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Carlisle, the only city in Cumbria, boasts a rich Roman history and industrial past. Reflecting this heritage, it has a host of museums and is also only a short hop from Hadrian’s Wall. As a border town, it holds the record as the UK’s most besieged city – nowadays though, you’ll find its doors are wide open. Travel is easy too as it’s just 20 minutes from Lockerbie and under 2 hours from Manchester.
Just 5 minutes from the station there’s Court Square bus station, as well as a taxi stand. There’s parking nearby and car hire a 100-yard walk away. In addition, Plusbus is available for an add-on fare of £3. Taxis are available outside the main entrance and a number of car hire organisations can be found nearby. There is also parking at the station.
Carlisle Castle has seen its fair share of unwelcome visitors – after all, it has been laid to siege 10 times since it was built in 1093. These days it welcomes visitors to exhibitions exploring its rich history. Castletown House is set in its own grounds overlooking the River Eden – it’s a great place to bring the whole family to let them run around for the day. The Lake District Wildlife Park is just a short ride out of Carlisle and home to lots of exciting animals, including endangered species, birds of prey and reptiles.
Fantails Restaurant can be found in a characterful, 16th-century former blacksmiths’ shop… try the signature Beef Sporran: steak and haggis in puff pastry with whisky and mustard sauce. Chances are you’ll visit Tullie House and if you do, you won’t go far wrong eating at the restaurant there, which is cosy, reasonably-priced and a nice rest for the legs. The Golden Fleece is a great dining option that serves filling pub classics but don’t just take our word for it – they’ve featured in the Michelin Guide for the last 3 years.
For places to stay in Carlisle, you’ll find Ibis, a budget hotel close to the Lanes Shopping Centre in the city centre. The Hallmark Hotel is also convenient and set in an elegant Victorian building just 20 metres from the station. For a 4-star stay, take a 10-minute train journey to Wetheral and stay at the Crown Hotel, which boasts an award-winning restaurant, a leisure centre with a 12-metre pool and – wait for it – its own traditional village pub.
17th-century gem Tullie House is 10 minutes from the station and has everything from Bronze Age artefacts, costumes, furniture and pottery, to insects and contemporary art. A compelling reason to visit Carlisle in itself, it’s a fantastic place to visit for the day. St Cuthbert's Church was built in 1778 and as well as being Carlisle’s principal parish church, it’s also well worth a visit along with its Tythe Barn and 15th-century Church Hall.
Retail in Carlisle starts at Cumbria’s largest shopping centre The Lanes, which has over 75 shops ranging from local boutiques to high-end high street. Local stalls in a beautiful setting are what you’ll find at the Market Hall – one of the few covered Victorian Markets left in the UK. If you’re in town on the first Friday of the month, head to the city centre for the Carlisle Farmers Market where you’ll find local charcuterie, coffee, cheese and ceramics – and that’s just the ‘C’s.
For more ideas on what to do in Carlisle, visit Discover Carlisle.