Things to do in Newcastle: Where to Eat, Drink & Explore
Looking for things to do in Newcastle? We have you covered with our round-up of must-dos.
Just a short two-hour drive from Sydney, laid-back Newcastle is an arty city that's home to the largest coal shipping harbour in the world, legendary surf beaches, historical architecture, and a renaissance brought to life by its long-standing, loyal and creative community. Meaning, there are plenty of things to do in Newcastle that will have you heading north in a heartbeat.
Like Sydney, Newcastle centres around a harbour and a bounty of beautiful beaches, but its population of just over half a million makes it a quieter alternative for a glorious weekend away, a summer holiday, and even perhaps a permanent sea change. After all, you can still find a free car park next to the sand here, and that on its own is enticing enough.
Newcastle — or, as the locals call it — ‘Newy’, has seen an almighty resurgence over the last decade, with a new café, bar, or restaurant swinging open its doors almost every week. So, forget the Sydney and Melbourne rivalry, the dark horse city vying for your attention may just be this Central Coast gem.
Things to do in Newcastle: Eat & Drink
From a lazy lunch at a newly opened cafe to waterside fine dining, there’s no shortage of choice when it comes to eating out in Newcastle. A foodie destination in its own right, means eating out is a highlight of things to do in Newcastle. It’s the type of place where you can rely on the seafood being fresh, the pub meals being generous, and vegan options aplenty.
Start your day right by venturing toward the beach-end of Darby Street where you’ll find yourself at Hubro, a crisp white cafe with a wooden interior that takes its no-fuss food seriously. Although this local hangout is popular for its cold brew coffee, it’s also known for its hearty smashed avo, serving it on thick, nutty sourdough, with a healthy dose of avocado, delicate crumbles of salty feta and drizzled with organic honey.
1a/295 Darby Street, Cooks Hill
Located along Newcastle’s reviving Hunter Street, the menu at Momo feels fresh, catering for all dietary requirements, from vegan to carnivore, this well-curated cafe places importance on organic sustainable produce. What’s more, the setting of Momo feels fresh too, being housed in a beautiful former bank, flooded with sunlight accenting its period features and delightful design and decor. So, for those looking for things to do in Newcastle that's centred around good food and design, this is it.
227 Hunter Street, Newcastle
on Crown Street where you can order a poke bowl that is both easy on the eye and on the stomach. What is a poke bowl you may ask? It’s a Hawaiian delicacy (hence ‘Lulu’ taken from ‘Honolulu’), served with sashimi, rice and fresh fruit and raw vegetables.
Suite 1, 3-5 Crown Street, Newcastle
Treat yourself to an afternoon of harbourside gazing at The Landing Bar and Kitchen, located along the Honeysuckle foreshore; a beloved waterfront precinct that belongs on every list of things to do in Newcastle. Along with its idyllic views, this chic venue offers a summer-inspired cocktail list, making it a perfect place to relax and watch the harbour activity unfold come sunset. There’s also a modern-Italian menu with plenty of sharing-type meals on offer.
1 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle
Things to do in Newcastle: Shop & Explore
Get to know Newcastle properly by doing as the locals do; like waking up early to take a dip in one of the ocean baths, or shopping at one of the many boutique stores speckled along Darby Street. And if the stars align perfectly, you may just visit when the popular monthly Olive Tree Markets are on, in which case, you’re in luck!
Sometimes, the best type of local hotspot is the type that falls into many different categories — the Newcastle Flower Markets, along with its newly opened kiosk cafe is such a spot. Here you can shop through the beautiful blooms that are on display in their warehouse, before sitting for a cappuccino with a side of sweet or savoury delicacy. The kiosk even welcomes you to bring your four-footed friends along, with puppy-chinos and doggy bowls readily available.
1 Rural Drive, Sandgate
Bondi's Icebergs ocean baths may be Australia's most famous seaside pool, but Newcastle may just have two of the finest. The best (and cheapest) thing to do in Newcastle is the seaside pools. First, there’s the Newcastle Ocean Bath, opened in 1922, and stands unique thanks to its beautiful art deco facade and short walk from the CBD. And second, there’s the Merewether Ocean Bath, opened in 1935, and is thought to be the largest in the southern hemisphere, consisting of two large pools (100m x 50m, and 100m x 27m) dug in to the rocky outcrop at the southern-end of Merewether Beach.
5 Henderson Parade, Merewether
Ask any local for recommendations on where to shop in Newcastle and most likely they will point you toward the direction of Darby Street, a trendy village-type atmosphere with a collection of independently owned boutiques. It is by far one of the best things to do in Newcastle, not only for its boutiques but for its cafes.
124 Darby Street, Cooks Hill
Held once a month, Newcastle’s creative community gathers together for the Olive Tree Markets where you’ll find over 130 makers, designers, and gourmet artisan producers, within the grounds of Civic Park. If you're looking for the thing to do in Newcastle, then this should be it. All bases are covered from the makers of the ceramics brand, Clay Canoe, to the creatives behind the kindness project, Secret Book Stuff, all the way to a gelato food truck and freshly squeezed lemonade stall. The Olive Tree Market is held on the first Saturday of the month and operates rain, hail, or shine.
Civic Park, Cnr King & Darby Street, Newcastle
With so many things to do in Newcastle, it's easy to see why more and more Sydneysiders are looking to this northern outpost for a weekend getaway or a permanent seachange. After more inspo for when you're next in Newcastle? Check out Newcastle's Must-try Restaurants.
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