As the beating heart of Cumbria, Carlisle is high on the wish list of home hunters looking for a surround of natural wilderness.

The city of Carlisle, the largest settlement in Cumbria, is located just south of Scotland and sits on the junction of the Eden, Caldew and Petteril rivers. Its neighbouring county is Northumberland, which you can learn more about with our guide.

The city of Carlisle is favoured for its long history (it was once a Roman settlement serving the forts of Hadrian’s Wall) and breathtaking surrounding landscape.

Manageable house prices are a big draw. The average is currently £152,000, which is well below the average across England. You can check up-to-date house prices here.

The market hall in Carlisle

Living in Carlisle: what to expect

Carlisle is particularly ideal for those who value the Great Outdoors. It sits nestled between Northumberland and Lake District National Parks, the Solway coast, the Pennines and the Scottish border. Die-hard locals often spend entire weekends hiking, cycling or climbing.

But, of course, Carlisle itself is a city. The (largely pedestrianised) centre provides access to high-street stores such as Marks & Spencer, and you’ll find several other big brands including Primark, Next and HMV within the Lanes Shopping Centre.

Carlisle is renowned for its ales. Lowther Street and the Lanes tend to favour more traditional brews, while over at Botchergate you’ll find more modern bars.

Its small size gives it a village-like feel, and – indeed – there is a close-knit community life available there for the taking. However, it also has ambitions to grow in size and establish itself as a major university city.

It offers plenty of new opportunities for people looking to live and work in the city, including investment by major employers.

A Grade II listed house in Carlisle 

Where to start your property search

Urban living: Starting close to the city centre and Carlisle train station, you’ll find plenty of Victorian terraced houses and town houses. Take a look at Brookfield Gardens or Mayson Street in particular for comfortable homes with period features.

Modern flats and conversions are also available in converted mills, such as Higginson Mill, or in purpose-built blocks such as those found at Milbourne Court.

Slightly to the north of the city is the popular residential district of Stanwix. The area is a favourite with families and offers easy access to the M6. At its centre you will find mainly Victorian terraces – with 1930s/40s semi-detached homes a little further out.

More modern houses and bungalows can also be found on roads such as Larch Drive and Etterby Street.

As part of the council’s drive to boost growth, new-build developments have also sprung up across Carlisle. Brackenleigh is an award-winning development in a peaceful countryside setting on the south-west of the city. It offers two-, three- and four-bedroom houses which are close to local amenities.

Eden Park and Lowry Gardens are also sought-after developments.

Rural living: Favoured village locations include Dalston to the south-west of the city. Look to streets like Townhead Road for modern detached homes or opt for a house with period features on Carlisle Road.

Houghton is also popular among residents. Many modern homes are available, including on roads such as Tribune Drive and Houghton Road.

Brampton, to the east of Carlisle, is another village that offers easy access to the city centre. It boasts character homes with bay windows on roads like Main Street, but also has 20th-century terraces on streets such as Dacre Road.

The villages of Wetheral, Cumwhinton and Armathwaite to the south-east are also sought-after locations that are only a short drive from the city centre.

Carlisle train station on a sunny day

Getting in and around Carlisle

By rail: Carlisle train station operates direct services to Glasgow Central, Manchester Airport, London Euston, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Barrow-in-Furness. These services also stop at several local stations along their routes.

By car: Carlisle is located next to the M6, which heads south through Penrith, past Kendal and Lancaster, and onward to Preston, Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham. It then joins the M1 to London.

North of the city, the M6 becomes the A74(M) through Scotland to Glasgow. Locations to the west and east are served by major A-roads.

Carlisle once suffered from severe congestion but this has been eased by a bypass around the west side of the city.

By air: Newcastle International is the closest airport serving Carlisle residents and is an hour and 20 minutes away by car. It offers direct flights to more than 80 destinations.

Glasgow Prestwick is two and a quarter hours away (European flights only) and Manchester Airport is just over two hours away by car or two and a half hours by train.

Carlisle Airport has recently benefited from a multimillion-pound investment. This is likely to lead to the introduction of domestic passenger flights in the future.

Carlisle town centre on a sunny day

Things to do in Carlisle

Heritage and culture: Learn about the city’s history as a defensive location by visiting Carlisle Castle. In 1567 it became a temporary prison for Mary Queen of Scots, and in 1745 Jacobite soldiers were incarcerated there. Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life is another notable attraction, as is Carlisle Cathedral, founded in 1122.

Also in the historic quarter is Tullie House, a classical Grade I-listed Jacobean building. Take a look at its calendar to make the most of its busy programme of talks, activities and temporary exhibitions.

Hadrian’s Wall – the most important monument of Roman Britain – is just 17 miles north of Carlisle, and once there you can stretch your legs on part of the 84-mile-long Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail.

For awe-inspiring views, visit Birdoswald. It’s one of the main forts along the wall, and enables you to look across the Irthing valley to the Lake District Fells.

Festivals and events: Let your hair down at the 10-day summer Carlisle Pageant. It takes place in the city centre and has free festivities centred on the city’s history and heritage. It usually includes a puppet parade, family fun day, market stalls and Fringe Festival, featuring street theatre performances for all ages.

For a more international flavour, check out the International Market. Its stalls showcase cuisine and crafts from around the world. You’ll also find historical re-enactments, a book festival, fireworks displays and the Cumbrian Pride event. The city is a regular host to the Tour of Britain cycle race too.

Sport: Horseracing events have been held in Carlisle since the 16th century, so continue this historical pastime by visiting Carlisle Racecourse. It hosts jump and flat racing events, live music performances and family days.

Food and drink: For fine dining in a cosy Victorian townhouse, try Davids. The à la carte menu includes local ingredients and takes influence from all over the globe.

Alternatively, head to a traditional pub like The Plough. Hearty food, such as Cumberland sausage with mash, is served up in a rustic setting. The Sunday Lunch is pretty good too.

Foxes Café Lounge is the place to go to meet friends over food and drink. In the evening, this café hosts live music events and open mic nights, all while serving up real ale from a nearby brewery.

Live music and real ale can also be enjoyed in one of Carlisle’s many pubs. The Reiver pub hosts soul and funk nights, as well as quizzes and other live entertainment.

A new build home in Carlisle

Hidden Carlisle

A World in Miniature is a world-renowned collection of antique furniture, paintings and china – all made to 1/12 scale. Upon arrival you will be given your own magnifying glass.

5 reasons to live in Carlisle

  • Very affordable homes

  • Close-knit community

  • Easy access to beautiful landscapes of the north of England and Scotland

  • Good rail and motorway links

  • Rich heritage

Have you made a home in Carlisle? Share your favourite aspects of the city leaving a comment below.

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