The city of Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire in Northwest England, named for the Roman camp (castrum) on the River Lune. It has an old castle and numerous Victorian buildings. It has a high student population, with Lancaster University main campus lying a few miles south. The historic core is small but modern burbs stretch out, which to the west merge into Morecambe.
Lancaster is easily accessible from the M6 motorway, and is about 1 hour north of Manchester.
1 Lancaster Park and Ride can be found just off of Junction 34 with regular services into the city centre throughout the day.
2 Lancaster train station is on the West Coast Main Line providing connections to London in as little as 2 hr 30 min, or Edinburgh/Glasgow in just over 2 hr. Transpennine Express services provide fast connections to Manchester Airport, whilst Northern line services are available to Barrow-in-Furness, Morecambe/Heysham, Windemere and Leeds.
3 Lancaster Bus Station is in the city centre with local services and links to further afield such as Blackpool, Preston, The Lake District and West Yorkshire. National Express & Megabus Coaches stop here on routes to Manchester, London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh amongst others.
- Lancaster city centre is a small area, centred within a one-way system with access to all attractions easily walkable
- There is a one-way road system in Lancaster and traffic can be heavy.
- There are many regular bus services servicing Lancaster and nearby Morecambe. A return on the bus from the city centre to the University costs about £3, and takes about 20 min on the direct bus or over 30 min on the other routes through Bowerham. Unlimited day travel costs £5 (£2.50 for under 19s). A week ticket can be obtained for £15.50 which enables you to have unlimited travel in the Lancaster area. A Bay Big 5 is another offer; if there is five of your party wanting to go to the same place you can spend £5 for all five of you to travel in Lancaster. A monthly, term and yearly pass is available to save you money.
- There are spaces in all the town centres around Lancaster for bikes.
- 1 Lancaster Cathedral (St Peter's), Balmoral Rd, LA1 3BT (East of Dalton Sq / Town Hall uphill from canal), ☏ +44 1524 384820. Daily 08:30-18:00. Roman Catholic church built piecemeal from 1857 in Victorian Gothic style, and designated a cathedral in 1924. The nave, baptistry and organ are notable. The cathedral is in active use for services, funerals etc. Free.
- 2 Ashton Memorial, Williamson Park, Quernmore Rd, LA1 1UX, ☏ +44 1524 33318. Daily Oct-Mar 10:00-16:00, Apr-Sept 10:00-17:00. Huge Edwardian folly, but only in the sense that the Taj Mahal is merely a folly, both being grandiose memorials to a deceased wife. There are European capital cities with cathedrals smaller than this baroque cenotaph, prominent for miles around. Lord Ashton (1842-1930) was a linoleum tycoon, politician and philanthropist. His second wife Jessy died in 1904 and he built this memorial from Portland stone with a gleaming copper dome, which swiftly weathered to verdigris. It's now used as an exhibition space and for weddings, open air theatre etc. There's a butterfly house in the park and a cafe. Lord Ashton re-married and lived at Ashton Hall a few miles south; that is now the city golf club. Free.
- 3 Lancaster Castle, Castle Park, LA1 1YJ, ☏ +44 1524 64998. Daily 10:00-16:00. This is the gaunt castle of the Duke of Lancaster, i.e. the Queen. The oldest parts are 11th century though with much Victorian addition. It was in use as a prison until 2011 and is still used as a court room. Visit the interior only by guided tour: this takes in the state rooms, court rooms, and prison cells. Tour access varies as a lot of building work is still going on to re-furbish the disused prison. Free Entry, Adult tour £8, concession & child tour £6.50.
- 4 Lancaster City Museum, Market St, LA1 1HT, ☏ +44 1524 64637.
- 5 Lancaster Maritime Museum, Custom House, St George's Quay LA1 1RB, ☏ +44 1524 382264, fax: +44 1524 841692, Museums.Enquiries@lancashire.gov.uk. Daily Apr-Oct 10:00-16:00, Nov-Mar 12:00-16:00. Reflecting Lancaster's 18th century period as sea port, plus displays on the canal. Adult £3.
- 6 Lancaster Priory, Priory Vicarage, Priory Close, Lancaster LA1 1YZ. Lancaster Priory, built in the 11th century and formally the Priory Church of St Mary, is the Church of England parish church of the city of Lancaster. It is on the hill next to Lancaster Castle.
- 7 Lancaster University. Lancaster University is 9th in the UK according to The Guardian newspaper 2019 ranking. The InfoLab21 building, housing the School of Computing and Communications, was nominated for a national design award.
- Historic buildings from the town's past as a centre of the cotton industry and lino manufacturing
- 1 Vue Cinema, Church St, LA1 1LP, ☏ +44 345 308 4620. Lancaster has a multiplex cinema where you can catch the latest releases. Nearby bars and restaurants often have food and cinema deals.
- 2 The Dukes Theatre and Cinema, Moor Lane, LA1 1QE, ☏ +44 1524 598500. The Dukes is Lancashire's professional producing theatre. The Dukes' drama productions include classics and new plays performed in two auditoria, plus Summertime theatre - an unmissable outdoor experience. Dukes Cinema is one of the most successful independent screens in the country, offering a huge range of mainstream and non-mainstream programming, with Dolby Digital surround sound. Other events include a selection of touring drama, music, literature, art exhibitions. Plus there's a relaxing bar.
- 3 The Lancaster Grand Theatre, St Leonardgate, LA1 1NL, ☏ +44 1524 64695. One of the first permanent English performance venues outside of London, this theatre has been producing shows since 1780. The last major makeover took place in 1908, which left the theatre with a gorgeous Edwardian feel. With 497 seats, the venue feels more "grand" than you might expect. For more than half a century, the Grand has been owned by the Lancaster Footlights, a thriving amateur troupe. Between Footlights shows, you can see touring productions as well as a large variety of comedians and musicians. :)
- Walk along Lancaster Canal, or putter along in a boat. Go north one mile to cross high above the River Lune on the magnificent 18th-century stone aqueduct. The canal continues north for ten miles via Hest Bank, Carnforth and Capernwray to end at Tewitfield, where it was severed by the M6 and never restored; the section beyond is walkable but not navigable. Going south from city centre, the canal runs into open country near the university campus to the village of Galgate, where a branch canal descends to the sea at Glasson Dock. The main canal wends and winds for 20 miles along the contour line, with no locks, all the way to Garstang, Preston, and via a modern link down to the sea at Lytham.
- Shopping - has typical department stores and a couple of shopping centres. There is a traditional sweet shop (Humbugs) opposite Morrison's city centre "M Local" store (formerly HMV) which is nice. There is a twice-weekly market in the centre with food and other stalls. The high student population supports distinctive alternative lifestyle shops such as the Single Step Wholefood Cooperative.
- Quite Simply French, 27a St George's Quay: upmarket dinner location specializing in french style fish and meat dishes. Very good seafood including oysters.
- Nice and Spicy, 2 Church St: an award winning takeaway. Also Delhicious at 8 Damside St is another excellent Indian takeaway.
- The Gregson, 33 Moor Gate: arts & community centre with hippy-style food and drink. Jazz, folk, salsa, etc. in the bar and in the dance hall.
- Starvin Marvin, 19 Brock St: if you'd like to try the Northern specialty known as Parmo, here's your chance.
- Whale Tail, 78a Penny St: fantastic veggie cafe which is famous for its salads and specials.
- Bombay Balti, 16 China St: Eat In or Takeaway? The choice is up to you at what just might be the best-kept Indian secret in town. This place has all the usual curry-tastic suspects, plus at least five varieties of curries you've probably never heard of.
- Pizza Margherita, 2 Moor Lane: cult pizza restaurant, opposite the Dukes. Excellent for a quick bite before a play.
- The Sun Cafe, 25 Sun St: lovely cafe/art gallery; in the evening it's a restaurant serving food made from local ingredients and particularly fabulous pasta
- Sultan, Brock St: award-winning Indian restaurant housed in an old church and famous for amazing Islamic decor as well as the fab vegetarian selections. It now has a cafe and deli downstairs, which is very comfortable and does Mediterranean and Middle Eastern as well as Indian food. The Indian sweets are particularly good.
- The Golden Dragon, 11 George St: Chinese restaurant, speciality is crab.
- Marco's Restaurant, 27 North Rd: modern Italian restaurant in the heart of Lancaster, serving traditional Italian cuisine as well as a selection of contemporary dishes.
- Radish Cafe, 24 New St: this is what vegetarian (and often vegan!) soupy, salad-y dreams are made of. Even if you are carnivorous, check this place out.
- Flames, 1 Rosemary Lane (corner with North Rd). Only after a night out!
- Ado's, 78 Penny St: pizza takeaway.
- The Potato Tram (formerly The Potato Cart), Penny St: one of the best food carts in Lancaster. Their speciality is huge, overstuffed jacket potatoes with every filling you might crave. They have chilli dogs, too, if you're into that kind of thing.
- Lancaster also has the regular chain eateries, eg Wetherspoons, Bella Italia, McDonalds, and has supermarkets where you can buy ready-meals.
There are many bars and pubs as Lancaster is a thriving university town. Some excellent bars and pubs exist alongside some of the expected chain bars including Revolution, Wetherspoons, Lloyds bar and one Scream pub.
- The Herdwick (Gradbar), Bailrig Campus, LA2 0PF. Lancaster University Graduate College bar. One of only 3 university bars in the UK included in the Good Beer Guide. Great selection of real ales and whiskies. Great beer festivals and weekly live music nights.
- The Water Witch, Canal Tow Path, Aldcliffe Rd. Canalside pub with outdoor seating and very good food. The pub offers a huge selection of continental beers, as well as many local hand-pulled bitters.
- 1 Sir Richard Owen (Wetherspoons), 4 Spring Garden Street, ☏ +44 1524 541500. This is a large Weatherspoons chain pub, usual drink & menu selection and reasonable prices. Food till 23:00, bring your own atmosphere.
- The White Cross, Quarry Rd. Canalside pub with lots of space inside and outdoor seating as well. Offers food too.
- The Boar's Head, 20 Great John St. This is a dive bar, and one which favours an older, working-class crowd. However, if you're feeling a bit brave, venture in for a cheap beer and a conversation with a local. Everyone has their story to tell, and sometimes the best memories can be made in conversation with the least likely people.
- Boot and Shoe, 171 Scotforth Rd. A quiet pub, south edge of city on bus route to Lancaster University.
- The Borough, Dalton Square. Girl-friendly wine bar, pub and hotel with restaurant at the back and good terrace for sitting outside in summer.
- The Bowerham Hotel, Bowerham Rd. A quiet pub south of city on bus route to Lancaster University. This pub offers live music during certain days of the week.
- Fox and Goose, Newlands Rd LA1 4JF. A quiet pub south of city on a bus route out to Lancaster University. This pub has one good sized room with open design and a bar at the back.
- Fibber McGees, 6 Marketgate. An Irish pub just off the main street, but tucked away. This is a fairly quiet pub.
- Merchants 1688, 29 Castle Hill. Pub just below the Castle. It is said to connect to the Castle via a tunnel, as the pub used to be the powder storage room for the castle. The pub is a series of three bricked tunnels just off of a small bar. There is also a second floor housing a washroom.
- Yorkshire Taps, 2 Parliament St. A local pub with good beer and excellent live music venue upstairs.
- 1 The Sun, 63-65 Church St, LA1 1ET, ☏ +44 1524 66006. Has accommodation above the pub and though parking can be a problem it's a nice modern place to stay. The bar is expensive but a nice range of European beers.
- The Wagon and Horses, 27 St George's Quay, LA1 1RD, ☏ +44 1524 846094. A beautifully restored pub by the river, which does good food and also has rooms. Backs onto the Vicarage fields, and next to the Quite Simply French restaurant.
- 2 The Borough Lancaster, 3-5 Dalton Square, LA1 1PP, ☏ +44 1524 64170, email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00-23:00, check-out: 07:00-11:00. Small hotel in a grade II listed building. Reserve well in advance, because they don't have many rooms available. £85.
As of April 2022, Lancaster has 4G from all UK carriers. You might get 5G at the edge of town and along M6.
- The seaside resort of Morecambe is so close to Lancaster that they've merged.
- The Lake District is about 40 min by road.
- Arnside and Silverdale AONB is 15 mins drive, follow A6 north to Carnforth then signs for Warton. Find limestone pavement walks, Leighton Moss RSPB bird reserve, Leighton Hall and England's largest meteorite crater.
- Manchester and Liverpool are only an hour or so away.
|Routes through Lancaster|
|Glasgow ← Carnforth ←||N S||→ Preston → Manchester/Liverpool|
|Carnforth ←||N S||→ Preston|