The Peak District offers a large range of attractions from fine stately homes to museums and art gallerys to fun family days out. The following is a list of our favourite attractions in the Peak District:
Stately Homes, Castles and Cathedrals
There are many beautiful stately homes and halls in the Peak District but all the listed attractions welcome public visitors. The national park also has some fantastic cathedrals and even a ruined castle. Many other towns and villages in the district have their own fine examples of historical architecture not listed here, please refer to our Area Guides for more details.
Stately Homes and Halls
Chatsworth House | Chatsworth House is beautiful stately home, often thought to be the finest in England – it’s an absolute must see. The house is located 3½ miles northeast of Bakewell and set in stunning parkland surrounded by woods, moorlands and rocky hills. The historic landscaped gardens are some of the most famous gardens in England and the house itself contains a very impressive collection of paintings, drawings furniture, neoclassical sculptures and other unique artefacts. Chatsworth House is on our Movie and Literary Trail and Ghost Trail.
Haddon Hall | Haddon Hall located on the River Wye at Bakewell is a striking medieval manor house which it has been described as “the most complete and most interesting house of it’s period.” It’s surrounded by pretty landscaped gardens and inside there is a fascinating medieval kitchen, a magnificent Banqueting Hall and an oak panelled Elizabathen Long Gallery. Haddon Hall is also a must see on our Movie and Literary Trail and Ghost Trail.
Eyam Hall | Located in the famous ‘Plague Village’ of Eyam, Eyam Hall is definitely worth a visit. It’s a lovely unspoilt example of a Jacobean manor house set in a splendid 17th century layout garden. The farm buildings have also been converted into a working Craft Centre with a shop and a licensed restaurant.
Sudbury Hall | Sudbury Hall is a National Trust owned late 17th-century house with sumptuous interiors located in the Ashbourne area. The popular National Trust Museum of Childhood is also based here.
Lyme Hall | Is a grand Italianate mansion surrounded by formal gardens in Disley, Cheshire, on the edge of the Peak District. It features on our Movie and Literary Trail
Hardwick Hall | One of Britain’s greatest and most complete Elizabethan houses and home to Bess of Hardwick (Countess of Shrewsbury). Hardwick Hall is National Trust Owned.
Renishaw Hall | Is the stately 17th century Georgian home of the Sitwell family it also has beautiful landscaped gardens.
Melbourne Hall | This fine stately home is a Grade II listed building and is also the origin for the naming of Melbourne, Australia.
Kedleston Hall | Kedleston Hall is a National Trust owned Neo-classical mansion with Adam interiors, landscape gardens and park.
Ilam Hall | Although the hall is not open to the public this national trust owned property sits in beautiful parkland next to Ilam village and can be explored by visitors.
Perevil Castle | Located in the tourist hub Castleton the castle is a ruined Norman Fort positioned high on on a hill. Owned by English Heritage, Perevil Castle is a popular spot for picnics and fantastic views.
Tideswell Cathedral | The magnificent cathedral located in the popular village of Tideswell is otherwise know as ‘Cathedral of the Peak.’ It’s an impressively preserved 14th century cathedral with a perpendicular tower.
Chesterfield Cathedral | The Saint Mary and All Saints church is extraordinary because its spire is both twisted and leaning (it leans 9 and a half feet from its true centre). Both the market town of Chesterfield and it’s twisted church spire attracts many visitors.
Derby Cathedral | Derby Cathedral located in the city of Derby has the oldest ring of ten bells in the world and also a memorial to Bess of Hardwick.
Many of the attractions in the Peak District will interest children as well as adults. The following attractions are specially aimed at families but children would also enjoy the show caves in Castleton, the amusements in Matlock Bath and the Plague museum in Eyam as well as many others. Please refer to our Area Guides for more specific details on the area you are planning to visit.
Alton Towers | The famous and gigantic theme park resides in the Alton Towers estate in Alton, Staffordshire. It’s the second most visited theme park in the UK and includes exciting and (in)famous rides such as Oblivion, Air and Nemesis. If you wish to prebook tickets for your break please refer to the UK market leader AttractionTix on our Travel Essentials Page.
Heights of Abraham | Located in Matlock Bath, Heights of Abraham is a popular place, especially with families. Your visit starts with a spectacular cable car ride to the summit, and once there includes some great views, show caverns, exhibitions, a play area and a cliffside cafe.
Go Ape | The Peak District version of the fun and popular high-wire forest adventure park is located in the Buxton area. The tree top giant obstacle courses include ladders, walkways, bridges and tunnels and the country’s best zip lines. Go Ape is a great day out.
Conkers | Conkers, based in the heart of the National Forest near Derby, is an award wining mix of indoor and outdoor experiences including an Enchanted Forest Adventure Play area an exciting ‘Tree Top Walk’.
Gulliver’s Kingdom | Matlock Bath, Peak District has it’s very own theme park. Gulliver’s Kingdom is spilt into fun themed areas and is home to some great rides and attractions including roller coasters as well as more gentle rides. Great for the kids and big kids alike!
Ecclesbourne Valley Railway | The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway is an 8.5 mile long heritage railway in Derbyshire, with operations based at Wirksworth station. Lovingly restored, the railway now runs Diesel and Stream trains.
The Steeple Grange Light Railway | The Steeple Grange Light Railway is an 18-inch gauge line near Wirksworth in Derbyshire and visitors can enjoy rides on ex-industrial diesel, battery-electric and petrol locomotives.
Towns and Villages
Peak District has an abundance of gorgeous market towns, some beautiful spa towns and plenty of picturesque ancient villages perfect for exploring, shopping and finding great places to eat. Many have their own attractions and interesting places to explore including some fine historical architecture and lovely traditional pubs and tearooms. Our personal favourites are:
- Matlock Bath
Lots of the villages in the Peak District also hold annual Well Dressing Events and other festivals.
Well Dressing is a particularly charming and photogenic tradition dating from as early as 1349. During the spring and summer village wells and other water sources are decorated with designs created from flower petals and other natural materials to give thanks for the pure water. Please check out our individual Area Guides for more details on the pick of the best towns and villages.
Natural Places of Interest
Caves and Caverns
Poole’s Cavern located in Buxton is a 2 million year old natural limestone cave and also has some of the finest stalagmites and stalactites in the Peak District.
Castleton has some great show caves:
Blue John Cavern | This is a show cave and also a working mine during the winter months. The semi-precious mineral “Blue John” is mined from this cave and tours through the series of caverns are very popular .
Treak Cliff Cavern | has been a designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is home to Stalactites, Stalagmites, Rocks Minerals and Fossils as well as the Blue John Stone. Guided tours take you deep into the cavern.
Peak Cavern | Also cheekily known as ‘The Devils Arse’ because of the unique noises coming from inside the cave. Peak Cavern is entirely natural and has some fun guided tours.
Speedwell Cavern | A mined limestone cave, visitors makes the journey into Speedwell Cavern by guided boat.
Matlock Bath Caverns
Great Rutland Cavern | This is one of the showcaves in the Heights of Abraham in Matlock Bath. The cavern has guided tours and a display on what mining was like in the 1800s.
The Great Masson Cavern | Another of the caves in the Heights of Abraham. It is famous for stalactites or stalagmites not being able to form here although it still does have some rock formations such as the ‘owl’ and the ‘rabbit’.
Areas of Outstanding Beauty
All over the Peak District are areas of outstanding natural beauty popular with walkers and visitors. There are also picturesque rivers and their valleys such as the River Wye, River Dove, River Derwent and River Manifold. Here are some of our favourite beauty spots:
Monsal Dale and Monsal Head | The Monsal Dale and Monsal Head are very popular beauty spots. The high up Monsal Head offers beautiful views over the Monsal Dale and the Wye Valley. If you are feeling hungry or in a need for a rest you can also have dinner at the Monsal Head Hotel. The distinctive landmark is the very photogenic Headstone Viaduct which also forms part of the popular Monsal Trail.
Dove Dale | A very pretty dale owned by the National Trust, the river Dove runs right through the dale and as well as stunning scenery other attractions include rock pillars such as Ilam Rock, Viator’s Bridge and Lover’s Leap limestone carvings.
Hope Valley | The most popular valley in the Peak District, the picturesque tourist village Castleton is located here in addition to other popular unique scenery such as Mam Tor (otherwise known as the shivering mountain), Winnat’s Pass (a road surrounded by towering limestone pinnacles) and CaveDale (a beautiful dry limestone valley)
Lathkill Dale | Also one of the finest dales in the Peak District. A very pretty limestone dale blessed with natural beauty and wildlife and also the remains of a 19th century mine, including an old aqueduct and ruined pump house.
Kinder Scout | Kinder Scout is a moorland plateau and the highest point in the Peak District. Very popular with walkers!
Stanage Edge | Is a the UK’s longest gritstone ridge and very popular with climbers and walkers. It offers stunning views and is also our Movie and Literary Trail – as it featured in the classic film ‘Pride & Prejudice’ starring Keira Knightley.
Museums and the Arts
Many of the towns and larger villages in the Peak District have their own interesting museums and art centres. Here are a few of the most popular ones:
Eyam Museum | The history of Eyam village documenting the fascinating struggle through the Plague outbreak.
Wirksworth Heritage Museum | A unique local history museum, housed in an old silk mill which tells the story of Wirksworth.
Derby Museum and Art Gallery | The Derby Museum in the city of Derby houses a wide range of important and attractive collections, covering porcelain, paintings, archaeology, history, local regiments, geology and wildlife.
The Little Gallery, Belper | A lovely small gallery of contemporary arts and picture framing.
Chesterfield Museum & Art Gallery | Tells the story of Chesterfield from its origin as a Roman fort to the present day.
Peak District Mining Museum | For the relics of the Peak District’s oldest industry and see how a miner used to live.
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery | A popular Buxton museum which houses geology, archaeology and historical information and treasures as an art gallery.
Castleton Village Museum | has a great collection of local artefacts, some dating from prehistoric times.