Budget Travel Guide Carlisle UK

Carlisle UK : a budget guide to help you save

Carlisle is an attractive city in the North West of England that is a gateway to the Lake District. Offering a host of exciting attractions, Cumbria is a wonderful place to spend a weekend break or a longer holiday, however unless you plan well in advance, you could find that you spend more than you need to on your stay.

In this handy travel guide, we look at how you can make a significant saving on the cost of travelling to Carlisle and staying in the city so that you can get the most out of your break on a budget.

How To Get There

Depending on how far you need to drive, you may find that using your own vehicle to get to Carlisle is the cheapest way to travel. Not only that, but it will be a lot more convenient when it comes to the freedom to get around between attractions and to come and go as you please.

Many local hotels and B&Bs offer free parking making it even easier and cheaper to bring your own car. It is especially economical to use your own vehicle if you are travelling with the whole family as you can save a lot of money over buying individual train or airfares.

If using your own car isn’t an option, you could travel to the city by train. Carlisle has its own train station in the city centre which is conveniently located for centrally located accommodation while also being well served by local bus and taxi services.

If you plan to travel to Carlisle by train you should make sure to book your tickets well in advance as the cheapest rail fares appear around 12 weeks before the date of departure. You should also take advantage of any applicable railcards such as the Senior, Young Person’s or Family railcards which are available and which represent a significant saving off a full price ticket.

One of the cheapest ways of all to get to Carlisle is to use the Megabus which is an extremely affordable coach service. You can book in advance online and take advantage of fares that are often under £10 per person.

Coach bus in the UK
Coach Travel

Getting Around Carlisle On A Budget

Carlisle is a small and compact city which lends itself well to exploration on foot. If you are staying in a central hotel or B&B and plan to stay within the city during your break you will probably not need to spend any money on local transport.

However if you are staying outside the city or want to visit attractions at some distance from the centre you could benefit from investing in a PLUSBUS pass. This ticket gives you unlimited bus travel around the entire Carlisle urban area with participating bus services and costs under £3 per adult per day, and under £9 for a week-long pass.

Affordable Attractions And Culture

Carlisle is home to many cheap and even free attractions that represent a great way to spend a budget day out. The city’s 12th century cathedral is free of charge to visit and has beautiful stained glass windows as well as gorgeous painted ceilings to view.

History buffs will enjoy visiting the Guildhall Museum which is a Grade 1 Listed Monument and is one of Carlisle’s oldest buildings. Here, you can see interesting displays about the guilds in the city and find out more about the heritage of the area.

Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life is the city’s newest attraction, offering interactive exhibits for all of the family to enjoy. Costing only £4 per person, this is an affordable museum that is sure to be enjoyed by young and old alike.

The city’s Tullie House museum offers free admissions to visitors under the age of 18 years, and so is a great low budget choice for families travelling with children. This exciting museums offers a little bit of everything, with an art gallery space for contemporary art, a permanent gallery covering the history of the local border reivers, exhibitions about life in the city over the years, and an insight into Viking Cumbria as well as temporary exhibitions which visit throughout the year.

woman visiting a museum in the UK
Museum and Art Gallery

Keen walkers will enjoy getting out and about in the fresh air in the beautiful countryside around the city. Hadrian’s Wall can be explored on foot or by bicycle while the Lake District, with its stunning landscapes, is within easy reach by public transport or car.

The Talkin Tarn country park is a great day out for all the family and offers free entry. The children will love the newly created play area by the waterfront while the 120 acre site offers a wealth of opportunities for wildlife spotting, enjoying forest trails and for getting up closer to nature.

If you are a member of English Heritage there are several attractions in the area that you can visit within the cost of your subscription. Carlisle Castle, a formidable fortress in the heart of the city, has a fascinating and turbulent past which can be explored.

Discover ancient carvings made by prisoners in days gone by and see Queen Mary’s Tower where Mary Queen of Scots was held captive during the 16th century.

Carlisle Cathedral
Carlisle Cathedral

Lanercost Priory is another English Heritage property nearby which is included in the price of your monthly subscription. This 13th century property once housed King Edward I for a brief period before his death and boasts beautifully preserved cloisters where the Augustinian monks once walked.

If you are a National Trust member, there are plenty of sites in the vicinity which you can visit for free as part of your subscription. The wider Cumbria area boasts such diverse properties as Wordsworth’s House, Townend and Wray Castle all of which are fun places to visit. There are, of course, plenty of other attractions in the area that you can visit if you are happy to spend a little more on your visit.

Food And Drink On A Budget

The cheapest way to eat and drink during your stay in Carlisle is to stay in self-catering accommodation and to prepare your own food. If you rent a house or apartment you will have access to your own cooking facilities which can slash your catering budget in half.

If you are staying in a hotel or B&B you will have to look elsewhere for low cost food and drink options in the city, but luckily there are plenty of affordable ways to provide affordable meals for all the family.

There are many excellent pubs in the area which offer low priced meals, including The William Rufus, part of the popular JD Wetherspoons chain which is famous for its budget dining options.

If you like to eat in big name chain restaurants, it pays to check websites like Vouchercloud before you travel as there are often good discounts offered on meals, especially midweek. Another option is to check out the local Groupon website which may offer significant savings on full priced meals from a host of restaurants around the city. This option allows you to try out some of the more authentic establishments in the area for a great value price.

English Pub people drinking and eating
English Pub

What To Look For In A Cheap Stay In Carlisle

If you need to find somewhere affordable to stay in Carlisle you could consider one of the budget range hotels which are in the city. Both Travelodge and Premier Inn have properties in the city that boasts low priced, no frills accommodation. There are also other low cost chain hotels in the area including the Ibis.

There are also numerous low cost B&Bs in the city including the Cornerhouse Guesthouse and Lynebank House, both of which offer rooms from around £24 per night. If you are travelling solo or don’t mind sharing a room with other travellers, the Carlisle City Hostel is a great choice. With beds from just over £20 per night, you can also benefit from an inclusive breakfast and convenient self-catering facilities to help you to save money on your break.

If you are travelling in a large group or with the whole family, arranging to rent a house or apartment is the best solution and will certainly represent a saving over booking multiple hotel rooms. You can benefit from the use of a whole property with the freedom to come and go as you please at a reasonable price.

For a truly low cost stay, camping is the ideal solution. There are several campsites in the Carlisle area including the Dandy Dinmont Caravan and Camping Park which is within easy reach of the city centre. Offering nightly pitches for just £16, this is a great value way to spend a holiday in Cumbria.

Hotel door and bedroom
Hotel Room England
Accommodation in Carlisle