Things to do in Northumberland

Explore majestic castles and ancient ruins, enjoy glorious gardens and sandy beaches, go star-gazing and wildlife-watching, or dine in one of the world’s largest treehouses on a trip to Northumberland

The great outdoors

The beautiful county of Northumberland is one of Britain’s great undiscovered gems. From the spectacular coastline with its picture perfect castles and stunning islands to the many attractions of Kielder Water and Forest Park, the county offers a fantastic range of enjoyable and exciting things to do.

Northumberland is a perfect destination for lovers of the great outdoors and is a walker’s paradise. The coastal path runs for 64 miles, while inland you can follow the Pennine Way from Hadrian’s Wall through the tranquil and unspoilt Northumberland National Park to the imposing Cheviot Hills in the North. Cyclists are well catered for with over 350 miles of designated cycling routes throughout the county.

Adrenaline-seekers will find a wealth of activities to choose from in Northumberland. Things to do include kayaking, windsurfing and powerboating at the Coquet Shorebase Trust in Amble, and sailing and waterskiing at the Kielder Water and Forest Park. You can also enjoy rock-climbing, angling, horse riding and golf at dedicated centres.

With breathtaking views and vast areas of unspoilt countryside, Northumberland has become known as the ‘big sky county’. The Northumberland International Dark Sky Park is Europe’s largest area of protected night sky and the Kielder Observatory is one of the best places in England to view shooting stars, the Milky Way and, if you’re lucky, the Northern Lights. The many varied landscapes and habitats also make it a fascinating place for nature lovers, and you can see breeding seabird colonies and seals on the coast, and ospreys, otters and red squirrels inland.

The Northumberland coastline

The dramatic Northumberland coast is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and offers something for everyone. There are plenty of beautiful sandy beaches along the coastline, including those at the pretty village of Alnmouth and the picturesque fishing village of Seahouses, which are just perfect for a family day out. The sands at Bamburgh, with its magnificent castle and superb views towards the Farne Islands, are a firm favourite with surfers. Nature lovers can take a boat to the Farne Islands to see the thousands of seabirds and England’s largest breeding colony of seals, or enjoy a cruise around Coquet Island to observe the puffins.

Things to do in Northumberland

A rich history

Northumberland is a fantastic destination for history lovers and boasts more castles than any other county in England. Bamburgh Castle is one the county’s most iconic buildings and best visited attractions, while Alnwick Castle features elegant state rooms and an impressive art collection including paintings by Van Dyck, Titian and Turner. It also appeared as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.
Some of the best-preserved sections of Hadrian’s Wall run through the county and the Roman forts at Housesteads and Vindolanda are a must-visit. And of course a trip to Northumberland wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, with its splendid 16th-century castle and the enigmatic ruins of Lindisfarne Priory. You’ll find beautiful stately homes at Seaton Delaval Hall and Cragside House, while keen gardeners will love the award-winning gardens at Alnwick and the Howick Gardens & Arboretum.

Going to town

Northumberland’s towns are full of history and character and you’ll find plenty to discover in their ancient winding streets.

The handsome coastal town of Berwick-upon-Tweed lies just three miles south of the Scottish Border. It boasts four lovely beaches and has plenty of facilities and activities for families. A great way to explore Berwick is to walk the Elizabethan Walls, which surround the town and provide glorious estuary views. It has a great selection of galleries and its museums tell the story of its turbulent past.

Alnwick is a busy medieval market town set in the heart of Northumberland. Explore the town’s cobbled streets, where the eclectic selection of independent shops includes one of the country’s largest second-hand bookshops, as well as art shops and antiques centres. Visit Alnwick Castle, which has been called the Windsor of the north, and dine in the Treehouse Restaurant perched amongst the treetops in one of the world’s largest wooden treehouses.

Hexham has been voted England’s favourite market town and it’s easy to see why. Wander round the abbey and stroll the winding streets with their independent shops, galleries and market stalls, or back a winner at Hexham Racecourse.

In the evenings, you can relax in cosy pubs or enjoy fabulous food in fine restaurants. Northumberland has a great food heritage and you’ll find Craster kippers, Lindisfarne oysters, local game and a wide range of locally sourced ingredients on menus across the county. You can also enjoy live music, dance, comedy and drama at the Maltings Theatre & Cinema in Berwick-upon-Tweed, the Queen’s Hall Arts Centre in Hexham, the Alnwick Playhouse and the Phoenix Theatre in Blyth.

So come and take a look at all the natural beauty and wildlife that this destination has to offer by checking out our hotels in Northumberland.