We have been to Carlisle once before but mainly passed through, we didn’t stop to take in the sights and really didn’t think much of it. Until we were planning our trip up to Scotland. We were planning on stopping off in 1 or 2 places before heading over the border and one of these places was Carlisle. After doing some research we realised there was plenty to do but not much information on it. So here is our 7 things to do in Carlisle, England.
1. Carlisle Castle
Located opposite the Tullie House Museum is Carlisle Castle, it is also hard to miss. The stunning brickwork and grand scene stand out against the hustle and bustle of the city. This has to be the first on the list of things to do in Carlisle due to the sheer age and history behind it. While we were walking in there was a large group walking in for a private tour. We managed to get served quickly in the shop area and were shown where to go.
There was the option to get a ticket that included the Castle entry along with entry into the military museum within the grounds. We decided to just take the entry into the Castle grounds. If you are an English Heritage member you can get into the attraction for free.
We started off heading into the Keep. This was the main building which held plenty to see and do. I would point out that due to the Castle being in the original state it doesn’t have lifts and stairs can be tricky to navigate. There are multiple buildings to explore and look at within the grounds. Within the keep, you got to see the main room in which the ruler would sleep, rooms where people would work and the dungeon area.
One of my favourite parts of walking around the castle grounds was walking up the steps to explore the top of the perimeter. The steps up lead you to where the guards would have stood and watched over the castle. There is now a safeguarding fence along for you to enjoy the views over the rest of the city.
Though there weren’t many interactive areas for children it is a great place to explore, especially if you have a prince and princess in tow. There is plenty to see and plenty to learn about the people who didn’t just rule the Castle but also lived there. Brochures are available at the shop for an added fee. There are plenty of signs showing where you are and where other buildings are located within the castle grounds.
2. Hadrians Wall & Hadrians Wall Tourist Trail
This has to be one of the more iconic things to do in Carlisle. Though it isn’t just Carlisle specific there are a range of forts, castles and museums with information and direct connection to Hadrians Wall. One of those places is Carlisle Castle.
The wall was built from point to point separating Scotland from England. The wall has been there since AD 122 when Emperor Hadrian commissioned the build. The wall is an English Heritage site along with the forts and turrets along the route. We found a great spot at Banks East Turret, which had a section of the wall and remains of the turret to see. We drove along the route towards Carlisle to find a perfect spot to see the wall up close. This was the best place as it had a little car parking spot and great views.
Of course there are many ways you can experience the beauty of the wall, by driving, cycling or walking. We saw many walkers along the route heading towards Carlisle. This has to be one of the best things to do in Carlisle, England. There is so much culture, heritage and history surrounding the wall and the Romans in the area.
The Hadrians Wall Tourist Trail is a popular route for hikers/walkers. This takes you from coast to coast following the route of the wall. It is an 84-mile pathway that is easy to follow due to the Acorn symbol on the wooden posts. The majority of the terrain is said to be easy except for a central section between Chollerford and Birdoswald that is hilly with climbs and declines.
3. Tullie House Museum And Art Gallery
I visited here before heading over to the castle. The museum has a wide range of exhibitions and spaces to suit everyone. There are exhibitions that come and go such as the Kats artist exhibition and the quilting exhibition. The more permanent spaces are dedicated to the Romans in the basement, wildlife, Carlisle history and collections of artefacts excavated in the local areas. You can purchase an in-depth guide book for £3.50 at reception.
This is a great place to head if you are looking for a little fun, education and family fun. Throughout the museum, there are ample opportunities for children to get involved and learn more about each subject. almost every section of the museum has a dress up area, drawing station and an interactive board. As the museum has so much to see and do I would definitely recommend this on your things to do in Carlisle list.
There is a clear map to show you were to go along with helpful guides dotted along the route. There is no definitive way to explore the museum but if you want a chat or a little more information there is always someone to help. There is a reception desk as you walk in, along with the gift shop behind. Towards the back of the building, there is the old Tullie House that connects to the cafe. There is plenty of seating both inside and outside to appreciate the sunny weather.
4. Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life
This is a totally different museum to the others in Carlisle, it is all about our military past and present. Located in the grounds of the Castle you can purchase a ticket for the grounds and museum so you can see both which is worth doing. You can purchase a ticket just to see the museum as adults are £4.50, concession £3.50 and children at £2.50. There also is a family ticket at £11.00 for 2 adults and 3 children.
The museum has been at the castle since 1932 and in 2004 with lottery funding was moved to the outer ward. The museum doesn’t just fill in the gaps and tell you all about the 300 year service but also about present day. There is a strong community from the ongoing service of men and women in Carlisle and the museum. The museum covers everything from uniforms, weapons, badges and medals to art of the British Infantry Regiments.
5. Carlisle Cathedral
The cathedral is a stunning building standing proud in the city of Carlisle. It has been stood for 900 years and is another piece of history to explore. The cathedral has to be on our things to do in Carlisle as it is so beautiful.
You can go to worship there every day and join in a song if you wish. There is also plenty more to do and see otherwise. The cathedral often has tours on to show you around the Priors tower and more. We managed to get this amazing shot from Carlisle Castle.
The building however is much more stunning close up and inside with stained glass windows and beautiful preserved sculptures. There is a beautiful window that is called the Memorial Window which is made from stained glass and is stunning. There is plenty for children and families to see and do within the cathedral. Especially if you chose to go on a day with tours, exhibitions or open days.
6. Guildhall Museum
Something I always enjoy seeing in a new country is architecture, I love seeing old houses or new innovative developments. Carlisle has its very own 14th-century building. The Guildhall museum is exactly that building and is fascinating. The upper floors jut out using wooden structure to keep it upright.
It was renovated in the late 70’s with much of the timber frame work in tact. The bottom half of the building is privately owned and run as a business and many believe it has been used for business purposes over the many years. The upper floor is the museum and is access by a fairly modern staircase found on Fisher Street.
The house is open from Thursday 12 pm to 4 pm from the 2nd May until the 26th September. Group tours can book by ringing Tullie House Museum.
7. Urban Adventure
This is the ultimate way to tire out children and adults while in Carlisle. The Urban Adventure ground is located in Bitts Park. There you will find an extreme assault course built up and ready to take on. This is a great activity to take on and experience. Offering up exercise, fun and something to tick off the list, it is also great for people seeking a little danger and excitement.
Urban Adventure really does have something for everyone with Zip wires, team building courses and kids adventure courses for the smaller adventurers. You can do a number of courses all in the safe knowledge of trained professionals and with safety equipment. There is plenty to of things to do in Carlisle but Urban Adventure is definitely the most unique.
That is everything on our things to do in Carlisle, England. If you have been to Carlisle before and seen other sites let us know. We would love to know what your favourite thing to do in Carlisle is.