Open Top Bus Lake District

Top Deck: How to see the Lake District by open top bus

An open top bus journey is an activity you are more likely to expect in a seaside town rather than a mountainous national park.

It is a great way to see the scenery if you don’t want to do a big walk or you have kids in tow and are looking for fun, unusual (fairly reasonably priced) things to do in the Lake District.

And there is nothing quite as glorious on a warm summer’s day (if you are lucky to get one here 😉) as riding along the open top bus, wind in your hair as you whiz past the stunning mountains and lakes.

It’s worth noting that whilst the 599 operates as an open top bus all year round, the 78 and 508 only operate as an open top bus from April to late October/early November. 

Pick up a bus timetable on board the bus, at one of the tourist information centres or from Booths in Windermere or Keswick. 

Here are the three open top bus rides you can do in the Lake District

599 Bowness to Grasmere 

A great introduction to the Lake District, this journey would be perfect for those visiting for a day or are short on time. The 50-minute journey takes in stunning views of Windermere, over to the Langdale Pikes and travels onwards to Ambleside, Rydal and Grasmere. Pick up a day ticket so you can hop on and off en route to explore.

This bus also has the great addition of audio commentary with facts and snippets of history about local places such as Dove Cottage in Grasmere and Rydal Mount. 

Places of interest en-route Bowness, Windermere, scenic views of Lake Windermere, Ambleside, Rydal Water, Grasmere Lake and Village

Duration (one way) 50 minutes 

Frequency of Buses Every 20 minutes in the high season until 7pm (April-early November) and every 30 minutes in the low season 

78 Keswick to Seatoller  

Tracing the shoreline of Derwentwater near Keswick and following the winding roads into the majestic Borrowdale Valley, this journey is a great trip if you are looking for alternative ideas for things to do around Keswick and the northern Lake District. 

Borrowdale has a great selection of short walks and you could even return to Keswick via one of the boats that leave from Lodore pier at the head of the Borrowdale Valley

Places of interest en route Keswick, Great Wood, the Derwentwater shoreline and the Borrowdale Valley (dramatic mountain scenery)

Duration (one way) 30 minutes 

Frequency of Buses Every 30 minutes in the high season until 6.20pm (April-early November) (regular bus in low season running hourly).

508 Penrith to Patterdale 

This journey starts in Penrith and winds its way through villages to reach the shoreline of Ullswater at Pooley Bridge. The perfect way to see the Lake District’s second largest lake, the journey also has sweeping panoramic views of Arthurs Pike and Place Fell to the east and the Helvellyn range to the west.

You could also combine this journey with a trip on one of the steamer boats that run on Ullswater. 

Places of interest en route Pooley Bridge, Ullswater shoreline, Glenridding, Patterdale

Duration (one way) 50 minutes 

Frequency of Buses Every 2 hours in the high season until 7.20 pm (April-early November)

Information on Bus Tickets in the Lake District 

All prices are current for the 2022 season – check the Stagecoach website for the most up-to-date information 

If you are only travelling by bus for one day and only on one of the routes, you can pick up a Zone Dayrider (for Keswick & Honister, Ullswater & Penrith or the Central Lakes) for £9 for adults and £6.70 for children or £17 for a group of up to 5 people 

If you plan to travel to more than one zone in a day, pick up an Explorer Ticket which is £12 for adults or £9 for children or £34.50 for a group of up to 5 

Planning on travelling for multiple days in the Lakes? A 3-day explorer is £28 for adults and £20 for children and a 7-day MegaRider is £30.50 for adults (no child ticket) and £66 for up to 5 people 

Stagecoach also runs a Park and Explore ticket. You can find out more info on the bus tickets and timetables here

Read more: 12 things you need to know before visiting the Lake District

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How to see the Lake District by open top bus

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