Ten things to do in Carlisle

The Citadel

The Citadel - Credit: Archant

Situated just north of the Lake District, this former Roman settlement is full of history

Hadrian's Wall on a windy evening

Hadrian's Wall on a windy evening - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hadrian’s Wall

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hadrian’s Wall was built by the Romans during the 120’s AD. It stretches 73 miles from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway, running through Carlisle and making it a great attraction for visitors. Enjoy a bike ride or walk along the wall and its ruins by following the Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail, which has been specially devised so visitors can visit the many forts, mile castles and turret stations spaced out along the way.

Tel: 01434 60970, www.visithadrianswall.co.uk

Carlisle Castle

Over 900 years old, this castle has been the centre of many wars due to its proximity to the border between England and Scotland. Built by William the Conqueror’s son, William Rufus, the castle is now managed by English Heritage and is well preserved. Explore the dungeons or browse the displays of military weapons, medals and uniforms at the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment Museum.

Tel: 01228 591922, www.english-heritage.org.uk

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Carlisle races

Enjoy a day out at the races at Carlisle racecourse. They host regular flat and National Hunt racing throughout the year, as well as themed race days and special evening events such as performances from artists and bands.

Tel: 0844 5793002, carlisle-races.co.uk


Carlisle offers a range of shops for all ages and interests. Here you will find a variety of small, independent boutiques, as well as well-known high street brands. The Lanes Shopping Centre is the ideal place to visit for a range of shops all under one roof, and there is also a Victorian indoor market and numerous monthly farmers’ and continental markets.

Birdoswald Fort

Birdoswald Roman Fort is the perfect place to stop off at while walking around Hadrian’s Wall. One of the main Roman forts standing high above a meander in the River Irthing, here you can explore the ruins and learn about the history with their interactive displays and artefacts. Birdoswald also offers farmhouse-style accommodation for those wishing to stay within this historic site, and a tea room to take time out and enjoy a cake.

Tel: 016977 47602, www.english-heritage.org.uk

Carlisle Cathedral

Founded in 1122, Carlisle Cathedral is located in the historic quarter of the city and is a jewel of the border. It has been rebuilt several times, but today it stands in magnificent condition. Don’t miss the beautiful stained glass East window and the decorative Ceiling of the Choir, which dates back to 1400. Services take place daily.

Tel: 01228 548151, www.carlislecathedral.org.uk


Located on the southern edge of Carlisle, the Citadel was originally erected in 1541. Built by Henry VIII to strengthen the southern approach to the city, these twin drum-like towers were rebuilt in 1810 to house the courts and County gaol. Throughout the summer guided tours are available to view original prisoner cells and Grand Dury room.

Book via Carlisle Tourism Centre: 01228 598596

Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery

Tuille House was built in 1689 and houses a considerable collection of fine and decorative art, human history and natural sciences. Inside this grade one listed Jacobean building there is an impressive staircase and fireplace, which leads up to the wood-panelled first floor room showing a great collection of pre-Raphaelite items. A historic and interesting place to bring the family, there are a number of interactive displays and exhibitions perfect for the children.

Tel: 01228 618718, www.tulliehouse.co.uk

Solway Aviation Museum

Home to a collection of aircraft and aviation artifacts, Solway Aviation Museum aims to reflect Britain’s position as a world leader in aircraft design and innovation. Their aircraft collection is based on post war British jets that entered service with the Royal Air Force during the 1950s and 60s, many of which have local connections.

Tel: 01228 573823, www.solway-aviation-museum.co.uk

The Sands Centre

The border’s premier venue for leisure and entertainment, the Sands Centre boasts among other things a 100 station gym, six court sports hall, spinning studio and an indoor climbing wall. However if sports aren’t your thing, the centre also plays host to international orchestras, theatre and opera companies, comedians and musicians.

Tel: 01228 633766, www.cultureleisurelife.com