You will find the city of Lancaster on the North West coast of England. This quintessential small city in England has lots to offer those who are backpacking through the city. Here you will find a peace of Old England. Think cobbled streets, tea and cake shops, pubs and the odd castle.
Whilst the city of Lancaster England may not be the top of every UK visitor list of must-see destinations it does have a certain charm that should not be missed by those who want something a bit different. Here are the top 20 things to see and do in this historical city in England.
‘1000 years of heritage, history, justice, felony, and incarceration’ is how Lancaster Castle describes itself. This magnificent castle, also known as John O’Gaunts Castle, is one of the most well-preserved castles in the whole of the United Kingdom. This building has witnessed some incredible moments in history including religious persecution, the trials of the ‘Lancashire Witches’ and enough execution to make you wince.
If you like your history and architecture this place is the perfect day out. As well as just wandering the grounds of the castle in awe, there are plenty of things to do here. Take a guided tour to really get informed about the history of the castle and the extraordinary events that took place here. Don’t miss out on the regular events that take place here such as it’s annual Halloween Tour.
Interesting fact, The House of Lancaster was a cadet branch of the house of Plantagenet descended from John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the third surviving son of King Edward III, which produced three kings of England!
Williamson Park is an area of natural beauty in the city of Lancaster and home to the stunning Ashton Memorial. Here you will find 54 acres of beautiful parkland accompanied with magical woodland walks. If that’s not enough, the park is home to a number of attractions including a wonderful traditional English cafe, butterfly house, meerkats, marmosets, and birds.
The park is open year-round but is best visited on a glorious English Summers day, which admittedly, can be hard to come by. Entry to the park itself is free of charge to all people but admission fees may apply for attractions. If concerned about that backpacker budget of yours then it’s also a perfect spot just to walk and enjoy a picnic amongst the beauty of the area. Check online for any music festivals that sometimes take place here as you may not be able to visit during that time.
What is a trip to a quintessentially English town without going for afternoon tea? If you’re not clued up about this must-do English experience, it involves attending a traditional English tea shop and drowning yourself in English tea and gorging on sandwiches and cake. The best spot in the city of Lancaster England for a great afternoon tea experience has to be The Royal Kings Arms Hotel. This fancy establishment will make you feel like the Queen herself as you sip (pinky finger up) your English morning tea and enjoy scones slathered with clotted cream and strawberry jam. If you are feeling extra indulgent, opt for a glass of prosecco to wash down the sandwiches.
There are many places in the city of Lancaster to enjoy afternoon tea so be sure to do some research and find one that fits your budget. The experience can cost anywhere from £20-100 per person. This experience is not for those on a tight backpacker budget.
Trough of Bowland
Just a 50 minute drive outside of the city of Lancaster and you will find yourself in the spectacular English Countryside. Just like afternoon tea, a trip to England is nothing without experiencing the stunning English countryside. Mesmerizing hills of green, brown and orange make up this wonderful area of natural beauty. Here you will find a number of great hikes to challenge yourself too. Each one offering up stunning scenery for visitors. If you feel peckish after your hike, be sure to visit The Inn at Whitehall for a selection of wonderful English grub and local ales.
Some places of interest in the area include Hornby, home to a 13th-century castle. Dunsop Bridge boasts a number of Roman architecture opportunities including a 19th century Roman Catholic church. Finally, if you enjoy walking through woodland there is no better place to visit than Beacon Fell Country Park which boasts an impressive 110 hectares of woodland, moorland, and farmland to discover. Climb the summit for spectacular views of Blackpool and Morecambe Bay. Just make sure you pick a clear day!
Ok, so far we have a castle, afternoon tea, and the English countryside. Now, all we need is a good pub…or six to precise. It’s an English tradition when in your late teens and even way into your 40’s to go on a pub crawl. For those not familiar with the concept of a pub crawl, it’s pretty much self-explanatory. You and your friends start at one pub and walk to a number of other pubs throughout the day or night, having one or two drinks in each one. The city of Lancaster is also a great place for such an experience, boasting a number of traditional English pubs with a fantastic selection of beers, ales, and wines. Be sure to try the local ales, you won’t find them anywhere else in the world!
A popular route for the Lancaster pub crawl starts at the Merchants 1688, The Robert Gillow, The Sun Hotel & Bar, The Borough, The White Cross and finishing at the Lancaster Brewery. If you are feeling up to it you could challenge yourself to the full 15 pubs in one day, a full list and route can be found here. Not one for the lightweights!
The canal systems in the North of England are impressive and steeped in fascinating history. Most were built during the industrial revolution to transport all manner of produced goods from the factories. Today, they still play a pivotal role in people’s lives for leisure and a home. Many people still live on narrowboats along these canals and live a simple life on the water. The Lancaster canal was in complete isolation until 2002 when it was modified and connected to the national waterway network.
The canal is great for a days’ walk alongside watching the various canal boats zip up and down the waterway. Also, the most scenic view is that of The Lune Aqueduct, a Grade 1 iconic aqueduct, a true masterpiece of civil engineering and not to be missed.
No doubt whilst wandering the streets of Lancaster you will require a small pick me up. Fear not, Lancaster is home to a fabulous coffee district with a plethora of coffee shops to pick from. All offer outstanding quality coffee and naughty treats such as cakes, biscuits and other sweet treats. The district is quite hipster with many coffee shops offering unique blends of coffee beans from around the world. This includes some twists of traditional English dessert foods.
One coffee shop worth mentioning is Atkinsons. They are not only a coffee shop but coffee brewers too. In fact, they supply most of the other coffee shops in the surrounding area. It’s a great place to buy a good supply of English roasted coffee to take home with you.
Lancaster City Museum
Lancaster City Museum is a fascinating attraction to visit during your stay. Museums are perfect for those on backpacker budgets as they are usually free admission. The building itself is quite magnificent, built between 1781-3 in Georgian architecture. This building actually used to be the town hall up until 1923 until it was converted into a museum. Here you have the opportunity to learn a lot more about Lancaster’s history from the Roman times to the present day. You may be surprised just how important Lancaster was in the progression of England as a country.
Whilst we already discussed experiencing a pub crawl earlier that actually finishes in the Lancaster Brewery; the brewery itself is worth a special day visit by itself. Also, you can take a tour through the history of the breweries own crafted beers. Here, you’ll get a special insight into the day to day workings of the brewery. Top it all off with a couple of pints inside the Brewhouse & Tap, this is the brewery’s own pub where you can enjoy any one of 5 beers at any one time. A perfect experience for backpackers in need of a well-earned pint.
Fish and Chips
Last but not least! You simply cannot have a proper English city experience without enjoying the local fish and chips. It’s also a great option for dinner for those on a shoelace backpacker budget. If you don’t already know, fish and chips is the most famous traditional English food available. Also, it differs in taste and presentation all around the country. A great excuse to keep eating it in every English city you visit. As you are up North you will want to order your fish and chip with gravy and mushy peas. You can opt for curry sauce but it’s not as common up North as it is in the South of England.
The best spot for fish in chips is Hodgson’s Chippy. Don’t be surprised to find the line extending out the door, especially on a Friday night. If you don’t like fish then the next best thing is a battered sausage, this is a large deep-fried sausage. If you’re extra peckish you can be proper English and order some mushy peas too!