Aerial view of Merewether Baths and Newcastle coastline

Credit: Ethan Rohloff for Destination NSW

Think Newcastle is just another coastal town? Think again! From its stunning coastline and historic sites to a thriving arts and food scene, prepare to be surprised.

Newcastle's got that perfect mix of beachy vibes, a cracking history, and a lot of fun. There's something for everyone – whether you're keen on epic surf, love a good hike, or just want to soak up the sun with the fam.

Foodies, get ready for fab cafes and a buzzing bar scene. History buffs, there are convict-built sites galore. And if a good sunset over the ocean ticks your boxes, you're in luck.

From the city's beaches to day trips further afield, Newcastle's a ripper. Let's dive into our guide to the best bits – your next adventure starts now!

Things to do in Newcastle - Top 10 Attractions

#1 - Newcastle Memorial Walk

Sun rising over steel silhouettes of soldiers on Newcastle (ANZAC) Memorial Walk, Newcastle

Credit: Kristen Greaves for Destination NSW

It's certainly hard to drag yourself away from those Newcastle beaches, but trust us – the Newcastle Memorial Walk delivers the goods. 

This isn't just another scenic stroll; it's a moving 450-metre tribute to the region's ANZAC legacy, with steel silhouettes of soldiers and the engraved names of over 11,000 servicemen and women from the Hunter Valley.

Expect a powerful dose of history with a side of breathtaking ocean views and a refreshing sea breeze, all set on a 160-metre bridge. It's a perfect blend of reflection and 'wow' moments.

Take your time as you walk (at least an hour) and soak it all in. This is especially magical at sunrise or sunset when the colours dance across the coastline. It's a chance to breathe in that fresh sea air, connect with history, and capture some seriously epic photos.

Tips for visiting Newcastle Memorial Walk

  • Wear comfy shoes: The Newcastle Walk connects directly to Bathers Way, a six-metre walking track along the coast.
  • Charge your camera: This place is Insta gold, so be prepared to get snap happy. 
  • Bring water: Stay hydrated, especially on a scorching day.
  • Arrive when it suits: The walk is accessible 24/7, so you do you.

#2 - Fort Scratchley

Birds eye view of For Scratchley in Newcastle, NSW

Credit: Snapshots Media from

If you're itching to immerse yourself in some history and score epic coastal views along the way, Fort Scratchley is your spot. This Newcastle East gem was once a defence fort, and now it's a captivating museum with Nobbys Beach, and the Hunter River laid out before you. 

The best part? 

Exploring the grounds is free! Imagine walking where soldiers once patrolled, digging into fascinating military stories, and witnessing the daily 1pm gun firing – a little bit of thrilling history mixed with a killer backdrop.  

Those ocean views? They're the perfect way to round out this incredible experience.

Set aside at least half a day for Fort Scratchley. It's open 10am - 4pm (closed Tuesdays). Dive into the past with a guided tour, but whatever you do, don't miss the 1pm gun firing!

Tips for visiting Fort Scratchley

  • The area is accessible: While historic charm means a bit of uneven ground, Fort Scratchley welcomes all visitors, including those with mobility concerns.
  • Guides are available: Consider taking a guided tour to uncover the fort's secrets straight from the experts.
  • There are plenty of photo ops: Position yourself for striking photos of Nobbys Beach and the Hunter River – the views are a photographer's dream.
  • Activities are weather dependent: The daily 1pm gun firing is a must-see, but check the weather; it's the only thing that could delay the show.

#3 - Blackbutt Reserve

koala, sitting in a tree, facing the camera at blackbutt nature reserve

Credit: Chris from

Craving a nature fix without straying too far from Newie?  

Blackbutt Reserve is your spot. This huge swath of bushland teems with native critters and offers a perfect chance to stretch those legs on scenic walking trails.  

Amazingly, checking out the wildlife exhibits is completely free, so you can meet the locals – think koalas, wombats, kangaroos, and more – without breaking the bank. Open 10am to 4:30pm daily! 

Over 182 hectares and over 10 kilometres of walking trails take you deep into the bush, perfect for a relaxed nature fix close to the city. And if you're lucky, you might even catch the hilarious and surprisingly heartwarming emu feeding frenzy. 

The gates are open from 7am to 7pm, so you can make it a quick visit or a full day out. Pack a picnic and really soak it in – this is classic Australian bushland at its best. 

Tips for visiting Blackbutt Reserve

  • Arrive early: The wildlife is most active in the morning, making it the perfect time for photographers and nature enthusiasts. 
  • Pack snacks: Bring water and snacks for your treks through the trails. Though if you forget, the kiosk is your go-to for refreshments, open from 10am to 3pm (closed on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays, and certain holidays). 
  • Explore more: Engage in a Reptile Encounter or purchase an Activity Pack from the kiosk for an added adventure during your visit. 
  • Save time for a picnic: Utilise the picnic facilities, but remember to leave no trace behind to keep the reserve pristine for wildlife and fellow visitors alike. 

#4 - Newcastle Ocean Baths

Newcastle Ocean Baths Aerial at Sunrise, Newcastle, Australia

Credit: Brendan from

Another opportunity to dive into a slice of Newcastle history arrives in the form of the iconic Newcastle Ocean Baths. These seaside pools have been a part of the local landscape since 1922, and they're a total classic.  

Think art deco vibes, epic ocean views, and the relaxing sound of crashing waves – it's the perfect spot for a swim with a side of awesome. This isn't just any old pool; it's a place where the salt air and old-school charm make it an experience, not just a workout.  

Whether you're keen on a brisk dip in winter or a long summer splash, this spot delivers all year round. Plus, lifeguards are on duty through the warmer months from 9am to 5:30pm (and until 4:30pm from April to September), so you can relax and enjoy your soak with peace of mind.

Pop in for a quick dip or linger with a good book on the pavilion – this spot's pure Newie through and through, and it's perfect for however long you've got.

Tips for visiting Newcastle Ocean Baths

  • Don't forget your camera: Morning or sunset, the Baths serve dramatic views worth capturing. 
  • Bring a few essentials: Pack light, but bring sunscreen, water, and maybe a book for relaxed pavilion lounging. 
  • Swim safe: Heed lifeguard advice and swim within designated areas for a safe and enjoyable experience. 
  • Maintenance heads-up: The ocean baths undergo regular cleaning and maintenance for the community's health and safety; check local updates to ensure they're open for your visit. 

#5 - Newcastle Museum

Family enjoying a visit to Newcastle Museum, Newcastle.

Credit: Guy Williment for Destination NSW

If you're keen to understand the heart and soul of Newie, the Newcastle Museum is your ticket. This place is packed with stories that bring the city's industrial past and its ever-changing culture into focus. 

However, the Newcastle Museum isn't just about dusty old stuff – it's about stories that come alive. Think hands-on science fun, deep dives into space exploration, and spotlights on the city's changing face. 

There's something for everyone here, whether you're a history nerd, a curious kid, or just up for something a little different.

The museum's open Tuesday to Sunday (and every day during school holidays) from 10am to 5pm, so you can quickly lose a few hours exploring. Check out their website for any special exhibitions while you're in town – they're always adding something new to the mix.

Tips for visiting Newcastle Museum

  • Plan ahead: Check out the special exhibitions and events during your visit to make the most of them. 
  • The museum is accessibile: The museum prides itself on being accessible to all, ensuring a welcoming environment for every visitor. 
  • Stay updated: Follow Newcastle Museum on social media or subscribe to their newsletters for the latest news and updates on exhibitions and events. 
  • Don't rush: Allow time to engage with the Living Labels for an in-depth understanding of the exhibits. 

#6 - Nobbys Beach & Lighthouse

Aerial view of Nobbys Lighthouse

Credit: Taras Vyshnya from

Picture soft sand between your toes, the sound of crashing waves, and maybe even a playful dolphin or two peeking out of the surf. 

That's the magic of Nobbys Beach, one of Newcastle’s most popular and beloved spots. But it's not just about the beach vibes – the historic Nobbys Lighthouse, established in 1854, stands tall on the headland, a reminder of the city's rich history and a seriously epic spot for a coastal walk.

Whether you're keen for a swim, a surf, or a good old-fashioned sunbake, Nobbys delivers. Grab a bite at one of the beachfront kiosks, then embark on the walk up to the lighthouse. 

It's a bit of a climb to the top, but those ocean views are the perfect reward, and the lighthouse itself is a fascinating slice of local history.  

Bonus point: the walk is totally doable, even if you're not super fit. It's a 550-metre flat walk, with a 220-metre ascent if you want to check out the Signal Master's Cottage. This is classic Newcastle – beachy fun, fresh sea air, ample photo opportunities, and stunning scenery all rolled into one.

Tips for visiting Nobbys Beach and Lighthouse

  • Wear appropriate footwear: Comfortable shoes are a must for the uphill walk to the lighthouse.
  • Be prepared for the weather: The area can be breezy; a jacket might be wise to shield against the occasional chill.
  • No vehicular access: There's no car access along the Macquarie Pier, the 900m path along the water from Nobbys Beach to the Newcastle Breakwater. Walking or biking is the way to enjoy the sights.
  • The area is accessible: Disabled access is available.

#7 - Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle, Australia

Credit: Marco Saracco from

Step into a piece of Newcastle's history at Christ Church Cathedral. 

This grand, old beauty has been part of the city's skyline for almost two centuries, and she's got stories to tell. Think Gothic arches, stained-glass windows, and a whole lot of resilience – this place survived WWII attacks and the major 1989 earthquake, so it's definitely earned its place in the city's heart.

The cathedral isn't just about its 190-year history, though. It's a stunning piece of architecture, and those peaceful grounds offer killer city views. 

Whether you're into the old-school charm, need a moment of quiet reflection, or just want to feel like you've stepped into another century, Christ Church Cathedral is worth a visit.

Tips for visiting Christ Church Cathedral

  • Parking on-site: A car park is available for visitors' convenience.
  • Plan your visit: The Cathedral website and contact details are handy for checking current visiting times and any special events or services.

#8 - Newcastle Art Gallery

Friends enjoying a visit to the Newcastle Art Gallery in Cooks Hill, Newcastle.

Credit: Guy Williment for Destination NSW

Okay, art lovers, listen up! 

Newcastle Art Gallery is the place for you, showcasing an impressive 7,000 works of art valued at a grand total of $126 million. The exhibitions here change all the time, so you'll need to check ahead of time to see what's on and whether it's your taste.

That said, the gallery is run by passionate art leaders, meaning you're bound to have a good time here, and it's definitely a great way to flex your creative muscles and inspiration.

Note: As of February 2024, the gallery doors are closed for a massive refurbishment, but that doesn't mean they're taking a break. They've got virtual tours, podcasts that make you feel like you're chin-wagging with an art expert over a coffee, and even art lessons beaming straight into the classroom.

Tips for visiting Newcastle Art Gallery

Nice and simple - always check the website first to make sure the gallery is open and for what exhibitions they have on!

#9 - Darby Street

Abicus, Darby Street, Newcastle

Credit: Daniel Boud for Destination NSW

Ready for a slice of urban cool? Get yourself to Darby Street – it's the beating heart of Newcastle's trendy side. 

This isn't just any old street; it's overflowing with personality. We're talking funky boutiques filled with one-of-a-kind finds, seriously good cafes buzzing with energy, and a whole lot of effortlessly cool vibes that'll have you feeling oh-so-Newie.

Darby Street is where you can snag that perfect outfit that nobody else has, fuel up with coffee that's been roasted with love, and soak up a bustling scene filled with locals living their best lives. 

Whether you're a dedicated shopper, a die-hard foodie, or just love a spot with a killer atmosphere, this street delivers.

Tips for visiting Darby Street

To fully embrace Darby Street, come with an open timeline. The best experiences here are often unscripted, found between leisurely strolls and spontaneous café hops.

#10 - Hunter Valley

Wine tasting and snack boards with local produce on a Hunter Valley wine tour

Credit: Hayden Buchanan for Destination NSW

Craving a wine adventure without the hassle of driving yourself?  

Hop on a Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tour departing right from Newcastle. These tours are the ultimate way to explore Australia's oldest wine region. 

Let someone else worry about the directions while you sit back, relax, and get ready to discover some of the best drops in the country. The Hunter Valley is a wine lover's dream, and these tours make it easy to experience the best it has to offer.  

Your tour guide knows all the hidden gems and the shortcuts, so you can focus on the good stuff – the wine! With a vast variety of wines (not just the famous Shiraz), there's something for everyone's taste buds.  

But there are plenty of ways to tour the wine region, including horseback riding tours through the vineyards, self-guided picnic tours in some of the most stunning scenery the area has to offer, behind-the-scenes peeks, guided tastings, and so on.

Essentially, however, if you want to enjoy the wine region of Newcastle, Australia, there’s an opportunity out there for you.

Book your spot, settle in, and get ready to sip and savour the best of the Hunter Valley.

Tips for visiting the Hunter Valley

  • Choose your pickup point: With several wine tour options departing from  Newcastle, find the one that's right for you.
  • Prepare for the day: Start the day with a hearty breakfast and remember sunscreen, a hat, and perhaps a camera to capture the picturesque settings.
  • Bookings are essential!: Wine tours tend to fill up fast - especially on weekends - so book your spot as soon as possible. 

Things to do in Newcastle - Top 8 Activities

#11 - Enjoy a day at the beach

Coastal aerial of Newcastle Beach and township.

Credit: Ethan Rohloff for Destination NSW

Newcastle's beaches aren't just a stretch of sand; they're each a different flavour of seaside bliss. From iconic ocean pools to spots teeming with surfers, let's dive in and discover a few of our favourites:

Newcastle Beach: This is Newcastle beach life at its best – a buzzing stretch of sand with those iconic ocean baths that seem straight out of an old postcard. Swimmers, sunbathers, and even the odd beach volleyball crew find their happy place here.

Nobbys Beach: Families and beginner surfers flock here for a reason. With gentle waves, daily surf lessons, and that picture-perfect lighthouse standing tall on the headland, it's easy to spend a whole day soaking up the laid-back charm.

Merewether Beach: Imagine waves that bring out the big-league surfers alongside the biggest ocean baths in the Southern Hemisphere. Whether you're waxing up your board or chilling with a good book by the water, this beach has room for everyone.

Stockton Beach: Forget your standard beach day! This is where the sand dunes stretch for miles, and adventure calls. Sandboarding? Quad bikes? Even riding a camel? This place is anything but boring.

Beach day tips 

  • Stay sun-safe: Always slap on sunscreen, bring a sun hat and sit in the shade as much as possible. 
  • Check the surf conditions: The water can get wild, especially if you're planning to visit the Bogey Hole. 
  • Try local eats: Many beaches have nearby cafes like the Blue Door Kiosk, perfect for refuelling. 
  • Be water-wise: Always swim between the flags and follow safety signs.


#12 - Catch a break at one of Newcastle's famous surf spots

Man enjoying a morning surf at Bar Beach, Newcastle.

Credit: Guy Williment for Destination NSW

Newcastle isn't called 'Surf City of Down Under’' for nothing. 

This coastline is a playground for surfers from total newbies to the big wave pros. Whether you're dreaming of hanging ten or just want to give it a go, there's a spot with your name on it. Here's the lowdown on a few of our favourite breaks:

Merewether Beach: This is serious surfer territory, with big waves and a legendary surf club. Even if you're not paddling out yourself, watching the pros is a show in itself.

Nobbys Beach: The go-to spot for beginners! Gentle waves, year-round swells, and plenty of surf schools make this the perfect place to learn the basics.

Bar Beach: A local favourite with killer breaks, thanks to that offshore sandbar. Great for a surf AND a chill hang afterwards.

Dixon Park Beach: Less crowded but still offers awesome beach breaks. This one's perfect for those who want to escape the masses.

Redhead Beach: Worth the drive for a secluded vibe and incredible waves. Think breathtaking scenery alongside your surf session.Tips

Surfing tips 

  • Hit up the surf schools: Especially at Nobbys and Bar Beach, you'll find lessons galore if this is your first rodeo. 
  • Safety first, always: Check those flags and surf reports before you paddle out! 
  • Respect the locals: Especially at spots like Merewether, remember surf etiquette and share the waves. 


#13 - Take in the views on the Bathers Way Coastal Walk

Newcastle Memorial Walk on a bright, sunny day. Newcastle, New South Wales

Credit: Nick from

Get ready for epic coastal views and a little slice of Newcastle history on the Bathers Way Coastal Walk. This 6-kilometre beauty stretches from the iconic Merewether Baths all the way to Nobbys Beach, offering up stunning scenery every step of the way. Here's what you need to know:

Must-see spots on the Bathers Way Coastal Lookout 

Strzelecki Lookout: Start here for killer views that make you feel like you're on top of the world.

Nobbys Lighthouse: That classic seaside beacon - perfect for history buffs and 'grammers alike.

Merewether Baths: Jump into those historic Merewether Baths or just soak up the old-school charm.

Newcastle Memorial Walk: This elevated walkway is a must, offering those 360-degree vistas to knock your socks off.

Tips for the best walk

  • Fuel up along the way: Hit up the cafes and kiosks along the way for coffee, snacks, or a proper beachside feed.
  • Park where it suits: There are lots of carpark options at Nobbys Beach, King Edward Park, the beaches... no stress about where to leave your car.
  • Keep an eye on the water: Newcastle Memorial Walk is prime whale-watching territory if you time it right. Fingers crossed!
  • Respect the land: Look after this beautiful path and leave it better than you found it.


#14 - Cool off at the Bogey Hole

Bogey Hole at Sunrise, Newcastle, Australia

Credit: Brendan from

Dive into history (and make a splash!) at the Bogey Hole, a convict-carved ocean pool that's as iconic as Newcastle itself.

Carved out way back in 1819 (making it Australia’s oldest ocean pool), it's like swimming in a piece of Australian history, with a side of awesome ocean views.

Tips for visiting the Bogey Hole

  • Check those waves: This place gets wild when the swell's big, so play it safe and check the conditions before you jump in.
  • Beat the crowds: Go early or later in the day for a bit more space – and an even better chance of epic pics!
  • Know your limits: There are no lifeguards here, so be honest about your swimming skills. This spot's best for confident swimmers.
  • Not easily accessible: The Bogey Hole's old-school (aka a bit rough around the edges), so it might not be the best if you need easy accessibility.


#15 - Bike through nature on the Fernleigh Track

The Fernleigh Track a Walking and Bike Track in Newcastle New South Wales Australia. A disused railway track

Credit: Diane from

You know that feeling when you need to escape the city buzz and breathe in some fresh air? The Fernleigh Track is your answer! 

This 15km gem follows an old railway line, which means you'll be cruising through bushland, wetlands, and even a historic tunnel. 

Whether you're keen on a serious cycling session or a leisurely family ride, this is the perfect spot to ditch the car and get those legs moving.

Why you'll love the Fernleigh Track

Nature on tap: Trade those traffic fumes for the scent of eucalyptus and the sounds of birdsong. This track is all about getting back to nature.

The tunnel: The Fernleigh Tunnel is a bit spooky, a bit cool, and totally unique.

Minimal sweat workout: This track's got gentle slopes, so it's fun for the whole crew, regardless of fitness levels.

Safe and sound: Being a bike track makes it perfect for kids or anyone who's less confident around traffic. Time to relax and enjoy the ride!

Tips for riding the Fernleigh Track

  • Pick your starting point: Adamstown Station, Burwood Road, Whitebridge... check the website for the complete list and find the best spot for you. Most have parking, too!
  • Pack the essentials: Don't forget water and snacks – the perfect picnic spot might be waiting just around the bend.
  • Share the path: The Fernleigh's popular with walkers, too, so be respectful and watch your speed.

Think of the Fernleigh Track as your ticket to a little adventure in Newcastle's backyard. It's a chance to get the blood pumping, soak up some stunning scenery, and maybe even spot a few critters along the way.


#16 - Head out on a whale watching cruise (seasonal)

Whale emerging from the water in Lake Macquarie

Credit: Guy Dixon for Destination NSW

Okay, get ready for an experience you won't forget. Every year (usually June to November), humpback whales turn Newcastle's coastline into their own personal highway. We're talking thousands of these gentle giants migrating right past our shores – it's absolutely unreal.

Why you should go on a whale watching cruise

Front row seats to nature's show: See those whales breaching, slapping their tails... it's like a National Geographic special, only better.

Baby whales galore: The warmer waters here are like a giant nursery for newborn calves – seriously cute!

Location, location, location: Newcastle's right in the middle of the migration path, so prime viewing territory.

Imagine hopping on a whale-watching cruise from Newcastle. You're out on the water, the sea air in your hair, and suddenly – there they are! This isn't just about seeing whales; it's about connecting with these incredible creatures and feeling a whole lot of awe.

Tips for whale watching

  • Book your spot: Whale-watching cruises are popular, so book in advance, especially during peak season. 
  • Pack right: The weather can change quickly out at sea, so bring layers, sunscreen, and the works. 
  • Charge those cameras: You're gonna want to capture these moments; trust us! 
  • Relax and enjoy: Spotting whales takes patience, so sit back and soak up the experience. 


#17 - Embark on a pub crawl of the very many bars, breweries, and pubs

The Grain Store Craft Beer Cafe, Newcastle

Credit: Daniel Boud for Destination NSW

Newcastle's got a pub scene that'll make you ditch those fancy cocktails and embrace the cold pint in both hands. Imagine a pub crawl where every stop is a winner, showcasing the best brews, tastiest pub grub, and all the classic good vibes. 

Here's your starter pack - five of Newcastle’s best pubs, all ready for an epic adventure:

  • The Grain Store: This place is serious about craft beers. We're talking 21 taps and not a boring drop among them. Plus, those ribs? Worth the trip alone.
  • The Great Northern Hotel: A Newie institution. Think classic pub with a cosy twist, live music, and food that won't break the bank. Perfect for a long night of good chats and even better beers.
  • The Ship Inn:  This newly renovated spot is all about the good vibes. Picture tasty burgers, a killer cocktail list, and the sort of atmosphere that makes you want to stay way past your bedtime.
  • Queens Wharf Hotel: The classic waterfront pub. Relaxed vibes, tasty food, killer views – what more could you want? This one's a must if you want that true blue experience.
  • The Lucky Hotel: Big, modern, and perfect for a crowd. Think BBQ food, sports on the screens, and plenty of space to spread out.

This is just a taste of the Newcastle pub scene. Lace-up those walking shoes, grab your mates, and get ready for a pub crawl that'll have you raising a glass to this awesome city.


#18 - Discover Newcastle's growing culinary scene on a food tour

Food and drink available on the menu at Parry Street Garage in Newcastle West.

Credit: Daniel Boud for Destination NSW

Forget those fancy degustation menus - Newcastle's food scene is all about real flavours, passion, and a whole lot of fun. And who better to show you the ropes than the crew at Underground Epicureans? 

These guys have been on the frontlines of Newcastle’s foodie revolution, so they know all the best spots (and the hidden gems!).

Why a food tour should be on your list

  • Get the inside scoop: This isn't just about eating; it's about connecting with the people and stories behind the food. Think local ingredients, passionate chefs, and a taste of the real Newcastle.
  • Taste the best: Forget tourist traps! Head straight to the spots where locals get their fix. We're talking amazing signature dishes, the kind you'll be raving about for weeks.
  • Support a good cause: These tours are all about backing local businesses, the ones who put Newcastle on the culinary map. By joining in, you're helping the whole foodie scene thrive.
  • Live like a local: You'll walk away with a whole list of must-try spots, even the ones not on the tour. Prepare to eat like a true Newie local for the rest of your trip.

Forget your preconceived notions about Newcastle's food scene and expect delicious surprises full of creativity and unexpected flavours. Be warned - once you taste what Newcastle offers, you might just want to move here.


Things to do in Newcastle - Top 10 Family Activities

Parents, listen up. Newcastle's got your back when it comes to keeping the kids happy (and maybe even wearing them out a bit ). 

Think beaches for splashing, parks for exploring, and plenty of kid-friendly adventures that won't have anyone whining about boredom. Let's dive into 10 of our top picks for family fun that prove Newcastle's not just for grown-ups.


#19 - Zipline and climb through the treetops at Treetops Adventure Park

Women crossing over an obstacle at the Treetop Adventure Park in Newcastle.

Credit: Eluminate Media for Destination NSW

If your kids have a bit of monkey in them, Treetops Adventure Park is their dream come true. Think ziplining, climbing, and hanging out high in the treetops. It's the perfect mix of adventure and awesome scenery.

What to expect: Ziplines, rope courses, and obstacles galore, all set amongst the trees.

Ages: They've got courses for little ones all the way up to adventurous adults.

Why go: It's active fun that gets the adrenaline pumping AND lets you enjoy those beautiful bushland vibes.

Think of it as a playground taken to the next level... literally!


#20 - Boat, fish, and swim at Lake Macquarie 

Coast XP, Lake Macquarie

Credit: Guy Dixon for Destination NSW

Lake Macquarie is Newcastle's water wonderland, and it's got something for everyone in the family. Whether you're keen to splash, fish, or just chill out by the water, this spot's got you covered.

What to expect: A huge lake perfect for boating, fishing, swimming, and all kinds of water sports.

Ages: Fun for everyone, from little paddlers to serious waterskiers.

Why go: Get your water fix, enjoy a picnic with a view, or even try your hand at kayaking or paddleboarding. 

Think of it as the beach, but even bigger and with more options for fun!


#21 - Wander the markets and take in a show at Newcastle Showground

Fresh fruit and vegetables at the Newcastle Farmer's Market

Credit: Newcastle City Farmer’s Market

Get ready to add a bit of local flavour to your trip! The Newcastle Showground isn't just an empty field – it's where the city comes alive with everything from massive shows to awesome markets.

What to expect: Think farmers' markets, craft fairs, maybe even a carnival or two. Check their website to see what's on while you're in town!

Ages: Depends on the event, but usually something for the whole family to enjoy.

Why go: It's a chance to really see the local community in action, try some tasty local treats, and maybe even snag a unique souvenir.

Keep an eye on the Newcastle Showground's calendar – you never know what awesome event you might stumble into.


#22 - Enjoy the thrill of sandboarding at Stockton Sand Dunes

4WD R US, Port Stephens

Credit: Daniel Boud for Destination NSW

Forget building sandcastles – think sandboarding! 

The Stockton Sand Dunes are an adventure playground, unlike anything you've seen before. Imagine vast, windswept dunes stretching as far as the eye can see. They're begging to be explored, whether you're racing down them on a sandboard or cruising across them on a quad bike.

What to expect: Epic sand dunes as far as the eye can see = endless possibilities for outdoor fun.

Ages: Older kids and teens will get a serious adrenaline kick (but hey, adults can play, too!).

Why go: Where else can you say you surfed the sand? It's a chance to try something totally new and tick a major adventure off your bucket list.

If you're ready to ditch the beach towel and try something out of the ordinary, the Stockton Sand Dunes are calling your name.


#23 - Explore Bushland, wildlife and waterfalls at Glenrock State Conservation Area

Aerial view of Dudley Beach - Newcastle Australia. This beach is surrounded by Glenrock state park and is a popular beach for local surfers and beach goers.

Credit: Jeayesy from

If you're the kind of family who loves escaping the city buzz for some fresh air and bushwalking adventures, Glenrock State Conservation Area is your spot. We're talking lush bushland, hidden waterfalls, and even a few secluded beaches thrown in for good measure. 

What to expect: Think walking trails winding through the trees, with the chance to spot wildlife along the way. 

Ages: Depends on the trail you choose, but there's something for every fitness level in your family. 

Why go: Reconnect with nature, breathe in that fresh air, and maybe even cool off under a waterfall at the end of your hike. If your crew's got mountain bikes, bring them along – the trails here are awesome! 

Lace up your walking shoes, pack those water bottles, and get ready to explore a little slice of wilderness right on Newcastle's doorstep. 


#24 - See diverse wildlife at the Hunter Wetlands Centre 

Australasian Swamphen at Hunter Wetlands

Credit: Kirsty Nadine from

Calling all budding wildlife watchers!  

The Hunter Wetlands Centre is where you can get up close and personal with all sorts of animals. Think boardwalks winding through the wetlands, with birds splashing around, maybe even a sneaky frog or two hiding in the reeds. 

What to expect: Imagine walking through a real-life nature documentary, spotting amazing wildlife in its natural habitat. 

Ages: Perfect for kids of all ages – there's something to spark wonder in everyone. 

Why go: Learn about the amazing critters that call the wetlands home and why protecting these ecosystems is so important. Plus, who doesn't love seeing animals in action? 

Pack your binoculars and a sense of adventure – the Hunter Wetlands Centre is a perfect day out for families who love connecting with nature. 


#25 - Discover Newcastle on foot 

Newcastle City, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.

Credit: Peter from

Forget stuffy museums – embark on a walking tour of living history! Newcastle's streets tell tales of bygone eras through its diverse architectural gems. 

What to expect: Imagine strolling past grand Victorian terraces, marvelling at the Christ Church Cathedral's Gothic Revival architecture, and glimpsing the art deco elegance of University House (formerly) NESCA House. 

Ages: Perfect for anyone with an interest in history, design, or simply a love for beautiful structures. 

Why go: Discover Newcastle's rich heritage at your own pace, uncovering hidden details and architectural surprises with every step. It's a great way to experience the city's unique character. 

Download a self-guided walking tour map or simply wander the city centre, camera in hand.  


#26 - Let loose at the King Edward Park Playground 

Alright, parents, if you need to burn off some energy (and we know those kiddos have a LOT of it!) King Edward Park Playground is your answer.  

This isn't your average swing-and-slide situation – it's a modern playground paradise with all sorts of cool contraptions to climb, swing on, and generally go wild. 

What to expect: Think funky play structures perfect for sparking imagination. 

Ages: Best for younger kids, but even older siblings might find something to entertain them. 

Why go: Get those wiggles out in a fun and creative setting, plus it's right in the heart of King Edward Park, making it a great spot to relax and have a picnic. 

Remember those sunscreen hats and water bottles, then set those tiny humans loose on the coolest playground in town. 


#27 - Burn off energy at Flip Out Trampoline Park 

Got kids who are literally bouncing off the walls? Take them to Flip Out Trampoline Park. This place is every kid's dream come true – think wall-to-wall trampolines, epic foam pits, and maybe even a dodgeball game or two. 

What to expect: Non-stop bouncing, flipping, and giggling. It's the perfect place to burn off all that excess energy. 

Ages: They've got sections for little ones right up to teens, so everyone can join the fun. 

Why go: Raining outside? Kids going stir crazy? This is your answer. Plus, let's be honest – it looks like fun for grown-ups, too. 

Get ready for epic wipeouts, massive grins, and maybe, just maybe, a peaceful night's sleep afterward.  


#28 - Spend a rainy day at Strike Bowling or Zone Laser Tag 

Strike Bowling

Credit: Strike Bowling

What do you do when the weather turns on you? You head to Strike Bowling or Zone Laser Tag, of course! These classic indoor fun spots are perfect for escaping the rain and channelling that competitive spirit. 

What to expect: Strike Bowling's got way more than just bowling – think escape rooms, karaoke, mini golf you name it. Zone Laser Tag is all about futuristic battles in a glowing arena. 

Ages: Both places are great for everyone, from kids (who'll love the arcade games) to adults (who might secretly be even more competitive). 

Why go: A little friendly competition always makes for a fun day out, right? Plus, who doesn't love the chance to show off their laser tag or bowling skills? 

Grab your mates, challenge the family, and get ready for a day of laughs and maybe just a touch of healthy rivalry . 


14 More things to do in Newcastle 

Crowds walking along the Hunter River in Newcastle.

Credit: Ethan Rohloff for Destination NSW

Well, we've hit the highlights, but the fun doesn't stop there. Newcastle is overflowing with awesome things to see and do. Here's a quick hit list of 15 more ways to soak up the best of this city because who doesn't love a bit of bonus adventure? 


#29 - Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard 

Ditch the beach towel and try exploring Newcastle from the water. Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) let you get up close and personal with the harbour and those gorgeous beaches. 

Rent your own gear for a choose-your-own-adventure kind of day, or join a tour if you'd rather have an expert show you the ropes (and the best spots!).  

Either way, get ready for amazing views, maybe a workout, and a totally different way to experience the city. 


#30 - Snorkel and dive 

Get your goggles ready; it's time to explore the world beneath the waves. Newcastle has some surprisingly awesome snorkelling and diving spots just 20 minutes away from Newcastle CBD, with shipwrecks, reefs, and all sorts of amazing marine life .   

Whether you're a total beginner or an experienced diver, there are tours and dive sites to suit your skill level. Imagine swimming with colourful fish, exploring a sunken ship... it's a whole new way to experience the Newcastle coastline. 


#31 - Take a yoga class 

Okay, it's time to find your zen. 

Newcastle's got a thriving yoga scene, whether you're dreaming of a sunrise session on the beach or a soothing class in a cosy studio.  

Check out the local studios for different styles (think everything from flowy Vinyasa to relaxing Hatha) and class times. It's the perfect way to unwind, stretch those muscles after a day of exploring, and tap into that wellness vibe. 


#32 - Visit the Honeysuckle Precinct 

Looking for Newcastle's trendy waterfront hangout? Head to the Honeysuckle Precinct, a former industrial area that's been totally revamped into a buzzing spot for dining, drinks, and a bit of shopping.  

Think restaurants with harbour views, buzzing bars, and cute shops to browse. It's the perfect spot for a romantic date night, catching up with friends over cocktails, or a fun family dinner with a lively atmosphere.  

Keep an eye on their events calendar, too – they often host festivals and live music right by the water. 


#33 - Catch a Newcastle Jets Game 

Newcastle United Jets fans enjoying a match at Hunter Stadium.

Credit: City of Newcastle

Soccer fans, this one's for you. If you want to experience the true sporting spirit, grab tickets to a Newcastle Jets game. Imagine the roar of the crowd, the thrill of a live match, and the energy of cheering on the home team. 

Even if you're not a huge soccer fan, the atmosphere is totally infectious. It's the perfect way to dive into the local culture and maybe even make a few new mates along the way. 


#34 - Go to the local markets 

After a few days exploring Newcastle's beaches and bars, your soul might be craving a bit of local flavour. That's where the weekend markets come in! From artisan markets to farmer’s markets, yhink of them as a treasure trove of fresh produce, handmade goodies, and that buzzing community vibe that's pure Newcastle. 

Stock up on fresh goodies, snag some unique souvenirs, and chat with the local makers. It's the perfect way to dive into the real Newcastle, and you might even discover your new favourite snack or a one-of-a-kind gift.  

Markets are usually a weekly affair, with special themed events popping up throughout the year – check local listings to see what's on while you're in town. 


#35 -Take a scenic drive along the coast 

Forget tour buses and guided walks – the best way to experience Newcastle's diverse beauty is with a scenic road trip! Cruise along the stunning coastline, stopping at hidden beaches and breathtaking lookouts. 

Then, venture inland, winding through rolling hills and charming country towns – a winery stop is practically mandatory (designated driver, of course!). From coastal escapes to hinterland adventures, a Newcastle road trip lets you embrace the region's full spectrum of landscapes and experiences.   

For route inspiration, research classic drives like the "Great North Road" or the "Hunter Valley Wine Country Loop".  

 Let the open road be your guide and see where it takes you. 


#36 - Watch the sunset 

Looking for a nature show that's better than Netflix? Newcastle's got some seriously epic sunset spots, so grab a picnic blanket, your mates, or maybe your special someone and find the perfect place to soak it all in.  

Imagine the sky painted in impossible colours, the waves crashing below... it's the perfect way to end a day of exploring.   

Think Nobbys Beach for classic ocean views, Merewether for those rolling waves, or the ANZAC Memorial Walk for stunning views of the city and the coast. And don't forget your camera – sunsets like this deserve to be captured! 


#37 - Take a street art walking tour 

Newcastle streetscapes and murals

Credit: Daniel Boud for Destination NSW

Think of Newcastle's streets as an open-air art gallery. The city has a seriously cool street art scene, with murals splashed across walls, hidden in laneways, and popping up in unexpected places.  

You can explore on your own using online maps to find gems or join an organised tour for the insider scoop on the artists, techniques, and stories behind the art.  

Either way, it's a totally unique way to experience the city's creative energy and discover a side of Newcastle you won't find in any guidebook. 


#38 - Learn about the local Aboriginal culture 

Newcastle is built on land with a rich Aboriginal history, and it's important to honour and learn from those traditional custodians.  

Check out galleries and museums for exhibitions showcasing Indigenous art and culture from the region. Even better, consider joining a cultural tour led by an Aboriginal guide.  

This is a chance to connect with the stories, traditions, and perspectives of Australia's First Peoples and gain a deeper understanding of the place you're visiting. 


#39 - Day trip to the Barrington Tops 

Nature lovers, listen up and prepare for a day trip into the wild heart of the Barrington Tops. This World Heritage-listed wilderness area is home to ancient rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and all sorts of amazing wildlife.  

Lace up your hiking boots, pack those binoculars, and get ready for an adventure unlike anything in the city.  

Choose from a range of trails, from easy strolls through the rainforest to more challenging hikes with epic views. This is a chance to experience a truly unique side of Australia. 


#40 - Join a brewery or distillery tour 

Friends tasting spirits at Earp Distilling Co., Carrington, Newcastle

Credit: Joel Whittle for Destination NSW

Beer and spirit lover? This one's for you!   

Newcastle's home to a thriving craft brewing and distilling scene, so why not go behind the scenes and see (and taste!) how it all happens?  

Join a tour of one of the city's craft breweries, where you'll learn about the brewing process and sample their unique creations.  

Or, check out a local distillery and discover how they create their award-winning gins, whiskies, and more. It's the perfect way to experience a different side of Newcastle and maybe pick up a few delicious souvenirs along the way. 


#41 - Try rock climbing 

If you're looking for a challenge (and maybe a bit of adrenaline), Newcastle's got you covered. Whether you're a total newbie or a seasoned pro, there are rock climbing options for everyone. 

Start off at an indoor climbing gym – they've got walls for all levels, equipment to rent, and lessons if you need them. Ready for the real deal? Hit up the outdoor crags and experience the thrill of climbing with a stunning backdrop. 

There's even a supportive climbing community here, perfect if you're looking to make new friends and learn some new skills. 

Think of it as a vertical adventure, just waiting for you to try! 


#42 - Book a cooking class 

Foodies, this is how you take your Newcastle trip to the next level!  

Skip the standard restaurants and learn how to make some delicious meals yourself. Check out the range of cooking classes on offer – there's something for everyone, from Austrailian classics to exotic international flavours.  

Whether you want to master the perfect barbecue or nail a tricky dessert, there's a class for you. It's a fun way to try something new, maybe pick up some skills to impress your friends back home, and, of course... enjoy eating some tasty food!