Carlisle City Centre

Carlisle City Centre

Cumbria’s county city has a long and colourful history, in part as a result of its location just 10-miles south of Scottish border. With a population of just over 75,000 it is Cumbria’s largest settlement and the only city in the county.

Whilst it is far removed from the lakes and fells of the Lake District, being around 20-miles outside of the national park’s border, it is still an attractive destination for visitors.

Top Carlisle Hotels

Located north of the Lake District National Park, the city of Carlisle deserves a visit in its own right, as the bustling town has its own castle and cathedral and is within reach of the famous Hadrian's Wall. So, if you're heading in that direction, check out our top picks for hotels in Carlisle.


It is thought that a settlement at Carlisle pre-exists the Roman occupation of Britain, with a tribe of Celts first calling it home. During the Roman era, the town was an important Roman stronghold known as Luguvalium forming part of the defences of Hadrian’s Wall

After the Romans departed, Carlisle became the subject of many battles, and when the Norman’s invaded in 1066, the city was part of Scotland. The city changed hands between England and Scotland several times, until unification under King James I.

During the industrial revolution, the town became synonymous with the milling industry. Today it is a bustling industrial and university town, popular amongst Cumbrian residents for its selection of shops, restaurants, and bars.


Carlisle’s historic medieval alleyways were transformed in the 1980’s to create a covered shopping centre that is now home to some of the UK’s best known brands. The wide high street features several department stores including Marks and Spencer, House of Fraser, and Debenhams, whilst in some of the side streets you will find an array of independent gift shops.

Key Attractions

Carlisle Castle

Carlisle Castle

Many people call into Carlisle as they walk the 84 mile Hadrian’s Wall route. Whilst the wall itself has long crumbled, there are numerous historic points of interest. 

At Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery there are several exhibitions including one about life on the Roman Frontier.

Carlisle Castle, maintained by English Heritage was built in the 1100s as part of the Norman defences against the Scots. You can explore the castle grounds, including many of the castle rooms, and there are regular talks from staff who appear as colourful characters from the castle’s history.

Carlisle Cathedral, with its 900 year long history, is also worth a visit for its fine examples of medieval carvings.

Getting Here

By Car – Exit the M6 at Junction 42 and take the A6 into the city centre. There are numerous car parks around the centre, the main one being at the Lanes Shopping Centre. This tends to get busy at the weekends and in the run up to Christmas, with many locals choosing quieter alternatives available on Cecil Street and on Viaduct Estate Road.

By Public Transport – Carlisle is a major rail station on the West Coast Main Line, with direct services from London Euston, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Newcastle. The National Express coach service also operates here, with services from across the country including London, Plymouth, Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen.

By Foot – Carlisle is on the Hadrian’s Wall national trail, an 84 mile route that will take you from Bowness-on-Solway in North Cumbria to Wallsend in Tyne on Wear. The town is an excellent stopping point for weary walkers.