Top places to visit in Newcastle
Newcastle is surrounded by golden sand beaches and a breathtaking coastline, with a beautiful working harbour as well as cafes, restaurants and bars stretching from the city to the suburbs.
1. Ocean baths
Newcastle is famed for its ocean baths, and a trip to Newcastle wouldn’t be complete without having a dip in at least one of them.
Merewether Ocean Bath is the largest in town, and caters to all swimming lovers, with its sandy family-friendly shallow pool, and main 100m wide swimming pool. Taking a splash at Merewether Ocean Bath is the perfect way to cool off — no matter your skill level.
The Bogey Hole ocean pool is one of Newcastle’s most iconic landmarks. Hand-cut into the rockface by convicts in 1819, the Bogey Hole — from the Dharawal word meaning 'to bathe' — is truly a breathtaking sight. Originally called the 'Commandant's Baths' as the pool was designed for personal use to Major James Morisset – the longest-serving Commandant of Newcastle. Today, the Bogey Hole is free for everyone to enjoy.
Newcastle Ocean Baths are currently undergoing a major renovation, due to be completed by the end of 2023.
2. Newcastle beaches
Uniquely perched at the water's edge, each of Newcastle’s beaches are waiting for surfers and sandcastles, sunrise photography and sunset picnics from locals and visitors alike — you’ll be spoilt for choice.
There's three varied beaches in easy walking distance from the city, and Bar Beach, Merewether Beach, and Burwood Beach just a short car ride away, you can experience the incredible coastline that Newcastle has to offer with ease. Or make an adventure of it and beach hop your way through the day, exploring neighbouring Dudley Beach and the iconic dog-friendly Redhead Beach for a glimpse of the region.
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3. Bathers Way Walk, ANZAC Memorial Walk and Strzelecki Lookout
Discover the incredible Newcastle coastline on foot by exploring some of the many walking tracks. The Bathers Way Walk links Merewether Ocean Baths to Nobbys Beach. At 6km long, it’s one of the longer and most rewarding coastal walks and forms part of the Great North Walk from Merewether to Sydney. It takes in all of Newcastle's beaches and some of our most iconic sites, including the Bogey Hole and Newcastle's ANZAC Memorial Walk.
Newcastle's ANZAC Memorial Walk was stablished in 2015 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing in Gallipoli. Steel silhouettes of soldiers, as well as the names of almost 11,000 Hunter Valley men and women who enlisted to serve during World War I adorn the raised walkway that hugs the clifftops overlooking Bar Beach.
For sunset views of Newcastle like no other, head to Strzelecki Lookout for panoramic views over the ocean and city. Named after explorer and geologist Sir Paul Edmund de Strzelecki, his research and chemical analysis of coal deposits significantly influenced the development of Newcastle.
If you’re longing for a coffee or a bite to eat, take a break at one of the many beach kiosks along the way. A great place to watch the surf and soak up Newcastle life.
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4. Newcastle nature experiences
With over 10km of walking trails, Blackbutt Reserve is a must-visit for families and nature buffs. Experience the incredible varied terrain, from rainforest, to scrub — spot a roaming peacock or uncover a local bat colony! For a wild and wonderful experience, head to the animal enclosure and make a furry friend — it’s free and open daily. Ready for a spot of lunch? With two adventure playgrounds and picnic areas to choose from, Blackbutt Reserve is the perfect place for a day out.
Seeking your next thrill? Glenrock State Conservation Area is a mountain biking mecca only a short drive from the city. Tackle one of the main trails on two wheels or on foot, explore the secluded beaches and take in coastal vistas and waterfalls that the heritage rainforest has on offer. Don’t forget to stop by Hickson Street Lookout — and see a local paraglider land in front of your very eyes. It also doubles as an incredible sunset picnic spot, so pack some nibbles and soak up the stunning view.
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5. Newcastle city
Newcastle City has so much to offer blending the best of coastal and city living. Make your way from East to West and back again, the city is a walker’s dream as it's easily accessible by foot and boasts a variety of fun and informative walking tours.
By day, check out the artisan studios, boutique stores and cafes of the East end. By night, sample the many bars, pubs and restaurants that Newcastle is renowned for along Hunter Street, enjoying the sips and sounds of Newcastle’s nightlife.
6. Street art and galleries
Newcastle is an art lover's delight. While Newcastle Art Gallery — which boasts over 6,500 pieces of art — is currently closed for upgrades, art lovers can check out the wide variety of independent galleries such as The Lock-Up, a former heritage-listed police station reimagined as an art gallery, as well as unique contemporary art spaces including Curve Gallery and Blackstone Gallery.
For those that love to explore by foot, Newcastle is home to world-class street art including the Inari mural on Newcastle University city campus and the Bronte Naylor mural on the exterior of Civic Theatre — keep an eye out at every turn. Annual Big Picture Fest (returning in September 2022) is a must-see for all art lovers, with its city walking trail that showcases the very best in emerging local street art. Soak up the vibe and unique vision of some of Newcastle’s top artistic talents.
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7. Nobbys Head and Breakwall
If you’ve got an hour to spare in the city, take a stroll to Nobbys Head and Breakwall. The 3km return walk takes in views of the harbour and Stockton on the way out, and views back over the city on your return. Only accessible by foot or bike, this is a must-do when visiting Newcastle.
For those with more time and spring in their step, continue south-east past Nobby's Beach towards Newcastle Beach and beyond, to enjoy the sea breeze and stunning views that The Bathers Way Walk has to offer.
8. Breweries and distilleries
Sample some of the proudly local brews and spirits for a real taste of Newcastle. Modus Operandi in Merewether serves up an incredible range of limited release beers on the regular, while Styx Brewery is the place to get your hands on every type of ale.
For a craft brew and locally-sourced eats, head to Foghorn Brewery on King Street. Or if you’re after a premium gin or rum, Earp Distilling Co in Carrington is renowned for using Australian-native ingredients in its range of spirits. Book ahead to avoid disappointment.
If live music is your jam, head to The Rogue Scholar. Sip from a range of tap brews and enjoy the cityscape from its newly opened rooftop space. Thirsty?
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9. Boutique shopping and food streets
Boutique shopping and brunching around town in Newcastle are second to none. Darby Street is a local's favourite, with many independent coffee and brunch spots to choose from, locally-owned and beautifully curated boutique stores and epic street art. While you’re exploring Darby Street, drop into The Olive Tree Market located at Civic Park, Newcastle's favourite monthly spot for hand-made products, art, food trucks and live music.
If you’re into vintage, we’ve got the spot for you. The north end of Beaumont Street on the corner of Maitland Road houses a cluster of vintage, sustainably conscious and bric-a-brac stores where you can easily spend hours browsing. Plant lovers rejoice! Take a visit to High Swan Dive and immerse yourself in lush and much-loved house plants and ceramics on display — we guarantee that you won’t leave empty-handed!
10. Honeysuckle and the harbour
Take in the sunrise or sunset at Honeysuckle, Newcastle’s waterfront entertaining area. With a range of great restaurants, bars and cafes, you can sit and watch local life go by, or join the fun by riding, rollerblading or walking along the promenade.
And if the weather happens to be wet, duck into the Newcastle Museum, located where all the action happens. One of Newcastle's most popular visitor attractions, the Museum features an exciting calendar of rotating exhibitions year-round from blockbuster international shows to community-based and Indigenous exhibitions.
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11. Architectural sites
As a city with an extensive history, Newcastle is home to some incredible architecture. Civic Theatre is one of Australia's great historic theatres with a richly baroque interior and gothic style exterior. Hosting everything from live music, comedy, dance, live theatre and educational events, you’ll be able to catch a great show and admire your surroundings.
Plan a personalised walking tour around the city and enjoy the very best that Newcastle has to offer, including Christ Church Cathedral, and City Hall, to name a few. Why not finish your day with a drink at Crystalbrook Kingsley’s rooftop, a reimagined Brutalist building in the heart of the city — and experience the breathtaking views while you’re there.
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12. Fort Scratchley
For visiting military and history buffs, a visit to Fort Scratchley is a must! Originally built in the 1880s as a defence station, Fort Scratchley is now a historical museum where you can take a history lesson, and explore its narrow, underground tunnels.