Newcastle is a coastal town 2 hours north of Sydney, with stunning beach walks, sea baths, wineries, great hiking and lively beach culture.
As Australia’s second oldest city, Newcastle has great historic importance to Australia, which you can learn about through their museums and tours. Furthermore, there are so many ways to enjoy the beautiful scenery found here, from a trip to Port Stephens to an eco friendly harbour cruise. In this 2021 guide to Newcastle, we’ll not only cover the basics, but also give you the top tips and the best not-as-well-known spots to go.
Photo by Maxwell Dugan on Unsplash.
13 Top Things to Do in Newcastle
1. Walk along Stockton Beach.
When in Newcastle, you definitely must walk along the beautiful Stockton Beach and admire the sand dunes and ocean on either side of you. Positioned just north of the Hunter River, this beach stretches for over 30 kilometres from Newcastle to Port Stephens, with dunes up to 40 metres high!
You can walk, 4WD or quad bike around Stockton Beach in addition to sand boarding. Furthermore, this beach has seen many plane crashes and shipwrecks, with pieces still being found around places like the Hunter River and Hunter Valley regions. You can gaze at some of the found wrecks while strolling through the 2km Shipwreck Walk.
2. Swim around in Bogey Hole.
Bogey Hole is one of the oldest (convict-built) European sea baths, which locals still enjoy today. Situated on Newcastle’s coast, Bogey Hole offers beautiful ocean views and a relaxing swim.
On the other hand, you can enjoy the much more modern Newcastle Ocean Baths, which have been opened since 1922. These large swimming baths also offer views of the beach, in addition to having an art deco pavilion just behind.
3. Camplify wherever you like.
Did someone say glamping? No, we don’t mean glamping in a villa-like tent, we mean renting out a camper van to take you around and enjoy all Newcastle has to offer! Family, pet friendly, couples and many other campervan options are available to suit all your needs.
4. Take a dip at Nobbys Beach.
Like the Gold Coast, Newcastle also has a well-known Nobbys Beach. However, this Nobbys Beach has a lighthouse and stretches for only 900 metres, while the Gold Coast beach is part of a long strip stretching for over 16km. As a more secluded crescent, this beach is great for a relaxing day by the sea.
Besides great swimming, you can also see the jaw-dropping size of container ships coming in and out of Newcastle. As the world’s largest coal-exporting port, it’s no surprise Newcastle is famous for this.
5. Or, take a sip at a Hunter Valley winery.
There are over 150 wineries in the Hunter Valley, famous for their Sémillon, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Hunter Valley is a prominent wine region in Australia, with some wineries dating back to the 1800s. Less than an hour away from Newcastle, Hunter Valley also boasts great dining, spas and nature sights.
If you want to be more of an expert before going to one of Newcastle’s wineries, check out our guide to Types of Wine in Australia.
6. Admire the handmade designs at High Tea with Mrs Woo.
High Tea with Mrs Woo is a small Australian-made clothing label that is an ethical and sustainable slow fashion brand. Founded and run by three sisters, their flagship retail store can be found in Newcastle, which is loved by locals.
Visit the High Tea with Mrs Woo store in Newcastle to learn about slow fashion and admire their handmade and sustainable designs.
7. Kayak around Lake Macquarie.
Lake Macquarie is a 40 minute drive away from Newcastle and is the biggest coastal saltwater lake in Australia! This beautiful lake has some of the most spectacular sights, from its kilometres of mountains to calm water — there are so many activities you can do here!
8. Admire the exhibitions at Newcastle Museum.
Newcastle Museum is a great place to learn about Newcastle’s history. This award-winning museum has three exhibitions to detail Newcastle’s history, industrial powerhouse and science museum. Another great bonus is the museum has free entry!
9. Climb in the treetops at TreeTops Newcastle.
TreeTops is an adventure park that takes you higher than most. Tackle obstacle courses while in the treetops! From swinging into nets to balancing on planks, there are so many fun tracks to do — all while strapped into your safety harness.
Fort Scratchley Historic Site offers great insights to the historic importance of Newcastle in World War II (WW2), among other important historical moments. Learn interesting facts about how convicts built the country’s first coal mine in Newcastle in 1801 and how the fort helped to protect the state of New South Wales in WW2.
The site also offers stunning panoramic views, where you might have the chance to spot whales and dolphins. With free admission, Fort Scratchley is a must-do when in Newcastle!
11. Enjoy all Port Stephens has to offer.
Port Stephens is an hour away from Newcastle, blessed with some of nature’s best qualities. Beaches with mountains behind, sand dunes and national parks are just a few of Port Stephens’ natural highlights. You can admire its beauty yourself, or book a day tour to go dolphin watching, sand boarding or whatever your heart desires.
12. Learn the ways of a smooth criminal with the True Crime Walking Tour.
If you also enjoy watching hours of True Crime, then this could be the perfect Newcastle activity for you! Walk around the city tracing the footsteps of Newcastle’s most murderous and learn their haunted secrets.
13. Enjoy the ocean views with the Harbour and Coast Sightseeing Cruise.
The Harbour and Coast Sightseeing Cruise is eco friendly and lasts for 2 ½ hours, taking you by sea caves, cliffs and beaches. Guides have local knowledge of Newcastle’s coastline and marine life, and will point out sights you won’t want to miss!
You may see dolphins, turtles, seabirds and other aquatic animals while onboard the cruise, while passing by multiple historical and natural sites.
Looking for somewhere to stay in Newcastle? Find your next stay on localsearch.com.au.