Known as the Border City, Carlisle is the main shopping location for the Cumbria region, with an extensive commercial centre. But it's also an area with astounding history. The Romans settled here to man the defences of Hadrian's Wall, and in the 12th-century, King Henry I turned the Priory into a Cathedral – today it remains the city's main architectural attraction. If you're looking for great shopping and great history, Carlisle is the place to be.
The impressive medieval fortress of Carlisle Castle has stood for a nine centuries, and visitors can chart its history in a family-friendly exhibition, including 3D virtual tours. The castle grounds are also home to Cumbria's Museum of Military Life. While you're exploring the city's history, head to The Citadel. It combines both 16th-century and 19th-century towers, and for many years operated as a court and a prison.
Today its West Tower is open to the public. Don't be fooled by imposing castles and military might, though – Carlisle has lighter-hearted attractions too! The Carlisle Great Fair is held in late August each year and rivals the much larger Edinburgh Festival, although over the years it's become more like a little sister to the latter.
The Pirelli International Rally is also a major attraction, taking place every April. For shoppers, The Lanes Shopping Centre offers one of the best malls in the north of England and the largest in Cumbria. It's packed with big-name retailers, and you'll find a similar vibe on High Street Square and Bank Street.
For something a little different, visit Carlisle Market Hall, which has stalls offering everything from fresh local produce to haberdashery and clothing.