Close Icon

Things to do in Bowness

The town enjoys an enviable position right by the lake edge, and the wonderful panorama across the waters from the piers and walkways of Bowness Bay mean that you will want to return time and again if you choose Bowness-on-Windermere as your Lakeland base. We offer a first class range of holiday accommodation here.

With something to appeal to all different tastes, the narrow streets of this traditional lakeland village are thronged with holidaymakers and day-trippers in the summer especially, and nonetheless the atmosphere is entirely relaxing and laid back. With a beautiful setting, a vibrant town centre and nightlife, the famous Windermere steamers, and the rest of the Lake District on your doorstep, Bowness-on-Windermere represents the Lake District at its best.

Along with enjoying the lake frontage, perusing the enticing local shops, wiling away time in the cafes and dining out in the many excellent restaurants, there are plenty of attractions and things to see and do in Bowness and the surrounding area. There are also beautiful Bowness Walks nearby.

In Bowness

The Glebe, Bowness on Windermere

Near the lake and the steamer pier on Glebe Road in Bowness bay is an extensive open parkland area, perfect for picnics, and nearby are public tennis courts, putting green, crazy golf, and an excellent 18-hole pitch-and-putt course, which takes a couple of hours to complete and makes for a fun-filled afternoon.

Windermere Lake Cruises

Steamers and passenger launches come and go from the piers in Bowness Bay, and you can choose to take part in the main cruise route that operates between Ambleside in the north and Lakeside in the south, stopping and re-alighting as you wish to explore, or you may wish to take the 45 minute Islands Cruise, which allows you to see up close the iconic islets and inlets of England’s longest lake. If you are torn between the many things to do in Bowness, this one is a must.

Sail and Dine

Experience the luxury of a high-end sailing yacht, and enjoy fine dining on board. We think this is a lovely treat to complement your holiday in the Lakes.


Blackwell Arts and Craft House

We recommend a visit to this fabulously preserved house, dating from the turn of the last century, and full of wonderful examples of Arts and Crafts furniture. You can sit in Blackwell’s historic chairs and enjoy the splendid views from the windows, rather than merely observing from behind a rope barrier.

Bowness Bay Marina

What better way to enjoy the wonders of Lake Windermere than hiring your very own boat and cruising the beautiful waters on your own schedule? You can hire electrically-powered craft that are easy to handle from this marina on Glebe Road, and set out for an hour, half a day, or a full day.

The World of Beatrix Potter

We love this exhibition as it enchants children and adults alike, and it will encourage you to go across the car ferry or round the lake to Sawrey and Miss Potter’s home at Hilltop. Her tales are vividly brought to life by the detailed models, and children will delight in their encounter with Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck and friends, and exploring Mr. MacGregor’s garden.

Windermere Canoe and Kayak

You can choose from a large range of boats to hire or even purchase if you choose, and Windermere Canoe and Kayak also offer bike hire.

Windermere Outdoor Adventure Centre

Learn all you need to know about kayaking, windsurfing and sailing with the help of fully qualified instructors. You can also choose to stay ashore and try orienteering, Nordic walking, navigation and or rock climbing.

The Fun Factory

The Fun Factory provides a neat answer to the question of what to do in Bowness with your younger children on a rainy afternoon. Situated on Glebe Road, you can sit back and watch them having fun in the soft play centre, while also enjoying great views over the lake nearby yourself.

Royalty Cinema

This is a very traditional cinema, and a visit here will give you a feeling of going back in time, and yet you can still enjoy the latest releases. Dating from the early 20th Century, the Royalty retains traditional features, curtains and lighting.

Beer Gardens

As much as the Lake District is geared to active holidays, it is also a wonderful place to relax, and finding a beer garden around Bowness-on-Windermere is amongst the best things to do on a sunny day. The Angel Inn located on Helm Road and The Ship Inn by the waterside on Glebe Road offer excellent options for sitting out with a leisurely pint. If you fancy going further afield, The Mortal Man in Troutbeck has a wonderful beer garden looking down the valley, and The Wateredge Inn’s garden at Waterhead in Ambleside is superbly placed right by the lake.


Bowness is well placed to allow you to use the main bus routes to explore the wider area, or to use your own transport. The A591 runs north to the lovely villages of Ambleside and Grasmere, and beyond to Keswick and the Northern Lakes. Hugging the eastern shore of Windermere below Bowness takes you to the hamlet of Newby Bridge, with Lakeside and the Lakes Aquarium nearby, and a run around the lake, north or south, or the car ferry straight across it, gives access to Sawrey and Beatrix Potter country. North-east over the Kirkstone Pass offers a stunning drive, taking in the pretty valley of Troutbeck and perhaps stopping for a beer in the wonderful Mortal Man Inn beer garden or at the top of the pass at the traditional Kirkstone Inn, the third highest pub in the country, and over to stunning Ullswater, where some scenes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens were filmed. Southwards on the A591 takes you to the larger market town of Kendal, and in the back country to south of Bowness and set back from the eastern shore of Windermere, the Lyth Valley is charmingly set with green fields, rolling hills, and narrow lanes. As well as exploring under your own steam, we would recommend you have a look at The Mountain Goat minibus tours, which cover all areas of the Lake District, and run from various starting points in the region, including from Bowness. The main office is in nearby Windermere, and day tours include a ‘Ten Lakes Spectacular’ and a tour of Beatrix Potter country, as well a relatively short highlights trip around south Lakeland.

Getting to Bowness

By car, leave the M6 motorway at Junction 36 and pass by Kendal, taking the A591 to Windermere, and through the town to Bowness itself. Windermere rail station is at the end of the branch line from Oxenholme, on the west coast mainline near Kendal, and short taxi ride or a half-hour walk from Bowness. Buses also run regularly from Kendal and Lancaster, and information on bus timetables in the Lakes can be found here: