- Surf beaches & ocean pools
- World-class restaurants
- Buzzing bars & nightlife
- Spectacular coastal walks
- Fascinating galleries & museums
Find a mix of history, art and the outdoors in Newcastle, where golden beaches, a fascinating past and abundant natural beauty collide with cool cafés and a thriving arts scene. Top surfing, heritage ocean baths and coastal walks are just some of the other discoveries that await in this bustling beachside city on the NSW North Coast.
Eat & drink
Foodies are in for a treat in Newcastle. Walk the Honeysuckle harbourside precinct, and you’ll find a delicious range of waterside bars, cafés and restaurants. Have lunch by the ocean at the chic Merewether Surfhouse. There are oodles of other restaurants scattered throughout the city, particularly on Darby Street. Or pick up fresh local produce at the weekly on Sundays.
Things to do
The best way to explore the stunning coastline is on the Newcastle Memorial Walk, which connects with the Bathers Way, a scenic 6km walk from historic Nobbys Lighthouse to Merewether Ocean Baths, near Glenrock State Conservation Area. Stop for a swim at the art deco Newcastle Ocean Baths and Bogey Hole, a rock pool built by convicts in 1819.
For more outdoor adventure, soar on zip-lines at TreeTop Adventure Park or learn to surf with the Newcastle Surf School. Unforgettable wildlife experiences include meeting koalas at Blackbutt Reserve, and whale watching with CoastXP or Nova Cruises during their annual migration between May and November.
Newcastle’s events calendar is jam-packed. For sports fans, there’s the biggest surfing festival in Australia, Surfest, in February and the Newcastle 500 supercars in December. Music lovers can enjoy regular concerts and the Newcastle Jazz Festival in August. There’s also art and culture exhibitions, theatre and markets.
History & heritage
Learn about the town’s rich history and heritage at the Newcastle Museum and on guided tours, including Aboriginal cultural tours, walking tours and harbour cruises. You can also tour the tunnels at Fort Scratchley Historic Site, Australia’s only coastal fortification to fire upon a World War II Japanese submarine.
The Newcastle Art Gallery is another great attraction. Two convenient ways to travel between the city’s historical sites and gorgeous beaches are on a Premium Bus Tour or Newcastle’s Famous Tram, a replica 1923 tram. Alternatively, bring your bicycle, hire one or join a bike tour, and pedal from the heart of the city to the beaches and along the coast.
Getting there & where to stay
Newcastle is a two-hour drive north from Sydney along the Pacific Highway. Newcastle Airport is a 30min drive from the city centre and has regular direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. You can also catch a train or bus direct from Sydney’s Central Station to Newcastle and the journey takes just under three hours.
There are accommodation options for all budgets, from backpacker hostels and self-catering apartments to luxury hotels and resorts, and Newcastle’s first five-star hotel, Crystalbrook Kingsley. Families will love NRMA Stockton Beach Holiday Park, where they can pitch a tent right next to Stockton Beach.