Some of the best things to do in Lancashire include trips to architectural icons, vibrant cities, historic towns and award-winning seaside retreats. Draped in history, Lancashire is home to sprawling countryside vistas, rare natural habitats, castles galore, ancient markets and theme parks that promise to get your heart pumping.

    Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, adrenaline junkie or foodie, Lancashire’s sights, activities and venues will leave you in awe – and wanting more. From castle tours and world-class golfing to real ale sampling, here’s what’s on offer in one of North England’s most fascinating counties.

    1

    Lancaster Castle

    Explore a historic landmark in Lancashire’s traditional county town

    The Grade I Listed Lancaster Castle has a history spanning nearly 1,000 years, and it’s the oldest standing structure that still towers over the city. Owned by Her Majesty, also the Duke of Lancaster, the castle pays homage to Lancaster’s historical royal ties. On guided tours, you can learn about its use as Europe’s longest-serving prison. You’ll see impressive displays of antique heraldic shields and Gillows furniture in the Shire Hall and Grand Jury Room.

    For the best views of Lancaster Castle’s grand exterior, head to the Ashton Memorial in Williamson Park. If you want to learn more about the city’s history, visit the Lancaster City Museum and the Lancaster Maritime Museum.

    Location: Castle Grove, Lancaster LA1 1YJ, UK

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1524 64998

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    2

    Blackpool Tower

    Enjoy panoramic ocean and city views from a British icon

    • Photo
    • Couples
    • Families
    • Nightlife
    • History

    The 158-metre-tall Blackpool Tower is a British icon that was opened to the public in 1894. From Lancashire’s highest observation deck, you can cast your eyes over the county’s largest town and most popular seaside resort. There are 5 attractions inside the tower, including the Blackpool Tower Eye, Blackpool Tower Dungeon and the opulent Tower Ballroom, which has hosted several editions of Strictly Come Dancing.

    A standard admission ticket grants entry to one of Blackpool Tower’s attractions. You can get a 20% discount by booking online or purchase a family ticket that allows access to 3 attractions.

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    Location: The Promenade, Blackpool, FY1 4BJ, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1235 375181

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    3

    Lytham St Annes

    Tour 4 golf courses at this quaint seaside resort

    • Couples
    • Shoppers
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Lytham St Annes is a conurbation of 2 affluent coastal towns just a few miles from Blackpool. It’s famous for its Victorian pier, historic windmill, sandy beach and golf courses such as the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club, which has hosted the Open Championship over 10 times. Popular attractions include Lowther Gardens, Lytham Hall and Fairhaven Lake. 

    You’ll find gifts, clothes and homeware from independent shops in the historic Stringers department store. Stroll the streets and promenade to admire the Edwardian and Victorian architecture. Or, head to the nearby sand dunes for a spot of wildlife watching. Over 100,000 birds such as red knots, dunlins and sanderlings flock there every winter.

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    photo by Wojciech Migda (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    4

    Blackpool Pleasure Beach

    Take the kids to Lancashire’s premier theme park

    • Families
    • Adventure

    Blackpool Pleasure Beach is a family-owned theme park featuring the UK’s only Nickelodeon Land, along with thrilling rides such as The Big One, the nation’s tallest rollercoaster, and the famous Big Dipper. Visit in summer to catch the Hot Ice Show, which has been running since 1936 in the Pleasure Beach Arena, the UK’s first purpose-built ice rink.

    You’ll find Blackpool Pleasure Beach by the coast next to the regenerated promenade to the south. After a day of adrenaline-fueled adventure, grab a spot on the 7 miles of sandy beach, which won the Blue Flag award in 2016 for its upkeep, facilities and cleanliness.

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    Location: 525 Ocean Blvd, Blackpool FY4 1EZ, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)871 222 1234

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    photo by Smiley.toerist (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    5

    The Weavers' Triangle

    Visit cotton mills surrounding Burnley’s historic industrial centre

    The Weavers’ Triangle is surrounded by 19th-century buildings that pay tribute to Burnley’s past as one of the world’s most important cotton-weaving centres. Here, you can admire historic foundries, spinning mills, weaving sheds and canal warehouses. If you want to learn about the town’s industrial past, head to the visitor centre and museum in the former Wharfmaster's House and Toll Office.

    Burnley is very much a vibrant market town with a thriving café culture. Treat yourself to a sweet treat from an independent outlet, such as the locally adored Chocstop Dessert Café or Ellis’s Milkshake Bar. When you need a break from urban life, you can enjoy activities such as hiking, cycling and horse-riding in the surrounding Pennine countryside.

    Location: 85 Manchester Rd, Burnley BB11 1JZ, UK

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    photo by Dave Bevis (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    6

    Morecambe Bay

    Unique natural landscapes, watersports and lots of seafood

    • Couples
    • Food
    • History

    Morecambe Bay is famous for its Victorian towns, art deco architecture and a long stretch of coastline. This estuary is also home to the UK’s largest expanse of intertidal sand dunes. Popular activities include promenade walks, sunbathing and watersports ranging from paragliding to windsurfing. If you’re a nature lover, head to the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or look out for seals resting near the south tip of Walney Island.

    While visiting Morecambe Bay, try some of the area’s renowned seafood. The locals love boiled cockles and potted shrimps, which you can buy from dozens of seaside stalls. For a quintessentially British dish, grab some battered cod and chips from a local chippy.

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    7

    Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library

    Learn and relax in one of Preston’s architectural gems

    • Couples
    • Families
    • History

    The Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library occupies a Grade I Listed, neo-classical building in Lancashire’s largest city, Preston. Inside this architectural gem, you’ll see classical design features such as columns and mosaic floors inspired by Ancient Greece, Egypt and Assyria. Exhibitions include Ice Age fossils, 19th-century fine art and an impressive collection of over 800 oil paintings. There’s also a large library containing rare classics, modern hits and illustrated kid’s books.

    After learning about Lancashire’s history and culture, try some local treats in the museum café while admiring views of the Egyptian balcony. Admission to the museum is free, but you might want to book your visit in advance. Don’t forget to check out Market Square and landmarks such as the Town Hall and the Cenotaph while you’re in the area.

    Location: Market Square, Preston PR1 2PP, UK

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +44 (0)1772 258248

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    8

    West Pennine Moors

    Hike scenic trails and vantage points

    • Photo
    • Couples
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    The West Pennine Moors covers an area of around 90 square miles of moorlands, reservoirs, dense woodland and historic villages. In this Site of Special Scientific Interest, you can look out for breeding birds such as short-eared owls, dunlins, golden plovers and merlin falcons. Besides wildlife watching, popular activities include fishing, cycling and hiking.

    Ascend to the peak of Winter Hill to relish panoramic views of Lancashire and Greater Manchester. Or, climb to the top of the 26-metre-tall, Victorian Jubilee Tower, which offers views over Yorkshire, Morecambe Bay, Cumbria and Lancashire.

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    photo by Andrew Gritt (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    9

    Ormskirk Market

    Taste the local cuisine at one of Lancashire’s oldest markets

    • Shoppers
    • History

    Hosted weekly since 1286, Ormskirk Market is believed to be one of the longest-running markets in North West England. Centred around the town’s famous Clock Tower, the market has around 100 stalls, where you can stock up on Lancashire treats including homemade pies, fine cheeses and delicious gingerbread. You’ll also find household goods, cosmetics, clothing and local crafts.

    The market is held every Thursday and Saturday, and live entertainment and music add to the welcoming, traditional atmosphere. Keep your eyes peeled for popular annual events such as the Gingerbread Festival and Love Your Local Market.

    Location: Aughton St, Ormskirk L39 3BH, UK

    Open: Thursday and Saturday from 8 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1695 585105

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    photo by Rept0n1x (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    10

    Holmes Mill

    Discover Lancashire entertainment in Clitheroe’s top beer hall

    • Nightlife
    • History

    Located in Clitheroe, Holmes Mill is a large beer, food and entertainment hall that occupies a former 19th-century textiles mill. Inside the Weaving Shed room, you can sample food produced by local farmers, while the Boiler House is an excellent place to taste a selection of real ales while listening to homegrown comedy and music acts. For an upscale dining experience, reserve a table in the Spinning Block.

    After getting a glimpse into modern Lancashire life, pay a visit to Clitheroe Castle, which is rumoured to be England’s smallest Norman Castle. If you love nature more than history, explore the nearby Forest of Bowland, which is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

    Location: Greenacre St, Clitheroe BB7 1EB, UK

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 8 am to 10 pm, Friday–Saturday from 8 am to midnight, Sunday from 8 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1200 407120

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    photo by Chris Allen (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    Joshua Saunders | Contributing Writer

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    Attractions and experiences recommended in our guides may be affected. Please check local guidance before you travel.

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