The village of Coniston has always been dominated by the Old Man of Coniston, which sits due west of the village. Originally it was the mountain's mines and quarries that gave the village its prosperity, now it is the lure of the mountain itself.
The village is built around a Y-shaped arrangement of roads, with the bridge over Church Beck at the centre of the Y. Just to the south of the bridge is Lake Road, which leads down to the steamer pier, passing a small shopping centre on the way (and a recently refurbished lake-shore cafe). The village centre contains a useful collection of shops, restaurants and hotels, notably the Sun Hotel, which dates back at least to the sixteenth century.
Coniston Hall, which dates back to 1270, is located on the lake shore south of the village, and is a rather unusual looking building with prominent chimneys.
Nearby attractions include Tarn Hows, which can be reached on a five mile walk (there and back), and Coniston Water itself, famous for Donald Campbell's water speed record attempts. On the far side of the lake, and easily accessible via the ferry, is Brantwood, the home of the Victorian author and educational reformer John Ruskin. To the north of Brantwood is the Monk Coniston esates. This is owned by the National Trust and the grounds are now open to the public.
The copper mines went through two phases of work, first during the Jacobean period and then after a revival after 1859. At about the same time the slate quarries opened, turning the previously farming village into an industrial community.