Newcastle is a metropolitan, beach lovers’ haven just two hours north of Sydney. It used to be a very industrial lower class working town, known for its haze of smoke and its huge steel ships that sail into the harbour every day.
Yes, that was once what Newcastle was.
But now – it’s so much more. It has a thriving cafe culture, is a brilliant surfing location, has beautiful walks, and is super close to the Hunter should you want to add a day trip to your itinerary.
What to do
Soak up the beach – the strip of sand that encompasses Merewether, Dixon and Bar beach is truly stunning. Huge expanses of white sand, clear gorgeous water and lovely surrounds. Head here for all things relaxation.
Wander down Darby Street – This little stretch is the perfect place for a lazy brunch, and then an equally lazy shop. The boutique cafes are super cute and one offs, so you’re bound to find some lovely stunner pieces, be that in fashion or home-wares.
Newcastle Memorial walk – There is an awesome, newly constructed, Anzac walk sitting along the coast of Newcastle that allows you to soak in the best of the coastline; from the Harbour to the beach. If you start up the top at Strzelecki Lookout, you can end your stroll at Merewether Surf House at the other end for a bite to eat and a cold glass of your favourite brew.
Glenrock walk – For more of a “bush walk” this track is ideal. It’s called the Yuelarbah track, and while it starts in the thick bush, it ends on the beach. So it’s a lovely mix of both landscapes.
Lake Macquarie – While Lake Macquarie isn’t my recommended place to stay in Newcastle, it’s worth a visit. There are brilliant bike tracks around the lake, and a lovely activity is to ride around to the City Art Gallery
Hunter Valley road trip – If you’ve got a whole weekend in Newcastle. Have one day in town at the beach, and head to the Hunter for day two. It’s only an hour away thanks to new road infrastructure. There are plenty of inclusive packages to get you up there, with travel included. I recommend Two Fat Blokes.
Where to eat
Merewether Surf House – 10/10 views make this the hottest spot in town. The three story refurbished surf lifesaving club has something for everyone, casual brunch dining and a pizza joint downstairs and a sophisticated bar and restaurant upstairs. I recommend sticking to the bar side, even for food, their casual eats are lovely – especially the pizzas which are gourmet spins on downstairs offerings.
Blue Door Kiosk – Instagram heaven. This is the kiosk version of the full restaurant which is nestled further into town. But you come to its little sister version for the location, right on the shores of Merewether beach. Their cocowhip is what brings most of the crowds, and while pricey, its definitely worth it.
Habesha – This restaurant is like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Traditional Nigerian cuisine, eaten just like they do in Nigeria – with your hands. The flavours are one thing, but the experience is what makes this place unforgettable.
The Edwards – Suave, delicious and cool. They’re the words that perfectly sum up this place. Its menu is designed to share, and is very generous portion wise.
The Flying Tiger – The ambiance and decoration in this cocktail bar, is hard to beat. There is an actual plane strung up from the roof, but its the architecture that really makes this premise. The two story building gives you the illusion of sitting outside, while inside and teams together its theme perfectly. Stay for dinner, and make your way through their delicious cocktail menu.
Where to stay
Bed and Breakfast and Airbnb and are still the best way to indulge in Newcastle, especially if you want to stay near Merewether, Dixon and Bar Beaches.
If you’re happy to be closer to the city, Rydges Newcastle is a lovely option.
Where to workout
Genesis Fitness – Awesome facilities with every single piece of equipment you could dream of. Their outdoor – indoor vibe, is really cool.
YOGA Loft – A luxury eco hot yoga studio that is a truly beautiful place to get your stretch on.
How to get there
While there is a direct train that goes straight from Sydney to Newcastle. I highly recommend hiring a car for the trip. Once in Newcastle, you’ll struggle to get around without a vehicle.