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Guide to Visiting Newcastle NSW


Visitors to Newcastle often ask many questions about what it’s like before getting here, and even many locals have questions about our wonderful city. This guide is designed to answer some of the questions we see about visiting Newcastle, NSW. Whether you’re an adventurous traveller, or someone looking for a relaxed coastal getaway, in Newcastle we’ve got you covered.

Is Newcastle NSW worth visiting?

Absolutely! There are so many amazing things to do in Newcastle as a local or visitor. We’ve compiled a list of the ULTIMATE activities guide to Greater Newcastle, and there’s bound to be something to suit everyone. Fun Fact – in 2023 Newcastle was awarded the “Top Tourism Town” in NSW at the Local Government NSW Destination & Visitor Economy Conference.

A ship entering Newcastle Harbour at sunrise

How do you spend your day in Newcastle?

There are loads of ways to enjoy your day in Newcastle. From the beaches and baths to the cafes, restaurants, art galleries, museum, theatres, shopping centres, and local landmarks. One of our favourite ways to experience Newcastle is on the water. We’ve compiled our perfect “day out” on Newcastle Harbour.

A dolphin jumping out of the water

How long to spend in Newcastle NSW?

Newcastle is the perfect destination to spend 2 – 4 nights. This allows enough time to explore our fantastic beaches, have a couple of nice meals out, watch a show at the Civic Theatre, complete a few activities and see all Newcastle has to offer. From Newcastle, it’s also only a short drive to Port Stephens, the Hunter Valley or Lake Macquarie for a fun day trip.

Where can I take visitors in Newcastle?

There are a range of great places to show visitors around Newcastle from touring the coastline to taking a short day trip to the surrounding towns. Some of our favourite places include the Merewether and Newcastle Ocean Baths, Darby St, Beaumont St or the Junction for a meal or coffee, the harbour, Blackbutt Reserve or Glenrock for some outdoor activities.

Dolphins surfacing with a beach in the background

What is Newcastle famous for Australia?

Newcastle is known for its amazing beaches and working harbour. It also has an amazing food, creative arts and culture scene with live local and international music, annual events, award-winning restaurants and street art festivals. Newcastle is also becoming known for amazing venues and hotels, with three new 5-star hotels opening their doors in recent years, including QT Newcastle, Crystalbrook Kingsley and The Little National.

Where are the best lookouts in Newcastle?

There are some beautiful places to see Newcastle from a scenic vantage point. Along the coastline places like the ANZAC memorial walk/Strzelecki lookout, Dixon Park, Hickson St Lookout, the Obelisk, Fort Scratchley, King Edward Park or Nobbys Lighthouse are all fantastic options. Inside the CBD we recommend locations like Roundhouse Newcastle, Christ Church Cathedral, QT Rooftop or NUSpace. Further afield places like Mount Sugarloaf, Redhead Bluff and Mount Tomaree are also great local vantage points.

A whale with its head out of the water with a headland in the background

How far is Newcastle from Sydney?

Newcastle is roughly a 2-hour drive from Sydney which makes it a great place to visit. Aside from driving, there is also a train that travels directly to Newcastle Interchange. From Newcastle Interchange, there are buses and a light rail line that can transport you around the city itself.

What food is Newcastle famous for?

Newcastle has a range of amazing food options all within close proximity to local hotels and accommodation providers. Recently, two of Newcastle’s best restaurants (Flotilla and Humbug) were each awarded one hat in The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide Awards 2024. Newcastle’s burgeoning food scene is celebrated every April, with Newcastle Food Month which has a huge program of events and deals at local establishments.

Guide to Visiting Newcastle NSW

What tour in Newcastle do you recommend?

At CoastXP, we operate coastal tours year-round. Each experience has the opportunity to see the best of Newcastle from the water, including the city itself, the working harbour, beaches, cliffs and more. In the space of 2-2.5 hours, we can discover some of the best areas around Newcastle by boat which is why we’ve compiled some highlights of the Newcastle coastline.

What is the best thing about Newcastle?

The best thing about Newcastle is the coastal lifestyle. Here in Newcastle, we have all the luxuries you’d expect in a city with a unique small-town feel. You often run into friends around town or find mutual connections when meeting new people. One of the things we love the most is the range of amazing marine life, including common and bottlenose dolphins, long-nosed fur seals, seabirds and of course magnificent humpback whales! 

A seal sitting in the sun on top of a buoy

How far is Newcastle from Port Stephens?

Newcastle is only a 50-minute short drive from Port Stephens. Port Stephens is an adventurers’ playground with so much to see and do, that makes it a fantastic day standalone trip or day trip from Newcastle. Port Stephens is known for its beautiful beaches, turquoise waters of Nelson Bay and seaside holiday charm.

When should I visit Newcastle?

Year-round Newcastle is a fantastic place to visit, but if we had to choose one time it would be during winter to witness the amazing humpback whale migration up the east coast of Australia. CoastXP offers tours out of both Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. Other fantastic times of year include summer along the stunning Bathers Way, or when a major sporting or music event is on at McDonald Jones Stadium.

A marina full of boats in Newcastle NSW

Can you see whales from Newcastle?

You sure can! Newcastle is one of the best places to watch the incredible humpback whale migration up the east coast of NSW. Humpbacks make the mammoth 5000-kilometre journey from Antarctica to Tropical North Queensland and along the way, have their calves. At CoastXP we regularly operate a whale encounter tour throughout the humpback whale season between June and November each year.

A whale tail up out of the water at sunrise

Where can I see dolphins in Newcastle?

There is a resident pod of bottlenose dolphins which tend to spend most of their time between Glenrock and Newcastle Harbour, favouring Newcastle beach most days. This species of dolphins is typically all grey in colour and fond of riding the waves at local beaches. Vantage points near King Edward Park and Strzelecki Lookout are great locations for viewing them or even the Cowrie Hole near the Newcastle Ocean Baths. Offshore we regularly encounter common dolphins which are very inquisitive and playful. If you enjoy witnessing dolphins up close, join us on an Adventure Tour or Whale Encounter Tour from Newcastle.


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