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  1. A rock pool on a cliff above the ocean
    Photograph: supplied | City of Newcastle
  2. The courtyard at Customs House
    Photograph: Daina McKayCustoms House
  3. Birds eye view of plates of food including cheese, olives and bread on a table
    Photograph: Supplied | Newcastle Food Month
  4. A woman climbing the stairs at King Edward Park, Newcastle
    Photograph: Cassandra HannaganKing Edward Park
  5. A cocktail at sunset at the QT Newcastle rooftop bar
    Photograph: Avril TreasureA cocktail at sunset at the QT Newcastle rooftop bar
  6. A guest room at the Crystalbrook Kingsley Hotel
    Photograph: Supplied
  7. Newcastle Ocean Baths
    Photograph: Supplied | Newcastle, Australia
  8. A panini at Arno
    Photograph: Supplied/Arno Deli
  9. Glasses being filled with white wine at a formal table overlooking coastal views
    Photograph: Supplied | Newcastle Food Month

A visitor’s guide to Newcastle

How to eat, drink, shop, caffeinate and spend your time in the coastal city

Written by
Maxim Boon
Alannah Le Cross
Avril Treasure

A little over two hours north of Sydney, the coastal city of Newcastle has emerged as a cultural spot. Much more than a stop off on your way to the Hunter Valley, ‘Newy’ is an increasingly vibrant city with plenty of memorable food options, excellent shops, coastal sights and wide-open spaces to explore over a long weekend. 

You sort out which weekend you’re going to make the trip, and our Newcastle guide – cutated by Time Out Sydney travel lovers, including Food & Drink Editor Avril Treasure – will get your itinerary started with some suggestions. (Plus – we reckon you should plan a weekend in April and get around Newcastle Food Month.)

Little Niche NoshMerewether Surfhouse | Photograph: Destination NSW


The food scene in Newcastle is hot. So hot it’s impossible to squeeze all of your eating and drinking into one weekend, so throw caution to the wind and plan a bunch. You won’t regret it. First up, head straight to Euro-inspired Arno Deli for cracking sambos, ace coffee and textbook cannoli (and come back in the afternoon for a glass of vino). Alfie’s Italian pumps out flavour-packed plates, house-made pasta, and refreshing Spritzes in a relaxed and cool setting. Get around the creative snacks and impressive pastas at Humbug, which is also home to one of the most exciting wine lists in town. The Flotilla is a must – the fun atmosphere and the delicious, clever and seasonal dishes will have you planning your return visit before you leave. Fall in love with Harrison's Food & Wine’s home-style interiors, stunning coastal artworks and honest, tasty plates of food. Thermidor Oyster Bar and Brasserie serves up water views alongside quality produce cooked with skill and care. New kid on the block Blanca looks like it’s been plucked from your European dream – come for a mezze spread and leave full and happy. Âpé Yakitori Bar will satisfy your cravings for flame-cooked skewers. Speaking of charred meat, Newcastle's carnivore heaven Meet is back open and ready to welcome guests again. Come on down for seriously tasty grilled meats, plus fresh seafood and vege dishes.

Beeline it to Elementa for an idyllic setting and balanced, bold numbers. The Beach Hotel is your three-in-one go-to for endless sunny days. Choose from coastal fine-diner Peregrin, classic pub grub in The Beach Hotel’s main dining area, or swing by Larrie’s post-swim for old-school eats. Water views meet lamp-laden, moody décor at local favourite Mediterranean restaurant, Rustica Newcastle Beach. If you want to literally feel the ocean spray over your pre-dinner cocktails, Merewether Surfhouse is wedged between the cliffs and the sand, and you won’t go hungry with a variety of pizzas and other Italian dishes on offer. The Signal Box repurposes old railway architecture into an open-air courtyard and airy pavilion with lots of casual seating where everything from sauces, stocks and pickles through to fresh juices, chai and sodas are made in house. Don't think twice about dining at Jana Restaurant & Bar in the QT, spearheaded by top chef Shayne Mansfield. And make a booking at Roundhouse, which offers epic Newcastle vistas coupled with seasonal and local produce. See, told you there's a bit on.

Little Niche NoshCoal and Cedar | Photograph: Destination NSW


In the day hit the beach, and come afternoon, hit up Newy’s ripping bars and pubs. To the top of your list should be wine and cocktail bar Vecina. The Spanish-inspired chic spot is by the Flotilla team and located right next door to the award-winning diner, making it a perfect option for a pre- or post-dinner tipple. Or come here for the whole night and we promise you’ll have a fun time indeed. With a little planning, you can pull off a mean bar crawl in Newy. Hit up The Lucky Hotel and order a round of the Coconut Margaritas and delicious fried chicken. And if the sun is shining, stroll on over to the gorgeous Customs House Hotel for a lively pub atmosphere, share plates and friendly team. And you can't beat sunset drinks at Newcastle's highest rooftop boozer, Rooftop at QT, with its impressive water views. If you’re frothing to get on the beers, Foghorn Brewery, Newcastle’s first craft brewery, fills a lively warehouse space in the CBD where you can sink 16 varieties of tank-to-glass brews on tap. Craft beer aficionados can also find character-filled beers at Styx Brewery. If you’re a fan of spirits, Newcastle has specialty bars to suit all strokes. Gin is the main game at distillery and bar Earp Distilling Co, where they’re focused on modern methods and fragrant botanicals. The bar within the boutique Newy Distillery serves up cocktails with its out-of-the-box spirits like turquoise vodka. If you fancy getting in on a local secret, seek out Coal and Cedar, a Prohibition-era inspired, hidden speakeasy with no signage and no doorbell (you need to text a number to get let in).

Little Niche NoshThe Press Bookhouse | Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan


A coffee crawl in Newcastle should always involve Darby Street, and local brekkie institution Goldbergs Coffee House is the place to start, where the wooden chandelier, grungy design accents and dedication to a fine cup of joe haven’t changed much in 25 years. Good Brother Espresso Shop is our go-to in town for excellent coffee (the beans are by Slingtown) and great morning eats. Arno Deli pumps out really good coffee, with beans by The Little Marionette (and be sure to order one of their killer paninis, too). At Corner House Café it’s not all about the looks (although the bright, soft interiors are a hipster daydream), there’s Single O coffee on the pour and featured filters from brands like Newy-based indie roaster Tapestry. At Cakeboi, the retail foray from local cake maker and MasterChef runner-up Reece Hignell, they take the coffee as seriously as the sweets, serving bean blends from local, ethical speciality roaster Floozy. If the lingering scent of old books is just as pleasing to you as the aroma of a freshly poured coffee, you ought to settle in for a cuppa among the communal tables and cosy vibes of The Press Bookhouse.

Little Niche NoshBlackbird Corner | Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan


Just like coffee crawls, the eclectic Darby Street strip is a homing zone for shopping crawls, with quirky shop fronts that can rival the selection on Newtown’s King Street. Speaking of eclectic, Ramjet Assortments offers a range of temptations, from vintage-inspired frocks to pre-loved cowboy boots and locally made acrylic earrings and brooches from the likes of Roseicapilla. Next door, Steel and Anchor curates gifts and homewares with a masculine bent. Music and fashion store Abicus is where you can grab a new vinyl record along with a fresh set of Birkenstocks, a new outfit and a book. The gorgeous Blackbird Corner looks like it’s been ripped straight from the pages of Frankie magazine (you’ll find a few of those on the shelves too) – shop here for handmade clothing and accessories, totes, art prints and other cute things from Aussie designers. Away from the Darby drag, Soul Kollective is a ‘collab store’ that brings together everlasting florals, children’s books, art, photography and a whole lot more. Started by a pair of local jewellers, Studio Melt specialises in alternative engagement and wedding jewellery and also stocks carefully curated objects and art.

Newcastle Memorial WalkNewcastle Memorial Walk | Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

Things to do

Getting a big dose of nature and salty ocean air should be a fixture of a visit to Newcastle. Stretch your legs on the Newcastle Memorial Walk or ANZAC Walk, 450-metre long cliff top walkway with ocean views that links Strzelecki Lookout to Bar Beach. The beaches are gorgeous, with Newcastle Beach boasting one of the best surf breaks in Australia. For a more protected briny dip behind a vintage façade, check out Newcastle Ocean Baths and Merewether Ocean Baths. Another must-see on the coastline is the Bogey Hole, an ocean rock pool hand-carved by convicts – it’s a beautiful sight, but proceed with caution, it’s not patrolled. Above the Bogey Hole, King Edward Park has Norfolk Island pines, a sunken garden, historical building remains and sweeping ocean views. There’s plenty of natural beauty aside from beaches – at Glenrock State Conservation Area five kilometres from town there are rainforest walks, waterfalls, mountain biking trails and Glenrock Lagoon.

QT Newcastle roomQT Newcastle | Photograph: QT Group


Our first pick of where to stay in Newcastle is the city’s first five-star hotel, the Crystalbrook Kingsley, from boutique chain Crystalbrook Hotels. It’s housed in one of the most striking and historic buildings in Newcastle – and the interiors are elegant and chic. You also can’t go past QT Newcastle, which combines luxury and quickness in one fantastic hotel located in the Art Deco-laced flare of the former David Jones Building on Hunter Street. As far as prime waterfront locations go, Novotel Newcastle Beach commands the corner of a beachside city block on the doorstep of Newcastle Beach, and most rooms at Noah's on the Beach offer expansive ocean or harbour views.

Find out more about Newcastle at and


The idyllic coastal city of Newcastle is set to come alive this April with its epic Newcastle Food Month

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