Things to do in Keswick – a gem-hunter’s guide

The centre of Keswick - things to do in Keswick
The centre of Keswick

The vibrant and historic market town of Keswick has a fantastic atmosphere whatever time of year you choose to visit.

Located on the northern tip of Derwentwater, there’s so much to see here that you need never venture into the rest of the Lake District (but make sure you do anyway)!

Things to do in Keswick

Starting out in Keswick town itself, you will find a huge choice of shops, many of them independent, with a few brand names in there as well. It’s a commonly-held assumption that Keswick is the land of walking retailers and little else, and while there are plenty here, there are lots of other shops of interest if you don’t need any outdoor gear! There’s a good choice of pubs, restaurants and cafés too. Here are 10 great reasons to go shopping in Keswick, and I’ve also written about one shop in particular which is a social enterprise, The Soap Co.

Ye Olde Friars of Keswick - shopping in Keswick
Ye Olde Friars of Keswick, which takes me back to childhood chocolate treats!

If you need specific information on walks or other ways to enjoy the area, a visit to the Tourist Information Centre at the Moot Hall in the centre of town is an absolute must – I get lots of inspiration by visiting, and even wrote a post about free resources for discovering great low-level walks in the area, some of which you’ll find as leaflets here.

Keswick Tourist Information at the Moot Hall - things to do in Keswick
Keswick Tourist Information

If you’re after indoor activities, Keswick Museum, Kong Climbing Centre, Keswick Brewery, The Puzzling Place and the Alhambra Cinema are just some of the places you could visit.

King Kong Climbing Centre in Keswick - things to do in Keswick
A warm welcome outside King Kong Climbing Centre in Keswick

Because Keswick is so close to Derwentwater, you can easily enjoy a stroll on level ground by the lake and take in the views at one of the area’s most famous viewpoints, Friar’s Crag – you can see right down the lake from here to the ‘Jaws of Borrowdale’. You can also enjoy a walk along the lake edge at neighbouring Strandshag Bay.

The view along Derwentwater towards the 'Jaws of Borrowdale' from Friar's Crag outside Keswick
The view along Derwentwater towards the ‘Jaws of Borrowdale’ from Friar’s Crag just outside Keswick

Keswick has three parks including Hope Park and Fitz Park, as well as Crow Park which is situated by the lake.

Hope Park in Keswick - things to do in Keswick, the Lake District
Hope Park in Keswick
A view of Keswick from Crow Park
A view of Keswick from Crow Park

On your way to Friar’s Crag you’ll pass the Theatre by the Lake – take a look at their website programme if you enjoy theatre. There are normally several productions on at any one time, and these sometimes relate to local people and their stories (these have included William Wordsworth, the Herdwick Shepherd James Rebanks, and Dalton Millican).

In 2016, the theatre opened its new Theatre by the Lake café, an airy and impressive wooden construction with enormous glass windows, which looks down towards Derwentwater.

The Theatre by the Lake - things to do in Keswick, the Lake District
The Theatre by the Lake café in Keswick

Just beyond the Theatre by the Lake, on the Derwentwater foreshore, is a National Trust information centre where staff will again advise you on how best to enjoy your time around Derwentwater.

Here you can also catch a Keswick Launch, wooden boats with cabins that will take you on a 50-minute circular tour of the lake. You can go clockwise or anti-clockwise, and hop on and off at the jetties. For more information on things to see and do around the lake, take a look at my gem-hunting guide dedicated to Derwentwater.

The Keswick Launch - things to do in Keswick, the Lake District
The Keswick Launch at the jetty on the Derwentwater foreshore

Keswick is, of course, big walking territory. You can take walks directly from the town itself, but as this isn’t a walking blog I won’t go into great detail here. You’ll find plenty of walking ideas via Google – just make sure you take an OS map and compass, and all the appropriate gear including food, water and good, sturdy footwear.

The Derwentwater Walk - things to do in the Lake District
The Derwentwater Walk, a 10-mile waymarked walk around Derwentwater

Another popular short walking route is to the top of Latrigg, just outside Keswick. There’s a car park at the bottom if you don’t want to walk the distance from Keswick itself. The views back down over the town and lake to Borrowdale look incredible – I’ve not been myself, and this is definitely on my list of things to do!

If you fancy seeing something really historic and atmospheric, the English Heritage site, Castlerigg Stone Circle, lies north east of Keswick below Blencathra. Apparently the best times to photograph this magnificent site are as the sun rises and sets.

Keswick has a good amount of industrial history, and when graphite was discovered near Seathwaite in Borrowdale in the mid 16th century, the Keswick area became home to a cottage industry producing the world’s first graphite pencils. You can find out more at the Keswick Pencil Museum.

And if you enjoyed my gem-hunter’s guide to Keswick, don’t forget to take a look at my related page on things to do around Derwentwater.

Have I missed one of your favourite Lake District gems? If so, let me know by leaving a comment below for the benefit of other readers, and I will do my best to include it in future revisions of this page!