The Best Things to Do in Newcastle, NSW
Newcastle is a harbour city in New South Wales, Australia, with so many beautiful spots. Think beaches, light houses and lots of epic views. Plus, street art, good food and shopping. Just 2.5 hours north of Sydney, it’s not only the perfect day trip from Sydney or surrounding areas, but also a must do stop on any Aussie East Coast Road trip.
Being only 1.5 hours north of my home town on the Central Coast of NSW (also filled with beautiful beaches!). I love heading up to Newcastle for a nice day away. On my most recent trip up the coast with one of my sisters, it truly realised how beautiful it is. We started at Merewether Beach and did the 10km return coastal walk from Merewhether to Queen’s Wharf, which is filled with epic views and beaches the whole way.
We stopped for coffee, good food and beers, and of course, took lots of Instagram worthy photos. It was this day out that made me realise that Newcastle is underrated, and that I should share all the great things there are to do in Newcastle, NSW. So, whether you are taking a day out and want to explore somewhere new on a day trip, planning an epic road trip, travelling domestically in this weird time – I’m here to convince you to stop by in Newcastle.
The best things to do in Newcastle
Merewether Beach Ocean Baths
Easily one of Newcastle’s most photographed spots is Merewether Ocean Baths. In fact, Merewether Beach in general is just beautiful, but the baths are one of my favourite spots. The baths have long been a favourite spot for locals to enjoy a swim, since opening in 1935.
They are post card worthy and truly a great spot for a swim. While you are there, enjoy all that Merewether Beach has to offer – take a swim in the ocean and grab a coffee. It’s the perfect place to start the Newcastle Bathers Way Coastal Walk, too.
Merewether to Queen’s Wharf Coastal Walk
This is actually a combination of a couple of different walks that Newcastle has to offer, including the Newcastle memorial walk and The Bathers Way walk.
I personally started at Merewether Baths and walked right through to the Queen’s Wharf hotel, following the coast, which is about 5km each way, so 10km return. It’s a beautiful walk, passing along Bar Beach, Newcastle Beach and Nobby’s Beach before following into Newcastle Harbour.
Take a day trip to the Hunter Valley
About an hours drive from Newcastle sits the famous Hunter Valley, one of the best wine regions in Australia. The Hunter Valley is home to many wineries, many of which are famed for their varieties of Shiraz and Semillion.
With a mix of both family owned and world renowned wineries, there’s plenty of wine to taste and plenty to explore. The area is beautiful! Some wineries to check out include Hope Estate, Polkobin and Brokenwood Wines.
The beating heart of Newcastle, Darby street is a long street running through the city which has a little bit of everything. Among the huge range of amazing restaurants, you’ll also find boutique stores and shops, and quirky coffee shops and eateries. Wander off the main path to search for some of Newcastle’s street art.
Nobby’s Beach and Lighthouse
One of Newcastle’s most famous and popular beaches, Nobby’s beach is a curved beach on the tip of Newcastle’s coast, framed by the famous Nobby’s Light House. It’s a great family beach and a good spot to learn to surf. You’ve got a pretty good chance of spotting some dolphins here, and it’s also the perfect spot for a picnic.
One of the best surfing beaches in NSW, Newcastle beach brings surfers from all over to enjoy the amazing surf conditions. Just a 15 minute walk along the Bathers Bay walk from Nobby’s beach, you’ll find Newcastle’s very own ocean baths at the end of the beach, which is also a great spot to grab a bite to eat.
Located in East Newcastle, not far Nobby’s Beach, Fort Scratchley is a former coastal defence installation, which now stands as a museum overlooking Newcastle Harbour and some of Newcastle’s best beaches. It was originally built in 1882, for the purpose of defending against a possible attack by Russia. Not only can you explore the site and learn about the history, you can also enjoy the epic views.
Stockton Sand Dunes
Located less than an hours drive from Newcastle, if you are looking for some adventure, this is the perfect place to go. The sand dunes are actually the largest moving dunes in the Southern Hemisphere, and there’s plenty to do. Go four wheel driving, sand boarding or quad biking, or you can opt to fish off the beach. You can also go horse riding and enjoy the dunes at a slower pace.
Where to eat and drink in Newcastle
Queen’s Wharf Hotel
Located on the water in Newcastle Harbour, this is a great spot to have a pub feed and a drink after a long walk along the coast of Newcastle. Sit inside or out and enjoy the good vibe that it offers. You can’t beat the Chicken Schnitzel!
Blue Door Kiosk
Located on Merewether Beach, this cafe is a local favourite. Sit back with your morning coffee overlooking the beach, or opt for one of their delicious CocoWhips, a healthy yet incredible take on ice-cream and one of my favourite things ever.
The Happy Wombat
Located on Hunter Street, this boutique cafe and restaurant is a friendly and open place that welcomes everyone with loving arms. Go for a hearty breakfast, or for a delicious meal with a craft beer.
The Landing Bar and Kitchen
A waterfront bar and restaurant located in HoneySuckle, The Landing offers a cool and chic setting and atmosphere, with stunning views. There’s plenty of delicious food, cocktails and craft beer on offer, and on the weekends, you will find DJ’s and an upbeat vibe.
Newcastle’s favourite and best donut place has got to be Dougheads, located at The Junction, not far from Merewether Beach. The donuts are delicious, and you’ll find both traditional and interesting flavour combos, plus low gluten options.
Located on Merewether beach with some of the best views you can get, you’ll find a cocktail bar, pizza bar, restaurant and cafe all in the Merewether surf house. Head in for a great brunch or lunch at the cafe, an epic meal at the restaurant, or drinks with a view at the cocktail bar on the terrace.
I hope I’ve convinced you to visit Newcastle, NSW on your travels, whenever that may be. For me, the beaches and good food is enough – I mean, what more could you want?