When you drive into Newcastle in New South Wales, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s a quiet, sleepy city. And you’d be right in a way- but I mean in a good way. If you’re in need of a beach break, a chilled city vibe and a bit of history (but not too much) thrown in, then Newcastle is for you. With beautiful architecture and a beach view waiting for you just around a street corner, there are plenty of things to do in Newcastle.
There’s a great foodie scene going on as well as a range of boutiques popping up which are well worth a rummage through. But even looking around the city, the beautiful art deco architecture gives it tonnes of character and a great place to spend a few days.
I’ve visited Newcastle a couple of times now after becoming friends with a fantastic Couchsurfing host and there really is no better way to find out about a place than through a local. So here are my the top things to do in Newcastle to help you get planning!
Newcastle is famed for its surf beaches and Bar Beach is arguably its most popular one. This beautiful beach stretches all the way to the Merewether Surfhouse so it’s a great walk if you fancy a bit of a longer one. There’s a sheltered rock pool to swim in if you prefer calmer waters or it’s got some great waves if you want to surf instead.
Nobby’s Beach Reserve and Lighthouse
If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that I’m a bit lighthouse mad. I can’t really explain it but I just love them. Nobby’s Beach is a great place to spend an afternoon. It’s perfect for swimming and you can take a nice stroll along the breakwater towards the lighthouse.
The Newcastle and Merewether Baths
A refreshing dip in either of these ocean pools is the perfect way to either start or finish off your day. On a beautiful sunny day, they will be full of both locals and tourists and it’s really up to you whether you actually turn this into an opportunity to exercise or just float around for a bit (I’m definitely the latter). The Merewether baths are one of my favourite places and somewhere I always head to when I visit Newcastle.
This is actually another swimming bath, cut into the cliff by convicts in 1819 which I think is a pretty awesome bit of history. It can get pretty choppy here but it’s a must-see when you visit Newcastle, even if you don’t feel like going in the water.
Visiting Fort Scratchley is truly a unique thing to do in Newcastle. It was built as a coastal defence site but today is a pretty interested hands-on museum. It’s still under restoration but you get a fascinating insight into its origins and if you want to learn more, paid tours are conducted around the site. Its location on top of a hill gives lush views of Newcastle too!
Anzac Memorial Walk
This walk was formed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand troops in Gallipoli. Take a walk along the bridge where you will find steel silhouettes of soldiers with names of nearly 4000 men and women who joined the fight in World War I.
The Junction and Darby Street
This is what I was talking about when I told you about the foodie scene in Newcastle. All along Darby Street and the crossroads known as ‘The Junction’ you will find all sorts of cuisines and cafes for all you coffee lovers.
The Hill lookout
This spot is somewhere that only a local will know about. My fabulous Couchsurfing host took Tom and I on a drive around Newcastle and showed us this place. Pretty good view, right?
Stockton Sand Dunes
Just 30 minutes from Newcastle you have the chance to chance to experience some off-roading on the Stockton sand dunes. Be sure to sort out a permit if you want to take your own 4×4 onto the dunes, or alternatively, there are some pretty awesome tours you can do with some experts who know where all the highlights are.
Tomaree National Park
If you’re wanting a bit of a workout with a huge reward at the end then you’ll want to head here. Take the Head Summit walk up to the top where you will be able to soak in the incredible views of Port Stephens and the surrounding beaches. It’s a bit of a trek to the top but it’s well worth it!
After seeing it from above, it’s a great idea to get a closer look at this upmarket area. Check out the gleaming boats sitting in the harbour, tame your hunger at one of the many eateries or even head out on a whale watching tour. It’s the perfect spot to relax for a while.
The Hunter Valley
Just an hour or so away you’ll find wine heaven. Seriously, it’s freakin’ great out there. There are over 150 wineries dotted around the region and not only is the area itself absolutely stunning, but many of the wineries offer free or $5 dollar wine tastings! It’s a fantastic chance to experience some Australian wines as well as local produce such as oils and cheeses.
If you’re a foodie, be sure to check out these delicious places when you visit Newcastle
For doughnuts, doughnuts and more doughnuts. You’ll probably want to eat so many you’ll turn into a doughnut. But life’s short so why not… Check out some of the delights they offer here.
Newy Burger Co.
Introduced to me, again by my amazing Couchsurfing host, this burger joint is sure to hit the spot. You’re going to roll out of here too, but trust me, you’ll be wanting to go back! Check out their menu here.
Serving up some seriously good pizza for a bargain price of $10-$15, the Merewether Surfhouse offers a dining experience with a fabulous view overlooking the water. Be sure to check out their website for timings if you’re after pizza, or take a look at the mouthwatering seafood they have on their menu too.