As one of the oldest and most historic cities in the UK, Lancaster has a rich local history which appeals to people from all around the globe.
Whether you’re interested in the unique architecture, the bustling market and pub scene or simply want to learn more about the historical significance of this small city – there’s plenty to do, see and eat here in Lancaster.
Attractions in Lancaster
A family-friendly city with lots of opportunities to learn more about the area, Lancaster has something for all ages.
Sitting above the city, you can’t really miss Lancaster castle. If you are visiting by train, this is probably one of the first attractions you will want to stop off at on your way down into the city centre.
Dating back over 1,000 years to Roman times, the Grade I listed building has been used as many things – even as a working prison up until the late 2000s! Now, however, the majority of the castle is open to the public, and there are daily guided tours which take you around the various wings of the castle. There’s even the opportunity to get locked in the dungeons!
It is most notably known as being a place where many people were convicted of witchcraft – and played a part in the trial and execution of the famous Pendle witches!
The castle is owned by the Queen, who holds the title of Duke of Lancaster – it’s not every day you can say you’ve been to one of Her Majesty’s estates!
Find out more about Lancaster Castle and the tours you can take here
The Ashton Memorial and Williamson’s Park
Another prominent building on Lancaster’s skyline is the Ashton Memorial. This Grade I listed building can be seen from miles around as it is situated much higher above the city in Williamson’s Park.
The building itself was commissioned by Lord Ashton and has stood proudly looking over Lancaster since 1909. The building was created as a tribute to his late wife and was designed by architect John Belcher
The eye-catching green dome of the building is actually made from copper, and there are sculptures adorning the building which depict Commerce, Science, Industry and Art and were created by Herbert Hampton.
The memorial is a beautiful place to visit, and often plays host to many weddings. The surrounding Williamson’s park is also a wonderful place to visit – especially in summer. It’s a very popular place with locals as the views across the bay and Lakeland fells are unrivalled on a clear day.
There is also a butterfly house and mini zoo, as well as a cafe to refresh in, after a long afternoon of walking the grounds of the park.
You can find out more about the Ashton Memorial and WIlliamson’s Park here
If museums are more your thing, we definitely recommend a stop off at the Judges Lodgings. This townhouse features many different collections, including an old Victorian school room, a museum of childhood, and the history of the famous locally-made Gillows furniture.
The Lodgings are only open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, so we recommend trying to fit it into your schedule where you can.
The house was known to be the residence of Thomas Covell, a notorious witch hunter who was also the Keeper of Lancaster castle. However, between the years of 1776 and 1975, the house became the residence for any judges visiting at the Castle. Now, the house resides as a home for some of Lancaster’s most interesting history!
To find out more about the Judges Lodgings, tour times and admission fees, please take a look here
Housed in what used to be Lancaster’s original town hall, the city museum is bang in the city centre on Market Square. It is home to a variety of exhibits, including the Museum of the King’s Own Royal Regiment.
With free admission, there’s nothing stopping you having a wander around and learning more about the historic city of Lancaster and its unique architecture. The museum was founded in 1923 and houses some of the incredible archaeology found in the area.
There are often visiting exhibitions, too, so be sure to take a look and see what else is on in the museum during your visit!
You can find out more about the museum and their events throughout the year here
Being situated on the banks of the River Lune and a stone’s throw away from Morecambe Bay, you won’t be shocked to learn that Lancaster has a very long and rich maritime history.
The Maritime Museum is located on St. George’s Quay and takes you on a journey through the long history of maritime ties in the city. The quay was, in fact, the city’s main harbour in the 18th Century.
Located in the city’s former Custom’s House, the museum houses a collection of exhibits from years past, depicting the history of the port, as well as discussing the ecology of the neighbouring Morecambe Bay.
There are also several vessels within the museum which have been carefully preserved!
To find out more about the Maritime Museum, opening times and admission, please go here
Up by the castle, you may have seen a row of very unique looking houses. These little cottages are actually very unique part of Lancaster’s history.
One of the cottages has been turned into a museum, and over five floors (yes – five floors within this tiny cottage!) you’ll get to learn about Victorian life in the Lancaster area. The cottage itself was built in 1739, and is a great opportunity to take a look in one of the oldest homes in Lancaster!
Take a step back in time to an era where there was no running water – or even access to a toilet in the home!
To find out more about the Cottage Museum, admission and opening times, please click here
As a northern city, it’s probably obvious that we love our beer. In fact, we have our own brewery!
Lancaster Brewery is a multi-award-winning brewery situated just on the outskirts of the city, up by the Ashton Memorial and Williamson’s Park. Take a tour around the brewery and find out how the award-winning beer is brewed to perfection, and then settle down for a pint and something to eat at the Brewhouse & Tap.
It’s also the perfect venue for weddings and events, with the Lancaster Food and Drinks festival being one of the most popular events in the city every year.
Come up and see for yourself why the locals and beer lovers as far away as China love Lancaster’s Blonde, Amber, Red and Black beers! It’s also worth noting that they own The Sun Hotel in the city centre – a wonderful pub to stop off in and enjoy the local range of beers once you’ve seen how they’re brewed!
Walks around Lancaster
The countryside surrounding the Lancaster area is just waiting to be explored. With Morecambe only minutes away and both the canal and the River Lune running through the city, there are plenty of beautiful walking routes to take you in and out of the bustling city centre.
Enjoy a relaxing stroll down the Canal which runs alongside some of Lancaster’s finest pubs. The canal route is very easy going – it’s flat and perfect for those with prams or wheelchairs.
Walking down the canal can take you all the way up to Garstang, and in the other direction towards Galgate and Preston. It’s a very peaceful walk and you get to witness some of the more timid wildlife which calls this area home. It’s not massively uncommon to catch a heron or two fishing for their dinner!
There are plenty of pubs along the way to stop off at in either direction, and you’ll pass some beautiful stretches of unspoiled countryside, too!
Crook O’ Lune
Another beautiful walk to head out on is down the cycle track out of the city centre to the North East. This takes you alongside the River Lune through to a popular picnic site known as Crook O’ Lune.
During the warmer weather, this site becomes a haven for locals, and there are areas where the river is still enough for a paddle – but please make sure you take a look at the signs around the site to make sure it is safe to enter the water.
There’s a small cafe which is open for business, but we definitely recommend packing up a picnic and taking a stroll around this beautiful, scenic area.
Journey from Lancaster to Morecambe
Being so close to Morecambe Bay, it’s understandable that you’d want to head over and see what the seafront is like. Luckily, if you’re someone who likes walking, getting to Morecambe by foot is easy enough – and doesn’t take as long as you may think!
By taking the cycle track route which takes you Northwards out of the city, the route is pretty much straight forward and should bring you out into the centre of Morecambe. From there, it’s easy to locate the Promenade.
The walk should take most people around an hour and 40 minutes to walk, but there are plenty of buses and other transport links should you feel the need to rest your feet on the way back.
Places to Eat in Lancaster
Lancaster has a huge food and drink scene, and while we would love to mention every single pub, restaurant and cafe in the area, there are just too many to cover. Instead, we’ve selected three eateries that come highly recommended for breakfast, lunch and dinner (or tea as it’s known in the area!) to help guide you in the right direction of some delicious grub.
The Whale Tail Cafe
One of Lancaster’s vegetarian and vegan-friendly cafe’s, the Whale Tail Cafe is the perfect start to the day (or any time of day, for that matter!). They use fresh, local produce, and cater for a wide range of dietary needs that may be harder to find suitable food for elsewhere.
The Whale Tail Cafe has called Lancaster home for the last 25 years so you can be sure that you’re indulging in some of the best food in the city. They have a wide range of breakfast options to choose from, including a build your own style breakfast. This gives you full control as to what is on your plate – something that most cafes don’t offer!
For more information and to see the menu, please click here
Vincenzo’s Coffee House
Located in St. Nicholas Arcade in the centre, you can always smell the delicious food and fresh coffee wafting through from Vincenzo’s Coffee House. A small, local business looking to give you the best possible food experience, we definitely recommend you stop by.
This unique little spot is perfect for grabbing a delicious hearty breakfast in a morning, as well as light bites and meals during the day. As it’s so central, it’s ideal for fuelling up for a day of shopping or exploring – or even for a mid-morning toasted teacake!
Whether you’re looking to indulge in a full English, grab a bacon butty or even just have a slice of toast and some coffee, you can taste the freshness of the produce at Vincenzo’s. You can tell how popular the spot is from the constant stream of customers, too!
If you’d like to learn more about Vincenzo’s Coffee House, you can check out their Trip Advisor page.
The Three Mariners
A small, cosy pub just off the quay in Lancaster, it can be quite easy to miss the Three Mariners pub. Serving traditional, hearty pub grub, it’s ideal for a delicious lunchtime treat.
Their hand-cut chips are some of the best in the area, and their menu has a good range of pub favourites; fish and chips, Lancashire hotpot, gourmet burgers – anything you can think of that makes a good traditional pub meal. There’s also an extensive vegetarian menu which has a good range of choice.
You definitely get more than you pay for, as the portion sizes are very generous, and everything is freshly cooked to order, as well as being locally sourced.
Find out more about the Three Mariners and how to visit here
For something a little different, we definitely recommend checking out Lancasters sushi bar, Nami Sushi. With a lunchtime deal which sees all plates on the sushi belt prices at £2 from 12 until 3, you’re really getting a bargain.
With a true Japanese feel, the restaurant serves a variety of different Japan-inspired dishes, from Teriyaki noodles to Katsu curry. There are also additional sushi dishes available to those which go around on the belt, and these are all handmade to order.
The lunchtime deal is a great opportunity to try sushi if you’ve never delved into the Japanese delicacy before. The staff are more than helpful with describing what the dishes on the belt are, and can help suggest which cooked dishes you may prefer based on your preferences.
For more information on Nami Sushi and their Japanese dining experience, please visit their website.
Located on the Lancaster Canal, the White Cross pub is a popular haunt for many locals, especially when the weather is hot. The canal-side seating provides a beautiful backdrop while eating some delicious, homemade dishes.
Specialising in contemporary food with a hearty pub feel, you won’t be disappointed with the portion sizes you receive for the price you pay. Food is served from 12pm until 9 pm, giving you plenty of opportunities to enjoy some of the dishes available.
There is plenty to choose from, and their menu is well varied with pies, burgers, platters, salads and more.
Find out more and see the White Cross’ menu over on their website.
The Sun Hotel
We mentioned The Sun Hotel further up this guide – it is owned by the Lancaster Brewery, and just as you can expect deliciously crafted beers, the food is no exception either.
The menu is constantly evolving and being updated with new and delicious dishes, which can mean that you shouldn’t get attached to your favourite dish if you choose to eat here. However, it also encourages people to try new food and flavours – something that more people should get on board with.
From massive sharing platters to deliciously filling main meals and even locally famous “posh butties”, there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes. They are huge advocates of using local produce, so you’re definitely getting a true taste of the Lancaster area.
Find out more about the Sun’s unique menus over on their website.
For those who love dining out Italian style, you don’t get much fresher or flavourful than Pizza Margherita. It’s been a part of the Lancaster food scene since 1979, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
All pizzas are cooked to order on fresh, handmade dough, and they do have a small range of pasta dishes to choose from if pizza isn’t your thing. They also have a vast selection of starters and side dishes to choose from – just make sure you don’t stuff yourself before your main meal arrives!
There are some very unique pizza toppings to choose from, such as their Clementina pizza which boasts red salmon, feta, beetroot, capers, lemon and dill. A truly unique pizza experience!
Take a look at the menu over at Pizza Margherita’s website