Top ways to seek off beat in Newcastle

Top ways to seek off beat in Newcastle

16 June 2023

Nestled on the East Coast of NSW, just a two-hour drive north from Sydney (or an easy, scenic train ride if you'd rather leave the car at home) discover Newcastle, a city full of offbeat adventures and eclectic experiences ready to delight the curious traveller.

Whether you're planning an overnight escape, a luxe long weekend or a weeklong vacay, there's so much to uncover on a getaway in Newcastle… here's some tips to get you started!

Awaken your artistic side

From historical sites and heritage architecture to contemporary galleries and vibrant street art, there's something around every corner in Newcastle to spark your artistic sensibilities.

Discover this compact city's colourful streets following a self-guided walking tour (download a map or grab one from the Visitor Information Centre), or let the locals lead the way by joining Newcastle Afoot on their 'Architecture, Street Art & Hidden Secrets' walking tour.

Ensure you plan time to gallery hop. Our top selects:

  • The Lock-Up, a former heritage-listed police station reimagined as an art gallery
  • Lighthouse Arts, located in the cottages on the Nobbys-Whibayganba headland once used to accommodate defence staff during WWII
  • Mitch Revs Gallery where you can join a Decked Out After Dark workshop and become the artist yourself!

Check out a show at the heritage-listed Civic Theatre to cap off your stay, and admire the theatre's stunning baroque interior while you're at it.

Indulge your inner foodie

Newcastle's burgeoning foodie scene is sure to get your mouth watering. Whether you're after a quick bite or some fine dining with flair, there's something to suit every craving.

For all things brunch, local food hub Darby Street has countless colourful cafes offering specialty coffee and leafy courtyards to enjoy a meal in. Our recs: Autumn Rooms or Three Monkeys.

Want a bite by the water? Along the inner harbour you'll find Signal Box serving up modern-Australian cuisine out of a historic working railway signal box. Or for beachside vistas, you can't go past Merewether Surfhouse – snag a spot on the balcony for unrivalled views of Newcastle's coastline as you share a pizza and some arancini.

Feel like some fine dining for dinner? Reserve a table at the Roundhouse, positioned on the rooftop of one of Newcastle's most iconic buildings (Crystalbrook Kingsley).  

Tantalise your tastebuds even further with casual fine dining at Flotilla in Wickham and discover why they were awarded a hat from the Good Food Guide 2023 for yourself.

Stir your senses after dark

After dark, the city comes alive – it's time to discover a whole other side to Newcastle.

Hidden down alleys and nestled between innocuous buildings, you'll find a wonder of cool, eclectic bars and colourful nightlife to explore. If waterside drinks are your vibe, head into Honeysuckle and bar hop along the promenade, hitting hot spots MoneyPenny, Honeysuckle Social and The Landing.

How about a rooftop bar? There's Romberg's offering signature cocktails with style; the Rooftop at QT with sweeping views of the harbour; or the Rogue Scholar with its funky rooftop setting and live music to round out the vibe.

Add a touch of mystery to your evening with Coal and Cedar, a speakeasy bar with concealed entry (password required) or try the 1920s-inspired Bartholomew's for some drinks and debauchery.

Adventure in nature

Nature lovers, be still your beating hearts. Newcastle is a natural wonderland, and it's 'choose your own adventure' when it comes to how you explore it.

Just a 10-minute drive from the CBD, you'll find Glenrock State Conservation Area, a mecca for mountain biking and bushwalking alike.

For a seaside adventure, jump on tour with CoastXP or Nova Cruises and discover Newcastle from the coast, while learning about the marine life, geology and Aboriginal heritage of the area. Keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales between June - November – it's whale-watching season!

Uncover the coast

No Newcastle getaway would be complete without taking in the stunning coastline.

With six beaches and 29 surf breaks, Newcastle is recognised around the globe as a surfer's paradise.

Add to that the spectacular Newcastle and Merewether Ocean Baths, as well as secret swimming spots like the Bogey Hole, and it’s no wonder Newcastle has a reputation for its unrivalled coast.

Perhaps the best way to take it all in is with the beloved Bathers Way walk, a treasured 12km return trail stretching all the way from Nobbys Headland to Merewether Beach. Along the way, there's the iconic Anzac Memorial Walk – built to commemorate the ANZACs, the walkway is adorned with the 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.