shopping in Carlisle where you can spend the afternoon leafing through your favourite high street shops, exploring modern shopping centres or picking up some fresh local Cumbrian produce at a farmers’ market.


Once a Roman settlement which served the forts on a rather famous wall, Carlisle is dripping in history and legend that is ripe for discovery. Explore the unmissable locations, historic buildings and stadiums in our sightseeing guide.


There’s little doubt the great English wilderness is the main attraction and it offers up a wealth of activities, from hiking to sailing, bouldering to zip lining. Indoors head to Energi Trampoline Park and literally bounce off the walls.

Video guide to Carlisle

Places to eat

From fiery Thai food trucks to sumptuous Greek delis and fine-dining English restaurants to some of the best pub grub in the north of England, Carlisle’s exceptional restaurants are as good as they are varied.


With more microbreweries than any other county, it’s harder to avoid Carlisle’s pubs than it is to find a good one. Add to the mix atmospheric speakeasies and cool drinking dens, the city certainly keeps humming after dark.


Carlisle is no stranger to history and has a great mix of museums celebrating just that, as well as a number of galleries and cool art spaces showcasing work by big names and local artists alike.


Join the thousands that flock to Carlisle’s four theatres to enjoy an eclectic mix of shows and performances, from touring West End shows to slick amateur productions, comedies and the seasonal panto.

Historic buildings

Carlisle is a city with a rich history just waiting to be explored. Having stood proudly together for almost 900 years, the castle and cathedral are a must-visit if you want to reveal the secrets of the city’s past.


Catch some football League Two action from the terraces of Brunton Park or have a flutter on the oldest horse race in the world, the Carlisle Bell, in the grandstands of the Carlisle Racecourse.


Carlisle’s local creative community do the city proud, treating audiences to raucous knee-slapping tunes, laid-back jazz nights, theatrical flair, nail-biting match days and hearty belly laughs.

Getting around

A well-serviced pocket of the country, Carlisle has easy travel links to the surrounding Lake District, nearby Edinburgh and beyond, thanks to a bustling bus and train station.

Our map of Carlisle