The beach and the city side-by-side, that’s just one of the amazing things about Newcastle. The fact you can be walking down the main street, turn left and the beach is suddenly there, still kinda melts my mind. Moreover, Newcastle has become a fantastic destination for food-lovers, with trendy restaurants popping up overnight and alluring little coffee houses dotting street corners and hidden alleyways. Bright street art and cute boutiques, very big guns and cutting-edge tech, epic food scene and insane coffee game… Newcastle has it all and so much more!
First things first – coffee. Get yourself down to One Penny Black, one of my favourite Newcastle cafes. If it’s not too chilly, I recommend nabbing a seat outside and enjoying the fresh morning air. The decor here is lovely, with a rustic, charming and welcoming vibe. The service is fantastic and the food delicious, my favourite breakfast bite being the super-yummy avocado on toast with poached eggs (plenty of avo, lots of flavours!) Also, it’s important to note, the coffee is fantastic. Afterwards, take a stroll around the corner on Wolfe Street, heading up the hill, and down the laneway to your right, brightly adorned with street art of all shapes, sizes, and colours.
If you’re looking for a great way to get acquainted with Newcastle, climb aboard Newcastle’s Famous Tram for the 10:30 am or 12 pm tour. Now, guys, look, I get it… on paper/web page it doesn’t sound like the heart-pumping activity your wanderlust dreams are made of but, I ain’t gonna lie, I really enjoyed the Tram ride! Owner/operator, Chris, does a great job of showing you around Newcastle in the historic tram, showing you great viewpoints, pointing out cool spots and sharing history too – It’s a great way to get the lay of the land, learn some stuff and do a bit of cool, nerdy sightseeing. Priced at $20 p.p it’s actually really good value!
At this stage of the day, I’d recommend you take in the very best views of Newcastle. Head up to Fort Scratchley, once a coastal defence installation (war/battle stuff) but now a really cool museum! Not only that, but the views up there are the very best Newcastle has to offer and, given entry is free, it’s a must-do. You can either wander around the grounds, soaking in the million-dollar-views and the warm sunshine or join a guided tour, which is actually pretty cool cos you get to see some BIG guns and explore the tunnels.
Ready to unwind? Get your fine self over to the Merewether Surf House for lunch in the restaurant. Now, you guys, I’m going to have to insist you ring ahead and book yourself a seat along the windows, overlooking the beach and offering the BEST coastal views. The food here is to-die-for, honestly, the seafood is incredibly fresh, everything is cooked to perfection and is just so, so tasty. Amazing food, great service, ice cold beers and unimpeded views of the water – it’s pretty much perfection.
Love food? Well, you’re going to love Subo. With its totally understated facade and simple fit-out, you won’t quite be prepared for the amazing food that’s coming your way. But, a word of warning, be sure to wear your stretchy pants because you aren’t going to want to pass up a single bite (actually, don’t do that, wear something better, this is a nice place.) Rather than being a hoity-toity ‘fine dining’ restaurant, Subo simply creates delicious, high-quality food in a relaxed setting that’s warm and welcoming. Subo serves, exclusively, a five-course set menu which varies with the season – a great way to sample the best, current, produce and experience Newcastle’s food scene.
Another day, another breakfast! Start your second day in Newcastle the very best way possible, with a visit to Moor. I loved the chilled out atmosphere at Moor, the kind of place you could sit for a little while, sipping coffee after coffee, soaking in the world around you. The breakfast menu boasts classic favourites, like bacon and poached eggs on sourdough, as well as Middle Eastern influences, like Shakshuka or their gorgeous breakky bowl. The coffee here is also fantastic, so be sure to show up hungry and in need of a good cup of get-up-and-go.
After breakfast, take a trip to Bogey Hole for stunning ocean views and, if the weather is warm enough, a swim. Also known as the Commandant’s Baths, Bogey Hole was originally constructed by convicts in 1820, for the private use of Lieutenant-Colonel James Thomas Morisset. Now, you can catch gorgeous ocean views from above and go for a dip that feels rather daring. I’d also recommend pausing on the walk down and stopping to take in the jagged coastline with waves crashing against it – a perfect spot for photos.
If you find yourself in need of a pre-lunch, post-breakfast snack, head directly to Baked Uprising. This fantastic local bakery produces a tantalising range of freshly baked goods, including amazing fresh bread, tarts, pies, and brioche concoctions that will melt your mind. I cannot, ever, in my life, turn down an opportunity to eat a citrus tart of any variety, so I had to try their lemon and white chocolate tart and, holy heck, it rocked my world. 10/10 would recommend.
If you’re in the mood to stretch your legs and take in more of the waterside, I’d definitely recommend taking a bike ride along the waterfront and, if you fancy, around town too. We jumped aboard SwipeNRide Bikes, operated by BYKKO, on the waterfront side of Newcastle’s Crowne Plaza Hotel. We took a fantastic mid-morning ride along the water, stopping along the way, then heading up to Fort Scratchley. It was a really nice way to see things from a different angle and was actually really fun!
My next must-do recommendation for Newcastle is the incredibly cool, VRXP (Virtual Reality Experience). This place is insanely fun and a really great way to experience something unique – trust me, you’ll want to be in there for hours! We were lucky enough to spend an hour and loved all the games and experiences we got to play, from meeting whales and jumping off buildings to flying around the world, fighting off an alien race and 3D painting a dark space while listening to Kendrick Lamar. Honestly, this was a real highlight experience for us!
After all the fun you’ll have had at VRXP, you’re going to be starving. Pop over to the Queen’s Wharf Hotel for lunch and take in the gorgeous water views, great food and cold drinks. The menu is decked with a range of tasty choices, like splitting a couple of pizzas, tucking into an assortment of seafood or splitting a few small dishes. We opted for the small dishes and spent a very relaxing hour watching the world go by and unwinding.
Wait until you’re good and hungry, then get yourself over to Rustica. This place has the coolest fit-out, with these amazing lanterns coming out of the ceiling like jagged shards of crystal. The menu here offers a range of Mediterranean options that will have your mind splitting in two, trying to decide what to get. The tapas are fantastic, honestly, just so good! We split three tapas and small plates, with a regional plate and dessert added on for good measure. The highlights were undoubtedly the incredible gnocchi (I’m still dreaming about it) and the insanely good chocolate fondant that, you guys, totally exploded with oozey, gooey chocolate when attacked with a spoon.
Where to stay
Need some ideas on where to stay in Newcastle? Here are two tips for two different trips:
The Lucky Hotel
You’ll find The Lucky Hotel right in the heart of Newcastle, with a unique, cool soul of its own. The building itself dates back to the 1800’s and is a really cool slice of Newcastle history. Inside, it’s been totally renovated and restored, with a very quirky, uber-cool vibe going on. With the bar and restaurant downstairs, the hotel rooms above have direct and all-too-easy access to The Lucky’s great American BBQ menu. You’ll find yourself feasting on chips and burger, scarfing down pulled pork and sticking your face directly into their amazing brownie bowl, in no time at all. The rooms are small and simple, offering the essentials (free wifi, anyone?!) and comfort to provide low-fuss lodgings for weary travellers. This spot would be perfect for younger guests or anyone in town to catch a gig or have a bad and boujee weekend 😉
Located along the water, the Rydges Newcastle offers gorgeous one-bedroom rooms with double doors opening up to a modest balcony and gorgeous water views, perfect for sunset. Still easy walking distance to everything you’ll want to see, Rydges offers an accommodation that feels like it’s in a space all of its own. The one-bedroom apartment is really comfortable, sometimes a little too much, making it hard to want to leave the room. Leave the balcony doors open and a lovely water breeze comes in through the curtains.
We also loved the food, with the breakfast buffet offering really good-quality favourites and a few fun extras, like fresh juice and DIY muesli stations (and soy milk ready to go! Yes!) and, for lunch, we really enjoyed the perfectly plump ravioli. Even if you aren’t staying at Rydges, it’s definitely worth checking out the menu and popping in for lunch. Rydges Newcastle would be perfect for anyone on a nice weekend away, looking for somewhere a little special and very comfortable to stay.
A final few tips and tricks for visiting Newcastle…
- While Newcastle is a small place and easy to get around, you’re really going to enjoy best if you can drive yourself from place to place and maximise your time. I’d recommend hiring a car for the trip, just the smallest, cheapest one is fine.
- Keep an eye on parking, you pretty much have to pay everywhere and the local ticket guys are brutal! Be sure to check the parking, buy a ticket if needed and display it.
- Don’t worry about running into traffic, because there isn’t really any! It’s great!
- It doesn’t take very long to get anywhere as everything’s close by, which makes getting around very easy and convenient
Useful travel resources for your trip to Australia
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Agoda – one of our go-to sites for booking hotels
Skyscanner – our go-to for booking flights
RentalCars.com – a great search engine for renting a car
Booking.com – another of our go-to sites for booking hotels
TourRadar – a great search engine for booking tours
Uber – our go-to ground transport option